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Growing in Grace / Doug Agnew
The Truth Network Radio
November 28, 2021 6:00 pm


Growing in Grace / Doug Agnew

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November 28, 2021 6:00 pm

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If your Bible's with you today, turn with me, if you would, to the Gospel of Mark.

We're in chapter 1. We're looking at verses 12 through 13 this morning. The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness 40 days, being tempted by Satan.

And he was with wild animals, and the angels were ministering to him. Bow with me as we go to our Lord in prayer. Heavenly Father, I just want to reiterate some of the prayer of Eugene this morning. Lord, we have many in our congregation right now who are suffering and sick. Father, we pray for my sister Joni Presley as she's in the hospital and she's suffering with COVID that has affected her in such a way that we have her on a breathing machine right now. I pray, Heavenly Father, that she might continue to do well.

She's making progress. We pray, Father, that you would just reach down with your healing hand, the hand of our great physician, and touch her, Lord, that she might heal very quickly and soon be able to be back with Randy. As Eugene prayed also, Lord, we pray for Randy, that you would comfort him and let him know that his wife is in your sovereign hand, that, Lord, you are well able to take care of her. We pray for Jenny Bracefield and Nancy Starcher and ask, Lord, that you help them as they, too, are suffering with COVID. Pray, Lord, that you'd be with them in power. We pray, Heavenly Father, for Nicole Lowes as she is coming off of her medicine this week.

And, Father, we pray that the ablation will have done its intended work and that the dizziness will stop and the cold will be made well. Father, as we read today about the temptations that Jesus had to face, we realize that Christianity is not a game. It's a war. We don't live on a playground.

We live on a battleground. Lord, when we look at the way that you dealt with temptation, we feel inept and embarrassed. You refused to play with temptation.

You refused to consider it. You fought it with the Word, and not once did you ever lose. We confess we lose often, too often. Teach us through your example. Help us to be more proficient in your Word. Help us to see the enemy's ploys and to not take him lightly. Help us to realize the danger in toying with temptation. Help me to preach today as a dying man to dying people. Keep my lips from error, and may all that I say bring glory and honor to our precious Jesus. For it is in Jesus' name we pray. Amen.

You may be seated. John 1, verse 1 of the Gospel of Mark, says, Mark first tells us about the forerunner, who is John the Baptist, and we see that John the Baptist was out by the river Jordan. He's preaching.

There are thousands of people that are there. John's preaching is so powerful. The Word of God is going out with such strength that people are deeply under conviction. And they come before John. They confess their sins, and they repent. And John has baptized them. It's a baptism of repentance. It is a baptism that symbolizes the fact that they have repented and now are following the Lord. And then John the Baptist baptizes Jesus.

We saw that Jesus' baptism is not a baptism of repentance. It was a part of the ceremonial ordination into the priesthood. And then Jesus is ready to begin his public ministry. What is his public ministry?

To seek and to save that which was lost. Now, at this exact time, what would you have expected Jesus to do? Jesus has just been baptized.

He's stepping up out of the water of the river Jordan. And as he does that, the voice of his heavenly Father speaks from heaven saying, This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased. And the Holy Spirit descends upon Jesus like a dove.

And there's a visible presence of the Shekinah glory of God resting on the Lord Jesus Christ. I would have expected at this point in time that Jesus would have looked over at John, thousands of people out before him, and said, Move over, John. It's my time to preach. And that he would have just let loose with a sermon that would have knocked everybody's socks off. Or maybe that Jesus would have said, My healing ministry starts now.

So you that are blind and deaf or lame or sick and dying, come to me and you will be miraculously healed today. Jesus doesn't do that. He doesn't start preaching. He doesn't start healing.

What does he do? He immediately goes to war. He said, Now is the time that I will attack, attack the adversary of our God.

And folks, it was not a sneak attack. And it was not a secret thing that Jesus did. Jesus went straight to the gates of hell and fought Satan face to face. Look again at verses 12 through 13. The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness 40 days being tempted by Satan. And he was with the wild animals and the angels were ministering to him.

Several things I need to point out. Most Christians read this passage too casually and they forget that the truth of the matter is that this event is a strategic, calculated plan. It was not like Jesus just went through his baptism and said, Well, I think I'll mosey on down to the wilderness.

And if Satan's there, then I'll give him a fight. No, that was not what was going on. He was filled with the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit led him into the wilderness. Very interesting when you read this in the Greek. The scripture says in verse 12 that the Holy Spirit ekballoed him.

