The Sequel To Temptation
Notes of the third of three messages on temptation.
In previous articles we have considered the inclusive scope of the temptation of our Lord. Every area of it we can ever know He has faced. Then we saw how He silenced the tempter in every realm, seeing him retreat vanquished, and Jesus coming out unscathed.
Now let us look at the sequel to this great combat. Try to forget just for a moment what you know about our Lord’s subsequent life, and see Him now at the end of the temptation. Satan has withdrawn and Jesus is left alone. He is left in a state of starvation. He has withstood the enemy but God has not given Him bread. He has refused Satan’s method to satisfy physical appetite, but so far has not received by God’s method. He has been shown the awful spiritual condition of His time, and refused to adopt the spectacular, but so far God has not worked at all, and there is no progress to report. He has seen the grip of Satan on nations of the world and refused to compromise to win them, but so far Satan’s grip has not slackened, and he has become a sworn enemy.
This is the position as we would have seen it just then, and summed up the result of this titanic struggle. The Lord has conceded no ground to Satan, but what ground has Satan had to cocede to Him? I mention this not only because that seemed to be the position then, but it is the ground of common experience now. What has been gained by standing in the will of God? How much better off am I? Is it worth it after all? Look at the sequel.
1. The Availability Of Heavenly Strength In His Weakness
Behold, angels came and ministered unto Him (Matthew 4:11). No doubt they had been watching the battle, and ready to come to His aid at a moment’s notice. But the battle was won as a man, and directly the enemy is driven out they are there ready to serve. The same restraint and readiness were evident in Gethsemane when the victory was won and the conflict over, they ministered unto Him.
You remember when Jesus rebuked Peter for his attempt to cut off the servant’s head, He said, “Thinkest thou that I cannot beseech my Father, and He shall even now send Me more than twelve legions of angels.” They were ready, but were checked when for our salvation the path must be trod alone. How glad they were to be at His side, the moment the victory was won in the wilderness; to roll away the stone and to announce His resurrection the first Easter morning.
In weakness He was tempted, was hungry and weary, yet the angels came and ministered to Him. “Trust in the Lord and verily thou shalt be fed” (Psalm 37:3). Though God may suffer His people to be tested to the limit, there is a limit and He knows when to say thus far and no farther. Submission to the will of God and refusal to step out of it and to act independently, means that we must share in His victory. The pressure will be released and the Comforter will be there. He cannot fail. “In that He Himself both suffered being tempted, He is able to succor them that are tempted” (Hebrews 2:18).
II. The Authority Of The Holy Spirit In His Ministry
Refer to Luke’s Gospel, chapter 4, and notice an essential difference in our Lord’s experience after the temptation compared with before it:
Verse 1—“Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from the Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness.”
Verse 14—“Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee.”
Fullness had become power in the time of testing. As one full of the Spirit, Jesus withstood the enemy in the wilderness. That fullness is not so much an experience as a habit of soul and is not often mentioned in Scripture.
We are told of Barnabas that he was a good man and full of the Holy Ghost. It is also said of Stephen, but of none other save our Lord. That fullness meant capacity for victory in the will of God, and now through severity of testing it becomes power. In the experience of us all, the power of the Spirit is never realized except through a wilderness conflict. From that conflict you either go out broken and incapable of service because you have moved out of the will of God, or you go out in the power of the Lord.
Jesus went out to command demons. He drove them out of a man in whom they were legion and sent them into a herd of swine. No longer did He take a passive attitude of resistance, but He went to the attack and became the aggressor, and came out of the conflict in the power of the Spirit. Devils all recognized His authority and feared Him. “What have we to do with Thee, thou Holy One of God?” they cried.
Is this not the weakness in our lives?—you are a true Christian with an experience claimed of His fullness, yet not knowing the power. Why? So often we have made a great response to the message God-wards in surrender, yielding and faith, but we have made no advance devil-wards or man-wards.—good Christians, but not overcomers. Fullness leads to power through testing. Have you stood the test of God’s will? Have you started in the name of Christ rebuking the devil, attacking him, challenging him?
