Then the devil led him up and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And the devil said to him, ‘To you I will give their glory and all this authority; for it has been given over to me, and I give it to anyone I please.’Luke 4:5-6 (NRSV)
Talk about being cocksure! Talk about arrogance! In this exchange between the devil and Jesus, while Jesus was in the wilderness, He is tempted by the devil. In one of the scenes, the devil offers Jesus power if only He would bow down and worship him. By what authority does the devil do this? Well, according to him, all authority over the kingdoms of the world had been given him and so, it was his to offer to whomever it pleased him so to do. Of course, we know that Jesus was smarter than that, right, so with a quick rebuttal, He dismissed the devil.
At this point, I pose two questions:
- Your rebuttal: Following the example of Jesus, I ask, how readily and firmly do you dismiss the devil?
- Your assurance: How certain are you of the promises of God?
Let’s begin with the second question. As believers, there are certain promises given to us simply for believing. There are certain assurances that we can claim if we confess with our lips and believe in our hearts. But, what about the promises that are given to each one of us depending on our personal circumstances and our God-given purpose? What about those promises?
In the account of Jesus’ temptation, the devil was so certain of the authority that had been given him over the kingdoms of the world that he, uttering haughty words, could give it to anyone. For now, let’s not consider that that ‘authority’ of which he boasted, was to be short-lived. Rather, let’s focus on his confidence so much as to offer that authority to another, and of all persons, the Son of God.
So, again, I ask: how certain are you of the promises of God given to you personally? Do you know the promises? What are they? How assuredly do you stand on those promises? With how much conviction do you stand on God’s word? How satisfied are you that God’s word, unlike the flowers of the field, will stand? How prepared are you to confess with your lips and believe in your heart that God’s word will not return to Him empty, but that it shall accomplish that which He purposes, and that it shall succeed in the thing for which He sent it? Are you that certain as to stake your life on it? Are you that certain as to surrender all for it? If you are, then I pray your life bears testimony to that. I pray that your faith will be proven to be very much alive by the works which you perform.
Now, let’s focus on the first of the two questions asked above: how readily and firmly do you dismiss the devil?
The devil asserts his belief; he, however, would love for us not to be quite as convinced of God’s word to us. In the Garden of Eden, he placed doubt in the mind of Eve about God’s word to Adam. In this exchange, he quizzes Eve, ‘Did God say, “You shall not eat from any tree in the garden?”‘ (Genesis 3:1) And, well, we know how that story ended. Here now, in Luke’s account of the temptation of Christ, the devil mistakenly relies (poor fella) on Jesus’ lack of conviction, as well as His uncertainty about God’s word. And, well, we know how this story ended, don’t we?
What’s the difference? Simple – the conviction of the ‘temptee’. Eve’s lack of conviction resulted in her giving into temptation. Conversely, the strength of conviction and knowledge of God’s word allowed Jesus to withstand the temptation. His strength of conviction allowed Him to resist the devil who really did flee.
Friends, when God gives you a promise, how confidently and consistently do you resist the devil so that he does indeed flee? I say ‘confidently’ and ‘consistently’ for both are required. You might begin in confidence, but, giving Jack his jacket, the devil is persistent. His strategy is to wear you thin so that, even if you begin in full confidence, his persistent attacks wear you down until you fall into his snare. He is, in many respects, like that mosquito buzzing about your ear when you’re trying to fall asleep. But, if you resist him as determinedly as you try to swat that mosquito, he will flee. As vigilantly as you look out for that mosquito, so too, must you be on your guard against him so that you do not fall. At this point, I remind you that you do this, not by your might nor by your power, but by the Spirit of God, so take heart.
As I close, I challenge you: the devil knows it; you better believe it! You better believe in the promises of God for your life. You better believe that you have the victory. You better believe that if God is for you, no one can be against you. You better believe that all things work together for good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose. You better believe that the righteous are never forsaken nor are their children made to beg bread. You better believe that nothing in all creation will be able to separate you from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. You better believe that you are more than a conqueror.
My friends, as this week unfurls, I wish you love, joy and peace as you stand on the promises of God.