Scripture as the First Line of defense
“Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil” (Matt 4:1).
“If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread” (4:4). Jesus’ response was a reference to Deuteronomy 8:3.
“If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down…” (4:6). Jesus’ response was a reference to Deuteronomy 6:16.
“All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me” (4:9). Jesus’ response was a reference to Deuteronomy 6.13.
His battle plan against temptation isn’t hard to pick out, is it? The flaming darts of the evil one (Eph 6.16) were met and defeated by the Son of God with words of truth.
God-breathed Scripture and a ready mind of compliance were Jesus’ first line of defense.
The same strategy has been passed on to you and me. War is upon us whether we would risk it or not. Temptations will come whether we seek them or not. When they do, the only question is whether the Scriptures will have been wrapped around our hearts to the point that our knowledge of the Creator’s intentions will shape our first responses. Or, will we allow the tempter’s seductions to lead us away from the ranks of the redeemed? Satan cannot take God’s truth away from you, but you can decide to remove it from your thinking.
“We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers”(1 Thes 4.13), because being uninformed can cost us everything. Absolute truth has been made freely available by our holy Creator. “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7), because darkness cannot withstand the light and the deceiver cannot withstand the truth.
__________How can a young man keep his way pure?
_________________By guarding it according to your word.
__________With my whole heart I seek you;
_________________let me not wander from your commandments!
__________I have stored up your word in my heart,
_________________that I might not sin against you.
__________Blessed are you, O LORD;
_________________teach me your statutes!
__________With my lips I declare
_________________all the rules of your mouth.
__________In the way of your testimonies I delight
_________________as much as in all riches.
__________I will meditate on your precepts
_________________and fix my eyes on your ways.
__________I will delight in your statutes;
_________________I will not forget your word. (Psalm 119.9-16)
What passages of Scripture do you call to mind as a first line of defense against temptation? What God-breathed words have you stored up in your heart to help in those moments of unholy seduction? When the going gets tough, what precepts of God do you find yourself meditating upon?
The Servant’s Opportunity
“When pride comes, then comes shame; but with the humble is wisdom” (Proverbs 11:2).
PRIDE IS THE ARCHENEMY OF WISDOM. For that reason, anything that stirs up our sense of pride and self-sufficiency is something that will HINDER our wisdom, while those things that humble us and remind us of our dependence on God are those that INCREASE our wisdom. Whatever increases pride, contributes to foolishness.
Ironically, even our learning can get in the way of our wisdom! The more we learn and the wiser we think we are in comparison to ordinary people, the less wise we become in actual fact. Paul wrote, “If anyone thinks that he knows anything, he knows nothing yet as he ought to know” (1 Corinthians 8:2). And he advised, “Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you seems to be wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise” (1 Corinthians 3:18). Charles Haddon Spurgeon caught this insight with a vivid metaphor: “The doorstep to the temple of wisdom is a knowledge of our own ignorance.”
We tend to think that wisdom is the thing that enables people to “climb the ladder” in this life. Thus we generally expect the “master” to be a wiser person than his “servant.” If it wasn’t by working smarter as well as harder, how did he get to be the master in the first place? There may well be some truth to that, but whatever may be wisdom’s role in ENABLING people to climb the ladder, it’s still a fact that the higher we go, the harder it is to HOLD ON to our wisdom. The servant has some obvious disadvantages, but he does have one thing going for him: he has a better chance than his master to LEARN from life, simply because the humbler circumstances of life are those from which we can learn the most (Deuteronomy 8:3). Not only that, the humbler circumstances are those that keep us in a more open and teachable frame of mind.
In Ecclesiastes, there is this relevant observation: “Better a poor and wise youth than an old and foolish king who will be admonished no more” (Ecclesiastes 4:13). If wisdom is a priority with us, let us be careful about the things we aspire to in this old world. Wisdom comes from washing the feet of others, not from having our own feet washed by others.
“Wisdom is oftentimes nearer when we stoop than when we soar” (William Wordsworth).