THE REASON WHY JESUS WAS TEMPTED
Luke 4: 1-13 & Matthew 27: 39-44
By AS Venter
Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came to this earth to break down the evil works of satan, so that we as lost sinners can be saved from the power of satan, and in this way to become children of God. This is established for us in the words of Col. 1:13 “Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son”
If we regard the life of Jesus Christ where it led up to the chain of events as recorded in the part we have read in Mt. 27, we see that satan did not even spare Jesus when He hung there on the cross. He even tempted Jesus whilst He was in agony. The reason for this is that satan tried to prevent himself suffering the loss of his power over a lost humanity.
To properly understand the events in the Scripture we have read, where satan came with his final endeavour at tempting Jesus, requires of us to in the first place establish how satan came by his power.
THE POWER OF SATAN
It is written in 1Jn. 5:19 “And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness.”
In the pre-adamic time of creation, Satan who was then Lucifer, together with a third of the angels, attempted to equalise himself with God. He and his angels were cast out of heaven, for we read in Isa.14:12-14 “How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.”
This fall of satan resulted in the destruction of the pre-adamic creation, that’s why we read in Gen.1:2 “And the earth was without form, and void…” whereas Isa.45:18 points out that it was not God’s objective for the earth to be a chaos, for we read: “For thus saith the LORD that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: I am the LORD; and there is none else.”
God re-created this destroyed creation and, as the crown of His new creation, He formed man, to whom He subjected the whole of creation. We read in Gen.1:26 “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.”
Through the fall of man, Adam as head of mankind handed the power God had given him to satan, that’s why satan could say to Jesus according to Lk. 4:6 that this power had been given over to him.
Jesus Christ came to this earth as the last Adam according to 1Cor. 15:45 to lawfully take back this power which the first Adam had given up to satan. This was only possible in that Jesus had to lay down His life on the cross to abolish the power of the grave.
Satan was quite aware thereof that Jesus had come to this earth to strip him of his power, that’s why he offered Jesus this power, in an attempt at getting Jesus under his control, for we read in Luke 4:5- 7 “And the devil, taking him up into an high mountain, showed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it. If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine”.
By applying God’s Word, Jesus rejected this offer of satan, because He said to him (Lk. 4:8b) “…Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.”
Jesus followed God’s appointed way, which included death on the cross and in this way He stripped satan of his power and was He able according to Mt.28:18 to declare: “…All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.”
THE MODUS OPERANDI OF SATAN
To have been able to deprive Adam of this power and in an attempt at denying Jesus this power, satan time and again has one objective and that is to destroy. That’s why we are told by Peter according to 1Pet. 5:8 “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.”
The first objective of satan therefore was to steal away the power which God had given Adam, so that all of mankind could be under his dominance. Therein he has succeeded (Rom. 3:23).
In addition, satan attempted to at all cost retain the power he had robbed from Adam, so that Jesus would not be able to take it over. Thank the Lord, therein he has failed.
Stripped of his power he is constantly endeavouring to prevent people from obtaining deliverance in Jesus and to make powerless those who did obtain deliverance through spiritual rebirth.
His modus operandi whereby he time and again wanted to achieve his objective and still manages to attain it, has remained the same right from the fall of man up to this very day, precisely because he has had so much success with it.
His modus operandi consists of deceiving humans with temptations, so that they believe his lies. He does this by launching a direct attack on a person’s mind, or by utilizing people as was the case in the part of Scripture we have read, where people tempted Jesus by mocking Him.
It is therefore conspicuous in satan’s modus operandi that since the fall of man, the wilderness temptation of Jesus, and Jesus’ temptation on the cross, satan has used and is still utilizing mainly three types of temptation.
SATAN’S DECEPTION BY MEANS OF THREE TYPES OF TEMPTATION
THE TEMPTATION THAT WAS DIRECTED AT THE POSITION HELD BY JESUS
If we consider the wilderness temptation we see that it was directed at the position Jesus held as the Son of God, for we read in Lk. 4:3 “And the devil said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, command this stone that it be made bread.”
