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The Desert, The Devil And You Part 1

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer
The Truth Network Radio
June 22, 2021 1:00 am

The Desert, The Devil And You Part 1

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer

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June 22, 2021 1:00 am

Sometimes we find ourselves going directly from great blessing to times of great trial. That’s what happened to Jesus. He was led by God into the wilderness and found Himself tempted to sin by the devil. Hungry and thirsty, He was very vulnerable—but He fought off Satan by using the word of God.

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Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. Sometimes we find ourselves going directly from great blessing to times of great trial. That's what happened to Jesus. He was led by God into the wilderness and found himself tempted to sin by the devil. Today, lessons we can learn from the desert, the devil and you.

Stay with us. From the Moody Church in Chicago, this is Running to Win with Dr. Erwin Lutzer, whose clear teaching helps us make it across the finish line. Pastor Lutzer, would it have been possible for Jesus to succumb to Satan's tempting? Well Dave, you know, throughout history there have been theologians who have said yes, and they like to emphasize the fact that Jesus Christ had a genuine human nature. And so they say yes, he could have succumbed to sin.

But I insist that the answer is no. And the reason is because his two natures were brought together in such a way that the human nature could not have sinned without implicating the divine nature. He was, after all, one person. Now this series of messages is incredibly important, and I want to thank the many of you who support this ministry. If you are blessed as a result of the ministry of Running to Win, it's because other people have invested in this ministry.

Would you consider becoming an endurance partner? That's someone who stands with us regularly with their prayers and their gifts. You need more info, of course. Here's what you do. Go to That's

When you're there, click on the endurance partner button. Or if you prefer, call us at 1-888-218-9337. And now let us listen to Jesus in the desert. The purpose of this series of messages is to prepare us for hard times, but some are already there. In the next two messages, I'm going to be speaking more about the global issues of the economy and all those things.

But today, it's one to one. I'm talking to you, and I'm speaking to myself. I have a friend that I've known for many years. He is not a member of Moody Church, nor does he attend here. I've walked with him through some very dark times, especially in the last three years.

We meet somewhat regularly. In fact, I met with him last week. What I'm going to share with you as to what he's going through is done with his complete permission. You know that I would never share a story like this unless he signed off on all the details.

So here goes. What has happened in his life in the last three years? He was unjustly fired from a job.

A Christian man offered him the job and benefited from him, but then he was let go. He said, far-reaching betrayals by close friends and business associates. Secondly, went through a nasty and difficult second divorce, complete with false accusations of abuse which were later proved to be false. Loss of health insurance and near loss of life due to cancer as a result of having no life insurance, although his physical needs are now being met, thankfully. Financial ruin, unable to pay his mortgage for two years. A bright spot is he does continue to live in the house, which is not yet totally foreclosed. Daily oppression from creditors, harassing phone calls. He said, I know I owe them money, but I have nothing to pay them. Complete reliance on food stamps, a food pantry, and the generosity of families and friends. Bank accounts, his and one of his children illegally zeroed out without warning. Both parents died in the last three years, and because his bank account was zeroed out, he was not able to visit his mother the week before she died. Continual oppression from the legal system, one thing after another, injustice piled upon injustice. His son experienced a terrifying physical assault, resulting in stitches in the head. Someone jumped on him, someone hiding behind the bushes, and so this is being investigated. Terrifying mistaken SWAT team raid of the outside of the house.

SWAT team doing a lot of damage, and then the worst, and what I'm going to share with you now is worse than the others that I already gave. A son addicted to drugs, presently incarcerated, not helped by rehab. So when I met with him this past week, I said to him, my friend, my brother, after all this, every time I get an email, I almost know in advance what is happening now. Can't ever some good thing happen to him? I said, do you still trust God?

So this is what he said word for word. My faith has not only been strengthened as a result of this difficult period, my experience of seeing God so faithfully work in my life has given me more confidence to extend my faith in ways that I would not have had the courage to do previously. I've seen my children and others in my life respond favorably to Jesus Christ as a result of observing my faith despite these circumstances. And I have seen how God can use hardships to open doors, to develop new relationships as a result of my brokenness and humility. I now better understand the nature of God and the love of Jesus.

And I want to say, wow, and thank you. You say today, well, Pastor Lutzer, what is God up to? Isn't one trial enough? Does it have to be multiple trials, one thing after another, the loss of a job, injustice, mistreatment by Christians?

When does the list ever end? Well, in this message I'm glad you asked. I'm going to explain to you from God's word exactly what's happening and what the deal is and what God is doing and what the devil is doing. Thanks for joining me on this journey. The passage of scripture is actually the fourth chapter, the fourth chapter of the Gospel of Matthew.

And I do hope that you turn to it. It's always so important to see it there in the word of God. Jesus is tested by the devil.

But we can't understand the fourth chapter unless we go back a couple of verses at the last part of the third chapter. Jesus is being baptized by John the Baptist, who later on is beheaded. This past week I was speaking at a conference where somebody said that a man, you know, sometimes we have people who are marginal in some ways. He came to the platform and said, I'm John the Baptist.