And the word ekballo literally means pitched. The ESV says the Holy Spirit drove him. Folks, it was so much the will of God that Jesus, being in that wilderness, being tempted by Satan, that the Holy Spirit of God pitched him into the wilderness. With that in mind, let's consider all the way back in time and consider the temptation of Adam and Eve. Satan came and tempted them very powerfully that she might partake of the forbidden fruit.

Let me read Genesis chapter 3, verses 1 through 6 again. But the serpent said to the woman, You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it, your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil. So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate.

She also gave some to her husband who was with her and he ate. The first Adam was in a perfect environment. He did not have a sin nature.

His will was not fettered by sin. Satan entered the garden and what did he do? He attacked the Word of God.

And he said to Eve, Did God actually say that you shall not eat of any tree of the garden? Folks, that's where every temptation comes from. Satan attacks the Word of God so that we will doubt it and that we will put our feelings and our thoughts over and above God's Word. Folks, that is doubt and it is diametrically opposed to faith. Now in 1 John chapter 2, verse 16, the Apostle John said this, For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, it is of the world.

Every temptation that you will ever face will fall into one of those three categories. Where did John get that from? He got it right from one verse in Genesis chapter 3, verse 6. It starts with the lust of the flesh. What did Eve say in verse 6?

Eve said this tree was good for food. John said, Then the lust of the eyes. Verse 6 of Genesis 3, Eve said it was a delight to the eyes. And then John said, And the pride of life. Verse 6, The tree was desired to make one wise.

Every temptation that you will ever face will fall into one of those three categories. How did the first Adam do? Well, he failed miserably. Eve took of the fruit, she ate of that fruit, and then she gave to Adam, and Adam purposely, intentionally sinned and ate of the fruit himself.

What did that cost him? It threw Adam and all humanity into sin and into death. Romans chapter 5, verse 12, Paul said this, Therefore just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so that death spread to all men, because all have sinned. The first Adam failed miserably. Now in Mark 1, the second Adam steps forward and is tempted to sin. He is not in a paradise like the first Adam was.

He is in a wilderness. And he was not tempted once like the first Adam was. He was tempted in all points. And Satan attacked the word of God. Jesus does not doubt it.

He proclaims it to the enemy, and he defeats him on the spot. Romans chapter 5, verse 19 explains that. For as by one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man's obedience the many will be made righteous. This battle between Satan and Jesus was not just a little skirmish. If Jesus had given in even in one point, then the cross would have meant nothing. If Jesus Christ had failed just once in one point, then he could not have been our Savior.

If Jesus had sinned in one point, then the cross would have done no good at all. For 4,000 years Satan had believed that he was totally victorious. Adam had failed, all of his descendants had failed, and then all of a sudden Jesus shows up on the scene. Satan throws everything he has at him.

He does everything he can to try to get him to fall for the temptation. And Jesus will not budge. Now here in Mark's Gospel we are told that Jesus was among the wild beasts, and the angels came and ministered to him. How were they ministering to him? I think possibly by protecting him from the wild beasts. I don't know if they were visible to Jesus at this point in time or not.

I tend to think at this point in time, probably not. But Jesus could feel their protection. He could feel their love. He knew that they were right there with him. Now we get over into Matthew's Gospel, and we find out that when the temptations came to an end, the Scripture says that Satan left defeated, and then the angels came and they ministered to Jesus. I believe at that point in time that it was just Jesus and it was just the angels, and I believe that they were very visible, and I believe that they were very vocal, and I believe that they said to Jesus, Jesus, you won!

They were praising him. They were saying, look, everybody else has failed. Adam failed. Abraham failed. Moses failed. Joshua failed. Jeremiah failed. Daniel failed.

David failed. All of them failed, but not you, Jesus. Jesus, you won. You always win, Jesus. Jesus, you won.

Well, picture this scene if you can. A hymn comes to my mind. All hail the power of Jesus' name. Let angels prostrate fall.

Bring forth the royal diadem, and crown him Lord of all. So the first thing that Jesus accomplishes through the temptations in the wilderness is this. He succeeded where Adam and all of his descendants had failed.

This is the first step in paradise regained. So here Jesus is the second Adam, but I want you to also see that not only was he the second Adam, he was also the second Moses. Moses led physical Israel into the wilderness where they wandered in the wilderness for 40 years.

Why? They were disobedient. They were murmuring, they were griping, they were complaining, and Moses himself got mad, struck the rock that was a picture of Christ, and was not allowed himself to even go in to the promised land. How long did Jesus spend in the wilderness? Forty days.

