Thursday, November 19, 2015
How We Are Defeated But Can Be Victorious
One of my relatives some years back purchased a piece of furniture for her home—a rather nice looking foot rest. Her son tried to sit on it and it began to give way under his weight. So she went back to the store and complained to them about the fact that it would not hold weight. They responded, “Oh, that’s not made to be used.” In other words, it was designed to only look fashionable in your living room!
Who would sell furniture that was not made to be used—to bear the weight of use by people? But this is precisely how many people think of believing in God and Jesus is like: That faith is not really intended to be put to work—to be used in the hard reality of living. This is that kind of “faith” which James mocked when he said, “Show me your faith without works, and I by my works will show you my faith.” (James 2:18, NRSV).
What Christian people have gotten very good at over time is devising means and methods to keep themselves busy with religious activities in order to avoid actually obeying the Lord Jesus in the concrete circumstances of life. The clear message of the NT is this: Learn how to do as the Master has done and is doing in the Kingdom of God. One of the main strategies of our spiritual enemy is to convince us by deception to live double lives; to make a pretense of having faith but denying faith in practice by disobeying God’s word written.
The Gospels give us a narrative (Matthew 4:1-11) that is an example of how the enemy works to deceive us. I want to explore this and mine it to find help in my own time of need. I hope that this will be of help to the reader.
We humans are “spiritual animals”. Thus here is the demonic strategy: Appeal to the most basic of all human needs: The nourishment of food to the body. Why not use your power as the Son of God to turn these stones into bread so you get a little bit to eat? What would be the problem with that? He would be taking care of himself, right? Since when is that a sin to provide for the things one needs?
But the Lord recognized what underlie this deceptive challenge. To agree with the Devil is to affirm the right to assert one’s will against the will of God for oneself. It is to say to God in effect, “I do not need to wait for you to provide bread for me—I must seek to find this sustenance myself utilizing my own resources and power.” Our Lord understood this and simply affirmed that human beings live by “every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (v.4; Deut. 8:3, NRSV). He left us an example of radical faith in trials and depravations that God would provide for our needs—specially when placed us in the “desert”!
We too are tempted by the enemy using this same deceptive suggestion. We can utilize the talents, resources and methods available to secure things which are essential or which we consider to be essential to our life on earth. And we can get them (or at least try) without God or any conscious dependence upon God—but it only leaves one in state of death.