There is a war going on but we cannot see it. There is a battle going on but we may not feel it. The enemy speaks words to bring us down but we may not hear them. We are all under attack but we may not realize it. We cannot perceive of this war because it is a spiritual war. There is a spiritual battle going on. It is real, though we cannot see it, touch it, taste it, feel it, or hear it.
As a Christian, to deny this spiritual war greatly jeopardizes one’s relationship with God. As a Christian, to deny this spiritual war will keep one from being on the offensive rather than the defensive. As a Christian, to deny this spiritual war will mean being attacked. A Christian who denies spiritual warfare is like an aircraft carrier during World War II sitting in front of a German U Boat. A Christian must realize the war that is going on in the spiritual realm.
I mentioned attacks. You may wander, “what do these attacks look like?” As a Christian the attacks that we will experience are usually temptations to sin against the Lord. You may not realize it, but the main way we will experience this war that is going on is when you are attacked. The enemy, the devil and his forces, breaks through from the spiritual into the carnal world and attacks with an enticement to sin. And all sin is against the Lord (Psalm 51: 4).
In Matthew 4:1-11 Jesus is attacked by satan. Jesus models a way of handling spiritual warfare. He models a way to deal with the enemy. Let’s read that passage and talk about it for a minute.
My theme today is:
Jesus is Tempted by the Devil, the Spiritual Realm is Real (Matthew 4:1-11)
Read Matthew 4:1-11:
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 And after He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He then became hungry. 3 And the tempter came and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” 4 But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.’”
5 Then the devil *took Him into the holy city and had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple, 6 and *said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down; for it is written,
‘He will command His angels concerning You’;
‘On their hands they will bear You up,
So that You will not strike Your foot against a stone.’”
7 Jesus said to him, “On the other hand, it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’”
8 Again, the devil took Him to a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory; 9 and he said to Him, “All these things I will give You, if You fall down and worship me.” 10 Then Jesus said to him, “Go, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.’”11 Then the devil left Him; and behold, angels came and began to minister to Him.
- First, practice Spiritual disciplines.
- Jesus was led by the spirit to be tempted.
- That is not to say that God tempted Him. James 1:13-14 tells us that the Lord doesn’t tempt. However, the Lord will test us and allow us to be tested.
- God allowed Job to be tested. In Job 1-2, Job is tested by God. And know that the devil is on a tight chain. The devil came to the Lord to ask permission to test Job. The devil came to the Lord twice.
- What does verse 2 say? The text says that Jesus was fasting for forty days. Fasting is a spiritual discipline. This is a spiritual discipline that we hardly ever practice, including me. But Jesus was fasting. When you fast, you are sacrificing something in order to give the Lord something. Let me explain: I may give up meals for forty days and in exchange for meals I will give the Lord that time. When I would be eating I am praying, memorizing Scripture, etc.
- Jesus was fasting. He was communing with the Lord.
- If we want to go against the devil, we must be communing with the Lord. We must be spending time with the Lord. We must be ready. Then we must be on guard. Guard your strengths as well as your weaknesses.
- Jesus was led by the spirit to be tempted.
- Know God’s Word
- Jesus knew the Word of God. I once heard, “Let the Word of God do the work of God.” Let’s look at the first attack. Jesus was hungry. The devil attacked Jesus where He was weakest. The devil says, “If you are the Son of God…” Now, just because the devil used “if,” which is a subordinating conjunction, that doesn’t mean the devil didn’t believe Jesus to be the Son of God. “If” can also be translated “since.” So, Jesus had just been baptized, the Holy Spirit came down and said, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” And now the devil says, “Since you are God’s Son, why don’t you feed yourself.”
- But Jesus was ready. Jesus had ammunition to take out that U boat. Jesus used Scripture. Jesus quoted Dt. 8:3. The Word of God is my food.
- Eph 5:17 Scripture is the Sword which is the only offensive weapon in the armor of the Lord.
- In the next temptation Jesus will use Scripture again: Deut 6:16. Then in the final temptation Jesus uses Deut 6:13.
- Jesus used Scripture repeatedly to rebuke the devil. This implies that we must Study Scripture and know Scripture. Psalm 119:11 says, “Your Word have I hidden in my heart that I will not sin against the Lord.” God’s Word keeps us from falling during an attack. Study it and memorize it.
- Be prepared for repeat attacks.
- Jesus was tempted three times.
- Stand firm: read Eph 6:10-14: when you have done everything you can do, stand firm. Jesus stood firm and resisted the devil.
- Take the spiritual realm seriously.
- I fear that we live our lives as if there is no spiritual realm.
- My mentor Rick Sams writes:
This controversial “holiday” does have an inglorious history, which may help explain why it’s a “hot button” among Christians. My source is Halloween Through The Twenty Centuriesby Ralph Linton, Stirling professor (ret) of Anthropology at Yale. The name originated because that is the eve of All Hallows (All Saints) Day created by the Catholic Church to honor all martyred saints.
