February 14, 2016

Rev. Bernt P. Tweit

Old Testament Lesson; Deuteronomy 26:5-10

Epistle Lesson; Romans 10:8b-13

Sermon Text; Luke 4:1-13

Today we are going to be talking about temptation. I have a few things to share, before we get into the text.

Let's go back to creation. Remember when God created the world in six days, and rested on the seventh day? Everything was perfect.

“God saw all He had made

and behold it was very good.”

There was no sin. That means all of the angels were good angels. There was no such thing as an evil angel. There was no such thing as a demon. But, sometime after the seventh day of creation, the devil rebelled against God. The devil took a number of good angels with him. The devil and those angels he took with him became evil angels. They became demons.

God kicked them out of Heaven, and sent them to Hell.

It was sometime after that, that the devil came to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. The devil tempted Adam and Eve. He deceived them by saying, “Did God really say...”. Then he twisted scripture, and he caused Adam and Eve to obey him, while they disobeyed God. Adam and Eve fell into sin.

Because of sin coming into the world, death came into the world, and God had not planned for that. So, right away God promised to send a Messiah. He promised to send a Savior.

Jesus came to be that Messiah. Jesus came to be that Savior.

Last week Pastor Bartels had us look at the baptism of Jesus. Jesus was anointed with the power of the Holy Spirit, as He began His three year ministry before He would go to the cross. Being the anointed One, being the Messiah, being the Savior, it is the devil who now tempts Jesus, during these forty days in the wilderness. The devil is there tempting Jesus to prevent Him from winning salvation for you, and for me.

We just began the Season of Lent. Lent is this time period between now and Easter. Did you know Lent is a forty day period? It begins on Ash Wednesday, and goes all the way through Holy Saturday, the day before Easter. If you were to go to a calendar, and count the days from Ash Wednesday to Holy Saturday, not counting Sundays, it would be forty days. Those forty days were set aside by the Church Fathers for us to see, not only the seriousness of our sin, and the depth of our sin, but also to see the magnitude of God's love in sending His Son to be our Savior.

The forty days of temptation not only corresponds with the forty days of Lent, but I am also going to correspond it with the forty years in the wilderness, by the Israelites in The Old Testament, as well. Before I end, believe it or not, I am also going to tie that into marriage. Try to do that one! Go from temptation to marriage. But, we will do it, and we will get there!

Let's look at scripture this morning, in Luke, chapter 4, verses 1 through 13. This is God's Word.

And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And He ate nothing during those days. And when they were ended, He was hungry. The devil said to Him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” And Jesus answered him, “It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone.'” And the devil took Him up and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, and said to Him, “To you I will give all this authority and their glory, for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.” And Jesus answered him, “It is written, 'You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only shall you serve.'” And he took Him to Jerusalem and set Him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to Him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for it is written, 'He will command His angels concerning you, to guard you,' and 'On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.'” And Jesus answered him, “It is said, 'You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.'” And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from Him until an opportune time.

This is God's Word

Alright, let's just run through all of those temptations here, of the devil tempting Jesus. Again this is the beginning of Jesus' earthly ministry, right after His baptism, three years before Good Friday. Jesus is out in the wilderness for forty days and forty nights. He was not eating. He was fasting. We know this was a complete fast, because as you correspond with the other Gospel Lessons, it said Jesus did not eat for forty days and forty nights. How hungry would you be, if you did not eat for forty days and forty nights? I would be famished.

The devil comes to Jesus, and tempts Him.

       -The devil asks Him to turn stones into bread. But, it is more than just that, because the devil said, “If you are the Son of God, turn these stones into bread.”

Well, Jesus is God, right? Jesus is the Son of God. There is no question about that. The devil wants Jesus to be self-serving. He wants Him to do this with His divine powers, to serve Himself, so He is not hungry, anymore.

Well, Jesus didn't come to be self-serving. Jesus didn't come to serve Himself. Rather, Jesus came to serve you. Jesus came to seek and save the lost.

And so, how is it that Jesus combats this temptation of the devil? I am going to teach you a Greek word this morning. It is the Greek word 'gegraptai'. It is the word, 'It is written', or 'It has been written'. Jesus combats the temptation of the devil by saying, “It is written...”, and then He quotes scripture, a passage from Deuteronomy.

“Man does not live by bread alone.”

Jesus rebuffed that temptation of the devil and used scripture.

Now, that correlates to when the Children of Israel were going through the wilderness. Remember how they had not eaten for a just a very short period of time? The Children of Israel grumbled, and complained against God, “We have no food. It would be better for us to be back in Egypt.”

That is when God promised to send manna and quail. He did that for forty years. The Children of Israel failed. They sinned against God by grumbling and complaining against Him.

But, here we see Jesus, our Savior, rebuffing this temptation of the devil by using scripture.

       -The devil then took Jesus to a mountain. We are not sure exactly where, but he took Him to a mountain to look out over all of the land. The devil says, “This is mine, and I will give it to you, if you worship me. This will be yours, if you worship me.”

Jesus rebuffed the temptation of the devil, when He said, “Gegraptai.” “It is written”, or “It has been written, 'Worship the Lord your God and serve Him only.'” Then Jesus quoted another passage from the book of Deuteronomy. He rebuffed the temptation of the devil by quoting scripture.

That is a reminder to us too, of how the Children of Israel failed in their time in the wilderness. Remember when Moses was up on Mount Sinai getting The Ten Commandments? While he was gone, the people who were at the base of the camp fashioned the golden calf. Instead of worshiping the true God, they worshiped a false god. They worshiped the golden calf.