How long did the children of Israel wander in the wilderness? Forty years. The number 40 in Scripture is extremely important.

The number 40 represents or symbolizes the birth of something new. How long is a woman's gestation period? The time between conception and birth.

It's not nine months, it's 40 weeks. How long did it rain in the flood of Noah? Forty days and forty nights. When Moses went up on Mount Sinai to receive the Ten Commandments and he fasted, how long did he fast? Forty days.

When Elijah was in the cave, how long was he there praying to God? Forty days. And what does the word quarantine mean? The word quarantine means a 40-day period of isolation. They put a person in quarantine for 40 days to be sure that he is well before they let him go back out. So it means 40 days.

Most Bible scholars believe that the wilderness that Jesus was actually in was a wilderness called quarantina. Folks, all these things have to do with the number 40 that symbolizes the birth of something new. In Noah's day, after the 40 days, the rain stopped and a new era of time, a new era of history began. After 40 days of fasting, Moses came back down the mountain.

He sat with him. The Ten Commandments that God had given him, the law. And a new era of time began.

After 40 years of wilderness wandering, the children of Israel crossed over the Jordan River and a new era of time began as they went into the Promised Land. Here Jesus fasts for 40 days. He wins his battle against Satan. He's filled with the Holy Spirit.

He burst on the scene in order that he might start his public ministry. Folks, that makes sense. But why the wilderness? Why did he have to go into the wilderness? Well, the word for wilderness in the Hebrew is midbar.

It comes from the root word dabar, and it means to speak. The wilderness is the place where God speaks. Now that's important. Remember a couple of weeks ago we were talking about John the Baptist, and I was sharing with you that he was reared in an area near in Getty. It's an area where the Jordan River begins to flow into the Dead Sea. I shared with you about a mountain there called Masada. Masada is a very, very tall mountain, and it's just flat as a pancake on the top, but it's very, very steep. I also shared with you that in 70 AD, Titus of Rome came into Jerusalem, and he destroyed the city.

He knocked down the walls, he knocked down the temple, and he killed 1.2 million Jews. Only at that time there were 967 Jewish men, women, boys, and girls who fled out of the city of Jerusalem, and they went immediately to Masada. They climbed up from the top of Masada. They said, this is where we'll live. Roman soldiers found out about it. They tried to get up to them to capture them, and they just threw rocks down on them and killed them.

So they said, we're going to have to find another way to do this. They said, we'll build a sand ramp, and we'll use Jewish labor so they won't throw rocks down on their own people. They built a sand ramp.

It took several years to build it. It finally got all the way to the top. They climbed up to the top. When they got up to the top, all 967 Jews, men, women, boys, and girls, had committed suicide.

They decided they would rather die than be captives to Rome. I shared with you that in 1977, I went to Israel. I had the privilege of going up on the top of Masada. Our guide shared the story with us and then told us that when they are inducting soldiers into the Israeli army, they bring them up, they retell the story of Masada, and then all the new soldiers say in unison, there will never be another Masada.

Now, this is what I didn't tell you. While we were up on Mount Masada, the guide sent one of his assistants down the mountain. He said, I want you to get in the van, take off about 3 miles, and get out. And so he did. We sat there and we watched him. He went out about 3 miles.

Now, there's nothing out there but just sand, just desert sand. He gets out there about 3 miles, he gets out of the van, and he waves at us, and then he starts talking in a normal voice. We could hear him clear as a bell.

How? Well, in the wilderness, there are no obstacles to break the sound waves. There's no trees, there's no bushes, there's no buildings, and the sound waves just flowed right up to the top, and we could hear him clearly. Several years ago, Cindy and I took a romantic trip on a balloon, and we went on up into the air, and we were flying across Charlotte, and we looked down and we could see little children playing below. And we could hear them talking, and it was so clear, it was like they were right there with us. We could hear dogs barking, and it was like the dog was right there in the basket with us. Same principle, folks, and that principle is this.

There were no sound waves to break the sound, so we could hear clearly. Now, that is true in the physical realm. I want you to know it is even more true in the spiritual realm.

In the spiritual realm, as well as in the physical realm, the wilderness is the place where God speaks. 2007, I went through a spiritual wilderness place. I was in a wreck.

I was in and out of the hospital for about four months. I was just in bed. I couldn't go to work. I couldn't preach.

I couldn't work on sermons. I mean, I was just there, and there were no obstacles, and there was nothing I could do. And let me tell you, during that time, I got spoken to by God.

