Knowing is half the battle

Today’s reading 2 Kings 2-3, Psalm 48, Matthew 4

After John the Baptist has spent years paving the way for the coming Messiah, at the end of Matthew 3, Jesus came and asked John to baptize him.  This is it, Jesus is finally ready to being his ministry, right?  Almost.  God sent Jesus, in the form of a man, to earth to save us from our sins.  But God knew that in order for Jesus to have credibility with us, he needed to have walked in our shoes, to experience every emotion and every temptation we experience.  So before he starts his ministry, God sends Jesus to the wilderness for 40 days of preparation.

Matthew 4, our text for today, is the account of Jesus being tempted by the Devil.  Notice that the Devil came to Jesus when he was at his weakest point.  After 40 days of fasting, Jesus was tired, alone, and hungry.   Can you relate?  The Devil often tempts us when we are at our weakest point – stressed out, tired, lonely, frustrated or scared.

The Devil also tempted Jesus where he was strong.  Jesus knew he had power over the stones, the angels and all the kingdoms of this world.  So, the Devil was trying to get Jesus to rely on his own strength, to focus on and elevate himself.  Again, can you relate?  By tempting us through our strengths, the Devil often chooses times we are most susceptible to pride.

How was Jesus able to combat the Devil’s temptations?  With God’s word.  He responded to every temptation the Devil threw out with a Biblical truth.   Did you notice that the Devil also knew scripture?  The difference with Jesus was not just that he knew scripture, but that he also obeyed it.  Ephesians 6:17 calls God’s word a sword to be used in spiritual battle.  Matthew 4 illustrates for us how effective knowledge of God’s word can be in resisting the Devil’s temptations.

As the saying goes, knowing is half the battle.  The other half, which is far more difficult, is obeying.  We must know and obey God’s work in order to keep the Devil at bay.

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you (James 4:7).