Monday, December 3, 2018
Matthew 4:8 – 10 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’”
God is not the only one who promises gifts to us. Satan competes for our loyalty with gifts that appeal to our personal and fleshly desires.
As Jesus prepares to begin His three-year ministry to the people of Israel and bring them the good news of God’s salvation, Satan attempts to thwart God’s plan. He tempts Jesus to take His eyes off God’s purpose for His life and turn them to the things of the world. He tempts Jesus with His physical needs by trying to get Him to focus on His hunger. He tempts Jesus to promote Himself in the eyes of people by telling Him to use His power and authority to do a miracle to impress people. Then Satan tempts Jesus to worship him with the promise of a gift. Satan says he will make Jesus the ruler of all the kingdoms of the world if Jesus will bow to him. Fortunately for all of us, Jesus resisted all these temptations and waited for God’s perfect fulfillment of His purpose in His time.
Jesus was convinced that His Father would provide for His physical needs because He was focused on accomplishing the Father’s purpose and not His own. Jesus knew that His Father would one day glorify Him in front of all mankind, so He did not need to exalt Himself in front of people. Jesus also knew that one day God would make Him ruler of all the kingdoms of the world, and that by accepting that honor from Satan it would only make Satan the ultimate ruler and not God. Jesus knew that the gifts that God had promised, even though they required great endurance and patience to be realized, would be far greater than any immediate gratification provided by Satan’s competing gifts.
Every day Satan competes for our loyalty by offering us gifts that promise immediate gratification. Every day we are tempted to sacrifice our worship of the Lord on the altar of personal pursuits and pleasures. Every day we are tempted to serve self rather than God. Satan offers benefits that appeal to the physical, emotional, and financial goals of our flesh. Satan pursues us because he knows that if we accept his offers we will become his best servants: not because we are evil, but because our choice does the most damage to the cause of Christ.
The testimony we give to the power of the Gospel to transform lives is negated by the person who claims Christ but lives under the influence of the flesh. Such a person is Satan’s best employee. In exchange for his gifts of worldly pleasure, power and prosperity they have become Satan’s servants and have made a mockery of the gift of God.
Do you remember the old television game show called Let’s Make A Deal? Every one of us is a contestant on the spiritual version of that show. Two gifts have been offered, and you must choose.
Gift #1 has been fully revealed to us. It offers the guarantee of eternal life following an earthly life of surrender to Christ. It will require suffering, hardship, trials, trouble, and rejection by the rest of the world. But in the end, we are glorified with Jesus and inherit all things with Him.
Gift #2 has also been fully revealed, but for some reason most people choose not to see beyond the immediate glitter that they see. The gift offers wealth untold, acceptance by the world, and the promise that personal pleasure will fulfill all emotional and spiritual needs. Behind all that glitter is the sentence of death and punishment in hell for all eternity. But glitter blinds us. It is so appealing to our flesh that we are willing to gamble our lives on the hope that the experience of the glitter will somehow void the consequences of our choice. That’s why so many people keep choosing gift #2 – and losing.
If you’ve never chosen gift #1, today should be your day. Call on Jesus to save you.
If you have chosen gift #1, make sure you aren’t tempted to trade it in for any part of gift #2. Check your life right now and make sure, like Jesus did, that you worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.