March 18, 2007
INTRODUCTION – Our theme this year is ?? “Ruling and Reigning with Christ”
How that came about – New Years day – meditating on Gen. ch. 1:26 “Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky, etc.” vs. 28 “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the sky..etc.”
Why I now realize the Lord wanted this to be our theme – – because He has called us to be an army of overcomers. When the apostle Paul says in his letter to the Ephesians that Jesus Christ intends to present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she should be holy and blameless” – – one of the ways He intends for His church to shine and stand apart from the world is that she will be rid of blaming, complaining, and victimization. In other words, this people called the church will be a people who have learned to overcome adversity, trying circumstances, setbacks, parental neglect and abuse, offense, failure, financial lack, former bondages, injustice, and every other thing the enemy has used to convince us that we have a right to say and to think that it will always be this way, this is just the way I am, this is just the way my husband is, this is just the way teenagers are, and thus I cannot do what God has called me to do – or be what God has called me to be. I can’t change things. I just need to accept my lot.
Turn with me if you would to Matthew chapter 4
I. The Setting – Matt. 4:8 – How many of you have had a salesman perhaps on the phone or at your front door or perhaps on a car lot, or maybe at the Mid State Fair paint such a tantalizing picture for you of what he or his company could give you – – and sometimes it is something you really need – like a newer car or vacuum cleaner that actually works – – and before you know it you have pulled out the checkbook or the credit card and paid a price that just minutes earlier before you met this person you wouldn’t have thought of doing?? And once you walked away, you thought to yourself, “How did that happen?” “And how am I going to explain this to my husband or wife?”
Well Satan has that same ability to introduce his pitch or temptation with an introduction that is powerfully convincing. I know there have been books written about salesmanship looking at the model and example of Jesus Christ. I’m surprised there have not been any written after the model and example of Satan. Please note that he didn’t make the pitch to Jesus until he painted the picture. The text says in vs. 8 “….
I’m guessing from this mountain Satan was able to show him in panoramic view the glory and splendor of what we now know as China, and Africa and Europe and North , Latin and Central America. Perhaps he had the ability to show the beauty of these nations – kind of like national geographic often does – without showing the devastation that Satan has already caused. Perhaps he made sure Jesus saw every single different ethnic group – knowing how Jesus’s heart would be touched by such a visual.
I’m sure as Satan was painting this picture, Jesus Christ was reflecting back on an earlier conversation He had had with His Father – that was prophetically recorded hundreds of years earlier in Psalm 2. God the Father as vs. 7 states, said to His Son: “You are My Son, Today I have begotten You. Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as your inheritance, and the very ends of the earth as Your possession.”
Jesus knew the kingdoms of the earth were to become his. The devil knew He knew that. So again we see him in his own diabolical way – trying to encourage Jesus to focus on the end – and making light of the means. The issue is not whether Jesus would receive His inheritance. The issue is how and when would He receive it?
II. The Temptation – vs. 9 One thing we know about Satan – his pitches always come with a price. (Let’s read vs. 9) “These kingdoms – Jesus – are full of precious people that you created. And they are like sheep without a shepherd. They are destined to be yours. Why not take what’s yours now? Why wait? You’ve been baptized, you’ve completed your fast, claim what’s yours!! Oh, only one minor detail. To get these now, you have to fall down and worship me now.”
Satan by the way was created to be a worshipper. Many scholars believe he was one of the chief angels for a period of time. And we know from the book of revelation – angels live to worship and serve God because they have the ability to see Him as He really is. But Satan grew tired of worshipping. Instead he wanted to be worshipped himself. This passion or ambition of his that got him kicked out of heaven has never waned folks. Satan salivates at the possibility of one of God’s creatures turning to worship him instead of the God who created them; or the Savior who died for them.
Now most people when they worship Satan do not realize they are worshipping him. They are blind to the fact that he is the god of this world, which they are slaves in – they are blind to the fact that there are really only two kingdoms in the Universe. One is the kingdom of God that Jesus rules. The other one is the kingdom of darkness that Satan rules. Unless God has supernaturally delivered you from the kingdom of darkness and placed you in His kingdom, you are still a slave to sin and ultimately satan is your father.
III. Jesus’s Response – vs. 10 (read it) Jesus Christ up to this point, had effectively resisted Satan by responding to his temptations with scripture that repudiated his deceptive ways. But when Satan brought up the subject of worship,…. he hit a button that caused a passion rise up in our Savior that no devil can stand up to. Satan must not have paid much attention to the last 30 years of Jesus’s life; for if He was anything in those years – He was passionate in His desire and commitment to worship and serve His Father.