Satan used Jesus’ physical wants of the moment, namely His need of nourishment, to shift Jesus’ focus to His position as the Son of God, so that Jesus in the power of the Son of God, would take action to satisfy His physical needs. In this way He would have acted outside the will of God.
If one looks at the second part of the Scripture we have read, then we see that satan employs people to achieve exactly the same object, for we read in Mt.27: 39-40 “And they that passed by reviled him, wagging their heads, And saying, Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross.” Once again a temptation for Him to act outside the will of God.
Jesus Who came to this earth for the sake of humanity, is confronted by humankind regarding His position as Son of God, for did He not come to this earth precisely so that mankind would acknowledge Him as the Son of man?
Was it not precisely in this regard that satan attained the balance of power in the garden of Eden, when he held up before Eve a position equivalent to that of God? We read in Gen. 3:5 “For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” [NKJV]
How many people are going to meet up with eternity without God, precisely because satan has succeeded in shifting the focus of sinners to their position and status in society?
It is arguably the single most substantial reason why people are unable to obtain redemption, because they cannot see their way clear, due to their position, rank or status in society, to humble themselves to make restitution to their fellow-men. It is also this same rank or status whereupon satan has succeeded in directing mankind’s focus, which causes people to be unwilling to bow before God.
Do read the history of king Saul in 1 Sam. 15 where it is recorded that he sinned against God by taking of the accursed things for himself on the pretext that he and his men intended it as a sacrifice to the Lord. But he is reprimanded by Samuel for sinning and he also admitted to Samuel that he had sinned.
Satan however succeeded in letting Saul focus on his position as king, for Saul said to Samuel according to 1Sam. 15: 30 “I have sinned: yet honour me now, I pray thee, before the elders of my people, and before Israel, and turn again with me, that I may worship the LORD thy God.” Saul admitted that he acted wrongly, but he actually requested Samuel not to do harm to his position as king before his people.
This problem of satan making people focus on their position and status has even been carried into the church nowadays, because seminars are presented in churches in respect of self-image and positive thinking.
How many lives of God’s children have become impotent, because satan has succeeded in drawing their focus away from Jesus, so that they began focussing on their spiritual achievements and their standing as children of God.
As a young evangelist, Billy Graham showed many people the way to Jesus and this is also the message he proclaimed in books he had written at that time.
However, it is the very same Billy Graham who in subsequent years as renowned evangelist in the 1980’s turned his back on the persecuted church in Russia, and it is the self-same Billy Graham who said on Larry King Live on 2 April, 2005, that he is more certain of the pope’s salvation than he is of his own. And this whilst it is a known fact that Pope John Paul II has done more than any other person in promoting idolatry and the consulting of familiar spirits (See sections in “Basuin” of June, 2005).
Satan seeks to destroy, that’s why he wants to make the children of God powerless through temptation, so that God’s children will no longer focus on Jesus.
THE TEMPTATION WHEREIN A SHORT CUT WAS HELD BEFORE JESUS
We read in Lk. 4:6-7 “And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it. If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine.”
Satan knew that Jesus had come to strip him of his power, that’s why he offers Jesus a short cut, whereby this power can be obtained more easily than having to follow the way of suffering.
It is furthermore illustrated for us in Mt.27:42: “He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him.”
The mob rejected Jesus through unbelief. Abruptly satan offers Jesus a short cut that would exclude death on the cross, because if in some dramatic way He was able to come down from the cross, then the people will believe in Him. And that whereas true faith is not vested in signs, but in God’s Word and that which is incorporated therein.
Satan employed the same trick in a similar manner to persuade Eve to eat of the fruit, because a short cut to attaining the knowledge that was equal to the knowledge that God had, was held before her according to Gen. 3:5 “For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” [NKJV].
This trick of satan is still increasingly and effectively being used by him, for consider how much success satan has attained in holding up to mankind short cuts to a new birth. And that whilst massive numbers of people never actually get through to God. No wonder that people avow that their lives belong to Jesus, even when they have not yet repented of their sins.
How many children of God despite honest intentions have already declined into spiritual perplexity, precisely because satan had subtly presented them with a short cut to sanctification. You may still recall the spate of manifestations that hit the West and also South Africa in the previous decade with the so-called “Toronto Blessing” and “Slain in the spirit” chain of events. According to that, people were then supposed to receive the Holy Spirit. And that despite the fact that they were unable to bear witness to being saved and that they were still shackled by bonds of sin.
