Luke recounts the temptation of Jesus following his baptism and a period of fasting in the wilderness prior to the beginning of his public ministry. Jesus consistently confesses his identity in response to the temptations to choose another way.
Luke 4:1-13 (NIV)
1 Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the desert,
2 where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry.
3 The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.”
4 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone.'”
5 The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world.
6 And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor, for it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to.
7 So if you worship me, it will all be yours.”
8 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.'”
9 The devil led him to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down from here.
10 For it is written: “‘He will command his angels concerning you to guard you carefully;
11 they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.'”
12 Jesus answered, “It says: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'”
13 When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time.
Sin has ruined men, ruined women, ruined angels. Sin has occasioned every tear of sorrow, every sigh of grief, every pang of agony. Sin has withered everything that is fair, blasted everything that is good, made bitter everything that is sweet, dried up springs of comfort, rolled far and wide tides of sorrow. Sin has digged every grave, built every coffin, woven every shroud, enlarged every cemetery … that the world has ever seen.—
Robert G. Lee
Spirit and Flesh
In Romans 6, Paul asks a rhetorical question about continuing to sin in order that grace might be multiplied. He answers this question with another: “How can we who died to sin still live in it?” (Rom 6:2). This raises the question of why believers still struggle with sin. Are believers somehow defective?
Jesus’ death and resurrection not only conquered death once and for all, it enabled believers to have new life as well (Rom 6:4; Col 3:1–3). Paul describes a twofold division between the flesh and the spirit. The flesh refers to God’s originally perfect creation, which is now mortal and in decay as result of sin entering the world through Adam (Rom 5:12). The spirit is the essence of who we are, the part of us that lives on after our physical bodies die. In 2 Corinthians 4:16, Paul contrasts the two, stating that our outer person is being destroyed as our inner one is being renewed. Our physical bodies will continue to decay until Christ returns (1 Cor 15:39–42).
When Paul talks about being raised from the dead once we have believed in Jesus (Rom 6:4), he is talking about the spirit rather than the flesh. Second Corinthians 5:17 states, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” Here, the old and new refers to our spirits.
This is where the ongoing problem of sin arises. Although someday our physical body will indeed be raised and transformed (1 Cor 15:50–52), our new spirits must dwell in our fallen bodies. Previously, our spirits were in bondage to sin, but now our spirits have been set free from this bondage (Rom 6:17–18).
O Lord, godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world and it is certain we can carry nothing out. Having food and water we shall be content. For those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
Protect me Jesus. In Your name I pray, Amen.
Thought for Today’s Text
Many Christians grew up and were taught to wear their “Sunday best” to church. Whether a person had a closet full of clothes or just a couple of items to wear, they always wore their best on Sunday.
The Christian’s real “Sunday best” is very simple: put off everything that is like you and put on everything that is like Jesus Christ. And the good thing is made possible by the finished work of Christ on the cross. He gives the stuff to wear. It is now our choice to be “Clothed in Christ.”
Colossians 3:5-17 (NIV)
5 Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.
6 Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.
7 You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived.
8 But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.
9 Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices
10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.
11 Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.
12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
13 Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.
16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.
17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
O Lord let the word of Christ dwell in us richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing each other in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in our hearts to You O Lord! Let whatever we do in word or deed, we will do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. In Your precious name, Jesus Christ, Amen.
T.S. Eliot, 20th century
“The last temptation is the greatest treason: to do the right deed for the wrong reason.”
Thoughts on Today’s Text
The psalmist may have been hoping to convey something about how the life of faith works. Regarding the LORD as your personal refuge is a decision to place your habitation — your life itself — in a place that cannot be broken by the stresses and strains of life. Yet the psalmist’s poetic flourish after the midway point of the reading seems a bit off.
No harm or disaster will befall you, angels will guard you and your ways, you will be protected from things that would threaten to undo you, and furthermore you will be able to thwart the threatening possibilities that arise in the natural environment. This section of the Psalm is that which we hear in the New Testament — Matthew 4:6 and Luke 4:10 quoted by the devil to Jesus. There, as well as here, it seems that the issue isn’t so much the physical, but the faithful dimension of human experience.
God’s love is found in relationship. God’s protection is discovered in relationship. God has a commitment to people who are in relationship with God. Prayer to God is a means for calling on God and God will provide an answer. However, there is no assurance that the answer will be yes. It may be no. And we will then need to trust that God knows better than us the effects of the yes and no answers.
I think in part the psalmist is affirming that God will be with people in trouble, but may not make the trouble go away. God will deliver and honor those in relationship and will provide a means through the trouble. God will satisfy the faithful with life abundant and grant salvation.