Matthew 6:24-25 “24 No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon (riches). 25 Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?”
There are things we are told by Jesus, not to concern ourselves with, yet often these very things become the main focus of our thoughts and actions. I have been struggling with this myself and as I laid it all before the Lord this morning looking for answers, He showed me great and wonderful things in His Word. Hallelujah! These very same things were what Satan put before Jesus in the wilderness.
I have been reading Love not the World by Watchman Nee, and together with my bible study which has been working through Isaiah, God lead me to a passage from Luke this morning which complimented the thoughts presented in both, and gave me the answers I needed. Luke 14:1-13 takes us through Jesus’ experience in the wilderness being tested by the devil.
From Watchman Nee’s book, a point was made that in the last days, the World will be as it was in the Days of Noah and as Lot went out from Sodom. “They ate, they drank, they married, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded.” see Luke 17:26-30. Scripture tells us not to concern ourselves with eating, with drinking, nor what we shall wear. Romans 14:17 tells us that “the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” Scripture bids us “first seek God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to us” Matthew 6:31-33. This point also resonates throughout the book of Isaiah.
I have been engrossed lately with “What we shall eat”. Being 28 weeks pregnant with baby #5 and a bridesmaid at my sister’s wedding in 3 weeks, I have been concerning myself with trying to eat for the health of my baby but not the size of my backside. Add to this, struggling with cravings and a lack of willpower against all tasty treats that are bad for both! I have been utterly defeated despite my most ardent desire to succeed.
We are also looking to sell the house in which we live and the to-do list which must be completed prior to this becoming a reality is consuming beyond distraction!
Watchman Nee points out regarding Christians, “The undue attention to eating and drinking is far from normal; it is supernatural. For it is not just a question of food and drink that we are meeting here; we are meeting demons.” Heavy stuff! I had never considered this at all, but it makes perfect sense. It was clearly confirmed when I opened my bible this morning, but more on that in a minute.
Watchman Nee also states “the question today is not so much one of sinfulness as one of worldliness. Eating and drinking? Marrying and giving in marriage? Buying and selling? These things are so common and so simple, they are yet being used by Satan to ensnare God’s children into the great net of his world order.” He reminds us that, “There was a time when the Church rejected the world’s ways. Now she not only uses them, she abuses them. Of course we must use the world, but let us not want it, let us not desire it.”
When I read the passage in Luke 4:1-13 I saw the truth of Nee’s statements. Here we see Satan’s plan in action – he tried it out on Jesus first, yet Jesus “overcame”, let us take note!
The first temptation Satan presented was food! He suggests that Jesus should break from Truth and rely on Himself or His power to provide bread to eat. Rarely do I take the concern regarding “What I shall eat, drink or wear” to God but rather I plan and allocate finances (ultimately funds that are not guaranteed) sometimes weeks ahead. Jesus’ mind regarding this is evident in His response, a response taken from the passages of Deuteronomy 8:3. “Man shall not live by bread alone”. We live by every word that proceeds from the mouth of The Lord. Jesus lived His life this way and shows us this in action in John 4:32-34.
Satan then presents Jesus with an offer of worldly power, authority and the glory of man. This is ultimately what the world seeks after. Power, prestige, the never-ending striving for more. I see this within my own family – members who are not saved, strive and strive for what is never enough. It’s futile and easy even for Christians to slip into if we take our eyes off Jesus.
Jesus combats the offer with “You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.” Striving after the world’s goods and glory is worshipping Satan, pure and simple – keeping your eyes fixed on The One True God in worship to Him only is the key to overcoming this trap.
The final temptation is one that was discussed in my bible study group this week. We did not see it as an influence of Satan but definitely as something facing Christians today. As I read the Luke passage, it became clear that the force behind this certainly comes from the pit of hell. In bible study we looked at Isaiah 32:9-11. The passage begins as follows: “9 Rise up, you women who are at ease, hear my voice; You complacent daughters, give ear to my speech.” The NIV translates this passage as: “9 You women who are so complacent, rise up and listen to me; You daughters who feel secure, hear what I have to say.”
In Luke 4:9-11 Satan then takes Jesus to the pinnacle of the temple in Jerusalem and tells Him to “throw yourself down from here” and have God save Him. As I read, again scales fell from my eyes and I saw the reality of what we had discussed in our group. It’s easy for today’s Christian to become complacent. We have no real “need” for God, being secure in our worldly endeavours fully able to provide for ourselves. We also harbour an attitude of taking even our salvation for granted. We stand on the pinnacle of the temple, secure in our salvation but we often “tempt the Lord our God” Luke 4:12. When we live lifestyles in contradiction to God’s word, in hypocrisy to the grace offered to us, we “throw ourselves down” in opposition to the Truth of God’s Word.
In complacency we live each day with eyes set on the things of this world, showing little regard to redeeming the time as this age comes to a close. The salvation of unsaved loved ones does not weigh as heavy a burden upon us as it should and these passages have certainly been a wake-up call to me.
As Jesus stood firm against the wiles of the devil, He overcame him and the lures of “the World”. Seeing who is behind these concerns certainly puts them in their proper perspective!
As we take on the Mind of Christ and listen to the voice of God in all things, being willing to walk in His Way in obedience to His guidance, we too will overcome Satan’s schemes in the World and detach ourselves from it’s seduction. We will discover the peace, rest and strength that comes from living by every word which proceeds from the mouth of The Lord.