It is safe to say we are living through a period of time where men are malcontent. Every city seems to be facing challenges both politically and fiscally. Some individuals are going to work wondering whether or not that will be their last hour of pay before they are let go. Thus, society appears to be in a constant state of turbulence, seeking to find the one entity to blame for all their problems. There is very little peace, and even less patience.
Author: Joshua Riggins
In Matthew 4, Mark 1, and Luke 4 an event from Christ’s life is recorded which details three temptations that He endured directly from Satan. While there are other places within the Scriptures that seem to imply temptations were prevalent in His life (Luke 22:42), only this occasion directly shows Christ interacting with Satan one on one. It is a very intriguing passage, because it proves to us without doubt that Christ went through the same hardships, trials, and temptations that we go through each and every day. Christ also shows us that with God’s help we can avoid sin. No one forces us into sin, and God’s precepts give us guidance in how to overcome temptation. Therefore, we are left with no excuse for sin. There are many such lessons we could draw from this account. I want to notice five important points that I hope will cause us to think about temptations and trials in our own life.
Not too many years ago, while walking through a college campus, I saw a group of individuals holding up placards encouraging individuals to, “Love Christ, not the Church.” The church is seen as unforgiving, unloving, and un-Christlike. Scandals reverberate through various organizations claiming to be the church. Venomous words of hatred spew out of those claiming to speak in the name of Christ. It is understandable why many would be skeptical of those who claim to be the church. Consider a few passages of scripture which detail God’s design for the church, God’s feelings towards the church, and our responsibilities to the church.
Until recently, I always wondered why Thomas would not believe. Here was Jesus, the Son of God. Thomas spent over three years listening to Jesus explain truths concerning His Father, His death, and His resurrection. Thomas watched as five loaves and two fish feed five thousand men plus women and children. Was he not the one in John 11 who was willing to die with Christ, proving a level of commitment to Him and to His word.
Often, as men, we spend our lives seeking after happiness. Scientific studies have been done to answer the question, “Are We Happy Yet?” There is a Springer’s Journal of Happiness Studies, a website titling itself the World Database of Happiness, and countless articles and self-help books on how to make oneself feel happier. Some seek wealth, hoping they could purchase enough things to make them happy. Solomon sought happiness through the wealth he accumulated.
In Matthew 12 we see three different instances where the Pharisees tried to find fault in Jesus and in his disciples. The last instance they accused him of casting out demons by the authority and power of Beelzebub. In other words, they were saying, “Satan is behind the words and power of Jesus.” Jesus then begins (v25f) to prove why it is that he cannot be casting out demons by the power of a demon. Starting in verse 33 we read, “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or else make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for a tree is known by its fruit.” We should not expect good things to come from someone who does not practice good. For example, we would not want to encourage a habitual traffic offender to become a driving instructor. A tree is known by its fruit.
The Preacher writes in Ecclesiastes 8:11, “Because the sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.” If a criminal successfully eludes being caught, he is certainly going to be more willing to commit the crime again. Unfortunately, man has this same outlook on their spiritual life. Because God does not come quickly, man is inclined to commit evil. Man says, God has not come yet, so I’m safe to continue in sin.
Before the world ever came into existence, the Lord had purposed just exactly how His creation would exist. He knew where to place the Earth to provide a perfect place in the universe for life, and understood the intricate designs necessary to make His creation bountiful and good. The Psalmist writes in Psalm 19:1, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament shows His handiwork.” Finally he created man. He gave them dominion over his creation, that man should wisely use its bounty for his benefit. He gave them a mind to think, to judge, and to understand His will for them. In their hearts he put eternity (Ecclesiastes 3:11), and in their perfection He designed them for that eternal purpose (Genesis 2:17).
In Acts 7:58 we are introduced to a “young man named Saul.” At this point in his life, Saul was diametrically opposed to “the Way.” He consented to, and played a role in, the stoning of Stephen. Chapter 8 verse 3 speaks of him saying, “As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison.” Chapter 9 continues this dialogue on Saul’s persecution of the church, telling us in verse 1, “Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord…” Recalling later, Saul told king Agrippa his purpose was to, “do many things against the Jesus of Nazareth.” The purpose of his life would change. Not through some uncontrollable force, but by Saul’s willing obedience to “the Way” he once persecuted. Chapter 9 records for us this change in Saul’s life. He went from the young man “dragging off men and women” who professed a belief in Jesus to the man who penned at least 13 inspired epistles. Notice a few points about Saul’s conversion to Christianity.
In court a man might claim he hit another fellow because he was defending himself. The judge or jury would look through his case, and if they felt he was “justified,” they might proclaim him not guilty. We use this word justification frequently in relation to our justice system. A man might commit an act that at any other time would be considered against the law, but if he is justified in doing so, the judgment will prove him free from guilt.