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Revelation by Robert Dean
Series:Revelation (2004)
Duration:51 mins 54 secs

Angelic Conflict: Sufficiency

 

We have developed the idea that there is a parallel and a consistency, a pattern that we starting with the very first attack on the human race which occurred in Genesis chapter three when Satan indwelt the serpent and used him to tempt the woman in the garden and then the man. The foundation of that assault was to question three things. The first is a question of the sufficiency of the grace of God, Satan's question: Has God really given you enough? That is what the word "sufficiency" means; it means that God has given us enough. That means that no matter what problem, what situation, what heartache, what insurmountable obstacle there may appear to be in our life God's grace is always enough; we don't need to look elsewhere to in order to surmount the problem. The second thing that Satan questions is the sufficiency of the Word of God. We see this in the way he forms the question to Eve in the garden: "Has God said?" The innuendo there is: is this really valid? It is not really true, God didn't really tell you the whole story. Then the third thing that is questioned is the integrity of God's plan.

 

Jesus never relied upon His divine powers to solve human tests. We ended last time just at the verge of going into the three tests, the temptations of Christ in the wilderness. When He is at a point of weakness, having spent forty days and forty nights without food and at His most vulnerable, Satan comes to test Him to see if He is going to rely upon the sufficiency of God's grace, the sufficiency of God's Word, and the integrity of God's plan, or not. Jesus doesn't solve the problems in His humanity by saying: "I can turn these stones in to bread and I can feed myself." He says He has to solve the problem in His humanity by relying on the same resources that God has given every believer. However, Christ did use His own divine power to demonstrate His own deity. It wasn't that Jesus never used His deity but He never used it to solve the problems of His humanity. He used it to solve other people's problems in their humanity—when he healed them, when he forgave, when he changed the water into wine and demonstrating that He was the creator, when he raised Lazarus from the dead and indicated that he is the one who gives life. He did this from His own deity, not to solve His problems but to solves others' problems, as when He healed the blind man to give him sight. He is doing this to demonstrate who he was as the eternal second person of the Trinity, not to solve problems or tests related to His own spiritual life. By limiting the use of His deity He demonstrated that the Word of God and the Spirit of God are alone sufficient to fulfil the Father's plan for believer. 

 

That should give us incredible confidence, that when we take the Word of God seriously and at face value, and we trust it and we claim the promises of God and understand the dimensions of the grace of God that are infinite, and we understand the vast resources that God has given us, then no matter what we are going through we can have stability and confidence and can relax and have joy in Christ despite the pressure and the stress that comes from the pressure of external circumstances.

 

Immediately following His baptism by John the Baptist Jesus is led into the wilderness by the Spirit ti be tempted, i.e. to be enticed to disobedience, to have His spiritual life tested or examined by the devil. The devil is the enemy of every believer and, above all things, the enemy of God and God's plan. So Satan is going to test Jesus in three different tests.

 

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'." For the divine side of the Son, His deity, His omnipotence, this would be no problem. Jesus Christ could very easily convert the stones into bread. So when Satan addresses Him he is specifically addressing Jesus to rely on His deity. He begins with an "if" clause: 1st class condition—If you are, and you are, the Son of God. Satan knows that Jesus is the incarnate second person of the Trinity. Since that term "Son of God" is a Hebrew idiom indicating full deity Satan is saying: "Since you are God…" Jesus' response is to quote the Word of God. Notice that Jesus is handling the situation in every one of these tests by quoting the Word of God. If we don't have the Word of God memorised then what verses are we going to quote? We have to know the Scripture. Jesus said: "It is written, 'MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE, BUT ON EVERY WORD THAT PROCEEDS OUT OF THE MOUTH OF GOD.'" He quotes from Deuteronomy chapter eight. The issue isn't physical sustenance in our life, the issue is our spiritual sustenance and that only comes from the Word of God.

There is a context to Deuteronomy chapter eight. The chapter alludes to the Israelites being in the wilderness. Moses is addressing the people: Deuteronomy 8:1 NASB "All the commandments that I am commanding you today you shall be careful to do, that you may live and multiply, and go in and possess the land which the LORD swore {to give} to your forefathers." Deuteronomy is Moses' parting sermon to the Israelites of the second generation. He is reminding them that they have to obey everything that God says in the Mosaic law and only by obeying God's Word will they have victory over their enemies. [2] "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." This is the same kind of situation the Lord is in, and there was a similar testing because the testing that the Jews went through in the wilderness was about whether they were going to rely upon God to sustain them in the physical needs but put their focus on spiritual reality. They didn't do that. God supplied food for them every single day in the form of manna and it had all the nourishment they could ever desire. That was all God was giving them but it was enough. God was now testing them "…to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not." Would they rely on the sufficiency of God's grace, the sufficiency of God's Word and the integrity of God's plan. [3] "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."

The issue in life is to focus on letting God solve our problems, not trying to solve the problems we face in life apart from the Word of God. This is the ultimate in human viewpoint thinking. In James chapter three James says that the thinking of the world is really foolishness. He defines this human viewpoint thinking as earthly, natural (the thinking of the unbeliever, the soulish believer) and demonic; the thinking that we can solve the problems in our life without submitting to the authority of God's Word, the power of God's Word and the sufficiency of God's grace. We may solve our problems for a while and reach a level of stability without God, but ultimately it will fail because this is the same thin Satan thinks. He thinks he can do it without. When we think we can solve the problems of our life without God then we are thinking like Satan thinks and that is called demonic influence.

