We Are at War! :: by Sean Gooding

Matthew 4:1-11

“Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward hungered. And when the tempter came to him, he said, ‘If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.’ But he answered and said, ‘It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.’

Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, and saith unto him, ‘If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone’ Jesus said unto him, it is written again, ‘Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.’

Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; and saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. Then saith Jesus unto him, ‘Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve’ Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him.”

In my previous article, we looked at the fact that Jesus made the hard choices for us in the area of temptation. He was given the easy way out by simply worshipping the devil and compromising who He was. This would have saved Him a world of hurt but it would have cost us an eternity in hell.

Jesus understood the broad picture and the real consequences of what He was asked to do by the devil. He made the conscious choice to obey God rather than Man; mainly he denied Himself and the natural instinct of self-preservation that is in all of us. One of my favorite verses of late (I have had a few in my life) is Hebrews 12:2:

“Keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that lay before Him endured a cross and despised the shame and has sat down at the right hand of God’s throne.”

Jesus looked at the suffering of the cross with joy. This is almost incomprehensible to us that someone would look at being tortured with JOY! But Jesus did; He saw beyond the pain to the glorious redemption that He would purchase for us and the billions of redeemed men, women, boys and girls that would not have to fear death or hell ever. And this is the line of study that we will take a look at today: How to have a joyful perspective while being attacked by the devil.

The Christian Life Is Filled with Trouble, John 16:33

“I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have conquered the world.”

Jesus was not one to lie and to sugarcoat the life that we would have leading up to eternity. He clearly stated that in this life we will suffer; that is a part of the Christian walk. Jesus suffered immensely as a man. He was persecuted, His character maligned for doing good things and eventually He was betrayed and killed by the very people He came to save.

Jesus had a few close friends and all of them but one—John, deserted Him at the crucial moment of his death and He virtually died alone. Jesus was poor, often hungry, often tired and hated by His own family. In John 7:1-5, we find this:

“After this, Jesus traveled in Galilee, since He did not want to travel in Judea because the Jews were trying to kill Him. The Jewish Festival of Tabernacles was near, so His brothers said to Him, ‘Leave here and go to Judea so Your disciples can see Your works that You are doing. For no one does anything in secret while he’s seeking public recognition. If You do these things, show Yourself to the world.” [For not even His brothers believed in Him.]

The Jews were trying to kill Him and yet His own brothers encouraged Him to go to Jerusalem and show Himself because they thought He was seeking public recognition. His own family wanted Him to put himself in harm’s way because they did not believe He was God either.

However, as we read the New Testament we come across two writers named James and Jude. These men are actually Jesus’ half-brothers who came to be believers after His death, burial and resurrection. Jesus could see beyond even their ridicule and hatred to their redemption. It was for these men—who wanted Him dead, that He joyfully went to the cross.

Jesus died for you and me JOYFULLY! In the midst of all the agony there was an understand-ing of the future and the blessed results of what would happen to us and for us. He endured the troubles of life, seeing the end results. We need to endure to the end as well. We need to have the resolve of Paul in the midst of all his troubles”

“I know both how to have a little, and I know how to have a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content—whether well fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need. I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me.”

Too many of us live for today; we live as if today is all there is and the consequences be damned. But we are an eternal people in Christ, thus our lives have eternal effects (consequences) both good and bad on us BUT especially on others.

Jesus lived to glorify God first but He also understood the importance of His obedience in relation to us. We are called to live in such a way as to glorify God and point other to Him. Let us do it with the same degree of joy with which Jesus faced the cross, Matthew 5:16:

“In the same way, let your light shine before men, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.”

We Are at War, Ephesians 6:12

We are told in this verse that we fight with the forces of darkness. Jesus warned us that the “world hated Him and they would hate us as well” (John 15:18). We see that Jesus’ life was in danger even as a small child. He and his parents had to flee from the murderous King Herod. It is clear that Jesus grew up in a hostile home where his own brothers wished Him harm and now we see Him under attack from the devil himself.

This was personal for Satan; he had a point to prove. From His birth right up to the time He was arrested in the garden, Jesus was under attack—whether it was physically, spiritually or emotionally, and often He experienced a combination of attacks.

This was the “battle royal” of the ages, the Heavenly Gladiator slugging it out with the powers of darkness all the while aware of the captives for which He fought. Jesus took hit after hit, yet He persevered to the cross refusing to let anything—especially his frail humanity, get in His way.

The apostle Paul describes our Christian walk as a life of striving. In Philippians 3:14 Paul encourages us to “press toward the mark.” This has to connotation of the Olympic runner pressing toward the finish line, solely focused on the end of the race.

Jesus strove the same way; that is why He can tell us from true experience that He has lived life as we do. He knows all about the seemingly incessant temptations, the striving and the struggles. He understands fatigue, hunger, pain, loneliness, betrayal, need and He is there for us ALL THE TIME! (Hebrews 4: 16-18 gives us that assurance.)

Sadly not many Christians have been told the truth that the life we have in Christ is a life fraught with struggle. The devil attacked Jesus and he will and is—attacking us. We became targets once we entered the family of God and we need to have some intestinal fortitude along with the Word of God and the Holy Spirit in us to finish the race just like Jesus did. Paul said this of his life in 2 Timothy 4:7:

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”

Jesus first set that example, He fought the fight, He finished the race and He stands ready to assist all those who wish to finish the race as well. The Christian walk is not for cowards; it is not for the strong either. It is for those who are weak and understand their need for Jesus, and willing to ride into any battle with Him, for Him and by Him. Let us finish the race together, hand in hand with the Champion of our Faith.

Hebrew 12:2 is worth repeating:

“Keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that lay before Him endured a cross and despised the shame and has sat down at the right hand of God’s throne.”

Sean Gooding, Pastor, Mississauga Missionary Baptist Church Mississauga, ON Canada.