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The Messiah and Satan

(Matthew 4:1-14)

Lesson 2 -- first quarter 2000
December 12, 1999

by Mark Roth
© Copyright 1999, Christian Light Publications

Anticipating temptation. When I went in for my drivers' permit test, I didn't just pop into the Division of Motor Vehicles on a sudden whim. Oh no! I set the date I would take the test, then I kept that important date in mind. I did not want it to catch me by surprise in a state of unpreparedness. I studied that manual, believe me.

"Well," you might say, "that obviously works for written tests like that. I don't know of anybody that has access to the devil's temptation schedule for them."

True enough. So let me illustrate this again, this time with some students I had as a teacher. I had a reputation as a lover of pop quizzes. My reputation and their experiences taught some of my students the wisdom of preparing for the unknown. They would take five or ten minutes right before classtime to bone up on the subject. They weren't about to be caught unprepared if they could help it. Could they predict a pop quiz ahead of time? Of course not. But certain signs tipped off the observant and the wary.

"Yeah, sure. But the devil isn't that predictable. Is he?" I don't know. Even so, I believe certain signs should trigger our Temptation Early Warning Systems.

Weariness. Would you rather play checkers with a tired player or an alert one? Would you rather play volleyball against a tuckered-out team or against a fresh and vigorous one? The answer may depend on your level of sportsmanship, right? Well, I don't think the devil strives for good sportsmanship. So do you feel fatigued or sick, beware! Please note weariness isn't limited to the physical realm. If you are "down" spiritually or emotionally, you better watch out!

Success. I like the challenge of a strong opponent, especially one who has won a few games in a row. And if he's cocky or has become careless because his success, all the more interesting for me. Sometimes it seems the devil operates that way as well. Furthermore, if my opponent's success has been at my expense.... Sometimes it also seems the devil responds that way as well. Have you been winning spiritually? Praise the Lord! And watch out! (By the way, have you ever noticed that success often produce weariness?)

Criticism. A critical spirit invites testing, and often experiences defeat. Numerous times I have observed a person judge another harshly in some area only to be later tested and defeated in the same area. Have you harbored a critical attitude? Then take heed to yourself; your own test in that area may surge from around the next bush.

Defeating temptation. More important than knowing yourself and knowing your enemy is knowing (and in a sense, owning) your Ally and your weapons. Do you? Jesus in you (the hope of glory) will surely lead you to victory!

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