A decade ago a man of God made the premise that when a child of God was not prepared to follow the path of sanctification, based on a cleansing of the heart brought about by God, then it would not be too long before you will find him in some or other charismatic movement.
There has never in the past been such a mass departure in so short a time of members leaving the Evangelical churches to join charismatic movements.
Then the question involuntarily arises in my heart: Child of God, being convinced by the Holy Spirit of an unclean heart, but tempted by satan to take a short cut; haven’t you also already gone and sampled the forgery offered you at these movements?
Take care, satan wishes to offer you a short cut so that you will be powerless in God’s hands.
A TEMPTATION WHICH IN EFFECT WAS AN ASSAULT ON JESUS’ FAITH IN GOD
We read in Lk. 4:9-10 “And he brought him to Jerusalem, and set him on a pinnacle of the temple, and said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down from hence: For it is written, He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee.”
It is also written in Mt. 27: 43 “He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, I am the Son of God.”
Do you see how subtly satan proceeds to cast doubt in God? Exactly the manner in which he succeeded in the case of Eve, when he said to her according to Gen.3:4 “And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die.”
Once doubt became established in Eve’s mind regarding God’s motives, satan was able to give her faith a death-blow.
Perhaps I do not need to say more on this subject, because it is a fact that satan has even succeeded in penetrating our Theological Faculties at our Universities. Presently it is the Professors in Theology who are being used by satan to tear down the faith in God and the Bible in young prospective ministers.
It was a topic of discussion during a South African radio program [called “Oopgesprek” (candid dialogue) on “Radio sonder Grense” (Radio without boundaries)] on June 5, 2005 where it had come to light that there are Professors at the University of Pretoria who deny the Virgin Birth of Christ. I think it is unnecessary for me to further elaborate on the New Reformation which received its trimmings from 'certain' Unisa Professors.
By making an attack on mankind’s faith in the Bible as God’s Word and thus in God Himself, the people in general have made themselves accessible for novel schools of thought. Little wonder that satan wants to present people with something seemingly better than the Word of God.
Therefore we do not find it strange that more and more people are turning to Oriental religions and practices.
Child of God, if satan ferociously paid special attention to Jesus to tempt Him, it should be quite obvious that he will also want to make you and me powerless by misleading us with temptations. We are warned in the Word of God in 1Cor. 10:12 “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.”
We have seen how satan, in a subtle manner, got hold of the power which God had given Adam as the head of mankind.
We have also seen how Jesus, in a lawful manner, by way of the Cross, stripped satan of his power.
By means of deception satan pretends that he has not been stripped of his power.
Satan’s modus operandi is quite simple, because time and again he tempted Jesus with three temptations, therefore he is still making use of these three temptations to mislead mankind in that he:
attempts to shift a person’s focus from God to a one’s position or standing in society;
utilizes the temptation of offering people a short cut. It may be a short cut to salvation or sanctification;
will tempt by attacking a person’s faith in God and His Word.
If satan tempted the Son of God, no one is to think that he himself is above being tempted, or that he can remain unscathed through his own power.
My friend, if satan mislead you with a short cut to a spiritual rebirth, be assured that he wants to have you with him in hell.
Child of God, how firm is your faith in God, considering that many will be mislead as the time of the Second Coming of Christ approaches.
Child of God, the standard of God for His children is a holy conduct in life. Do not seek a substitute for a pure heart, such as is based on a so-called emotionalism religion.
QUALITIES OF A TRUE REPENTANCE
Jeremiah 3:6 to 4:4
By AS Venter
In this section we have perused we repeatedly read of God’s appeal to return. A return which also speaks of a turning back or turning away from the way the nation were going.
This appeal of God to the people of Israel through the prophet Jeremiah articulates their wrongness of conduct, whereas they were supposed to be God’s people, who were to live in honour of His Name.
Looking at God’s Word in general, we see that the appeal for repentance is not only directed at the people of Israel in the Old Testament, but also in the New Testament by John the Baptist according to Mt.3:2 “Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
According to Mk.1:14-15 Jesus began His ministry by making the same appeal to repent, for we read: “Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.”
