FOLLOWING IN THE PATH OF THE DIVINE….TEMPTATION (Part 5 of 10).
“Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil” (Matthew 4:1).
Solitude is place where many people do not like to visit. Isolation from all things familiar and accessible are not easy to turn away from. The thought of seclusion, especially if one is popular and love praise, is not considered. It is almost impossible for some people to be alone. Most people always have to be surrounded by some type of social activity to make them feel whole or alive. It is also, possible that a person does not want to be alone because they would have to face their deficiencies. Jesus Christ, who was just approved by his Heavenly Father after his baptism, is led by the Spirit into a place of solitude and isolation to be deemed ready for the Messiahship. Moreover, in order to intensify his spiritual grooming process, he is called to deny himself all nourishments for forty days and nights. We are “Following in the Path of the Divine,” into the wilderness of Temptation. It is in the wilderness, that Jesus is tempted to take on a life of power, security, and status, in contrast to the humble and faithful life of service he will choose.
It is so very essential that we understand this most powerful path that Jesus left for his followers. Jesus went to the wilderness of Temptation BEFORE he started his MINISTRY! He was led through this process in order to be spiritually equipped for spiritual warfare. Although Jesus is without sin, the old nature, the carnal nature of every Christian is still present! For example, when we hear a song that we loved in our carnal nature, we may still dance to the music! Why? Because of our old nature! It is still present! Our spiritual nature must be strengthened and tried to defeat the carnal nature. If one has not gone through the wilderness of Temptation; and has not been equipped with the spiritual dominance to deny the carnal nature, then you are fair game for the tempter. Jesus is teaching us that we will not be able to endure our Calvary without contending with the tempter in our greatest weaknesses. If we ignore this trial, when we get to a soul defining place in our ministry we will surely falter! We have seen many fall from grace over and over again. Sadly, because their spiritual nature did not reign over their carnal nature! Jesus withstood the tempter throughout his ministry. He displayed his victories through his faith in God our Father, the Word of God and the hope of Salvation on Calvary!
One of the first areas of temptation used by the temper was food!” He knew that Jesus was fasting and he was hungry, and subject to human temptations. People will take desperate measures for a morsel of bread. Esau sold his birthright for some food. (Genesis 25:29). Hunger have led women to sell their bodies and have led men to rob and kill. It is a despairing condition to be in, but Jesus used spiritual food to defeat the tempter. “And when the tempter came to him, he said, if thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. But he answered and said, ‘It is written, man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that procceedeth out of the mouth of God.’” If you have ever been on a forty day and night fast, you will know that after three days, you lose your appetite and your body will start to use the stored fat in your body! But most importantly, the Word of God will feed your spirit, and it is in the spirit you will find the strength to go on. “Jesus saith unto them, my meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.” (John 4:34). Jesus stayed focused on the spiritual nature and not the carnal nature. The carnal nature is where the tempter can seduce us into sin and denying the power of God. Never sacrifice your Salvation for a morsel of bread!
Another very dangerous area of temptation is pride and narcissism! I believe that grandstanding in the Christian ministry is disgusting! Even worst, is when Christians believe that when they summons God to deliver them from their circumstances, all they have to do is snap their fingers. Jesus was not going to make an exhibitionist of himself to prove that God loved him! He was sure of his Father’s love for him. “Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, and saith unto him, ‘If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, he shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.’ Jesus said unto him, ‘It is written again, thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.’” (Matthew 4:5-7). Jesus did not need to prove anything to the devil. Jesus wrapped himself in humility and conquered the tempter.
There are some people who will do anything to acquire fame and power. Some have even betrayed God for fame and power. Jesus rejects this power that the tempter offered him. “Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; and saith unto him, ‘All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.’ Then saith Jesus unto him; ‘Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.’” (Matthew 4:9-10). First of all, the devil is a liar and he will never truly relinquish his power to anyone. If you believe that the devil will keep his promises of everlasting greatness, then you are a fool! He will kill you once you have denied God, and that is all he wanted to do to you in the first place! Satan hates God and all of his righteousness, and he will stop at nothing to destroy God’s children. Remember, “But seek you first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:33).
Following in the Path of the Divine into the wilderness of Temptation, we discover that Jesus defeated the tempter through humility. In the wilderness is where we get our spiritual power. It is here where we are equipped for spiritual warfare! “Then the devil leaveth him and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him.” (Matthew 4:11). Jesus came out of the wilderness of Temptation, not a man with worldly power and wealth. He came out of the wilderness a humble man that was full of spiritual power to destroy the tempter. If anyone is seeking fame and power, then I would say that you have not overcome the tempter. He will continue to dangle riches and power before your eyes, to keep you from Following in the Path of the Divine into the wilderness of Temptation. He knows if you overcome your carnal nature, you will be spiritually equipped to crush his head! God bless you and amen!
For the record, this message is for all who want to be victorious over the tempter!
Written by Reverend Jessica L. Matthews, Missionary Pastor