Sunday, April 21, 2013

Jesus in the Wilderness; The Christian in the Wilderness: LUKE 4:1-3

by CWK

Lk 4:1-3: And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And he ate nothing during those days. And when they were ended, he was hungry. The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.”

Mk 1:12-13: The Spirit immediately drove him (Jesus) out into the wilderness. And he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. And he was with the wild animals, and the angels were ministering to him.

Mt 4:1-3: Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.


Jesus was led by the Spirit into the Wilderness, and tempted by the devil. First of all, before giving us a manual on how to fight temptation, this episode directs our attention to the person and work of Christ – which, incidentally, is the best way to fight temptation.

Are you being tempted right now? right now you ought to gaze full on Jesus.

I. The Person and Work of Jesus

1) Person: Jesus is a merciful and faithful high priest

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin (Hebrews 4:15).”

We say, when someone is tempted and falls -- "I could never be tempted like that." We betray a lack of sympathy when we say such things. Jesus, however, is always able to sympathize (feel compassion because you have been through the same thing) with the tempted. He knows by hard experience what a tempted person been through.

What is your temptation: envy? discontent? despair? immorality? You name the temptation: Jesus was tempted in every way that you have been, or ever will be. And so, he knows how you feel. 

This sympathy of Christ helps to break the power of temptation; one reason that temptation is so vicious: we feel isolated; we feel that no one else has ever was tempted like we were – no one else knows what it is like to struggle against the storm quick temper, or the quicksand of a melancholy spirit, or the monster of envy. We must be way worse than others: that we are alone.

We are alone in our temptation... Wrong. Jesus knows how it feels: he has all temptations in common with you. Also, whatever your temptation, they are common with all men.

1 Cor. 10: No temptation has seized you except what is common to man, and God is faithful...

This is why it is encouraging to read about the despair of Cowper, the timidity of Timothy, or the shadow lands of C.S. Lewis, etc. We are not alone.

Remember in every temptation: Jesus, though he never sinned, sympathizes with his people.

2) Work: Jesus Conquers the Evil One

Jesus is the New Israel (Jesus: 40 days – Israel 40 years); Israel failed in the Wilderness, but Jesus does not fail in the Wilderness. Jesus is the Last Adam; Adam failed, in the garden of Eden when facing the tempter, but Jesus is victorious over the tempter. Adam, as our head, plunged us all into death; Jesus, as our head, plunges us all into life. Jesus is the hero we've been waiting for since Genesis 3:15.

Gen. 3:15: “I will put enmity between you (Satan) and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”

In the wilderness, Jesus faces up against our ancient foe, and emerges victorious. He faces Satan later, on the cross, and once again conquers, making a public spectacle of the powers of darkness (Col. 2:8). 

Romans 5:17: For if, because of one man's trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.

Jesus, as our head, plunges us all into life.

II. The Christian in the Wilderness

Consider 4 things about this passage that apply not only to Christ, but also to us: 1) Led by the Spirit, 2) In the wilderness, 3) Tempted, 4) By the Devil

1. Led by the Spirit

Jesus – baptized with the Spirit, then led by the Spirit (Lk. 3:22, 4:1) – then he baptizes us with the Spirit (3:16), and we are led by the Spirit.

Romans 8:14: For whosoever are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.

Led By The Spirit: the Christian is empowered by God’s Spirit and propelled forward by God’s Spirit in obedience. We are carried along by the raging river rapid of the power and grace of God.

Where does the Spirit lead?

2. The Wilderness

Wilderness = not a dense forest.

Wilderness =
A desert:
A place that puts us to the test
A place where comforts and conveniences are removed
A place where supports are lacking
A place remote from human society and encouragement
A dry and thirsty land
A place of loneliness and isolation.
A desolate and deserted place (uninhabited).
A place without civilization, where there are wild animals (Mk 1:12).

Kinds of wilderness = a sick bed, loss of friends, loss of loved ones, physical illness, loneliness

“Though solitude is a friend to a good heart, yet Satan knows how to improve it against us (Matt Henry).”

Kinds of wilderness: a sick bed, a recent visit to the house of mourning, loneliness.

Note, Jesus was LED here on purpose by the Spirit. If you are in a wilderness, this does not mean God has deserted you in a desert. No, he has -- for good reason -- brought you there.

Take comfort: God for sundry just and holy ends sometimes leads his people into the wilderness.

Robert Hawker: True, you are exercised; and your exercises appear to you so particularly distressing, as if no one of God's people before had ever been so circumstanced. But in them you should mark the wisdom, as well as the love of him that appoints them. If you would trace Jesus in all, you would find a sanctified blessing in all; and the consequence of your heaviest trials would then bring in an exact proportion of the sweetest comforts. It is because they are particular, that they are suited to you...And yet you are convinced, in a cool hour, when grace is alive, that if a band of angels were to arrange the circumstances of your state, they could not order them with the wisdom and love that they are now ordered with.

