Last week I talked about the enemy’s tactics, namely his attempts to keep us fearful and ineffective. Lynn’s post on Monday brilliantly showed us how the enemy uses lies to keep us in these places of defeat. Again, it’s all lies!
This week I want to show you how the enemy targets us. Let’s go back to Matthew 4 and read the first eleven verses. I’ve bolded some key areas that I want you to pay attention to:
1 Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.
The very first thing I want to point out will probably be the most difficult for you to understand and accept. Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness. God was in control of this time of testing just as He’s in control of our times of trial and testing. I reference the book of Job last week as a good example of this.
Please understand that we live in a world with good and evil. The stage was set right in the Garden of Eden. So think of it this way. God gave man and woman the power of choice. They chose poorly and now God is working in all of it to bring the ultimate good to all humanity. That means He takes what evil intends to harm and brings good from it (read the story of Joseph starting with Genesis 37). This is also our promise in Romans 8:28.
God also designed us to have purpose in our lives, just as He gave Adam his purpose to maintain the Garden. As Rick Warren often says, God is more concerned about our character than our comfort. Cushy and easy lives do not build our character. And the only way our spirit will bear fruit (Galatians 5:22-23) is by exercising our spiritual muscles.
I’ve heard a saying that I think is dead on: God either delivers us from trials or through trials. Some trials He will remove because they don’t serve His purpose and calling for us. Others He walks us through them because there is something to be gained—these can be blessings, freedoms, spiritual gifts, etc., with the ultimate goal of deepening our understanding of who we are in Christ, our relationship with God and our trust in Him.
2 After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.
Remember what I said last week that the enemy attacks us in our weakness. What he hopes is that we will forget that in our weakness God is strong (2 Cor. 12:9)! Jesus fasted to prepare Himself for this time of temptation. I find that the times I’ve fasted because God is calling me too, I become clearer in my thoughts and understanding, and I often hear God much clearer. So Jesus may have appeared weak physically but spiritually, He was more powerful than ever!
The key here that Jesus prepared. That time set aside each day to spend with God is part of that preparation. Reading the Bible, praying, listening to praise music, going to church, etc.—it’s all preparation to make us strong in our weakness.
3 The tempter came to him and said, If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.
If you look at the line I bolded, you’ll see a subtle question there. The very first thing the enemy attacks is our identity—who we are in Christ. Notice how the enemy says, “If you are the Son of God.” Some translations lose this intonation but the original Greek has it. It’s a subtle plant of doubt that the enemy uses to make us doubt our salvation and place in God’s Kingdom. This by far is the first and most crucial place that we must pay close attention to.
Remember the story in Matthew 7 about the wise builder? The wise builder is the one who built his house on rock instead of sand. When the storms (trials, tests, temptations, etc.) came, the house didn’t fall. This rock foundation is our identity in Christ. Read Ephesians 1 and notice words like adopted, accepted, blessed, chosen, forgiven, lavished, predestined and redeemed. Our inheritance in Jesus is WHO WE ARE.
Don’t confuse your calling or ministry or service as who you are. Those are things you do. They come from your identity in Christ. All that we do to serve must be held loosely because we really don’t know the full picture of where God plans to take us next. We can’t identify ourselves by things that have the potential to change. Jesus never changes. He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. That’s a foundation of rock that will never fail you! And remember, our identity in Christ is where our power and authority come from. When we build our identity on things that change, fail, shift or disappoint, we risk losing our power and giving our authority to the enemy.
4 Jesus answered, It is written: Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.
5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple.
6 If you are the Son of God, he said, throw yourself down. For it is written: He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
7 Jesus answered him, It is also written: Do not put the Lord your God to the test. (and see how Jesus counters him with God’s Word too? With the truth.)
8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor.
9 All this I will give you, he said, if you will bow down and worship me.
10 Jesus said to him, Away from me, Satan! For it is written: Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.
11 Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.
Study these lines and notice how one, Jesus counters each attempt of the enemy to implant a lie with the truth of God’s Word. Satan even uses God’s Word (don’t think he hasn’t studied it well and will use it against us—legalism is a good example of that.) in a direct quote from Psalm 91:11 to try and convince Jesus to hand over His authority. This is why it is so important to know God’s Word. One, because we need to know the truth, and know it clearly—not just what someone else has told us. And two, so that we can counter the enemy with the truth so we don’t allow these lies into our lives—that’s when we make contracts with our enemy and hand over our authority.
Okay, I'm going to stop here for now. Next week I will show where the enemy targets us and how to counter those lies with God's truth. Until then, I want you to ask God to tell you who are to Him. Ask Him to show you whatever lie or lies have taken the place of His truth for you, because He loves you, my friend, with a passion and a fervency that goes beyond comprehension. This has been a HUGE area of healing for me and I want you, my precious friends, to walk in that same freedom!
Here are two downloads for you to take advantage of. Read them and speak them out loud!
God is here! God is HERE. GOD IS HERE! Let's walk forward in confidence together knowing who we are.
Hugging you all tight with love and prayers!