4 Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted[a] by the devil. 2 After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.3 The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”
4 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’[b]”
5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. 6 “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:
“‘He will command his angels concerning you,
and they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’[c]”
7 Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’[d]”
8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 9 “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”
10 Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’[e]”
11 Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.
During a recent corporate fast, I became hungry.
Like HUNGRY hungry.
Let me be clear: I had not gone without food for forty days. But I had repeatedly denied my flesh so that I may be led by the Spirit…
Into the wilderness.
To be tempted.
Why would a loving Father, a sacrificial Son, a comforting Spirit lead me into the desert to dance with the devil?
Perhaps to prove to him (and myself) that he could try to lead, but I do not have to follow.
On this particular encounter, I was hit by the enemy. Twice. Through the same person. On the same day. My flesh immediately felt the impact. After the shock set in, I went straight into defense mode. I began planning my reaction:
Who could I tell?
Who could I get on my side?
Who could I ask to fight for MY name to be cleared?
A few people came to mind. I rehearsed what I’d say. I even assumed how it might feel being justified in my anger, and affirmed for being “right.” But someone prompted me to pause, and reconsider. Perhaps there was a better way to process. Perhaps my initial reaction wasn’t what Jesus would do.
Cue hearing Matthew 4:1-11 in my mind.
Cue hearing Romans 12:19 in my mind.
Cue hearing Psalm 148: 13 in my mind.
Cue seeing our church wide devotional for that day about wielding the Word of God (based on 1 John 2:14).
Cue our discussion about it in the prayer room that morning.
Cue me crying out to the Lord a short time later, literally asking Holy Spirit for help; to desire His Word above all else. To hunger and thirst for righteousness!
Immediately, with enough evidence stacked against the accuser of the brethren, I simply stated the Truth. I answered that prosecuting attorney in the same way my Savior and Lord did,
“It is written…”
“It is written…”
“It is written…”
I quoted Romans 12:19 & Psalm 148:13. Of course, that jerk didn’t remain silent for very long. Oh no. He tried again. This time, he began pointing his finger at one of my friends, saying she shoulda, coulda, woulda told my offender off if she really loved me. I wasn’t buying what he was selling. I reminded that snake of who my friend is. I knew she had not partnered with him against me, and I wasn’t going to partner with him against her.
And in that moment, the Lord reminded me of another friend who had the same trap laid for her not so long ago. She was tempted in the very same way I was. Unfortunately, she reacted quite differently. In her anger, she unwittingly joined in the lies and false accusation against others. Instead of pointing a Pharisaical finger at her, my heart was moved with great compassion. I’ve been exactly where she is. I’ve taken the bait more times than I can count. And I’ve found myself caught in the same trap, suffering the effects of bitterness when I refused to forgive those who had sinned against me.
So many battles.
So many arrows.
So much bleeding out.
So much loss.
So much trauma.
So much pain.
So much healing!
So much deliverance!
Praise the Lord, He did not leave or forsake me on the battlefield when I fell. He didn’t reject or condemn me when I failed to obey His orders – the Commander of Heavens Armies. Instead, He waited and kept the Red Cross tent open and ready for the day I recognized my sin, confessed it, repented, and returned to Him.
My friend, I hope I’ve learned my lesson.
I hope next time I’ll be slow to anger and quick to forgive.
I’m grateful His Spirit was my strength in weakness, allowing me to pass this recent test. I’m certain there will be more. And I’m certain His Spirit is and will be able to remind me again of His Word; my weapon of warfare against powers and principalities I cannot see. And I’m certain His Spirit will help me to forgive those I CAN see again.