We are in a time of talking about new direction and goals for the church. No goal ever goes untested. Everyone who has ever made a goal knows that. Whether it’s making all A’s, winning a championship, starting a business, etc. Obstacles and trials always arise.
I think this is one of the reasons parents try so hard to teach their kids not to give up too quickly. Every time they see their kid drop the pencil, slouch over and say I can’t do it, reminds them how they themselves feel. Things are hard and we need to prepare for that.
I saw a clip from the movie A League of their Own, not my favorite movie. But in this clip the manager of a baseball team is trying to convince one of the players to keep playing. She says base ball got too hard. He then says, “It wasn’t meant to be easy. That’s what makes it great.” Great things are never easy. The difficulty is what makes them great.
If you are going to do something great you are going to be tested. You are going to be tested through competition, through adversity. If you want to be a great student your discipline will be tested. Your commitment will be tested. If you want to run a successful business there is competition for customers. Life is hard. It’s a fallen world. But there is also a spiritual dimension that people often leave out. Even good goals, godly goals will be tested and challenged.
Today we are looking at worshipping God. Worship is the reverend commitment to God. It involves our adoration of who he is and complete devotion. Throughout Scripture we are told to worship God. It’s a principle duty. Abraham worshipped God with Isaac (Gen 22). God brought his people out of Egypt to worship him. Daniel refused to fall down and worship king Nebuchadnezzar, even to the point of being thrown in lions dens and fiery furnaces.
At the birth of Jesus wise men came to worship him (Matt 2:2). It is said that even the angels worship God. (Heb 1:6). God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth. (John 4:24). People who encountered Jesus and were healed by him worshipped him (birth Mt 2:2; walks on water 14:33; resurrection 28:9, 17; John 9:38). In Corinthians it is hoped that a person would come into the church, see what is going on, and fall on his face and worshiping God and declare that God is really among you.” (1Cor 14:25). In Christ we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken and therefore we ought to “offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe,” (Heb 12:28 ESV). At the end of the Bible, people are in heaven worshipping god and giving glory to him who made heaven and earth (Rev 14:7 ESV). At Jesus resurrection and great commission some worshipped him, but others doubted (28:17).
We are to worship god. We are not to worship anything else. We could study the topic of worshipping God by looking at what is going on in heaven or in the church, but I want to look at a passage that reminds that we are not in glory yet. We are in a battle and we ought not to get lulled to sleep. In this we will see why we ought to worship God.
Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted 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 does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.' " 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.' " 7 Jesus answered him, "It is also written: 'Do not put the Lord your God to the test.' " 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.' " 11 Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him. (Matthew 4:1-11)
I want to look at four things this passage teaches about worshipping God.
Satan is tempting Jesus in this passage. Just before this temptation Jesus experienced a moment of glory at his baptism. He is baptized the Spirit descends on him like a Dove, a voice from heaven announces that, “this is my beloved Son with whom I am well pleased (Matt 3:13-17). He goes from glory to trial. You too might find yourself going from a place of glory to one of trial. Sometimes our highest highs are accompanied by the lowest lows. Our spiritual victories follow by spiritual doubt. The Savior experienced this and you probably should expect it too. Don’t be surprised when it comes.
JC Ryle said, “Let it never surprise us if we are tempted by the Devil. Let us rather expect it as a matter of course if we are living members of Christ. The Master’s lot will be the lot of his disciples. Let us put on the whole armor of God and resist the Devil, who will then flee from us (James 4:7).
This past week I heard a person respond to some blessings they encountered and their response was “this is what happens when you obey God.” There is blessing in following God, but its it not always that clear. And sometimes hardship happens for other reasons. That is certainly what happened to Jesus. Sometimes Satan targets you because you are doing what’s right. Regardless, Jesus was tested here and proved himself. We will have to do the same.
Also notice that Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert. This is part of Jesus dying in our place. He had to overcome where all others failed. The path of obedience isn’t always the easy way. If you set out to follow God and it gets hard it doesn’t mean you are wrong, it doesn’t mean you need to abort, it may mean you need to hunker down. Jesus was full of the HS when he did this, that means he was in full submission to the Spirit. He starts in that place and stays in that place throughout the temptation.
Jesus is led in the barren desert wilderness where few things could survive. It’s a great place to fast because you can’t find any food. Jesus is here confronted with doubt about God’s basic provision of food. Perhaps one of the most unnecessary statements in Scripture is verse 2. “After fasting for forty days and forty nights he was hungry.” I am also usually a little bit hungry after fasting forty days and forty nights. In fact I’m usually hungry after fasting for 20 minutes! Though the verse may seem unnecessary it is a reminder of the full humanity of the Son of God. He was human just as we are. He knows the aches of the stomach the cramps the mental exhaustion and general fatigues of life. He felt those every bit as much as you do. He understands your pain and he is interceding for you.