That is what the devil wanted Jesus to do. The devil wanted Jesus to worship him. But, Jesus rebuffed that temptation of the devil by saying, “It is written, 'Worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.'”

       -Then, in the last temptation that our text for today brings up, it is the devil who comes to Jesus, after He is on a pinnacle of the temple in Jerusalem. He says, “God's angels will take care of you. Just throw yourself down. That is what your guardian angels are for.”

Well, Jesus combated the temptation of the devil by saying again, “Gegraptai.” “It is written.” “It has been written. 'You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.'” Jesus withstood all of those temptations by using scripture to combat the temptations of the devil.

This corresponds with the Children of Israel in the wilderness, when they got thirsty. They did not trust God would provide water for them.

That is what the devil wanted Jesus to do, here. He wanted Jesus to have mistrust. That is not why God sent His guardian angels.

The very last verse of our text says the devil left him. And then, he waited for an opportune time.

This wasn't going to be the last time the devil would tempt Jesus. It was just beginning. Throughout the course of His ministry, the devil would use other people, all the way up until the time of the cross, to try to prevent Jesus from winning salvation for us.

There is lots of danger in these verses, isn't there? We shouldn't be surprised that if the devil was willing to tempt Jesus, the devil is going to attempt to tempt you to fall into temptation. We are under attack, aren't we? Each and every day we are under attack. There are different people, and there are different things that come to us, and attack us. It could be family. It could be friends. It could be your job. It could be the economy. It could be your retirement. It could come from without. It could come from within. But, every day of our lives we are under attack. Again, that shouldn't surprise us, because if the devil was willing to tempt Jesus, he will, and he does tempt us.

I am going to teach you another Greek word. It is the Greek word 'diabolos'. It is where we get our English word 'diabolical'. That is the word for 'the devil' in the original Greek. The devil is diabolical, isn't he? He comes on the attack constantly, day after day. He wants us to not only be tempted but to fall into sin. And so here is where we need to combat ourselves with scripture, just as Jesus did. Here is what God's Word tells us to do. It tells us to submit to God's Word. James chapter 3, “Submit yourselves then to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Come near to God and He will come near to you.” Or consider what scripture says about this struggle we have from the devil, in Ephesians 6. “Our struggle is not against flesh and blood but against the rulers against the authorities against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”

The devil is sneaky. He is diabolical. He doesn't just jump out at you and tell you to fall into sin. That is not how he works. He is very sneaky in our lives, creeping up on us as scripture says, “Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.” And yet dear Christian friends we know that when we fail, when we sin and when we fall into temptation, we have One who has not fallen into temptation. The Bible says, “We have One who has been tempted in every way, just as we are and yet was without sin.”

Scripture says,

“It is written,

'Through the disobedience of the one man,

the many were made sinners.'”

Because Adam and Eve sinned, we are sinners. But,

“Because of the obedience of the One,

the many will be made righteous.”

Jesus was obedient in our place. Sometimes we refer to that as 'Jesus' active obedience'. We were disobedient, Jesus was obedient. Jesus gives that life of perfect obedience to you as a free gift. Through your faith in Jesus, as your Savior, God sees you through Jesus, as if you had never sinned! That is why, when Jesus teaches us The Lord's Prayer, He includes in The Lord's Prayer the Sixth Petition.

And, lead us not into temptation.

As we pray that Petition, we are asking God would help us overcome those temptations, when they come.

How is it we overcome those temptations? We overcome those temptations with Scripture. Here is what Ephesians 6 says.

“Put on the full armor of God

so that when the day of evil comes,

you may be able to stand your ground.

And after you have done everything to stand,

take the sword of the Spirit,

which is the Word of God.”

We need to arm ourselves. Scripture tells us to arm ourselves. As the temptations of the devil, the world, and our sinful flesh comes our way, Scripture tells us to take up the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. Remember how it was Jesus overcame temptation, today? He picked up His sword. That was the Word of God. He said, “Gegraptai” “It is written...”, and He used Scripture to combat the temptations of the devil.

God, in His Word today, encourages us to do the very same thing. When we are under attack, where is it we should turn? We should turn to Scripture which is the sword of the Spirit.

Which gets me to marriage, Christian marriage. Today we are honoring our members who have been married 25 years, or more! You guys are a wonderful example of Christian marriage to all of us. We thank you! Maybe some of you stood up here at the very front of this church. Maybe it was at the front of the little white church. Maybe it was another church you got married in. But, when you got married, it was a beautiful picture. You ladies were in your white wedding dresses, weren't you?

You gentlemen, you were in your suits. You were standing up before God, and your witnesses.

Christian marriage is a beautiful picture, because it is a picture of Christ, and His bride the church.

Ladies as you were standing up here on your wedding day, you were a picture of the Holy Christian Church. As you were standing in your white, wedding dress, it was a picture of the great gift God had given, not only to you, but to all of us. It is a picture of the forgiveness of sin, which He won for us, by not only living a perfect life, but by dying on the cross in our place, so we could live with Him in Heaven.

So, I know in a sense it is a little awkward today talking about the temptation of Jesus, His overcoming that temptation, and tying in Christian marriage, but for those of you who are celebrating today, we celebrate with you, and we thank you for the wonderful example of Christian marriage, and that you are amongst us here at Holy Cross. What a beautiful picture of Christ, and of His bride the church.