The Lord spoke to my heart about things in my life that needed changing, where I needed repentance, and the Lord broke me while I was on my back in those hospital beds and dealt with my heart, and there was genuine repentance. Folks, the wilderness is the place where God speaks. Some of you are in a wilderness right now. It might be a marriage wilderness. It might be a financial wilderness. It might be a children wilderness. It might be an addiction wilderness, but the wilderness is a place where God speaks.

Now, we have a tendency to run from wilderness, don't we? Because wilderness situations might mean pain. It might mean suffering. It might mean persecution. We think, well, God is a God of love. He wants to alleviate my pain. He wants me to be tribulation and persecution free.

Where do we get that from? Not Scripture. Let me share some Scripture with you. Philippians 1 29. For it is given to you on the behalf of Christ not only to believe upon Him, but also to suffer for His sake. 2 Timothy 3 verse 12.

All who live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. Acts chapter 14 and verse 22. We through much tribulation will enter into the kingdom of God. Psalm 119 verse 67. Before I was afflicted, I went astray, but now I have kept your word. Psalm 119 verse 71 says, It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I might learn your statutes. In 1 Peter chapter 4 verses 12 and 13, Peter said, Beloved, think it not strange when these fiery trials come upon you, as if some strange thing has happened to you, but rejoice in that you have been counted worthy to be a partaker of Christ's sufferings. Suffering for Christ's sake doesn't weaken the believer, it strengthens the believer. And our Lord's suffering in the wilderness is an example, and it's a testimony to us. He is telling us, Believer, you are at war.

Persecution, suffering, and tribulation are proof of God's abandonment of you, they are proof that what you're going through is real, and what you're experiencing with the Lord is real, and He is with you never to leave you nor forsake you. Jesus is in the wilderness, and as Satan attacks him, God is speaking to him. He's getting him prepared for three years of public ministry, then a crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension. In the wilderness, God speaks to Jesus so He can birth a new ministry and a new covenant.

But not only was Jesus the second Adam, like I said before, He's also the second Moses. He leads spiritual Israel. What is spiritual Israel?

Spiritual Israel is the church. He leads the church into the kingdom of God. Anytime the passage concerning the temptations of Jesus is proclaimed, somebody will always ask, could Jesus have sinned? Could Jesus have sinned? And if He could not, does that mean that the temptations weren't real?

Wayne Grudem's got a great systematic theology book. In this systematic theology book, he gave the best answer that I've seen for this, and I want to take a minute and read it to you. If Jesus as a person had sinned involving both His human and divine natures in sin, then God Himself would have sinned and He would have ceased to be God. Yet that is clearly impossible because of the infinite holiness of God's nature. Therefore, if we are asking if it was actually possible for Jesus to have sinned, it seems that we must conclude that it was not possible. The union of His human and divine natures in one person prevented it. But, even though Jesus could not sin, that does not mean the temptations He faced were not genuine.

Their reality did not depend on His ability to respond. Actually, since He never yielded to them, He endured their full force. Temptation was, therefore, more real for Him than for those who yield to it.

It could be so intense that it made His sweat become like drops of blood falling down upon the ground. Now, Mark doesn't tell us what the temptations were. We get over into Matthew and Luke, and we are given three of those temptations. There are many, many more other than those, but those three temptations, I think, were representation temptations.

So, we see that all temptations are going to be like one of those three. Jesus has been on a 40-day fast, and we're only going to look at the first one here. He's been on this 40-day fast, and I can't even imagine what that must have felt like or what it must have been like. If somebody were to tell me, you're getting ready to go through the most difficult spiritual warfare that you've ever been in your life, I'd try to build myself up. I would eat a lot of protein.

I'd eat a lot of vitamin-enriched foods, trying to get myself as strong as I could be for this. Jesus did the opposite. He fasted for 40 days.

Why? So that His dependence would be totally on the Father. Forty days with no food. The temptation from Satan was in the area of the lust of the flesh. Jesus was literally starving, and Satan said, if you are the Son of God, then turn these stones into bread. The temptation was a diabolical strategy to get Jesus to doubt His own sonship. Satan said, if you are the Son of God, if you're really the Son of God, why are you on the verge of starvation? Surely this is not God's will for your life. Was Satan there at the baptism of Jesus, when God the Father spoke from heaven, said, this is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased?