See this in the ministry of Christ. He walks into the synagogue, as we read in Luke 4:18, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me…” The eyes of all were fastened on Him. Here He stood to preach in the power of an experience unknown to anyone save Himself. No wonder they were spellbound. Do you know that in your ministry? It is one thing to claim fullness and another to know the power. That comes only through standing firm in the will of God in every circumstance.
Matthew tells us that soon afterwards by the seashore He spoke to the fishermen and said, “Follow me and I will make you to become fishers of men.” Here was a ministry with a world vision. Is yours?
What is the power of the Holy Spirit? It is putting into action the resolve to do the will of God. Satan was resolved to break that determination. The critical thing in the life of all of us is the moment when truth has broken in upon our souls and we are resolved to do the will of God. By every possible artifice Satan will keep us back from the authority of the will of God. You may come to the place where you recognize that authority and Satan will test your resolve to do it.
But the Christian who is really critical to Satan is the one who is determined at all costs to do God’s will. That is a wilderness struggle and a battle fought out alone, but when we are determined to do His will, then fullness becomes power, and with that obedience goes all the authority of the Holy Spirit over Satan in your life. “Get thee hence, Satan,” becomes the command of the Holy Spirit in you in answer to every onslaught of hell.
III. The Acceptance In Heaven Of His Majesty
This is the greatest sequel to temptation of all. Though Satan withdrew, he was yet to renew his attack. Never directly, but now indirectly through human agencies. The high priests, the rulers, the mob, a Judas Iscariot: these became his weapons now. These he whipped up into fury which ended in the Cross and the tomb.
But death cannot keep his prey,
Jesus, my Saviour.
He tore the bars away,
Jesus, my Lord.
This triumphant One who was triumphant in total obedience to the will of God is raised to the right hand of all power, henceforth expecting till all His enemies be made His footstool. He has received of the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit and sent Him forth in all power upon every one who will look up into His face and say, “Thy will, O God, for my life.”
Is not the closing picture of the drama of redemption that of the Lamb upon the throne, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah taking the book of judgment from the hand of God, breaking the seals and going forth to judge and make war, to destroy the devil and all his works and to set up a Kingdom wherein dwelleth righteousness; the will of God triumphant?
But how does this find you? “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.”
The will of God for my physical appetite, for my spiritual life and for my Christian service. Are you determined? “Yes,” but you say, “I’ve failed miserably.” We all have! We’ve been caught in the foils of the tempter time and time again. If only I had stood as He stood, how different life would be. Jesus took that victory for you and me. I can have the fruit of it yet in heavenly strength with Holy Spirit power and authority, and one day acceptance before the throne.
Where shall we start?
First, confession of sin. You never get far without that. Maybe you are now confessing sins which a few years ago never seemed to be sin at all. People say you are narrow-minded, but it is inescapable to you. The label “sin” is there now when it was not five years ago. Thank God. Is He in mercy prompting you to a quick confession? The bigger the gap between the commission and the confession, the greater the distance in fellowship between yourself and the Lord.
So many ask for forgiveness, but God pledges forgiveness when confession is made. It is the sin that is confessed that God forgives. He will take you back to childhood days, to sin hidden in recesses of the past, and to sin that was never put under the blood through faith. Be thorough in confession.
Out of that confession, God will do two things: He will forgive and He will cleanse. When the high priest was consecrated, the blood was placed on the right ear to cleanse his hearing; upon the thumb to cleanse his actions; and upon the toe to cleanse his walk. Then oil was poured in the blood on the ear, the thumb, and the toe, signifying that when the blood was applied for cleansing the Spirit would come to anoint for power. That is always God’s way. As soon as sin is confessed, the blood cleanses and the Holy Spirit comes in all power to that very place where sin has abounded.—power to conquer where we have fallen.
The will of God for my body—trusting Him to keep my appetite; for my spirit—trusting Him in the commonplace; for my service—the Cross. Then you will know revival.