Satan tempted Adam with food in the garden, the Israelites in the desert, his threat continues. Jesus was aware that by giving in he would have broken the conditions necessary for his mission, and the purpose for which he came, in his deep love for us, and to which he had voluntarily submitted himself.
The temptation here is specifically to persuade our Lord to distrust the Father’s provision. He trusted and submitted to God fully. It is a temptation to abort his planned way of going about his mission. It’s temptation to not trust the Father’s provision and timing of provision.
There is also a temptation for Jesus to use power for his own advantage. He certainly could have done what the devil said, but he chose not to. In his coming there is an emptying of himself and “a making himself nothing” (phil 2:7). Jesus comes as a servant, he comes in our place, and puts himself in submission to the Father. He comes as one that has to accept his Father’s will and trust his Father.
This should be very comforting to us as we go through temptations and trials. If there was ever a man who could say I don’t deserve this it was Jesus. If there was ever a man who ought not to have suffered it was Christ. And yet he chose suffering. He accepted it. He didn’t wiggle his way out of it. He also didn't cower in fear to it. He faced it. He overcame it.
Jesus overcomes by quoting Scripture. Jesus knows buying into Satan’s lies could cost him his life. True life does not come from food but through God. Jesus knew Scripture and rejects a materialistic view of the world that life is found in materialism. He doesn’t buy into it. He knows true life is in God and we live not merely by food but by being in God and in his will. He is the one that we have life to the full. He would rather be in God’s will and have life in God than to have food and be outside of the life that is in God. Many today turn so quickly from God. We choose to eat rather than spend time in God’s Word, we choose recreation over fellowship, we choose materialism over spiritual union. And we suffer for it. I have seen so many people in deep spiritual battles, and they got there gradually. No big sins at first but a gradual and constant giving in that leads them where they never thought they would be. Are you prepared for Satan’s temptation. Do you know Scripture. An enemy loves a soldier unprepared for battle. Are you training like you are in a war?
We ought to see Jesus abhorrence for what is being asked of him. So often we look at sin and it is just no big deal. Jesus sees it for what it is. He is unwilling to barter with Satan. He is unwilling to accept his requests. We ought to heed this warning.
We worship God, because in him is life. We don’t compromise to the ways of the world. We don’t slacken on God’s commands in order to gain material goods. We stand firm and unwavered in what he calls us to. We ought to show by how we live that we are devoted to God and that we believe life is in him. Its silly to worship food; We worship the one for whom we were created.
The second temptation was to persuade our Lord to commit an act of presumption v5, the devil takes him to the pinnacle of the temple and tells him, if he is the Son of God to throw himself down. Then Satan quotes psalm 91. He says God will command his angels concerning you. They will not let you strike your foot against the ground. Satan is the master of lies, he is a master of tempting others. He knows there is a God. He believes in God, but he does not serve God. Scripture says he shutters in fear at God (James 2:19), he has stood before God (Job 1), but he does not serve him.
Satan believes in God, knows Scripture and even quotes Scripture, but he does not serve God. Satan’s influence continues all around today. You see his disciples all around. Those who know Scripture, who even tremble at God, but they are not serving him. Don’t follow in their footsteps. Don’t think you can come to church, give a little lip service and then go out and live and do whatever you want. Don’t think that just because others do it you can too. You have to be firm in the Word, firm in your faith.
The devil’s theory is that there should be no martyrs. But god’s purpose is not that we are preserved from death, but through death. We should not fear death, but we also should not presume to think we are not mortal. We are mortal. We will die. But death is not the end. Jesus reflects his confidence in the Father while on the cross in Matt 26:53-54. But he is also does not presume to think he can live contrary to God’s will/plan and God preserve him.
Jesus respond to Satan by quoting deut 6:16, where Israel is challenged to do better than they had at Massah. In Ex 17:3, 7 they are in the desert and thirsty and are confronted with the preservation of their life. The people had an expectation about how God was to express his covenant commitment to his people. They quarreled because there was no water to drink. They asked Why God brought them out of Egypt in order to kill them in the desert. They questioned his plan. God told Moses to strike the rock and water will come out of it. Moses struck it twice Num 20:11. The place is named Massa or Meriba which means testing. They tested the Lord by saying is the Lord really among us or not” (Ex 17:7). It seems they were testing god to see if he is really with them, if he would really provide and protect. True worship does not seek to dictate to God how he must fulfill his covenantal promises.
It seems Satan’s question here is about if God is with him. The Father had already proven this to him by his speaking at his baptism. Doubt about the word. Did God really say you shall not touch it? Satan’s slight distortion. Satan seeks a different way of showing the world who he is. As if God had not chosen the best way of declaring him to be his Son. God gave him his Spirit at the baptism. He indeed send his spirit upon me, but can he also give his angels a charge concerning me.? Which is lesser. Jesus worships God and refuses to do anything that contradicts God’s plan. He will not take a step at something that could kill him in order to see God’s provision.
