Victorious in Christ
Part 1

Most people when they see my son say how nice and quiet he is. And its true. He is generally a very good and laid back little boy. But wait till he gets hungry for some breast milk and you will see my son get cranky and fussy. As I watched this dynamic with my son, I realized that I’m the same way. You may see me as a nice, laid back kind of guy. And generally I am. However my wife can tell you when I’m hungry, tired, sleepy or emotionally drained, I can get fussy and cranky too. It’s the wholistic nature of how we’re designed. Have you ever noticed that when you crave a physical, mental, emotional or spiritual need, that’s when you’re the most vulnerable to temptation?

    And this is what the devil was hoping for as Jesus left His baptism at the Jordan river and went into the wilderness to fast and pray. He hoped to overcome Jesus in His most vulnerable moment. Yet what’s interesting is that the Spirit led Him into the wilderness. So was this some kind of set up for failure? To find our answer we need to go back to the beginning of the story in the Garden of Eden. God had given rulership and dominion of our world to Adam & Eve. However the devil successfully tempted them to break covenant faithfulness with God, therefore their sin resulted in giving up their rulership of the planet over to Satan. But God made a covenant promise with humanity that the Messiah would come and defeat the the devil, thus redeeming all that he stole from them, including their rightful dominion of the planet. Later on in the story God expands this covenant promise with Abraham when He tells him through his seed all nations of the earth would be blessed. The blessing of redemption through Christ, the promised Seed, would come to all the rich diversity of humanity through the family line of Abraham. Unfortunately his descendants failed to maintain covenant faithfulness to God especially during their forty year wondering in the wilderness. So Matthew, as he tells the story of Jesus in the wilderness, wants you to recall this familiar Old Testament story, especially this passage from Deuteronomy 8:2,3... 

“And you shall remember that the Lord your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger…”
— Deuteronomy 8:2,3 NKJV

  This experience is being repeated by Jesus in the wilderness. Matthew even uses some of the same words from Deuteronomy 8:2,3. So whats going on here? Well, Israel’s failure to stay relationally faithful to God was just a small picture of humanity’s failure to stay faithful to God. So when Jesus get’s baptized at the Jordan river and the Holy Spirit anoints Him, this is the sign that He is the Messiah (or Christ in Greek) which means He is the promised anointed King that was to come and redeem Israel and thus the whole world. Therefore He leaves the Jordan filled with the Spirit to begin His work as Messiah, the King. So the Spirit leads Him into the wilderness to do His first work… re-live the history of Adam, Israel and humanity and gain the victory where they failed! He is the new Adam, reclaiming the earth as His dominion and thus establishing the reign of His Kingdom. He is the new Moses, spending 40 days with God in the mountain. He is the new Israel gaining victory in 40 days were they failed in 40 years. The Spirit didn’t lead Jesus into the wilderness for failure, He led Him into the wilderness for victory!

    The good news today is that the victory Jesus got in the wilderness is ours. In Him, you can live victorious over temptation. Come with me to Matthew 4:1-11 and there we will find three powerful principles for living victoriously over temptation in Christ.

“Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’”
— Matthew 4:3-4 NKJV


    Here is Jesus hungry and vulnerable. And this is when the devil plans to attack, when we are at our most vulnerable. He attempts to tempt Jesus to sin on the same ground that he got Adam and Eve to fall… appetite. By stumbling on this point, he attempted to tempt Jesus to doubt His identity thus doubting God’s word and character. And this is where many of us stumble today. But God wants you to know that…

 You can live victorious over temptation when you know who you are in Christ and are daily dependent on God's word.

    My wife will tell you, if I go a day without having my morning devotion with Christ, I can be snappy or impatient. So she often will jokingly say she wants me to have my devotion for selfish reasons. She knows I’m better to be around when I’m in Christ.

There have also been times where I have slept in a little during the time I would normally spend time with Jesus in His word and then try to get up and get my day started. Maybe I’d try to slip in a little time with Him on the way to work later on in the day, but it wouldn’t feel like the same quality of time I would normally have with Him in the morning. That would typically be a day that I would feel like the weight of the world was on my shoulders, or I’d start to feel overwhelmed and stressed. So I can tell you from personal experience that beginning your day without time with God in prayer and in His word is like saying I can handle this day, my life without God. This is where sin takes place in our lives, when we attempt to live life independent from God. Therefore our identity in Christ is rooted in being daily dependent on God through feeding on His word.

    This is were Satan began his plan of attack. He said “If You are the Son of God…” However, 40 days earlier God had said, Himself, that Jesus was His beloved Son in whom He was well pleased. This message to Jesus revealed God’s character. He said He loved Him and was pleased with Him. It also revealed His identity in relationship to God. He was His Son. So if the devil could get Jesus to doubt His identity  and try to prove it by doing something, then He would have doubted God’s character of love revealed through His word, which would lead Him to act independently from His Father on His own behalf. This was the basis for all three temptations.

    Jesus’ immediate response to each temptation was “It is written…” This reveals to us that Jesus spent lots of time communing with the Father by reading, studying and meditating on scripture. I can imagine that during the 40 days in the wilderness that Jesus fasted and prayed, He was meditating on scripture and on what the Father said to Him at His baptism. He could fearlessly face temptation, because God’s word was hidden in His heart. Psalm 119:11 says... 

“Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You.” That’s why Jesus said “man must live by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.”
— 119:11 NKJV

We should be more dependent on God’s word than we are for our physical food.

    Living by every word of God is staying in a daily relationship with Him through prayer and saturating the mind with His word. It’s in His word that you come to know His character of love intimately. It’s in His word that you become rooted in your identity in Christ. Like Christ, you are His beloved son or daughter, a child of God. It’s in His word that you receive the daily assurance of your salvation in Christ. So when the devil tries to tempt you by bringing suggestions to your mind, you can fearlessly face it and resist it, because you know what God says about you in His word. The devil wants to keep us from staying connected to Christ each day, by not spending daily devotional time in His word. This is how he is able to be successful in tempting us to sin. This daily devotional life in Him is what Jesus meant in John 15 when He said abide in Him. You wouldn’t go a day or week without physical food, so why do we think we can do the same without spiritual food.

    Now the devil realizes that Jesus is standing solid on the scriptures, so he changes his tactic in verse 5…


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