Day 2: The battle for your soul
Then Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan River. He was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where he was tempted by the devil for forty days. Jesus ate nothing all that time and became very hungry.
Then the devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become a loaf of bread.”
But Jesus told him, “No! The Scriptures say, ‘People do not live by bread alone.’”
Then the devil took him up and revealed to him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. “I will give you the glory of these kingdoms and authority over them,” the devil said, “because they are mine to give to anyone I please. I will give it all to you if you will worship me.”
Jesus replied, “The Scriptures say, ‘You must worship the Lord your God and serve only him.’”
Then the devil took him to Jerusalem, to the highest point of the Temple, and said, “If you are the Son of God, jump off! For the Scriptures say, ‘He will order his angels to protect and guard you. And they will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.’ ”
Jesus responded, “The Scriptures also say, ‘You must not test the Lord your God.’”
When the devil had finished tempting Jesus, he left him until the next opportunity came.
Many have pointed out how similar Jesus’ temptation are to the fall in the Garden of Eden and John’s description of “loving the world.”
She saw that the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her. So she took some of the fruit and ate it. Then she gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it, too.
1 John 2:15-17
Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.
When I was working with young people at a church in downtown San Francisco, a father came, looking for his daughter who had run away. He was hoping she had come to church. She hadn’t. I’ll never forget the pain on his face or what he said. Holding his hands in a clenched fist, he said,
“You can’t live like this.” He opened them and said, “You gotta live like this.”
This was no cliche. I was in the presence of a man of great faith. I don’t know how his story ended but I know that heart of the man was the heart of a follower of Jesus. He had let go of that which was dearest to him. His pain did not drive him away from God. It was the doorway to the fellowship of Christ’s suffering.
As you think about the “wilderness” areas of your life, what tricks does the devil play on you? How are you tempted to ease your pain with worldly solutions and abandon God?
Is there a carnal desire? Eating? Alcohol? Television?
Pray Jesus’ prayer: “I do not live by bread alone.”
Do you grasp onto wealth and power as a replacement for God?
Pray Jesus’ prayer: “I must worship the Lord your God and serve only him.”
Do you insist on taking control of your circumstances as a replacement for trusting God?
Pray Jesus’ prayer: “I must not test the Lord my God.”
Finally, pray the prayer of brokenness.