We’ve all heard the sermons about Jesus’s temptation, how it was the lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. What if there is a simpler truth to extract from this passage. (Matthew 4 or Luke 4) I find it interesting that of all the temptation Jesus faced in the desert, it is only these three situations that are recorded in scripture. He was fasting and being tempted for 40 days, I’m willing to bet the devil said a lot more than just these three things. There are some profound parallels to how Jesus was tempted and how we are tempted.
In all three situations, the Greek word used for the devil is diabolos, which means prone to slander, slanderous, and accusing falsely. It is used 37 times to describe Satan as the devil, false accuser, slanderer, twice to describe someone who sides with Satan as in a slanderous person, and once to describe Judas Iscariot. Satan is identified in a number of ways in scripture, angel of the abyss, devil (diabolos), father of lies, tempter, thief, murderer, accuser, just to name a few. Maybe it is just me (I doubt it), but the number one way Satan gets involved in my life seems to be when he accuses me and lies to me.
He lies to me, slanders my identity, accuses me of wrong, and condemns me. That is exactly what Jesus dealt with when he was tempted. Twice the devil slandered and challenged the core identity of Christ. “If you are the Son of God…” then do this. The devil wasn’t only testing Jesus’s ability to resist the lust of his flesh (stones to bread) and pride of life (jumping off the temple). He was attacking Jesus’ root relationship with the Father!
How many times does the enemy do the same thing to us? How many times does the enemy try to convince you that you are not a child of God because of something you did or didn’t do? How many times does the devil lie to your mind and convince you that you are no longer able to fulfill your calling, that you messed up too much? How many times does the enemy attack your identity with lies about your beauty, qualifications, abilities, calling, talents, or passions? How many times does the liar that roams the Earth tell you that you are not an overcomer, that you can’t get through this, that you can’t break free, that you can’t find freedom? In all of this, he is attacking your identity; he is attacking what God says about you in scripture. You are not alone, even Jesus’ identity was attacked.
Jesus never even entertained the “prove yourself” attack of the enemy. He was so secure in the Father to know he was the Son of God that He didn’t have to prove to anybody that He was the Son of God. He immediately saw through it, and he spoke truth. The same is true for you. We need to be so close to the Father that we know we are His children because then we don’t have to prove to the liar that we are children of God. We have a relationship with the Father. Jesus is our defender, and He will prove it for us by His blood that was shed. You only have to shut the devil up with the truth. When the devil tries to tell you who you are, you remind yourself, and thus the devil, who Abba Father says you are.
You might be thinking, “What about the third instance?” Here, the devil didn’t attack Jesus’s identity. He attacked God’s position in Jesus’s life. Sometimes the devil is obvious in his attempt to knock God out of our driver seat and take control, and sometimes he is subtle. The devil will always offer an appealing option. You can have this power I give to you as long as you worship me. You can find entertainment in Facebook or Candy Crush as long as you don’t listen to that other voice saying to read the Bible first. You are strong and independent enough to take care of your home and family on your own, you don’t need that hour of prayer every morning. God will take care of your family; you don’t need to pray for them. Lie after lie that attempts to push God out of the place of your worship, trust, and adoration.
In this he isn’t slandering you, he is slandering God. He is telling you that God isn’t worthy of the position you have given Him. In Matthew 4, we see Jesus wouldn’t have anything to do with that. He flat-out told Satan to leave. Our response should be likewise. In that moment, submit to God, and the accuser will flee. (James 4:7) In these instances, how do you submit to God? You do the opposite of what the devil is whispering. If he says to bow and worship him, you bow and worship God. If he says to turn to Facebook instead of reading, you shut down the computer and open your Bible. If he says you don’t need to pray, you pray. In doing that, you realign with God and give God control again.
When Satan attacks your identity, remember that you do not have to defend yourself to the devil. Jesus is your defense. Declare what Abba Father says, and then submit to God’s truth in worship.