Led by the Spirit into the wilderness = God is sovereign over the wilderness times:
WCF V.V: The most wise, righteous, and gracious God does oftentimes leave, for a season, His own children to manifold temptations, and the corruption of their own hearts, to chastise them for their former sins, or to discover unto them the hidden strength of corruption and deceitfulness of their hearts, that they may be humbled; and, to raise them to a more close and constant dependence for their support upon Himself, and to make them more watchful against all future occasions of sin, and for sundry other just and holy ends.

The most wise, righteous, and gracious God does often times leave, for a season, his own children, to manifold temptations and the corruptions of their own hearts. The fact you and I must cling to in the wilderness: God is in control; He has good purposes from bring me here.

3) Tempted

The wilderness is the place of TEMPTATION.

Tempt can have two meaning: test; tempt.

A. Test 

(This is how God uses the Wilderness)

The LORD tests the righteous, but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence (Psalm 11.5).

When God tests: to see what a person is made of: to put them in a place of pressure to reveal their true character; we are proved to be steadfast or unstable
Dt. 8:1 “All the commandments that I am commanding you today you shall be careful to do, that you may live and multiply, and go in and possess the land which the Lord swore to give to your forefathers. You shall remember all the way which the Lord your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.”

When a false teacher arises, God also uses this to test his people:
Dt. 13:3: The Lord your God is testing you to find out whether you love him with all your heart and with all your soul. It is the Lord your God you must follow, and him you must revere. Keep his commands and obey him; serve him and hold fast to him.
i.e., Lets check, and see what is under the hood. Let's see what you are really made of.
Peter C. Craigie: The words emphasize God's sovereignty and permission. The temptation would test the true disposition of the hearts of the Israelites, and while the temptation was genuinely dangerous, the overcoming of that temptation would strengthen the people in their love of God and obedience to his commandments.
So, God is sovereign (in control) over the wilderness; herein, he reveals our true character: shows us what is really in our heart.

*So, we ought to view wilderness times as an opportunity to show that our heart is genuinely committed to God, and thus bring praise and glory to Jesus. We ought to say: OK, God is testing me here to see what I am made of. 

NOTE: God does not tempt anyone to evil because God himself does not have the slightest speck of darkness in his character. He does test us. When a good teacher gives a student at test, the teacher is not trying to trick the student; nor does the teacher root for the student to get an answer wrong. 
John Piper on John Newton's Confidence In The Loving Providence of God

In order to maintain love and tenderness that thinks more about the other person's need than your own comforts, you must have an unshakable hope that the sadness of your life will work for your everlasting good. Otherwise you will give in, turn a deaf ear to need and say, "Let us eat drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die." Newton found this peace and confidence in the all-governing providence of God over good and evil. He describes his own experience when he describes the believer:
And his faith upholds him under all trials, by assuring him, that every dispensation is under the direction of his Lord; that chastisements are a token of his love; that the season, measure, and continuance of his sufferings, are appointed by Infinite Wisdom, and designed to work for his everlasting good; and that grace and strength shall be afforded him, according to his day. This keeps him from being overwhelmed with anger and bitterness and resentment when he is assaulted with pressures and disappointments. It is as practical as pastoral interruptions: "When I hear a knock at my study door, I hear a message from God. It may be a lesson of instruction; perhaps a lesson of patience: but, since it is his message, it must be interesting." 
He knew that even his temptations were ordered by the sovereign goodness of God and that not to have any was dangerous for the soul. He approved of Samuel Rutherford's comment, that "there is no temptation like being without temptation."

1 Peter 1:7: In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

When God tests his people, He challenges them to rise to their best. We ought to see our fiery trials as a test – a chance to prove our devotion is genuine and bring praise glory and honor to Jesus Christ.

B. Tempt

Tempt = entice: to try and lure into evil and sin (God never does this: Satan frequently does this).

