Thought for the Week - 8th DecemberPastor Gareth Watkins
Matthew 4: 8-10
8 Next the devil took him to the peak of a very high mountain
and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory.
9 “I will give it all to you,” he said, “if you will kneel down and worship me.”
10 “Get out of here, Satan,” Jesus told him.
“For the Scriptures say, ‘You must worship the Lord your God and serve only him.’”
1 Kings 18: 21
Temptation comes to every single one of us. None of us are going to be without temptation. We can’t live in this world without temptation. The sin comes in when we actually go along with that temptation and we have actions based on those temptations.
We read throughout the bible of people being tempted. However, the sin only becomes a sin when they indulge that temptation and actually do that thing that they’re not supposed to do. That’s when temptation becomes a sin.
We read that Jesus was taken up to a high mountain. Satan showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and promised Him them if He bowed down and worshipped him. Our temptations are different to that. We may not be shown kingdoms of the world or the riches of humanity. But we might be shown a bottle of wine, a box of chocolates, bad activities you shouldn’t get involved with, doing things that are not of God, or a TV program you shouldn’t watch etc.
The temptation comes and we have a choice. The sin comes when we allow it to happen.
God has given us scriptures to combat these temptations, and help us be stronger in our circumstances. We are all going to be tempted. Temptation comes into our ears, our eyes, and our senses. We need to know if what we’re going to do is Godly or not. Something can make you feel good but isn’t necessarily Godly and could affect you spiritually.
Christ was taken up to that mountain and offered the kingdoms, but He knew it was wrong. It didn’t stop him being tempted, but He knew it was wrong. He came back at the temptations and quoted scriptures against the tempter. That is what Christ did to keep Himself safe. If He’d fallen at that moment, He wouldn’t have been able to have been Jesus Christ. He couldn’t have saved us, as He would’ve become a sinner by engaging in those temptations.
This is not a theory. This is not a bunch of thoughts and principles. It’s not culture. This is engaging with the living God. That engagement with the living God produces purposeful living, blessed living, and happy living.
In this engagement with God, there is no compromise. We can’t choose to have a bit of what we’re tempted by, because we will be affected and have a tarnished spirit. When we deal with these things, there is no compromise and there is no middle ground. There is no doing something to keep someone happy, or going along with something to rock the boat. There is no compromise between the fleshly life and God. We either stand for God or against Him.
Jesus said “for it is written that you shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only shall you serve”. When satan offered Him the kingdoms, He responded “Him only shall you serve”. The next verse shows us that the devil left Him.
That’s the wonderful thing that we can cling on to. Proclamations can cause – in a moment a time – satan to leave you. It can cause your mind to become clearer, temptation to leave you, and lift the biggest weights off your back. When we start to use the Word that is given and speak into the circumstances, things are taken from you in a moment by God Himself. These are Gods words. They are powerful words. They are spiritual words. God has given them to us to benefit us.
If you are not for the life giver, are you with the life taker?
There is no compromise and there is no middle ground. We’re either with the life giver or we’re with the life taker.
We must put our all into being with the life giver.
If we choose Christ and serve only Him, we will be blessed with an abundant and blessed life, and a hope that will go on. If we don’t, by default we’ll serve all the other things, the forces of darkness that are all around us. The devil who will steal and destroy. Christ is the one who gives us life in abundance.
In Kings we read about Elijah. We see that satan is trying to kill the whole of Israel. The whole of Israel is under threat of being destroyed. Baal worship in this story can involve all the horrible things like child sacrifice and other awful things. The bible tells us to stay away from the things of baal – anything that is not of God. In this example, Elijah is basically last great prophet of God. All the others have been killed or run away. He’s been left on his own. All the forces of the nation were on his back. All the people were against him. The king and queen hated him and wanted to kill him – they sent people to kill him.
Elijah starts to hold onto the things of God and starts to cry out to God. He gets the people together and asks them if they’re for God or for satan. But the people said nothing – they answered not a word. They were stuck on that fence. They weren’t for God nor were they against Him.
We can’t be like that. We can’t be in the middle. We’re either for God or we’re not.
It needed a miracle of God to bring the nation back to their senses. It needed an injection of spiritual life by Elijah, to be anointed by God to come into that nation. To the point the people could see the very fire of God descend upon Mount Carmel and burn up the forces of wickedness. The forces of evil are around us here too. We see the poverty, the drug taken, the occult symbols and everything else.
God is saying to throw it away. If you want to follow Baal, follow Baal. If you want to follow God, follow God. But don’t falter between two opinions. You’re either for God or you’re not. You can’t stay on the fence.
Satan comes to kill, steal and destroy. Have you ever felt the forces of wickedness stealing from you? Have you ever felt like you’re being destroyed by the wicked one? The feeling of it is yucky – it’s all over you, it’s in you and around you. We don’t need to falter. We can follow God.
That’s what Elijah had to do on his own facing the whole nation. Coming out of that nation years later was the birth of Christ. Had the nation been swallowed into that mess and not come through, would Christ have been born in that nation? Christ had to be born physically through a people. He was born through these people. The generations had to happen. The nation was in trouble because satan himself was on them, battering and trying to bring them down. The priests would flay themselves and terrible things would go on.
Terrible things do go on with the things of satan. He takes people down, down further, and then down further to a place without worth. But Christ comes to promise life in abundance. He promises health and wellbeing. He promises prosperity. He promises a hope and a future. That what the Bible brings to us through Christ.
Jesus’ response to temptation was “it is written”. Can we say things like that against the thing that is coming against you? There are many verses that are wonderful verses in time of assault. Wonderful verses for when you have duality of thought. They are crucial for us to stand and keep on standing.
Kingdoms will rise and fall but God’s Word will last for eternity.
Jesus didn’t bow down and worship satan. It written. There was no negotiation. There was no looking for a middle way. There was no compromise. He was following God. He stood for us even in those days. He stood for us in our sin and our temptation, in those days. Thankfully He was strong.
Our culture today doesn’t accept this sort of teaching, because everyone wants to compromise. The church at large is often very weak and is led by very weak people. There should be no shades of grey and no treading two lines of the same fence. While the church doesn’t know what it stands for and is staying muted, millions of babies are dying, drugs are destroying people in our area, and marriage has all but disappeared, with the family unit destroyed. And what does the church have to say? Nothing.
We must stand for the things of God.
Will we follow God or will we falter between two opinions? I’d encourage you to follow God. Whatever your starting point, start today and decide to follow God. Learn the verses and follow God. Get rid of your idols and the things that don’t belong to God, and follow God.
In Ephesians 5: 15-18 we read:
15 So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise.
16 Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days.
17 Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do.
18 Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life.
Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit
The answer is in God, in the new life, in the blessing, in the abundance, in the protection. That is the God that we follow. Do not be unwise, but do what the will of God is for you. Paul knew that thousands of years ago. Mankind hasn’t changed – the heart of man is still the same as it was in Paul’s time and Elijah’s time.
Today, choose who you will serve.
You must choose to serve, and only serve God.
What is your life today saying? What is God saying about your life? Are you serving two masters? Are you on the fence and living a life full of compromise? If so, I pray you will fall off the fence on to the right side.