“Yet not I but through Christ in me”, I have been singing.
“I have said, ‘True worship comes from a humble and contrite heart’ – it is necessary to humble your will and realize that for our relationship to work you must understand and live, from the heart, that statement, ‘yet not I but through Christ in me’. To be able to do that you must submit your will to Me. I will put the desire in your heart – but you must make the decision, an ongoing decision, to submit your will to me. Only then can you truly live in the full benefit of my presence and power. Your will is far stronger than you think – that is why I told my disciples that they must take up their cross to follow me – putting to death their own selfish desires and submitting to Me. This is the only true way to the abundant life, the real joy of a relationship and having fellowship with me. That is why I keep testing you – keep your eyes on Me then and keep reminding yourself yet not I but Christ in me. This is the only true way to the abundant life, the real joy of a relationship and having fellowship with me. That is why I keep testing you – keep your eyes on Me then and keep reminding yourself, “Yet not I but through Christ in me”.
I have reached Ch 4 in Matthew. Up to now I have again been struck by the continuity of this gospel with the OT scriptures. Picking up the theme of fulfilment through a number of quotations. Not only have their been direct quotations, but the pictures repeated from the experience of Israel, God’s own son reflect on this. His True Son, for instance, escaped to Egypt and then returned to Israel. Reminiscent of the first Exodus
I have also been reminded of Satan’s ferocious attack on the Messiah as He makes His appearance, represented by Herod’s desire to eliminate Him causing him to kill all the babies of a certain age. So here in ch 4 Jesus takes on Satan, face to face, as it were. We need to see this attack against the background of God’s identification of Jesus identity. The main question of the gospel looms large in the background. “Who is this man?”
Notice that is the challenge Satan makes to Jesus twice in 4:3 and 5.”If you are the Son of God,”‘ he repeats twice. The temptation to Jesus is that He should prove who He is. His reaction underlies the often discussed philosophical question, “Can you prove there is a God?” There is often the challenge to us to want to produce concrete proof. However Jesus resists this and basically states, “Believe what the word of God says”. Obviously this takes a step of faith and that is exactly what God wants.
So we too are constantly confronted by tests (temptations, same word) initiated by the Spirit. Notice this confrontation between Jesus and Satan was an initiative of the Spirit cf v 1. Underlying those tests is constantly the question, can you really trust God? Underlying that question again is, “Do you really believe that Jesus is the Son of God?” Each time you trust Jesus and He arranges a way out of your test 1 Cor 10:13b, your faith is strengthened. It is interesting that at the end of the Lord’s prayer where Jesus asked, “Do not lead me into temptation”, is is followed by “Deliver us from the Evil one”.
While we are always reminded that Jesus parried the thrusts of Satan with the word which is the sword of the Spirit. However notice how subtly Satan uses a scriptural reference to try and mislead Jesus 4:8 b. This is a strong warning to us to be careful how we handle the scriptures. Much heresy and division in the church has happened because people mishandle the word, not sticking to the basic principles of reading it.
The third challenge to Jesus brings a promise from Satan that underlies so much of the wrong in the world. “If you worship me, I will give you all things”. How many people, in an effort to gain, “all things” don’t end up worshiping the devil by following his lead and his way to get them? Gaining “all things” from a scriptural perspective starts by, “first seeking His righteousness and His kingdom” and then the promise is that He will give you all you need (Mat 6:33). Peter speaks of God supplying “all we need for life and godliness” 2 Peter 1:3.
God’s purpose in creating man is focused on His desire and our responsibility to make worshiping Him the most important part of our lives. I was strongly challenged by his passage to beware again of Satan’s ploy to get us to lose trust in Jesus and look for worldly (his) ways to solve and guide our lives. The way to counteract that is to continually focus our hearts on God. I was reminded again yesterday that it is from the heart that our desires arise, not the mind. May my heart be focused on Jesus and walled off from Satan’s tempting offers. It is timely to remind ourselves that the great adversary, Satan, although mortally wounded is still very active around us.
Now I am going to continue reading Matthew and gaining as much as possible from it. Why don’t you read along and we will touch sides again next Wednesday?