Tuesday, January 6, 2015
IF - although little - is a Big Word!
And the tempter came and said to Him, "If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread." Matthew 4:3
The very essence of this and every temptation is found in the smallest of words - “if.” Of all of the other events of that day none can eclipse the infernal significance of that one little word. It could be likened to the Ebola virus - an organism so small as to escape notice - but able to bring down to dust the full function of the entire body.
the man of God's own choosing.
What the tempter had come to assail - and to attempt to bring into question - was what had just occurred previously at Christ’s commission: “and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.’” Matthew 3:17 The assurance of the Son lay in the fact that He has not begun His public ministry yet He was already and completely the object of His Father’s satisfying affection.
we will not fear, for God hath willed
It would be appropriate to note here that the most glorious of blessings will most likely be immediately followed by the most virulent of testings. For the tempter cannot initiate or create, he can only attempt to counter the providence of God. Yet, his machinations will also serve the purpose of the Father in the life of the elect believer. I remember a time in my life when the only scripture in the whole Bible that spoke to me was: “And let perseverance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1:4
Charles Spurgeon comments: “He bids the Lord prove his Sonship by catering for himself; and yet that would have been the surest way to prove that he was not the Son of God.” To cater toward the Father for approval is truly to cater unto ourselves. To cater from the approval of the Father toward a hurting watching world is to worship.
Lord Sabaoth, his name,
The foundation of the mission of the Son was from absolute approval - not toward it. He had been immersed in it by the Holy Spirit who is given without measure. There is nothing that could be added to nor subtracted from this unequivocal surety.
And so it must be for those He has chosen to represent Him in the earth and to further the ministry of His Beloved Son.
from age to age the same,
“According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.” Ephesians 1:4-6 KJV
our striving would be losing,
The Father has made us accepted in the Son of His love. Contrary to our common evangelical mantra we have not “accepted Him into our hearts.” He has accepted us into His Sacred Heart of Love. The Love of God - once released - is incapable of failing in its mission to secure a company of those so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren. The assurance of the Son is the assurance of the believer. The word spoken over the Son as He stood in Jordan’s baptismal waters becomes ours: “This is my beloved in whom I am well pleased.”
we will not fear, for God hath willed
The use of the word “if” by the tempter is an assault on the nature, character and integrity of God. It is birthed from the same diabolical womb as the original temptation: "Did God really say,...?” Genesis 3:1 The first Adam succumbed to its allure - but in the Second Adam it could find no place to germinate: “for The Prince of the world is coming and he has nothing to use against me.” John 14:30 The Son remained confident in the authoritative declaration of His Father - “Beloved!” Charles Spurgeon writes: “But when He has once begun to love, it is His nature to continue to do so.”
Martin Luther penned these words:
The Prince of Darkness grim,
we tremble not for him;
his rage we can endure,
for lo, his doom is sure;
one little word shall fell him.
Beloved is a little word without contingencies. The Love of God loves not because of the worth of its object - but just because it is love. The object becomes worthy once it is loved, not before: “because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. For while we were still helpless,...” Romans 5:5-6
thru him who with us sideth.
Some have said that for Luther that little word was “Liar.” Jesus had just told his disciples: “and you will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” The blessing is followed by the testing as He then turns to Peter: “Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat;...” The temptation would be to lie and deny the Savior. The Lord continues: “but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers." What greater solace could we have than these words: “I have prayed for you.” And once the testing has fulfilled its purpose in you, you will be able to strengthen your brothers. Satan is a liar for he cannot defeat the purpose of the faith of the Son of God in our lives.
We serve a Sovereign God! Think on this for a moment. Jesus told Peter what was going to happen - and it happened. He denied the Lord three times. Was the purpose of God for his life defeated? Assuredly not! The Great High Priest Who perfectly knew Peter’s frailties was praying for Him. The Father’s heart cannot be any more attuned than it is to the intercession of His Son.
God's truth abideth still;
In the prayer of the Son to the Father there are no “ifs!” “I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them.” John 17:9-10 ESV
and he must win the battle.
In conclusion it must also be noted from Luke’s account: “Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness,...” 4:1 That is, the Son, full of the Holy Spirit, was led by that same Spirit into the wilderness of temptation - for this too, as sure as His baptism, was no less a part of His preparation. Having met and defeated the tempter with the Word of God: “Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside.” 4:14 Let us understand and appreciate that there is a difference between being full of the Holy Spirit and operating in the power of the Spirit. Selah!
his kingdom is forever.
In the sovereign strategy of our Faithful Father the subtle “ifs” of the tempter in the life of His chosen ones are turned into a great “Amen!” of declaration: “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” Revelation 7:10
his truth to triumph through us.
For He is the First Word and the Last Word:
"I am the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God, "who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty." Revelation 1:8