It Is Written
“Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written: “ ‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’” Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’” Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.”
Matthew 4:1-11 NIV
In preparing for day 4, I could not get away from this passage. It is literally a conversation between Satan and Jesus, with both quoting scripture. Can you believe that, ya’ll? Satan is no dummy. He knows the word. He is cunning and calculated. This is why the Bible tells us to be sober-minded and alert. It warns us that our adversary, the devil, is walking around like a “roaring lion,” seeking who he may devour (1 Peter 5:8).
This is especially important during such a time as lent. I can’t tell you how many conversations I have had about mistakes made with what you committed to give up. I would not be a very good Lenten tour guide if I didn’t give you true direction. Here it is—Christianity is not legalism! We have to stop treating it as such. I firmly believe that the enemy sends thoughts to our minds that try to pervert the word. Thoughts that tell us we made too many mistakes for God to choose us.
We said that the enemy knows scripture, right? So that means just as he was able to quote the book of Psalms in the passage above, he can also quote the book of John in the passage below:
“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”
John 3:17 NIV
Following a bunch of rules, but having no real relationship with God, will not get you into heaven. Ask the Pharisees. Jesus constantly preached to them that salvation was bigger than what rules they followed. It was about the condition of their hearts. In our opening passage, Satan was tempting Jesus during an extremely vulnerable time. Jesus was fully God AND fully man. He had been fasting for 40 days. He was hungry! He was tired! You think He didn’t want to turn that stone into bread? Of course He did! But this was bigger than hunger. His assignment to save us was bigger than His flesh!
Satan loves for you to think that Jesus is a prosecutor. He wants you to think that your mistakes dictate your admission into Heaven. That if you committed to abstaining from pork during lent, but went to work and you ate bacon at the company brunch, you should just throw in the towel completely. It’s not about the pork! Jesus was not sent to condemn us!
Let’s not get so caught up with these man-made “rules” of lent, that we forget what it’s truly about—renewing our spirit in Christ. It’s about consistent repentance. You fall, you get back up. As Pastor Jerry Flowers of Time of Celebration Church in Houston would say, “you won’t be sinless but you should sin less.” You don’t have to be perfect. You just need to be progressing.
Pray for the person that annoys you, instead of clapping back. Let the big truck over in traffic. Give $5 to the man under the bridge. Be patient with the elderly lady walking in front of you at the store. Even ask her if she needs help! Take a day to pray for a friend’s blessing over your own. Those are the things that change our spirit, that get us closer to God. Stop treating Jesus like a prosecutor. He came to save you. Will you let Him?