The earliest Halloween celebrations were held by the Druids, a cultish religious order in ancient Britain, Ireland and France. These celebrations, starting in the 2nd century BC, honored Samhain, lord of the dead. Human victims were sacrificed at this festival held on Nov. 1, the Celtic New Year’s Day. Black cats were put in wicker cages and burned alive on Halloween because they believed black cats could be witches who had changed into cats.
Samhain was supposed to gather all the spirits of the dead on Halloween night. Gradually fairies, goblins and witches were added to this assembly. People practicing witchcraft, being opposed to all the church stood for, would gather on Halloween to mock the All-Saints services and engage in their own occultic rituals. Eventually the church charged them with heresy.
These rites migrated to this country over the past three centuries. The addition of American traditions have become embedded into this day. The jack-o-lantern represents a dead man, “Jack,” sentenced to roam the earth with a lantern, a pumpkin lit with a coal given to him by Satan. He was to continue till judgment day, because neither Heaven nor Hell wanted him. This evolved into carrying jack-o-lanterns to ward off evil spirits.
Few people would oppose the fun of children dressing up, eating candy and having parties, but when the fun becomes entangled with death and destruction, what are we to do? Aren’t there plenty of ways we can celebrate the glories and goodness of God, expressed in the fall colors and harvest without celebrating the scary, superstitious and satanic?
On the one hand the apostle Paul encouraged us to follow his example to “…become all things to all men, so that by all possible means I might save some” ( I Corinthians 9:22). He learned the cultures of the people he was trying to reach with the Good News of Jesus Christ so he could better tell them about Christ’s love and life-giving ways. He also adopted some of the customs and cultural practices of those people as long as it didn’t require him to compromise Christ and His life-giving ways and words.
On the other hand there are those who would have us run as far away as possible from anything questionable, even quoting the same apostle to justify their separatism: “Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them” (Ephesians 5:11).
It’s our challenge to study Jesus’ and Paul’s words and follow their examples today, having their same passion for God and for people. This requires a large measure of wisdom that only comes from drawing closer to the Lord, Himself, the Giver of all good gifts: “Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of…lights…” (James 1:16-17).
- Our view of Halloween may show that we do or do not take the spiritual realm seriously.
- The text says that Jesus was tempted by the devil as opposed to hunger, pride and to test God.
- Call it what it is. The devil is the tempter.
- Now, I must add: sometimes we may not be tempted by the devil specifically; we may be tempted by our sin nature. We may be tempted by the sin of the world around us. We may be tempted by some of the devil’s demons.
- Rev 12:3 gives indication that satan took 1/3 of the angels when he rebelled against the Lord. These became demons.
- But sometimes because we don’t take the spiritual realm seriously we give the devil a foothold and sometimes we even commit idolatry.
- Eph 4:27 says to not give the devil a foothold, but many times we do things that we may know will cause us to sin, we go places where we know we may be weak. We put ourselves in situations. We must be careful!
- Watch out! 1 Peter 5:8 Be on alert the devil goes around like a lion seeking whom he may devour!
- I am sad to say that far too many Christians are fascinated by the spiritual realm and they are putting Halloween before Jesus. They are putting ghost stories before Christ. Ghost stories, really? Yes, really. There are so many “ghost hunter” shows on television and to entertain those means giving the devil a foothold. The devil wants the attention. Hebrews 12:2: Fix your eyes on Jesus the author and perfecter of our faith.
- We must respond to temptation with Scripture, as Jesus did.
- We must take the spiritual realm seriously, as Jesus did (Jesus was led by the Spirit (vs 1)), Jesus was tempted by the devil, it doesn’t say hunger, pride, power, to test God; but the devil, Jesus was ministered by angels (vs 11).
- We must be prepared to respond to repeated temptations.
- Jesus also had fasted. He was in a state to be close to God. When we are involved in spiritual disciplines we must guard ourselves from attacks.
- We must be involved in spiritual disciplines as Jesus was so that we are prepared to take on the enemy.
So, how do we fight the fight? How do we stay on the offensive?
Jesus was involved in the spiritual disciplines. He was fasting. Fasting is a spiritual discipline. Prayer is a spiritual discipline. These are disciplines that help us grow closer to Christ. Studying is a spiritual discipline. Confession is a spiritual discipline. I would say meeting as a body of Christ is a spiritual discipline.
Jesus knew Scripture. He knew how to respond in Scripture. He knew not to give thought to the devil’s temptations because He knew they contradicted Scripture.
Jesus was prepared for repeated attacks.
Jesus didn’t take spiritual warfare lightly. He was tempted by the devil. From the rest of His life we see Him taking the spiritual realm seriously.
Let’s do the same.
Do you know Jesus? Luke 9:23
God created us to be with Him. (Genesis 1-2)
Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)
Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)
Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)
Everyone who trusts in Him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)
Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)