Change of strategy

The devil led him to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down from here. For it is written: “‘He will command his angels concerning you to guard you carefully; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. ’” Jesus answered, “It is said: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test. ’” (Luke 4:9-12)

We have seen that one of Jesus’ strategies for answering the devil was to quote from the Scriptures, the written recorded words of God from the Old Testament. It is one of the strategies that we too should use as we answer the temptations we face. To do so we need to know the Bible.

But it is important to remember that the devil probably knows the Bible better than we do. In this third temptation of Jesus he attempts to use the same strategy against Jesus that Jesus has been using against him. It becomes clear that the Bible can be used for diabolical purposes as much as for good. When we are faced with Bible quoting justification of certain actions or ideas we need to be discerning. Is this a legitimate use of the Bible? Is the person’s purpose really consistent with what we know of God’s character, actions and purposes or is he just using the Bible to justify his own agenda. We should not be taken in just because a person appears to know the Bible well and can quote chapter and verse.

Jesus was discerning. He saw that the devil’s intention was manipulation. Satan was trying to control God, something he has been doing from the very beginning of his rebellion against God. Satan wanted to be the one “pulling the strings,” getting God do what he wanted him to do. He questioned God’s credibility and Jesus’ identity and made out that if God performed a certain miraculous act then people would know that God was real and that Jesus was who he said he was. But Jesus knew that if he submitted to this temptation then he would be giving the devil power over God which he had no right to. So he refused.

We too need to be careful not to give the devil power over us that he has no right to. We belong to God, and not to Satan. He has lost his authority when it comes to us who have believed in Jesus. But he constantly gets at us, trying to win back lost ground. We need to be as alert and discerning as Jesus as we deal with Satan’s little attacks. This story shows us how important it is to understand the devil, his purposes, his strategies. We need discernment, especially when the devil, or any one of his messengers, comes to us quoting the Bible.

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