I want to speak. And the pastor said, you're not John the Baptist. The man said, how do you know? And the pastor said, because you still have your head on. I guess that would be one way to know that he was not John the Baptist.

Well, this was when John still had his head on. He baptized Jesus. And then it says in verse 16, and when Jesus was baptized immediately, he went up from the water and behold, the heavens were open to him and he saw the spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him. And behold, a voice from heaven said, this is my beloved son with whom I am well pleased. And then the Bible says, then Jesus was led up by the spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. In fact, it's the Gospel of Mark who says immediately Jesus was led to the desert to be tempted of the devil. Why immediately?

What's the rush? Jesus had just heard from the father, thou art my beloved son in whom I am well pleased. Those words had just come from heaven. And now the question is, will Jesus cleave to those words and believe those words no matter what God puts him through?

That's the issue that needs to be settled. So Jesus is driven by the spirit into the wilderness. Now there are purposes for temptation. There are purposes. The devil has his purpose. And what is the devil's purpose? What the devil wants to do is to take the fabric of God's love toward Jesus and tear it. He wants to put daylight between the words of the father and the experience of Jesus to get Jesus to doubt whether the father spoke truth.

You're my beloved son in whom I am well pleased. The devil, Diabolos, is called the accuser. He's an accuser. If you use the other word, the word Apollyon means destroyer. So he's out to destroy. This past week I listened to a message by a man by the name of Jim Greer, a very good message, in which he called the devil the splitter.

And I love that, the splitter. What he wants to do is to split Jesus from the will of the father. And that's exactly what he wants to do in my life and your life is to make sure that we are not in fellowship with Christ. So that's the devil's intention in the whole issue of temptation. And what is God's issue? What is God after? God wants to prove that there are some people who will believe him even though when you look around there's no reason at all to believe that he's on your side.

But you still believe that he is as good as his promises and he will be with us even when the evidence for that is somewhat hard to find. The bottom line is the devil tempts us to bring out the worst in us. God tests us to bring out the best. And that contest means that it is oftentimes played out in the desert.

In the case of Israel it was played out in the desert. Now in the case of Jesus it's played out here in a land of barrenness, unending sand, no water or bread in sight. So there are purposes for these temptations. Let me say also that there are diverse temptations, diverse.

And we'll look at the text in a moment. When Satan tempts us he doesn't come to us like he does Jesus. He doesn't show up in a fury and say I'm here, I'm the devil.

We would be terrified. So with us he works it very differently. He works it like we might use a trap to catch a mouse. In our first apartment that Rebecca and I had we had some mice who were living along with us and we soon learned that they cannot be caught when you're sitting there. They see you.

I remember one scurrying across the floor and it was a very slippery floor and he was having such difficulty gaining traction. I still see it in my mind. But we learned that you could have a trap so that even when we weren't there they would be caught and they were. And the devil never comes saying I'm the devil. He comes with a trap with a lure and he has many different lures and he does not announce his coming but behind the trap is a trapper and behind the lie is the liar. And what he does is he puts ideas in our minds that we think are our own with the intention of doing two things. First of all making sin look good to us and secondly convincing us that we can manage the consequences very well. And so like Ananias and Sapphira who were sitting there and who decided to be dishonest and later on Peter says why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit?

They did not know that their thoughts had actually come from the devil. So that's the way he comes to us. Makes sin look good and lets us think that we can manage it very well.

Thank you. We can handle the consequences. Well now to the temptations. You'll notice that the devil comes to him and says if you are the son of God and most people who translate it say that it could be translated if you are.

He's not necessarily debating whether Jesus is the son of God. He says if you are turn these stones into bread. You're hungry turn the stones into bread.

Nothing wrong with that. Later on Jesus is going to feed 5,000 people by his word. But what the devil wants to do is this. He wants to say to Jesus oh oh so this is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased.

Really? Then why are you hungry? If you mean so much to God if God loves you as much as God says he does explain your hunger to me. If God is on your side create bread right now. Jesus won't fall for the bait. What Jesus is saying is if my Heavenly Father has mapped out a difficult road for me I would rather starve here in the desert than do one single thing to somehow have my own way. So Jesus comes back at the devil and quotes from the book of Deuteronomy and says clearly man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God. That quotation comes from a time in Israel's history when people were angry with God because they were hungry. And God says I let you go hungry that you might know that man doesn't live by bread alone but by every word that comes out of the mouth of God. That's the context. And what the people were really saying is this we'd prefer bread to your word and God says in this temptation to Jesus are you going to be willing to believe my bare word or does bread mean more to you than my promises?