Satan tempted Jesus with doubt about God’s plan, about his identity. Satan knows Jesus is the Holy One (Matt 8:29). Satan is questioning his identity. Are you the Son of God. Prove it. Show me. Show us all.
Satan tempts us to by causing us to question Jesus identity, god’s plan through him. And also causing us to question our identity and purpose in life. God’s love for you is most clearly seen in sending his Son to die for your sins. Over and over in Scripture this is demonstrated. He makes a covenant, a promise through him, and this is an anchor for the soul.
In Christ we have confidence of life after death. Death doesn’t reign over us. We worship him and do not presume to think we can act however we want. We follow him and his ways.
Again Satan tempts him. He has been called 1) “the one tempting,” 2) the devil, and 3) Satan. His name reveals what he does. He is an adversary, he lies in wait, he accuses, he destroys. This is the third temptation. He doesn’t easily give up. Just because you have resisted him once doesn’t mean you are done. He is persistent.
Satan’s last device was to persuade our Lord to grasp at worldly power by unlawful means. Why not by a little momentary act obtain an enormous gain? Satan shows him all the inhabited world, all the stuff there is, and says he can have it, if he simply bows down and worships him. If he would give him what only God deserves. This would be a great temptation for anyone, especially a poor carpenter from a do nothing town and of questionable birth.
Satan offers Jesus the same thing God offers but the price is much lower. These things would be Jesus’ if he continues in the way of his Father, if he continues in the way of the cross. Satan says you can have it all right now. Cheaper price and more expedient delivery. You can skip the cross and suffering, just bow down.
But the thing is that it is not Satan’s to give. Yes, there is a sense in which Satan rules over the world. But his reign is finite; it will end. Even more it is not his to give. Buying from him is like buying a house from the person renting it. They are fooling you and have perhaps fooled themselves. Their promises of instant delivery and cheap price matter not when it’s not theirs to give.
We all face similar temptations every day. This is a temptation to compromise. To comprise on your devotion to God. Some sell their souls one dollar at a time. People compromise their faith. They stare at what God offers and they look at what they can have now. And they give in.
Christ calls us to worship him. That means he is our master, our Lord. We worship him. We serve him. We are devoted to him. Jesus calls us to be a servant of one master. You can’t have two masters. If you have two bosses they will pull you in different directions. Sadly, many choose the way of indifference over outright disobedience.
Matthew 6:24 "No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” That word despise can be translated to think little of. You just don’t think enough to do what he says. Your devotion is compromised. Maybe it is reading the Bible, maybe it is going to church, maybe it is living out your faith.
We must see Satan’s offer for what it is. You get what you pay for. I m teaching my kids nothing is free… at least nothing good. You get what you pay for. Satan’s offer leaves people in shambles, grasping at air. He offers satisfaction, safety, and glory, but ends in hunger, hurt, and humiliation.
We must remember that Christ was promised an eternal kingdom that would never perish spoil or fade. Its glory would be untainted an undiminished. He fill souls, he protects our lives, and brings us into his glory. Satans offer is like all sin. it seems good but it is destined to fall apart. It’s like buying a brand new sturdy couch that looks great and then you get it home and it falls apart, has particle board and cardboard holding it together. Its pleasure and gain are fleeting. We have something far greater in Christ. We worship God for his eternal glory, it is better than anything on earth, far more lasting, and we don’t buy into lies for immediate satisfaction.
Looking at temptation can be a downer, and may not lead to worship, but that’s where we have to remember the full story. The Savior overcomes. He does not give in, not here and not ever. He does what we could not, did not, and never could do. He overcomes and he returns to destroy the world of Satan. In the end Jesus is reigning in glory and Satan is burning in hell. This is reason to serve him, love him, follow him, and worship him.
Christ overcomes where all others have failed. Adam failed. Abraham failed. David failed. Israel failed. Jesus overcomes and if we believe in him God considers us in Christ. In him and in his victory.
Christ gave Satan opportunity to say and do all he could. What a more vulnerable time was there. He came at him with all his force. Yet, Jesus resisted. Let’s be confident in Christ. If God has given us his Son what greater proof of his love, of his provision, of his protection do you need (Romans 8:32 “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?”). Though death comes it does not remain. There is victory in Christ.
Thomas a Kempis said, “Every temptation begins with a wavering mind and little faith in God.”
Let’s be confident in Christ’s work, and let’s also remember the authority of the Bible and the immense value of knowing its contents. Let us read it, search it, pray over it diligently, perseveringly, and unweariedly. Let us strive to be so thoroughly acquainted with its pages that its texts stand in our memories and are ready at our right hand.
This is our goal. We worship God. We worship him for his sufficiency, for his plan, for his glory, and for his victory. This is what we were created to do, it's what we want to do; it's what Jesus made possible, but like anything great it will not be easy or go uncontested. We have an adversary, but our Savior is greater than him. We have reason to worship, to sing, and to tell others about this goodnews.
Where is God calling you to take a step forward in your faith?