Read Matthew 4
Focus on verse 1
We see it in the news almost every day…a shooting, a violent attack, a break and enter. What is surprising to me is not so much that people are committing crimes. What I find hard to understand is that the media often attempts to shift the blame for the crime from the person who made the choice to commit the crime to something in that person’s past. The drunk who beats his or her spouse to death is treated as the victim because they were abused as a child or unjustly lost their job. The politician who lies and cheats to win an election is not held accountable for lying and cheating because “that’s just the way it is in politics”. The student who gets caught cheating on an exam or plagiarizing a term paper blames the university for pushing him or her to the point of desperation. It is like we live in a society where while I expect to be rewarded for making good choices, my bad choices could not possibly be my fault.
For a time a while I was growing up we used to blame it on the devil. “The devil made me do it” we would say when we were caught with our hand in the proverbial cookie jar. While this was still an excuse, it is possible that it is a more accurate one than to blame it on the way I was raised, or my lack of opportunity to succeed.
Today’s reading in Matthew removes even this excuse as Jesus demonstrates to us that it is possible to resist even the most overt and deceptive temptation to stray from God’s preferred method of facing life choices. What strikes me in this reading is that it was the Holy Spirit who led Jesus into the circumstances that provide opportunity for Jesus to be tempted.
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. (v. 1)
This one sentence, which begins this chapter describing how Jesus successfully resists Satan’s advances, also clearly illustrates that God is not always in the business of sheltering us from being tempted. What God does for us when we are tempted is provide us with the truth we need to see past Satan’s deception. The fact that Jesus responds with scripture to every one of Satan’s temptations is a clear illustration of why it is important that we make ourselves familiar with the Bible if we hope to be able to discern when we are being deceived.
Truth is our best weapon against deception. The only consistent standard of truth that I am aware of is the word of God – the Bible. There may be others things that assist us in fully understanding God’s word, but nothing can ever replace God’s word. It is for this very reason that Satan works so hard to keep us from being exposed to God’s truth. He does not want it in our schools, if he can, Satan will try to eliminate the Bible from our churches. If we allow him to succeed in this – we will soon find ourselves enslaved to Satan’s purposes. When we are effectively deceived by him I suppose we could truly say “the devil made me do it”.
Personally I would rather follow Jesus example and be able to say, “the devil tried to make me do it but he failed because I compared his lies to God’s truth and therefore his lies were ineffective.”