That's really what's at stake. Parenthesis you and I don't really really live by every word that comes out of the mouth of God do we? We only live by those words that we like we only live by our favorites. But Jesus quoted a verse here and the devil says in effect being very clever he says you quoted a verse I can play your game I'll quote one too. I'll take a verse out of Psalm 91 and so he takes him to the pinnacle of the temple the eastern wall the pinnacle there that falls off into the Kidron Valley and says to him cast yourself down because it says in Psalm 91 he shall give his angels charge concerning thee and in their thy hand they shall bear thee up lest thou cast a foot against the stone.

If you believe every word that comes out of the mouth of God prove this one and furthermore you'd be a hero falling from the temple and not dying but you'd also have proof and vindication that you are God's beloved son after all because you need to confirm God's word with a miracle and so jump down from the temple and they'll catch you. Jesus does what every good theologian does. What Jesus does is he corrects the devil's theology with another verse. He doesn't say well you know you're misquoting the verse no because he wasn't really misquoting it but he was saying you need to balance this over here to put it in context there's something going on over here another parenthesis.

There are so many false teachers in the airwaves today and I spoke about them recently. I can just imagine some of them coming across a promise like in Psalm 91 and say you know the Lord just showed me something we could just jump out of an airplane we could just do all this and eat catches hallelujah. Jesus said you need to balance it by another one and the other one is you shall not test the Lord your God. Again he quotes Deuteronomy and the context is this the people were upset because they were hungry and thirsty and if you look at the context what they were basically saying was this they were saying if you don't provide food and water and do a miracle we're not going to believe you anymore.

Who can trust a God who allows people to be hungry and thirsty? And so they tested God give us a miracle or else. Jesus said never do that. Never put God in a box.

Never be presumptuous and say oh here's a promise I'll hop from the pinnacle of the temple and you've got to catch me. Thou shall not put the Lord thy God to the test said Jesus. And Jesus is saying I don't even need a miracle like that to believe that I am God's beloved son in whom he is well pleased. And so Jesus passes that test and by the way the devil can indeed quote scripture.

But now he comes to the biggie and the biggie has to do with the possessions and the ownership of the world. The devil being a scholar in the sense that he reads the Bible he's read Psalm 2 where it says that someday Jesus is going to sit on the throne and God is going to give him the kingdoms of this world. So the devil comes to Jesus and says well Jesus I'll tell you that if he shows him the kingdoms of this world we don't know how it happens. Maybe it was some kind of a vision. But we can imagine that all of the opulence that was in existence at that time was seen by Jesus in the company of the devil. I'm thinking for example of the great pyramids of Egypt which already were centuries old by that time.

Maybe they saw the Acropolis in Athens and they saw the great buildings in the city of Rome. And Satan says Jesus if you bow and worship me I'll give them all to you. I'll give them all to you. Worship me and I will give you the kingdoms. Now the question of course is did he have a right to do that? Theologians debate it. After all he is the god of this world some people say and they say it was a legitimate offer that he was making to Jesus.

But if you think of this theologically putting all of the things together I think that there's something else going on here in the text and that is I think that the devil was bluffing. If Jesus had bowed down Jesus would not have received the kingdoms of this world because sure he's the god of this world. But remember he's the god of this world on God's terms and moment by moment is subject to God. And so he could not have given Jesus that right. But what he's doing is this. He's saying Jesus there's an easier way to get the kingdom than to die and be on a cross because you can take a shortcut.

And if you take a shortcut you can be wealthy. You can own the kingdoms of this world and you can be powerful. So you don't have to do it with integrity. You don't have to do it following the father's plan. No you simply go ahead and do it worship me and I'll give you. Of course Jesus said no to that and he made the statement you shall not put the Lord your God to the test and then he says be gone as Satan for it is written you shall worship the Lord your God only and him only shall you serve.

Wow what he's saying is no. My friend I certainly hope that you tune in next time as this message continues because it is so important for us to understand how Jesus Christ confronted Satan but also the kind of techniques that Satan uses to also tempt us. If you are blessed as a result of the ministry of running to win it's because other people have invested in this ministry and they have helped us get the Word of God to more than 20 different countries in three different languages. From the bottom of my heart I say thank you. Would you consider standing with us as an endurance partner? These are people who stand with us regularly with their prayers and their gifts.

I like to think of it as becoming a part of the running to win family because together as you have frequently heard me say we are making a difference. Would you at least investigate here's what you can do go to that's when you're there click on the endurance partner button or if you prefer you can call us at 1-888-218-9337. I'm going to be giving you time to find that pencil so that you can write that number down and that you can call us. Thanks in advance for helping us as we get the gospel of Jesus Christ to many people. That phone number 1-888-218-9337.

You can write to us at Running to Win 1635 North LaSalle Boulevard Chicago Illinois 60614. Running to win is all about helping you find God's roadmap for your race of life. A hungry and thirsty Jesus was offered all the kingdoms of the world if only he'd worship Satan. Sometimes we see a quick solution to a crisis and we're tempted to dishonor God to meet legitimate needs. Next time the lessons we can take home from an encounter with the devil. Thanks for listening for Dr. Erwin Lutzer this is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-10-30 23:37:46 / 2023-10-30 23:46:14 / 8

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