I can’t tell you the number of times someone has sat across from me and said, “I don’t know why I am under attack? I just don’t understand why these things keep happening to me? I don’t know why the devil has such a personal interest in me? Why won’t he leave me alone? I am so tired of the battle!”Does this sound familiar? If we haven’t said it out loud, most believers have thought it. If we are going to win the battle, we must understand why we are in a war over good and evil. We must understand the components of every spiritual battle. Listen to the story of when Jesus was under attack. We will just cover the first four verses today.
Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led around by the Spirit in the wilderness 2 for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And He ate nothing during those days, and when they had ended, He became hungry. 3 And the devil said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.” 4 And Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘ Man shall not live on bread alone.’” (Luke 4:1-4)
We learn from this story there are three reasons for every spiritual battle, including the ones you and I go through over and over. Whenever God begins to lead you into something greater, the devil will do anything and everything to keep it from happening. He doesn’t want you to access more of God, or reach the higher place in God’s will and purpose for your life….So, the battle intensifies.
Luke 4 helps us understand that when God has spoken a word, that same word or words will be tested. Actually, it’s not so much the word being tested, as it is our faith in and commitment to that word. This story is more than a “temptation narrative.” It is about spiritual warfare. It reveals the warfare that ensues whenever we’re on the verge of progress, increase, or launching into new areas. This attack upon Jesus’ life happened immediately after Jesus was baptized and the Spirit descended on Him. As He was about to embark on His earthly ministry, Satan aggressed. Does this sound familiar? If Jesus’ committment was tested by the devil, our commitment will be equally challenged.
What is this battle between “good and evil” about in Jesus’s life? When you get a chance today, look at Mark 4 and compare verses 1 and 14. Jesus arrived walking in the “fullness of the Spirit” and exited the desert “walking in the power of the Spirit.” The difference between walking the “fullness of the Spirit” and walking the “power of the Holy Spirit” is found in the battle between the two events. Your power, or lack thereof, is found in the spiritual battles you face. It is imperative we understand the components of spiritual warfare in order to walk in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Satan attacked Jesus in three different areas. Every Spiritual battle is over something, and we need to know why. So we can look at this passage and learn how to stand strong in time of battle.
THE WAR OVER THE WORD OF GOD (1-4)
Jesus had just heard a fresh word (confirming word) at the end of chapter three. We could call this a REVELATION. Something concealed was now revealed. It is only after this revelation came that the warfare arrived to test this word. This is one of the reasons battles come. Battles come our direction according to the level of revelational knowledge we obtain. When the Word becomes alive in you, and revelation is imparted unto you, Satan will begin to battle you over God’s Word.
John 1:14 says, “And the Word became flesh ……and we beheld His glory.” Any time the Word becomes flesh in you and it becomes a reality, Satan knows you’re a step closer to seeing the glory of God and seeing a promise fulfilled in your life.
Mark 4 teaches us that the Word is a seed. And when the Word is sown, Satan is perched, ready to devour the seed to keep it from taking root, producing, and bearing fruit to the glory of God. Many people know the Word of God in PRINCIPLE, but not in PRACTICE. The reason they fail to put it into practice is because they failed in battle because of the word. Satan fought and battled them until the word DID NOT become FLESH!
Unfortunately, this means many believers are living on the level of INFORMATION, and not REVELATION. And when revelation knowledge comes, Satan will intensify His attack, trying to get you to rely on other sources to sustain and help you. Remember, Satan is coming after the Word! You must bow your back and say, “I am not going to live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God!“
There is a story told about a little boy in a grocery store that I think illustrates the battle over knowing and doing. The boy was standing near an open box of peanut butter cookies. “Now then, young man,” said the grocer as he approached the young man. “What are you up to?”
“Nothing,” replied the boy:
“Nothing.” “Well it looks to me like you were trying to take a cookie.”
“You’re wrong, mister, I’m trying not to!”
Yes, the battle for good and evil begins when we are young. You may not have understood what the battle was about when you were young. Now, you are older and hopefully wiser. Stand on the precious promises of God. Your strength and power comes from being victorious.
The Battle Over the Will of God
There was a second battle Jesus faced and we will too. It is over the will of God.
9 And he led Him to Jerusalem and had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down from here; 10 for it is written,‘He will command His angels concerning You to guard You, and, On their hands they will bear You up, So that You will not strike Your foot against a stone.’”
12 And Jesus answered and said to him, “It is said, ‘ You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” Luke 4:9-12
This story is not about suicide but popularization or instant fame and notoriety. Jesus could have popularized Himself through an awesome display with the angels catching Him before He hit the bottom. This was never God’s will and purpose for His life. It was His Father’s will He took on the nature of a servant, not a celebrity. How many Christian’s need to understand this? This passage is fundamentally about the will and way of God.
When I was a younger believer…in my teens, I often wondered, “why didn’t God do more flashy, miraculous activities so that people would know He was for real?” What I didn’t know then, I discovered later as I grew in the Lord. God isn’t looking for enormous masses of people to follow Him. He is looking for devoted servants who love Him for Who He is. Jesus could have had notoriety at any moment of His life. He discouraged it and avoided it His whole life. This is the way of God. Numbers don’t mean much in the Kingdom… Disciples do!