I feel sure that He was there. Essentially, a saying to Jesus, did God really say that you're His beloved Son? So part of the temptation was to make Jesus feel that He had to prove His own sonship. Satan was suggesting that he could do that, he could do that, if he would turn stones into bread. I remember talking to a wise old preacher right when I first got into the ministry. He said, Doug, has God called you to preach? I said, yes, sir, He has. He said, then preach the Word. He said, if this is what God's called you to do, then proclaim the Word. He said, don't defend it so much as proclaiming it. He said, yeah, there'll be times where you'll need to do apologetics, there'll be times where you need to defend the Word by the Word, but most of the time, this is what you need to do. Just proclaim the Word. If you proclaim the Word, then the holiness of that Word will come forth, and you will see power in it like you can't believe.

Folks, I have come to realize that that's exactly what I need to do. And when I'm sharing the Gospel with somebody, sometimes I'll try to break the ice with that person by sharing my personal testimony first, but I want to get away from that just as soon as I can so I can get to the Word, because the Scripture says faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God. So if you're trying to witness to a Muslim or a Hindu or a Buddhist, what are you going to do? Are you going to start sharing with them about comparative religions?

Don't do that. Go to the Word, because that's where the power is. John, chapter 14, verse 6, Jesus said, I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father but by Me.

Acts, chapter 4, verse 12 says, For there is no other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved but the name Jesus Christ. That's where the power is. Proclaim the Word. Don't defend it.

Proclaim it. The truth. The Bible is the Word of God. I like what one old Puritan said. He said, The Bible is an anvil that has worn out many hammers. And isn't that true? Jesus knew that He did not have to defend His sonship.

Why not? Because God said it, and that settles it. Temptation was deep. Satan was tempting Jesus to be impatient. He was saying, if you don't eat, you're going to die.

And if you die, what good are you going to be to mankind? So Jesus responded back to Satan. He didn't argue with him. He didn't reason with him.

What did He do? He said, It is written. He went right to Deuteronomy 8-3. It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.

I want to stop here and ask you something. When you're dealing with temptation, what do you do? You reason with the flesh. Do you argue with the devil? You try to overcome the world with your thinking? Wrong way.

What should we do? We should say, It is written. So a young, scantily clad girl comes walking out in front of me. What am I supposed to do if I'm going to defeat that temptation and not lust?

I'm to go right to the Word. It is written, Job 31 verse 1, I have made a covenant with my eyes. Why should I look upon a maid? Maybe you're a married lady and your husband has asked you to do something or wanted you to share something with you to get you to go in a certain direction. It's a good thing and it's not sin that he's telling you to do. You really just don't want to do that. That's a temptation to sin by not doing that.

So what do you do? Maybe you say, It is written. Why submit yourself under your own husbands as unto the Lord?

Maybe you're in a situation where somebody's hurt your feelings and you're mad, you're angry, you want to get bitter, you want to fight back. Maybe you say, It is written. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving each other as God in Christ Jesus has forgiven you. Folks, we need to fight temptation in the same way our master fought temptation.

It is written. Later on in the public ministry of Jesus, as it began, he preached what we call the Sermon on the Mount. And in a portion of the Sermon on the Mount, he said some things that make me wonder if he wasn't thinking back to the way Satan tempted him to turn the stones into bread.

Let me read this to you. It's from Matthew 6. He said, Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air. They do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Said the robin to the sparrow, I should really like to know why these anxious human beings rush about and worry so. Said the sparrow to the robin, Friend, I think that it must be that they have no heavenly Father such as cares for you and me.

This temptation is one we all face. Will God really take care of me? Will God take care of me?

Can I trust him even with my life? Some people in our church are suffering with the COVID virus right now. And we know what it can do. We know how deadly it is. Can we say, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that my Lord loves me, that I'm in his sovereign hand, and he's going to do what's best for me and what is best for his glory. Can we truly say that from the depths of our heart?

It is written, I will never leave you nor forsake you. Let's pray. Heavenly Father, today's passage of Scripture is not one that leaves us with the warm fuzzies. It is a call to take up our sword, the sword of the Spirit, to put on our gear the full armor of God, and to go after the enemy with a vengeance.

This is a call to war and is ultimately more serious than any war between nations that is being fought today. This is a war for the health of our souls. We have recorded for us in Scripture how you defeated the enemy, not just often, but always. Help us to have that kind of heart and that kind of courage. As we leave today, help us to remember 1 Corinthians 10, 13. For there hath no temptation taken you, but such is as common to man. But God is faithful, will not permit you to be tempted above that which you are able, but will with the temptation provide the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. We love you, Lord. And it's in Jesus' name we pray. Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-07-16 15:16:19 / 2023-07-16 15:29:22 / 13

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