Remember: it is not a sin to be tempted; it is a TRIAL to be tempted. It is a kind of suffering to be tempted. Jesus was tempted in every way, but never sinned. So, no matter our temptations, we may still  come through spotless.
Octavius Winslow: Yes, the very battlefield is one of severe temptation to the Christian warrior. We can only compare his position to an armed force going out to war, and startled at every turn by some wild beast rushing from its lair, or periled by some pitfall lying concealed at every step. This is no over-wrought picture of the world through which the saints are passing. Things that are lawful, are snares. Things, too, that wear the most innocent and innocuous form, often conceal the greatest danger. Yet how little are we wide awake to this.
Spurgeon on ‘divers trials’ (from sermon on James 1):
As to what shape they (our temptations) take, we may say this much: the trial or temptation of each man is distinct from that of every other. When God did tempt Abraham he was bidden to take his son, his only son, and offer him upon a mountain for a sacrifice. Nobody here was ever tried in that way: nobody ever will be. We may have the trial of losing our child, but certainly not the trial of having a command to offer him in sacrifice. That was a trial peculiar to Abraham: necessary and useful to him, though never proposed to us. In the case of the young man in the gospels, our Lord Jesus tried him with, "If thou wouldest be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven." Some have dreamed that it must therefore be the duty of everybody to part with their possessions: but this is idle. It would not be the duty of any man to offer up his only son; and it is not the duty of every man to part with all his goods. These were tests to particular persons; and others equally special and searching have been applied in other cases. We are not to try ourselves, nor to desire other men's trials; it will be well if we endure those which the Lord appoints for us, for they will be wisely chosen. That which would most severely test me would perhaps be no trial to you; and that which tries you might be no temptation to me. This is one reason why we often judge one another so severely, because feeling ourselves to be strong in that particular point we argue that the fallen one must have been strong in that point too, and therefore must have willfully and earnestly have determined to do wrong. This may be a cruel supposition. We hastily conclude that the temptation must have been as feeble in his case as it would have been in our own; which is a great mistake, for a temptation which to you or to me would be no temptation at all, may be to another individual, of a peculiar constitution and under singular circumstances, a most fierce and terrible blast from the adversary, before which he falls mournfully, but not with malice aforethought. Divers trials, says the apostle, and he knew what he said.

“Those who will get to Heaven must fight their way (Matthew Henry).”

4. By the Devil

1 Peter 5: The devil prowls around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour.

III. Three Things to Know in the Day of Temptation

1) Know you have a  Foe

The famous military strategist Sun Tzu said, “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.  If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.” 
Satan is a tempter: he is trying to lure us away from simple devotion to Jesus Christ. 

1 Thess 3:5: “For this cause, when I could no longer forbear, I sent to know your faith, lest by some means the tempter have tempted you, and our labour be in vain.”

2 Cor. 11:13: “But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.”

He is cunning: crafty: deceptive: expert in forming wicked plots. He lays traps that take decades to unfold. 

How does he tempt?
1. He casts doubt on God’s Word: Did God really say (Gen. 3)?
2. Casts doubt on our identity: Are you really the Son/Daughter of God? "If you are the son of God (Mt. 4:2), "IF..."
3. He calls into question God's character as a good Father.
He especially attacks the goodness of God. He casts God as a cruel prison warden, and us, his hapless and reward-less slaves. He would have us entertain hard thoughts of God. But remember: God exists and rewards those who diligently seek him (Heb. 11:6).

Remember: To be tempted is no sin, but an affliction; sometimes we confuse the two and feel guilt for being tempted. Or, because we are tempted we think: “I may as well give up; there is no hope this temptation will abate.”

2. Know Who You Are

Satan tries to cast doubt on Jesus’ identity as a Son of God.(Mt. 4:2). He does the same to us to disquiet and confuse us.
The assurance of our sonship is the best preparative for temptation. If the good Spirit witness to our adoption, that will furnish us with an answer to all the suggestions of the evil spirit, designed either to debauch or disquiet us (Matt. Henry).”

cf. Mt. 3.17, “This is my son…” with, “If you are the son of God (Mt. 4.2).” What God has affirmed, Satan tries to challenge – see pg. 104, Knowing Jesus Through The Old Testament.

1 Cor. 6: You were washed, your were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

The evil one tries to attack our spirit (Remember our Battle is NOT against flesh and blood: Ephesians 6:1) and say that we are not children of God. He says, "You're not a REAL christian; look at you! You could never be a child of God. Remember all the bad things you've done? Still do? Ha, you are no child of a Holy God!"

He says such; He lies.

John 3:1: Behold what manner of love the father has given to us that we should be called children of God. And, that is what we are.

3. Know the Captain of Your Salvation

You cannot triumph over Satan, but Jesus Christ has, and through him, you are more than a conqueror!

“Though Satan is a strong man armed, yet the Captain of our salvation is stronger than he. It is some comfort to us to think that Christ suffered, being tempted; for thus it appears that temptations, if not yielded to, are not sins, they are afflictions only. And we have a High Priest who knows, by experience, what it is to be tempted, and who therefore is the more tenderly touch with the feelings of our infirmities in an hour of temptation (Matt. Henry).”

Jesus was tempted in every way as we are, yet without sin. He conquered the evil one. He will soon crush him under our feet.

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