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Revelation 3:21-22 by Robert Dean
Series:Revelation (2004)
Duration:48 mins 31 secs

Jesus: Overcoming Temptation

Revelation 3:21-22 NASB "He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches."

Worldliness: The biblical concept of worldliness describes the collection of ideas, philosophies, religions, standards, values, purposes, and methods to achieve those ends which characterize a culture or sub-culture. Its purpose is to suppress truth in unrighteousness and redefine reality to avoid the righteous demands of a creator God.

 

Worldliness is not just another worldview of many equal worldviews, it has an agenda to distance man from God, to create a world where God is not intrusive. As such, this world view incorporates every aspect of a culture's views of the individual and social relationships, theories of knowledge and learning, expressions of reality, and visual and performing arts, science, technology, literature and law. When the Christian operates within this thought structure, even though it may overlap in many ways with a biblical worldview it is still classified as worldliness. Part of the process of the Christian life is trying to ferret out all these ideas and philosophies and notions that we pick up over the years and exchange biblical truth for human viewpoint truth. Worldliness shapes everything from metaphysics to morals, from epistemology to aesthetics. Nothing escapes, a divine worldview versus a human worldview are all-inclusive.

 

When we consider the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness what we see is that even though the temptations are to sin the rationale that is embedded in these temptations is worldliness. And we watch to see how Jesus handles that, because He is setting a pattern for us, giving us an example of how to deal with these things. There is a comparison and contrast here between Israel in the Old Testament and the Lord Jesus Christ in His ministry. There are five points of comparison:

 

1)  The Jews in the wilderness go into the wilderness following their baptism into Moses, according to 1 Corinthians 10:3. This is the beginning of their history. Jesus goes into the wilderness following His baptism with John the Baptist, according to Matthew chapter three. This is the inauguration into this new ministry.

2)  The events that take place in Israel's life are in the wilderness as they are in the Lord Jesus Christ. They both go into the wilderness. The Jews in the Old Testament are in the wilderness for forty years; Jesus is in the wilderness for forty days and forty nights.

3)  Both are tested with hunger. The Israelites have left Egypt and have left all the wonderful food of Egypt and they are looking for food and water in the wilderness. Jesus goes voluntarily into the wilderness, following the Holy Spirit, and is on a voluntary fast for forty days and forty nights.

4)  Israel failed because they failed to trust God's Word and they failed to rely upon His promises. However, the Lord Jesus Christ succeeds in trusting in God's Word and trusting in God's promises.

5)  The order of the tests in Matthew is to reflect the order of the testing in those early days in Israel's history. First they are tested with relation to food, the test related to manna in Exodus 16. Then there was the grumbling related to the water, and that was dealt with by the provision of water out of the rock at Massah, Exodus 17. Then there was the issue of the acquisition of the conquest of the land where the Jews were told to go into the land to conquer the Canaanites and establish the kingdom of God in Exodus 23:20-33.

 

Matthew 4:3 NASB "And the tempter came and said to Him, If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread." The tempter is Satan of old, also known as the devil, as defined in verse 1. The word "tempted" or "tested" is the Greek word PEIRAZO [peirazw] which means to examine, evaluate or test something. It is often used within a legal context, to try something. The word to "lead" (v.1), even though it has a common meaning of leading someone somewhere, bringing them somewhere, taking something from here to there, it also has the idea of leading someone into a courtroom for a judicial process. So there is a level of metaphor here related to a legal process. Jesus is presenting evidence about who He is and His qualifications to complete His mission as our savior. It is related specifically to something that goes beyond the natural history, and that is into the supernatural realm of the angels. Human history is related to the angelic revolt and it is through human history that God is demonstrating certain truths related to those challenges Satan has brought against God. These things are indicated by the type of vocabulary that is used in this passage.

 

Jesus is now in a place of vulnerability and He is being tested in that specific area. So the devil says, "If," and in the Greek this is "If and you are." Satan knows who he is, he has no question about who Jesus is. In other words, because He is the Son of God He can command the stones to become bread.

 

Notice how Jesus answers him: Matthew 4:4 NASB "But He answered and said, "It is written, MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE, BUT ON EVERY WORD THAT PROCEEDS OUT OF THE MOUTH OF GOD." This is a quote from an Old Testament passage in Deuteronomy chapter eight. Deuteronomy is a sermon, Moses' last sermon to the Jews before he is going to die. He is reminding them of past failure and divine provision. Deuteronomy 8:3 NASB "He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD." So there is a test related to the Jews that is being referred to. The manna provided everything needed for their sustenance.

