Jesus came to reveal God’s relationship to man as well as man’s relationship to man. Without that revelation we would not have a clear understanding of His person, His character or His teaching. However that is not all Jesus revealed to us! He also revealed to mankind the spiritual forces that oppose us and in doing so gave us the ability to understand the deception and craftiness our enemy possesses. How Jesus dealt with these spiritual forces gives us the needed information to triumph over our foes.
It would be good for us to realize that we have a spiritual adversary that constantly opposes us. Every one of us in one way or another battles this enemy from the moment of our conception to our death. We should find great comfort in realizing that there is an adversary that is in direct opposition to us. Our failure to realize we have an opponent would cause us to minimize his existence and explain away the affects his horde of evil emissaries has upon us, leaving us to believe that the evil that abounds has its origin in our human nature. Realizing, “Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8) should awaken us all to the fact that our battles are often a result of a very real enemy that wages war against us.
Matthew 4: 1-11 gives us one of the most vivid and commanding looks into how satan attacks and how we are to defeat this adversary of mankind. Humanity often blames their heredity or environment as excuses as to why their struggle with satan is in vain. However, the first Adam could not blame his past because his heredity came directly from God or his environment because there was no place as pristine as that found in the Garden of Eden.
Jesus, the last Adam not only had a heredity that was marred by the unsavory acts of those who went before him but was attacked, in a desolate wilderness environment. His victory enabled Him to be triumphant over the forces of evil that caused havoc in all who had gone before. The attack upon Jesus resembled the attack satan waged upon Adam and came in three stages; body, soul and spirit.
Like Adam each of the three stages were designed to trap and enslave Jesus. In God there is found perfect love but in satan there is only cruel hate. Evil chooses carefully it’s time and place, using deception and craftiness to draft its plan of attack. There is no time when a person is more susceptible to attack than after a time of being exalted. Jesus had just come from being baptized by John where he had heard his Father’s voice saying, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” The moment we are most in danger is immediately following a new revelation from God. The devil is crafty and deceptive and knows exactly when and where we are the most susceptible to defeat.
- The first attack often is in the area of the body or the lust of the flesh. “Then the tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” The apostle John called this the cravings of sinful man, 1 John 2:16
- The second attack has to do with the soul or the lust of the eyes. “Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple and said, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down.” The apostle John called this the lust of his eyes. 1 John 2:16
- The third attack deals with the spirit of man or pride of life. 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.” The apostle John called this the boasting of what he has and does. 1 John 2:16
These in turn affect three areas of our lives, our ability to reason as to what is of most importance, to judge which is to be preferred and our will, which determines what we will pursue.
However, each of these tests were exposed for what they were by the response that Jesus had towards them and in his response we see how we ourselves are to defeat the adversary. It is something to note that these attacks did not just begin in the wilderness. For thirty years Jesus had faced temptation in some form or other. Every day there was something that came against him and every day he fought back and overcame his adversary. Yet look at the persistence of satan always attacking, never giving up. It says that when satan failed in v11 “Then the devil left him,…” but it was not for long. He followed him to Gethsemane and to the Cross, it was only on Resurrection morning that satan departed from him for good. None of us are exempt from his attacks until we have passed over into the arms of Jesus.
Satan often attacks us in three areas, physical, mental and spiritual or body, soul and spirit, and begins by using a distortion of a Biblical truth. Remember the best lies have just enough of the truth in them to be believed. Our enemy will usually not attack us where we are the strongest but where we are the weakest or where we have left an open door into our hearts. He does this by using a temptation that is based partly on that which seems right.
How did Jesus defeat satan? Let us look at the words that Isaiah spoke concerning Jesus in Isaiah 11:3, KJV “and he will delight in the fear of the Lord. He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears.” The word ‘delight’ in the Hebrew language means to smell or perceive. The word ‘fear’ in the Hebrew deals with the morality of God. Jesus had trained himself to smell out, perceive or discern quickly those things that were either morally acceptable or unacceptable to God. It further says that Jesus made this decision not by what he saw or by what he heard in the natural but by clinging to the supernatural revelation that comes from the spirit of truth. (Read Phil 1:9-10)
For us to defeat satan in his conquest of our body, mind and spirit we must understand the power that is found in the word to first; cleanse our nature so that how we perceive in the natural is pure. Second; to restore our soul to its place of moral purity so that we know what is pure and acceptable to God. Third; by our spirit, allowing God full reign as Lord and King over our lives.
Since the fall of Adam and Eve mankind’s ability to reason, judge and the will to decide has been faulty affecting every decision that we are faced with. However, since Jesus, the second Adam, came and redeemed our fallen nature each of these areas have been sanctified. II Peter 1:3-4 tells us that, “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world cause by evil desires.”
Thank you Jesus for the Resurrection power made available to us through your sacrifice!