The Value of the Written Word
Temptation is very real and undeniable for those who have obeyed the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. The age-old enemy of Christians is called in the Bible by different names, but, for our purposes, we will refer to him as “the Tempter.” The Tempter most often uses our most natural desires and inclinations to try to destroy us. We learn this from scriptures such as James 1:14 which says, “every man is tempted when he is drawn away in his own lusts and enticed.” The word lust in this passage can be simply defined as desire. Desire, in itself, does not seem like such a bad thing, but undisciplined desire or desire with an evil purpose becomes wrong and therefore sinful. One can recall the time when Jesus was tempted; He had just fasted forty days and nights in the wilderness. Jesus was hungry, and, having the ability to turn rocks into bread, He was tempted in His weakness to do so. However, Christ resisted the temptation to give place to the devil, and, at least three times, He used the phrase, “...it is written.” (Matthew 4:1-11)
Jesus endured temptation (in part at least) to demonstrate to us how to endure and overcome the temptations we face. He suffered in this way to provide us an example of how to be successful in the face of trials. It is not necessary to give into our weaknesses or infirmities. Learning from Jesus’ example, we see that we can stand on the written Word. There is much we can learn from Jesus’ reaction to temptation:
1.) No one is so holy that they become free from temptation
2.) God has provided grace to resist and overcome temptation
3.) The Tempter is crafty and tricky
4.) Reliance on the Word of God is the best way to overcome temptation
Passages such as 1 Corinthians 10:13 and Ephesians 6:13-18 provide great encouragement for those in the heat of the battle like Jesus was in Matthew 4. Let’s look a little more closely at His temptation and see if we can learn about “THE VALUE OF THE WRITTEN WORD”.
Christ was tempted to turn rocks into edible food. He was hungry (which proves His humanity), and He was tempted to do something miraculous (which provides His divinity). In one sense, the Tempter was saying “don’t rely on what God has promised — rely on your own power”. Many Christians are tempted like this, but we should understand that God is involved in our lives. He has given and continues to supply us with gifts that we cannot provide for ourselves.
After His physical temptation, Jesus was tempted to prove His deity. The Tempter told him to cast himself off a high pinnacle and have the angels save Him. It is as if the Tempter was saying, “ok You trust God to provide the basics; now let Him save your life too.” The Tempter takes what is said in Scripture and twists it in an attempt to manipulate us.
Christ’s final temptation in the wilderness was a temptation of power. The Tempter tried to entice Jesus to worship him in exchange for earthly glory. Jesus could have avoided His impending pain and suffering if He would have obeyed the Tempter; however, He refused to fall in with the powers of darkness for worldly glory. Instead, Christ denied the Tempter and drank the bitter cup for a greater, eternal glory with God in heaven.
Many today succumb to the same types of temptations that Jesus endured. Our confidence in God’s promises may wane in the face of difficulty. Sometimes we want a shortcut, an easier way; however, that is not the way the Bible demands we take. Jesus showed us a way to overcome every time.
Let us notice three ways that we can rely on the Word of God to overcome temptation.
The Word of God is Inspired: 2 Timothy 3:14-17 tells us that it is given by “...inspiration of God.” Jesus testified to the fact that the Word is inspired when, in Matthew 4:4, He said “...Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” He described the proper concept of inspiration. The word “inspiration” literally means “God breathed.” Though there are many today who deny it, the Word of God is from God and is inerrant and infallible (2 Peter 1:19-21)
The Word of God Reveals the Mind of God: God’s thinking is unlike and superior to man’s thinking. He is not bound by time and space; He knows the end from the beginning. Therefore, the prophet’s words in Isaiah 55:8-9 are important for us today: "‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,’ says the LORD. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.’” The concept that God doesn’t think like we do and is far more powerful than we are should bring great comfort to us today. This makes His revealed will unchangeable. If God thought like we do, He may change His mind anytime because His knowledge would be no more complete than our knowledge.
The Word of God Will Judge Us on the Last Day: It is amazing that man, as finite and feeble as we are, will try to change what God has said. Those who do so are not taking into account the fact that we will answer for what the Word of God says when we stand before God in Judgment.
Because it is of God, we can depend totally on the Word of God. It is as unchangeable as God who breathed it. We can know His will because the Word of God says His will; furthermore, because of His great love for us, we know He will take care of us. Take courage, and trust Him.