 

The context: In Deuteronomy 8:1 Moses reminds them that the commandments that God gives them in the Mosaic law weren't designed to restrict their life but that they were the path to life. So these commandments were given for a purpose, that they could have life and enjoy the blessings that God had given them. In verse 2 is a reminder of past failures to trust God: NASB "You shall remember all the way which the LORD your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not." (Notice: God led the Israelites in the wilderness and in Matthew 4 the Holy Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness.) There is an evaluation taking place when we go through various tests, and the purpose here was to teach them humility. Humility in the Scripture is orientation to authority. It is understanding who one's authority is and being obedient to that authority. The Jews are put in a place of vulnerability, out in the desert, in order to be evaluated, in order to be tested. It was an opportunity for them to be dependent upon God for everything. So God takes the Jews into the desert where they will be tested by hunger in order to teach them dependence upon God and upon His Word. They had to learn to think as God thinks. God is going to take them into the land to conquer the Canaanites, but if they are going to be successful in the land then they are going to have to learn to think as God thinks. If they are going to conquer the enemies in the land then they are going to have to operate in dependence upon God. By learning to depend upon God for their day-to-day sustenance for forty years they would be able to understand how God could sustain them spiritually and would take care of them in every test they would face in the future.

 

So the first challenge that Satan has for the Lord Jesus Christ is to challenge Him in terms of His deity and say to use His deity to solve His personal problems. Jesus answered and said that what was more important was that he was oriented to the Word of God, that His thinking was informed and oriented to the Word. That tells us that we have ti be subordinate to the authority of God. So what is embedded in this temptation is first of all an appeal to arrogance or an attempt to make Him operate independently of God (which is what arrogance is), and secondly, to do that which is antagonistic or hostile to the plan of God. But Jesus passes on both counts. He orients Himself to the authority of God, He is on a mission to trust in God to provide His needs, not to act independently of the Father's plan, and it is to not be hostile to what God has revealed in His Word. So He emphasizes the priority of the Word of God, that man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God. There is an important principle there. That is, that the issue of nourishment for each of us in our spiritual life is the Word of God. It is not about our job, not about our careers, it is ultimately not about our families, it is about our day-to-day nourishment from the Word of God. If we think we need three meals a day in order to keep body and soul together, how many times do we need to be nourished by the Word of God to be reminded of the eternal principles of God's Word? If we think once a week will do it, then we are sadly mistaken. We have to be reminded of God's Word over and over and over again on a day-to-day basis. We need to make the study of God's Word and the application of it the highest priority in our life.

 

The second temptation comes along ion Matthew 4:5, 6: NASB "Then the devil took Him into the holy city and had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, "If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down; for it is written, HE WILL COMMAND HIS ANGELS CONCERNING YOU; and ON {their} HANDS THEY WILL BEAR YOU UP, SO THAT YOU WILL NOT STRIKE YOUR FOOT AGAINST A STONE." The devil tempts through the misapplication and misinterpretation of Scripture.

This pinnacle of the temple is understood to be Solomon's portico which was in the south-east corner of the temple complex. It was approximately 450 feet from the upper corner of Solomon's portico down to the ground. Te thrust of this temptation is that what Satan is telling the Lord is that since he is the Son of God, He can do whatever He wants to and the angels will have to take care of Him. "You can do whatever you wish because you are God"! The angels are bound by their role to take care of Him. Then Satan quotes from Psalm 91:11, 12, but actually it is a misquote. Psalm 91 is a psalm of trust. It begins: "He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High Will abide in the shadow of the Almighty." It is a psalm that reminds us that God is the one who protects us, He is the one who is our refuge, our strength. Psalm 91:2 is a great verse to memorize: "I will say to the LORD, My refuge and my fortress, My God, in whom I trust!"

Psalm 91:9, 10 NASB "For you have made the LORD, my refuge, {Even} the Most High, your dwelling place. No evil will befall you, Nor will any plague come near your tent." In other words, as a believer when we make the Lord our refuge or dwelling place, then He is the one who protects us, who watches over us.

Psalm 91:11, 12, an explanation: NASB "For He will give His angels charge concerning you, To guard you in all your ways. They will bear you up in their hands, That you do not strike your foot against a stone." Here we have the full text. The section left out by Satan is "To guard you in all your ways." That is crucial because this phrase is just an idiom for saying that as you go about the normal processes of life he will watch over you. That doesn't mean protection if we are being deliberately foolish, like running across a freeway blindfolded. That is not the normal course of life. Throwing yourself off a cliff that is 450 feet high is not the normal course of life. That is the issue here. The person who is oriented to God's authority and walking with Him will be protected by God. But Satan leaves that out and thus he skews the interpretation of the passage. The point is that he is using this to try to twist God's Word to say that whatever you do—Because you are God, just do it—God will take care of you. But Jesus' responds by quoting from Deuteronomy 6:16, and He says, "On the other hand, it is written, YOU SHALL NOT PUT THE LORD YOUR GOD TO THE TEST."

