And he took him to Jerusalem and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for it is written, “ ‘He will command his angels concerning you, to guard you,’ and “ ‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’ ” And Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” Luke 4:9-12
One of the first things I need to know about my enemy is that he will regroup. If he doesn’t succeed after several tries to corrupt my trust in God, he will keep at it by looking for a more effective way to persuade me.
Satan came at Jesus with pretty clever ideas in the first two temptations. Jesus stood firm. But in the third temptation, Satan went for the jugular by quoting scripture. Jesus saw through the ruse and stood firm again by re-framing the scripture Satan used with another scripture.
One can prove almost anything with a bible verse if it is isolated it from its context and from the total revelation of God’s Word. Cults are formed on partial, misrepresented scriptures. Picking and choosing verses at whim and calling them ‘words from God’ is not living by faith. That’s not to say that God doesn’t, out of the clear blue, give us a verse. He does. But if this comprises my way of life to form my spiritual compass, I need to be careful.
Jesus balanced Satan’s use of scripture with another scripture. He did this while standing on holy ground – at the highest pinnacle of the holy temple. Yes, Satan is not above treading into churches and small groups to mis-quote the Word. He’ll invade my devotional time; he’ll even invade my prayer life. By taking God’s Word out of context, he’ll try to convince me of sin when I’m really under God’s favor. He’ll convince me that I’m about to be disciplined when I’m on the verge of being blessed. He’ll remind me of some Old Testament story when God judged severely if my view of God is more harsh than loving. He loves imbalance!
I can’t afford not to know my Bible. The reason Jesus was so skilled in wielding scriptures was because He spent his first thirty years in disciplined study. There was no shortcut for Him (even though He had the advantage of knowing His Father) and there is no shortcut for me. How can I tell if what I’m hearing is God’s Word or a false word? I have to look at the end result. Am I encouraged to compromise or stay faithful? Am I drawn toward God or away from God? Am I fearful or more trusting? Am I repelled or more worshipful? Satan’s agenda is always to create a breach in the relationship between God and His child. If I keep that in mind, I can usually perceive whether there’s a snake in the grass.
Your Spirit inside of me knows what’s up when Satan tries to plant a bad seed. Lord, cause his words to be instantly revolting to me. Amen