Many of the battles in which we find ourselves are over these same issues. Satan attempts to force us away from keeping our “God focus“. In addition, he creates scenarios which cause the will of God to become fuzzy and unclear, so we become sidetracked. Satan doesn’t want any believer to discover or maintain their God-ordained destiny. Therefore, he will attack or seek to steal our identity. If we lose track of who we are and why we are here… then we will fall prey to any alternative to God’s will. It is imperative we stand strong and stay focused on what God has spoken! If we fail to stay focused, then the temptation to take a “Satanic Shortcut” will suddenly appear to be the right course of action.
Think back in your own life to the times when Satan sidetracked you and got you to do anything but what the Lord originally said to do. Satan didn’t use a frontal assault to mislead you. No, he approached from a side road. He attacked another area of your life which was soft. Only after causing failures in another area was he able to cause doubts about your future and destiny.
I can’t imagine Jesus jumping off any building or bridge because Satan asked or tempted Him. But it is not so crazy when Satan tempts us with some short-cut scheme to bypass the will of God…is it? Unless we are absolutely certain about the word and will of God for our lives… we are open to being attacked.
Satan has a tried-and-true strategy for luring us into his net. (From Charles Swindol)
First, he lays out the bait. Satan knows people, like a skilled angler knows fish. He notes our habits. He observes our hangouts. Then he prepares a tailor-made lure and drops it right in front of our noses.
Second, he comes with the appeal. He can’t make us bite, but he does know what happens inside us when we catch a glimpse of his tantalizing bait. Our fleshly nature draws us to it. We linger over it. We toy with it. We roll it over in our minds until it consumes our imagination.
Third, the struggle begins. Immediately, our conscience jabs us in the ribs, warning us of the danger. We know it’s wrong to take a bite. We may even see the barbed consequences poking through the bait. But Satan’s invitation looks so delicious. What do we do?
Fourth, the temptation ends with the response. Either we resist or yield; swim away or swallow it whole. Anyone who has resisted knows the feeling of freedom that decision brings. On the other hand, anyone who has yielded knows the feeling of emptiness that follows and the pain of the hook in your cheek.
Getting people to “sin” is not Satan’s end-game. No, he wants us to forget “who we are” in the Lord. He wants us to become so discouraged over our failures, we give up seeking to realize our God-given destiny. His short cuts and schemes are simply dead-ends and paths to nowhere. If you find yourself here… repent and return to the last word God gave you. There is no shame in being tricked and deceived by the devil. The only real shame is staying there.
The War Over Our Worship!
5 And he led Him up and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. 6 And the devil said to Him, “I will give You all this domain and its glory; for it has been handed over to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. 7 Therefore if You worship before me, it shall all be Yours.” 8 Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘ You shall worship the Lord your God and serve Him only.’” Luke 4:5-8
You might imagine this issue would occupy a major portion of the battle for good and evil. The first four commandments deal with this issue of worship. Satan came blatantly at Jesus, showing Him all the world’s kingdoms, and their glory… offering them for His worship. Satan probably will not approach you so blatantly. The devil comes at us for the same purpose but often in a more subtle fashion.
There was once a poor country pastor who was livid when he discovered his wife had purchased a $250 dress. “How could you do this!” he exclaimed.
“I don’t know,” she wailed, “I was standing in the store looking at the dress. Then I found myself trying it on. It was like the Devil was whispering to me, “‘You look great in that dress. You should buy it.’”
“Well,” the pastor persisted, “You know how to deal with him! Just tell him, “Get behind me, Satan!“
“I did,” replied his wife, “but then he said ‘It looks great from back here, too.’”
Satan never said to me, “Fall down and worship me.” But he has tried to get me to deviate from God’s plan for my life. He has gotten me so off track it almost ruined my commitment to God. Satan has tried to fill my life with so many other things and other people so they would occupy the Lord’s time and ministry. Many times we can find ourselves withdrawing from the physical act of worship for various reasons. The number one way Satan accomplishes this is by getting believers preoccupied and focused on other things.
He begins to attack us by making the “things of this world” so appealing and luring. He continues to lull us to sleep, getting us to focus on the wrong goals, the wrong areas, and the wrong people. He gets us to trade the best for something better, then we trade the better for something good, then we trade the good for something bad.
Jesus wasn’t even remotely fooled by Satan’s attractions. He quickly stood up and said, “I’m not getting distracted. It is written, ’You shall worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shall you serve!’” Note how passionate Jesus was when he rebuked Satan over the issue of worship. Nothing was going to diminish the intensity of His love for God, and the passion with which He expressed it.
The same should be true for every believer. Our worship should always be guarded. We would all stay out of trouble if we would quickly and passionately defend our worship of God. In a Catholic church a sign was hanging over a shrine which said, “This Shrine is out-of-order. Do not worship here.” This is a little parable of what sin does to the Christian. It makes us spiritually out-of-order. Satan knows this truth and attempts to keep us out-of-order so that real worship isn’t important as it once was.
I read recently in Hebrew the word for faith (emunah) is the same word for stability. They are linked to each another. The Lord knew long ago the only way for His followers to survive the spiritual onslaught of the devil was to remain in faith. Faith creates stability. Worship feeds my soul like no other spiritual vehicle. I can be a physical, mental, and spiritual wreck. But… when I worship my Creator all the planets, sun, moon, and stars become aligned. Everything makes sense. Satan knows he will never be able to defeat the worshiping believer. There is a war going on in and around you today for your worship. How are you doing?