The first glimpse in scripture we get of this is in Luke 2, where Jesus’s absence in the caravan headed back to Nazareth – was somehow overlooked by his parents and relatives, and some time later He was found back in Jerusalem in the temple – sitting in the midst of the teachers there. Do you remember His response to his parents’ exasperation?? “Why is it that you were looking for me? Did you not know that I had to be in My Father’s house?” I Had to be in my Father’s house – mom and dad. He is my only good. My one heart’s desire is to know and worship and serve Him. “I delight to do Your will, O my God, Your law is within my heart.” so says Psalm 40:8, a verse most scholars ascribe to the Messiah. Nothing else (comparatively speaking) mattered to Jesus Christ.
Only one being was worthy of worship – – only one being was worthy of moment by moment obedience and devotion. How dare Satan suggest that he or anyone else might be the recipient of it?? It was this same zeal for true worship of the one true God that caused Jesus some time later to cleanse the temple of all those who had bowed the knee to Satan, and thus were ripping off and abusing those who sincerely came to worship and seek God.
Go Satan! You have crossed a line now. For it is written, “You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.”
Jesus of course knew the book of Deuteronomy like the back of His hand. Most scholars believe He quoted from Deut. 6:13-15. Let’s turn there. Then 10:20
Can I ask you a question at this point? Why – if quoting scripture is the way to resist the devil and get him to leave us alone – did he not leave after the first or second temptation?
I’ll tell you why. Because when Satan dared suggest that Jesus Christ, who lived every moment of His earthly life to please and and serve and worship His Father, when Satan dared suggest that Jesus bow down and worship him, Jesus’s eyes became ablaze with an intensity that would have scared the hell out of anyone – devils included. Satan hardly got those words out of his mouth before the fire rose up in Jesus’s spirit and Satan immediately knew – when it came to worship – the resolve in Jesus Christ’s heart to worship the one true God was unnegotiable and unwavering. When Jesus commanded him to go, he knew it would have been foolish to stick around.
You see the only reason Satan sticks around with us is because he can detect there are some things in our hearts that are negotiable. We may sing on Sunday morning that we love Jesus and will follow Him forever. But if he comes and visit us when we are in front of the t.v. or with our friends at school, or our co-workers at our job – – those worship songs are long gone and forgotten.
That’s why Jesus’s brother James, who I think is one of the most passionate writers of scripture, – when trying to help those he was writing to – to resist and overcome the devil – that’s why James said these words, “You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. (and might I throw in here – whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself open bait to the devil?). James 4:4 Vs. 5 Or do you think that the Scriptures speaks to no purpose: (and here he quotes from Ex. 20:5) “He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us?” Vs. 6 But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, (and here he quotes from Psalm 138:6 & Prov. 3:34)“God is opposed to the proud, but give grace to the humble.” Vs. 7 Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Vs. 8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.”
Listen, Satan is like a drug sniffer dog – – only he doesn’t sniff for drugs – – he sniffs for double-mindedness. And when he finds it, her persists until he has his prize. Only scripture quoted by a passionate 24/7 worshippers of Christ can resist him. Before we can resist Satan – we have to submit to God – we have to draw near to Him. We have to experience His love and amazing grace and infinite power and wisdom and goodness on a daily basis, so the world means less and less to us.
IV. The Result (the devil fled) – vs. 11
CONCLUSION – Our ability to rule and reign with Christ day in and day out will depend on our ability to resist the devil and his many temptations. And that ability to resist the devil will depend on the level of our passion for Christ when no one is looking. It will depend on whether we have come to a place where only one thing matters to us – and that is that God alone is glorified and obeyed.
If Sniffer Satan finds us to be grounded in the word of God and yielded moment by moment to the Lordship of Christ, and passionate for the glory of God – – he will upon our command literally flee from us.
If Sniffer Satan finds us to be double-minded, tainted by fleshly ambition, and likely to compromise, he will stick around until he has inflicted his cruel damage.
So what can we do to deepen our devotion to Jesus, thus strengthening our defenses against the evil one?
Six things: 1. Get grounded in the word of God. Every day – every word – striving for meditation and response – not just mindless reading. Jesus’s model in Psalm 40:8 “I delight to do Your will oh my God, Your law is within my heart.”
2. Get inspired. Over the years my devotion to Christ has slowly increased, but it has had its ebbs and flows. There are several things that have brought needed inspiration: a. anointed worship music; b. biographies and other devotional books like “Power through Prayer” by E.M. Bounds, etc. c. praying alone and with others; d. healing a passionate anointed sermon.
3. Get connected to the body of Christ; join one of our regional home groups – – Thomas B. White quote p. 167.
4. Be in a congregation where the Holy Spirit has raised up and is raising up modern day Epaphras’s – “Epaphras, who is one of your number, a bonds lave of Jesus Christ, sends you his greetings, always laboring earnestly for you in his prayers, that you may stand perfect and fully assured in the all the will of God.” Col. 4:12.
5. Be in a congregation where the leaders are increasingly committed to presenting every man complete in Christ (said to the Colossians) and destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” said to the Corinthians.
6. Cry out to God as seen in Psalm 119