How has Jesus responded to each of these temptations? The first temptation focuses on the dual aspects of worldliness: arrogance and antagonism. Jesus responds by the accurate quoting and use of the Word of God. If it is used inaccurately it doesn't work. In Ephesians chapter six where it talks about the armor of God we have in spiritual warfare, there we are described as having the sword of the Spirit. Many people think of that sword as an aggressive, offensive weapon, but actually it is not the Rhomphia, it is the Machaira which was used not only offensively but it was a defensive weapon that was used in a counter attack. It says in Ephesians 6 "which is the word of God," but it is not the LOGOS [logoj] of God, it is the word RHEMA [r(hma], the spoken or utilized Word of God that is the sword of the Spirit. Jesus gives us a perfect example here of how we use the Word. It is that we understand its true and accurate meaning and apply it specifically to the situation. So Jesus says here it is not His job to do whatever He wants to do but He needs to be oriented to the authority of God, He needs to be thinking in obedience to God. Satan is trying to get us to be hostile to God. His very twisting of the Scripture here indicates that hostility to God's Word which leads to mishandling or distorting God's thinking. It is very important not to get caught up into these traps and Jesus doesn't get caught by responding directly, He just goes to the underlying issue which is testing the Lord. So again we see that arrogance and antagonism are present in the temptation of Satan.

He goes back to the quote from Deuteronomy 6:16 which relates to an event that occurred at Massah in Exodus 17:1. This was the second major test that the Jews had to deal with coming out of Egypt, the test of water. They approached this with grumbling and complaining.

Exodus 17:1, 2 NASB "Then all the congregation of the sons of Israel journeyed by stages from the wilderness of Sin, according to the command of the LORD, and camped at Rephidim, and there was no water for the people to drink. Therefore the people quarreled [contended] with Moses and said, "Give us water that we may drink." And Moses said to them, "Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the LORD?"  The Hebrew word for quarrelled/contended is related to Massah. Moses understood that the real issue was that they were doubting God's ability to provide for them in the wilderness.

Exodus 17:5, 6 NASB "Then the LORD said to Moses, "Pass before the people and take with you some of the elders of Israel; and take in your hand your staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock at Horeb; and you shall strike the rock, and water will come out of it, that the people may drink." And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel." This wasn't some little rock, it was an enormous rock wall of a mountain. There were two-million people and they weren't to be fed by some little trickle of water. When Moses hit that rock it poured forth thousands and thousands of Gallons of water, a river opened up in the desert, virtually, in order to provide enough water for all these people and sustain them in the desert. Of course, the impact doesn't last long. Miracles aren't enough to sustain people in their spiritual life. We can't base out Christian life on the emotion and stimulation from miracles and the supernatural, it has to be based on the Word of God. That is the reason for the tests. Are we really going to trust in God despite the experiences? The problem with the Jews in the Old Testament in Exodus 17 was that they were still operating in human viewpoint concepts of God. So they are arrogant and they are hostile to God; they are complaining against God.

Then we come to the third temptation. Matthew 4:8-10 NASB "Again, the devil took Him to a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory; and he said to Him, "All these things I will give You, if You fall down and worship me." Then Jesus *said to him, "Go, Satan! For it is written, 'YOU SHALL WORSHIP THE LORD YOUR GOD, AND SERVE HIM ONLY.'"

What the devil is doing is offering Him the glory of world rulership without having to go through the path, the suffering of the cross. He is saying, "I can give you what the Father is going to give you, but I will give it to you without the pain and the suffering and having to bear the burden of sin on the cross." The Lord again quotes from Deuteronomy 6:13.

This gives us a methodology for understanding how to deal with worldliness. Worldliness we spot because it leads us to be independent of God and ultimately to be hostile to His Word. That hostility may have the veneer of neutrality—I'm just too busy, work has so many obligations, I'm too tired when I come home in the evening, I have family responsibilities, I have other responsibilities, I'm too busy to get to Bible class. But the issue is, if we are going to let the Word of God truly transform our thinking then we have to go through a transformational process where we learn the Word of God, where we know the Word of God. It operates at many different levels, but if we are not in a constant battle to learn the Word and make it a primary aspect of our thinking then what happens is we wake up and the world system just steamrolls right over us and we don't even see it coming. It is only the objectivity from the Word of God that gives us the ability to discern and distinguish what the issues really are and where the absolutes really are.