Monday, 3 March 2014

Jesus Our Perfect Example: Lessons From The Wilderness Part Four

For the past three weeks, I have been treating the topic; Jesus Christ Our Perfect Example: Lessons From The Wilderness. This is the fourth in the series. If you have been following these expositions, I have been writing from Matthew 4:1-11. I have already treated verses 1-4 in a three part series; Part One, Two and Three. You might want to recap to follow my train of thoughts if you have not already read them. This week, we will look at Part Four.

10: Be Discerning
Then the devil...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 (Matthew 4:5-6).
In the last point, point number 9, I wrote on "Arm Yourself With The Word Of God". That is very necessary! However, there's a caution I want to address in this point: We don't only have to arm ourself with the word of God. We also have to apply discernment. Be discerning; ask questions, scrutinize and filter what you hear: In Matthew 4:6, The devil, quoted Psalms 91:11-12, but as usual, out of context.

If you consider the whole context of Psalms 91, you will understand that there is a premise by which the promise "God shall give his angels charge concerning thee" is built. It has its hinges on vs one of Psalms 91:
He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
It's conditional...you dwell and abide, you get protection. If you don't dwell and abide, you don't get protection. To act contrary to the truth of the word of God and expect God to fulfill His promises despite, ain't gonna happen. He can't act contrary to His nature revealed in His word.Concerning discernment, the Apostle John wrote:
Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. (1 John 4:1).
There are dangers of misinterpretation, abuse and the word taken out of context. People can and do sadly apply the word to satisfy their own greed and selfish interest. The word today is used to dupe and lead many people astray. Be discerning friends! Be discerning! "...[don't be] tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;" (Ephesians 4:14)

11: Don't Act Contrary To God's Word.
Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God (Matthew 4:7)
“...Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God“: to tempt God I believe is to act contrary to what He has already revealed in His word. The fact is, God will never act contrary to His Word. He is still the same yesterday, today and forever. To act in disobedience to His word and expect the word to work for us is to tempt God. That's exactly what we saw the devil trying to do: asking Jesus to act contrary to God's word (see Matthew 4:6). I established in the previous post how the devil took Scriptures out of context and expected Jesus to act on twisted truth.

Jesus' response to the devil is a Scripture that has its origin from the Israelites journey from Egypt to the promise land. On their journey to the promise land, they pitched camp at a place called Rephidim, where the Bible records "there was no water for the people to drink." (Please reference Exodus 17 for the full story). At Rephidim, later changed to Massah by Moses, an incident occured which became a precedent for a law to be passed:
Ye shall not tempt the LORD your God, as ye tempted him in Massah (Deut. 6:16). 
It's this law Jesus quoted when He encountered the devil...So, it's safe for me to say, to tempt God means to do what was done in Massah. Question then is, "what was done at Massah?" At Massah,
...the people did chide with Moses, and said, Give us water that we may drink. And Moses said unto them, Why chide ye with me? wherefore do ye tempt the LORD? And the people thirsted there for water; and the people murmured against Moses, and said, Wherefore is this that thou hast brought us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our cattle with thirst?(Exodus 17:1-2).
Questioning Moses with such words was certainly an upfront to God Himself. It was a clear statement they would rather be under bondage in Egypt than have faith and trust God with His plans. They were willing to act contrary to God's word. Never forget this: anytime you act contrary to God's word and promise, you're tempting God: "Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap" (Galatians 6:7).

12: Guard Against Materialism.
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 (Matthew 4:8).
"The kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them" when summed up could indicate power on earth, materialism, fame, money etc. While preparing for this point, a facebook status update by a friend Kpabitey Kofi kept coming back to me. He asked: "is it ministry, or fame or money?". This is a  pertinent question we, regardless of our status in life got to answer.

Ours is a crazy world. Dog eat dog; people will go any extent to get what they want in life without regard to the interest of others. It's a world obsessed with getting, getting and getting more with its resultant evils of greed, manipulation, foul play and all kinds of wickedness just for material possession. Worse is when Christians are caught up in this frenzy.

Am I proposing lack? No! Not at all; that will put me in the class of hypocrites. I equally work an 8am-5pm work schedule with the hopes of having a life here on earth and "leaving an inheritance for my children's children". Wealth and material possessions are not in themselves wrong. What is wrong is when those things define us and gives us our source of self-worth. Luke 12:15 should help us understand the futility of building self-worth on material possessions
...a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.
 Though Scripture clearly states we are not of this world, unfortunately, we can all get stuck in the baits of the god of this world. We should be on the look out; we are all at risk of being stung by the deadly poison of materialism, fame and pursuit of money: "For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world." (1 John 2:16). When our pursuit becomes material, it can blindfold us to the things of the Kingdom of God. We must set our priorities right: The Kingdom of God first, then other things will follow:
Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." (Matthew 6:31-33).