If we analyse the words of Jesus, it becomes clear that this was not merely an appeal to the people of Israel to turn back from their apostate condition, but it extends much further. This is about an appeal to repent in the light of the gospel, that is why this appeal can be considered as universal.
The entire human race are in a disposition with God due to the fall of man, for we read in Rom. 5:12 “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” It is for this reason the Gospel message is proclaimed, so that humankind can repent of his disposition with God.
It is this repeated plea for repentance that compels us, in the light of God’s Word, to ponder over the text we are reflecting upon, because the qualities of a true repentance are herein high-lighted for us. Qualities that apply to the people of Israel to return to God, but then again the same qualities that apply to the sinner who is to repent of his disposition before God.
REPENTANCE IS AN ACT OF THE WILL
Repentance is an act of the will, for we read in Jer. 4:1 “If thou wilt return, …” This appeal is an indication that it did not necessarily mean that the people of Israel would react positively to the appeal. On the contrary, if we regard the repeated appeals for repentance in the part of Scripture we have read, but also throughout the Word of God, then it is quite the opposite which becomes apparent, because the people of Israel by and large refused to react positively to the appeals of God.
If we look at the appeals for repentance directed at a fallen humanity, we see that all of mankind are included in these appeals, for we read in Acts 17:30 “And the times of this ignorance God winked at (overlooked); but now commandeth all men every where to repent.”
It is the will of God that mankind should repent, for we read in 2 Pet. 3:9 “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”
If it is the will of God that mankind should come to repentance, then that is actual proof that repentance is an act of the will, therefore repentance is a conscious occurrence. It does not just happen in your sleep, or sometime when you were an infant. No person has therefore just always been a little child of the Lord Jesus, but a conscious coming to repentance must actually precede the work of God, namely rebirth. This assertion is substantiated in 1Cor.15:46 “Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual.”
It is such a pity that the majority of humans, through a wrong act of the will, do not want to repent and turn to God, for we read in Mt.7: 13-14 “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.”
MAN’S ACT OF THE WILL IS RESTRICTED TO GOD’S TIME OF GRACE
Man should however never understand that the act of the will to repent is indicative thereof that man is in control of the circumstances of the time. Man’s act of the will is restricted to God’s time of grace.
We read in 2Cor.6:1-2 “We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain. (For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.)”
It is God who, right from the Fall, has reached down to mankind time and again. It is God who determines who will come at what given moment in what manner at the sounding of God’s call, whereafter man then chooses of his own free will.
Do you grasp this tremendous truth? Has the realisation dawned upon you yet that this opportunity of grace which is presented to a living soul during these moments to make peace with God, can be lost for ever even as soon as at the end of this sermon?
It can be lost for ever because a person may be snatched away by death, that is why David said in 1Sam. 20:3 “…but truly as the LORD liveth, and as thy soul liveth, there is but a step between me and death.” Or it may even be that at the end of this sermon a person will never again hear the voice of God, for we read in Jn.6:44 “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him:…”
To become converted requires an act of the will within God’s time of grace:
A person can react positively to God’s call through an act of his free will;
Or one can ignore God’s call through self-justification by utilizing human standards.
COMING TO REPENTANCE MUST BE A RETURN TO GOD
Not all conversions lead to the assurance of salvation, that is why it is written in Jer. 4:1 “If thou wilt return, O Israel, saith the LORD, return unto me:…”
It is conceded that people are capable of coming to repentance regarding certain customs. Ever so often we find these conversions at the beginning of a new year, known by another name, which is: “New-year resolutions”.
It is usually when a person makes up his mind to put an end to all those wrong customs such as smoking, drinking, gambling, etc. It is unfortunately a fact that these repentances are short-lived, but regrettably it is also a fact that these repentances are not a turning to God.