Then we have the second assault on Jesus. Matthew 4:5 NASB "Then the devil took Him into the holy city and had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple, [6] and said to Him, "If [1ST class condition] 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.'" What Satan is going to do is quote Scripture to Jesus. There are all kinds of people who are following the path of Satan who are misquoting, misinterpreting and misapplying Scripture, yet they feel so satisfied that they are using the Word of God. It is not that you use the Word of God, it is that you use the Word of God correctly. So here Satan is going to use the Word of God but in a misinterpretive and incorrect manner. The pinnacle of the temple was the corner of the wall around the temple compound and it was approximately 450 feet from the top of that corner down to the valley below. So Satan is saying to Jesus, just throw yourself off and you don't have to worry because Scripture says….. This is a misinterpretation of Scripture for a couple of different reasons. First, he is taking something that in the context of Psalm 91 where the quote comes from "you" is addressing the wilderness generation of Jews, not the Messiah. Second, because he is misinterpreting the original context he comes up with a false application. He is trying to take Scripture that applies to one group and apply it to another person. That leads him to a false application. If we don't interpret the Bible correctly we are going to apply it wrongly.

The context in Psalm 91. The way this is translated in most English translation it is easy to miss what happens with Satan's misquoting. This is a psalm that was written to address the Exodus generation. Psalm 91:9 Because you have made the LORD, my refuge, {Even} the Most High, your dwelling place. [10] No evil shall befall you, Nor will any plague come near your tent. [11] For He will give His angels charge concerning you, To guard you in all your ways." The focal point here is the sufficiency of God's power over any sin, temptation, problem that we face in life. God is our refuge, that fortress that He provides for us in our souls in terms of doctrine is the refuge that we take and it protects us from the assaults of the world and the devil. "He will give His angels charge concerning you" is talking about the operation of guardian angels over the Jews as they were going through the wilderness. "…To guard you in all your ways." Now there is the key phrase. The Hebrew rod that is translated "ways" is a generic term, the Hebrew word which can refer to highway, road, path, journey, it has a wide range of meanings. But the journey, the path of the context here would be the direction of the Jews through the wilderness, that God is promising them that He will protect them and sustain them no matter what they face in their wilderness wanderings. [12] "They will bear you up in their hands, That you do not strike your foot against a stone. [13] You will tread upon the lion and cobra, The young lion and the serpent you will trample down." The whole context is talking about how God is going to protect the Jews in the wilderness.

What Satan does is come along and take this out of context to test the Lord. So we have to understand the Scripture, the context. But Jesus answers Satan with Scripture. Matthew 4:7 NASB Jesus said to him, "On the other hand, it is written, 'YOU SHALL NOT PUT THE LORD YOUR GOD TO THE TEST.'" This is a quote from Deuteronomy 6:16. The point that we see is that Jesus uses the Word of God as His sword to parry the thrust and the attacks of Satan.

Matthew 4:8 NASB "Again, the devil took Him to a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory." Scripture says that Satan is the god of this age, the prince of the power of the air; he is the one who has now usurped the authority of man and he is the one who is at the head of all the kingdoms of the earth. So he can legitimately make this offer. He says: "I can give you the glory without the pain, the crown without the cross." He is saying that he is offering all the things that the Father is going to give Christ, all the kingdoms of the earth, but without Him having to go through the path of the cross. [9] "and he said to Him, 'All these things I will give You, if You fall down and worship me'." Then Jesus ends the event with another quote from Deuteronomy chapter six. [10] "Then Jesus said to him, 'Go, Satan! For it is written, 'YOU SHALL WORSHIP THE LORD YOUR GOD, AND SERVE HIM ONLY.'" You won't serve the idols of human viewpoint rationalism or empiricism, you won't serve the abstract idols of human viewpoint thinking, you won't serve the idols of your own emotion and subjective concepts of God in terms of mysticism. We have to rely upon the Word of God, it is our standard.

So what we see in each of these is that Satan is challenging Jesus in terms of the same three things that we saw in Genesis chapter three. He is challenging the sufficiency of God's grace, i.e. has He really given you enough to solve the problems you are going to face? Secondly, it the Word of God really sufficient? Thirdly, is the plan of God right? Is their integrity in the plan of God? Can you really trust the plan of God so that when everything is gone you are going to trust the plan of God? That is what then devil is challenging Jesus with in Matthew chapter four. Jesus surmounts those tests by relying on the sufficiency of God's grace, the sufficiency of the Word of God, and He understands that God's plan is perfect. He needs to go through the test, go through the suffering and live as true humanity in a fallen world, surrounded by sinners, go to the cross, and at the cross go through the unimaginable horror of paying the penalty for every single sin in human history so that he can provide that salvation for the human race. Jesus Christ passes these tests that come at the beginning of His ministry and that authenticates Him in terms of who He is in the inauguration of His public ministry.  

Illustrations