It may also be that a person is faced with a specific problem and by a human effort succeeds in breaking with some or other bad habit. One is reminded of the story of a person who prior to his salvation, as one who was addicted to drink, ascribed his many problems to excessive drinking. Problems in his marriage, finances and in his work, that is why he decided to break with the drinking habit –
A child of God who during those very moments started a conversation with him, grasped the danger contained in such a decision, and pointed out to him that repentance must change one’s ultimate destiny. There is no difference between the ultimate destiny of a sober sinner and that of an intoxicated sinner. That is why repentance must be a return to God, because only as a saved sinner will your ultimate destiny be in glory with God.
How many people attribute a repentance in their lives to a recovery after a sick-bed or motor-accident? How many feel that deliverance from financial or personal crises points to a repentance in their lives, but after a while barely a thought remains of this repentance, because it was a change of heart or an act of the will devoid of God.
On the contrary, the fact that a person can by sheer force of will abstain from certain wrong practices, can possibly lead to pride and in the end such a situation can be an even bigger problem than it was at the outset.
We read what the reason for this is in God’s Word according to Mt.12:43-45 “When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none. Then he saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished. Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first ...”
How great is the need in our day that the lives of those who bear testimony of repentance and of being saved, should bear witness of a God-produced repentance which will inevitably have an end result of a transformed life.
If truth be told, was the repentance a return to God, if the person by virtue of this repentance, does not pose a problem for his worldly friends, or if that person continues to persevere with his worldly customs and habits?
If thou wilt return, O Israel, return unto Me, because returning in repentance to God results in a new life. We read in 2Cor. 5:17 “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”
REPENTANCE REQUIRES OF ONE TO BREAK WITH SIN
Repentance requires of one to break with sin, for we read in Jer. 4:1 “If thou wilt return, O Israel, saith the LORD, return unto me: and if thou wilt put away thine abominations out of my sight, then shalt thou not remove [wander aimlessly].”
We also read in Prov.28:13 “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.”
God never works where there is sin, therefore mankind will not be able to obtain forgiveness unless he breaks with sin. To what extent by way of modern preaching has true repentance not been stripped of genuine remorse over sin, whereas God’s Word teaches us in 2Cor. 7:10 “For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.”
The text we are reflecting upon [Jer. 4:1] points out that man must put away thine abominations out of my sight.
These ‘abominations’ refer to those worldly customs and practices that man has permitted in his life, but also to the abominations that have entered our homes in the forms of fashions and music. God says: Remove these abominations from His presence.
These abominations also point to those attitudes we display towards fellow-men, but it can also refer to that innocent tool kept in your garage, or that garment or perfume, Madam, tucked away in your cupboard, or that stationery you unlawfully helped yourself to at work or took from the shop.
All those things God reminds you of at this moment!
Unfortunately removing these abominations from His presence consists of more than merely getting rid of misappropriated goods in my possession. It also consists of restitution being made towards those to whom a person transgressed in this regard.
Restitution is that action whereby a person reconciles himself with a fellow-man on account of a transgression against that person.
Restitution certainly also is the biggest activator of mankind’s will, exactly because man’s will immediately revolts against this.
Restitution is certainly the single biggest factor for numerous repentances not being of a permanent nature, for ‘how can the Lord expect of me to abase myself to such an extent?’
TRUE REPENTANCE HOLDS A PROMISE
We read in Jer. 4:1 “If thou wilt return, O Israel, saith the LORD, return unto me: and if thou wilt put away thine abominations out of my sight, then shalt thou not remove [wander aimlessly].”
True repentance towards God assured Israel of stability in their country, whereas the refusal of them returning in repentance to God resulted in oppression by the surrounding nations and even their exile.
If a person should persistently refuse to return in repentance to God – it may be because of self-justification or a refusal to make restitution – the end of which will be ghastly, for we read in 2Thes. 1:9 “Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power.” Whereas a true repentance towards God holds the promise that such a person, as a new creature in Christ, will go to meet an eternal ultimate destiny in the presence of Jesus.
We read in 1Jn. 3:2-3 “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.”
True repentance is an act of the will wherein a person returns to God in God’s time.
True repentance requires of mankind to remove his abominations from God’s presence, which often requires restitution.
There is a need of God-given repentances in our day which will result in changed lives.
God is also in this day holding out the opportunity to a seeking soul to meet with the Lord.
What is going to withhold you from bowing before Jesus in this day?