Matthew 4 - Gods Grace and satan

Godsgrace&satan
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God’s Grace and satan

Matthew 4 v 1-11

Introduction

If we look at the character of satan it is worth noting that Judaism do not view him in the same way as Christianity does. If you have watched Charlie and the Chocolate factory or read the book there is a character called ‘Arthur Slugworth’ who is supposedly a competitor to the character of Willy Wonka the eccentric owner of the chocolate factory. We find out at the end of the book that he is actually working in conjunction with Wonka to test the moral character of each children who are successors to the Wonka fortune. Most importantly he is not seen as a threat to your salvation.

 

Satan’s character

In summary he is created like you and me and is not omnipotent like our God.

But who was he? If we look at some of his names it gives us an understanding as to his character. His name in Hebrew is ‘adversary’ and the definition is opponent, rival, enemy, foe, nemesis, antagonist, combatant, competitor.

He is also known as the ‘morning star’ which in Hebrew is heleyl or the "shining one" i.e.  Lucifer;

Isaiah 14:12 - O Lucifer, son of the morning (day star) morning star, son of the dawn

It is quoted he “was perfection and wise”. Satan was an angel and in order to review his being let’s look at angels.

 

Angels

Satan was an angel and angels were created before man and above him as in;

Psalm 8:4-5 -4. What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?

5.  For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour.

It is worth pointing out that angels are NOT the following;

  • Omniscient (as in they don’t know everything)

       Matthew 24:36 - But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.

  • Omnipotent (they are not almighty and infinite in power)

       Romans 8:38 - For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,

  • Omnipresent (they aren’t present everywhere at the same time). Angels have spiritual bodies and the definition of a spirit as described by Jesus when he appeared to the disciples after being crucified in.

       Luke 24:39 - for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have

Ultimately some Angels have rejected God similar to humans as they were given free will.

Angels were created holy in God’s presence, so they have seen Gods punishment of lucifer

They gaze at man in wonder as he has not seen what they have, and they do not understand faith without seeing

1 Peter 1:12 - Even angels long to look into these things.

 

Why did satan rebel against God?

This is a difficult question theologically and the bible isn’t clear, but we do know satan had free will and was created blameless in ;

Ezekiel 28 v 15 - Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee

So, he had the gift of free will like us and was not a robot and he could choose the outcome and he was prideful, if we look at;

1 Timothy 3:6 - puffed up with pride (CJB bible)

having become a ba’al gaavah (a haughty person) – (OJB bible)

Now some definitions of “haughty” are proud, arrogant, stuck-up, self-important, superior, patronizing, smug, scornful, full of oneself, above oneself, puffed up, high and mighty

So, some commentators see him being divorced from reality and pride clouded his vision and one commentator thinks that satan did not think God would punish him with lots of theological arguments.

Some explanation lies in the concept of “big I” look at;

Isaiah 14:13-14 – 13. For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north.

14.I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.

If we look at some of the key words here the stars are other angels, and the clouds are also meant as angels and heights. “I will be like the most high God” which is meant to represent that he aimed to replace God.

Further on in Ezekiel 28 shows his rebellion in reverse order i.e. read verse 17 and read backwards.

Ezekiel 28:17 - Your heart grew proud because of your beauty, you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendour. But I have thrown you on the ground; before kings I have made you a spectacle.

Ezekiel 28:16 - In your extensive conspiring, you were filled with wickedness, and you sinned.

If you look at the word conspiring the Hebrew word “rachal” has the two-fold meaning of repetitive motion as well as trading, trafficking or slandering.

 

What happened at the rebellion?

The rebellion amongst the angels could be seen as a Coup D’état – it is an attempt to “depose the established government and replace it with a new ruling body”. This happened in Thailand some years with the army deposing the existing government as well as Hamas did it in the Gaza strip in 2007, deposing the incumbent Fatah party.

What I clear is lucifer gathered support from other angels as he was one of the highest, he got other angels to try and support his cause. Again, satan maybe thought that God would allow his actions.

We are told that many angels went across with him i.e. one third as in;

Revelation 12:4 - And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth

Some commentaries say that the angels wanted physical bodies instead of spiritual ones and longed to know what it was like. Satan did convince his fellow angels to rebel against God similar to he did with man’s that is to convince them of the desirability (and advisability) of rejecting God's authority. Initially satan tempted Eve to eat from the tree of life.

 

What is satan’s present character?

We know he is the ruler of dark domain and the best way to describe father of lies as he did with Jesus in the opening verse described in;

John 8;44 - Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.

Best described by a commentary on satan by Dr Robert Luginbill.

“Extraordinary offices and privileges which were never to be paralleled again (except in the person of Christ). His preeminent status begs the question of why he would jeopardize (let alone renounce) such an exalted status. The sad truth is that all these benefits and blessings were not enough for Satan. He wanted more, wanted the only thing with which he had not been entrusted: rulership of the universe. It was not enough for him to be guardian of the throne of God; he wanted to occupy it as well.”

 

His tricks

Peter gives a good description of a devouring Lion;

1 Peter 5:8 - Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour

He whispers as he did with Judas in Luke 22 where he betrayed Christ and he sought to push Judas onwards and filled his heart, although again Judas did know what he was doing and had free will.

He is also cunning where he attacked the weakest link and, in this case, it was Eve;

Genesis 3:1 - Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made.

Satan likes to put doubts in your mind about Gods word as with Eve and as Christians we all have doubts about our lives and future.

Genesis 3:4 - And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die

Ultimately, he will be destroyed in a lake of fire and there are many commentaries about this, but the main verse is which details this is;

Revelation 20:10 - And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.

 

Why did satan test Jesus?

We know Jesus endured temptation so he could identify with the temptation we got through as Christians;

Hebrews 2:18 - For since he himself suffered death when he was put to the test, he is able to help those who are being tested now.

He was tested (the Greek word is “Peirazein”) by Satan himself for forty days and forty nights was a timescale common in Israel for testing periods (as with Noah).He tried to get Jesus to use his power for selfishness i.e. the bread and he wanted to stop Jesus submitting to his Fathers will. He wanted ultimately for Jesus to bow down to him. He wanted to show Jesus he possessed all the kingdoms and governments of this earth as in

2 Corinthians 4:4 - In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.

What is important to remember is satan can quote from the word of God as he does in Matthew 4:6. What satan was misquoting was;

Psalm 91:11-12 – 11. For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.

12. They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.

He missed out the words in “To keep you in all your ways” hence he distorted the scripture and took Gods word out of context. As David Guzik in his commentary on Matthew writes; “Go ahead, Jesus; if You do this the Bible promises angels will rescue You, and it will be spectacular self-promotion”

The point here is to check the scripture out for yourself.

So, to summarise satan was using the 3 tactics he used with Eve in the Garden of Eden; Genesis 3:6

  • He tempted with Food, desires of the flesh i.e. food

  • He tempted with the desires of the eyes i.e. to see

  • He tempted with the pretensions of life i.e. to eat.

 

How can we avoid his tactics?

We know in this life we are surrounded by evil and temptation.

John 5:19 - And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness.

We know God is all powerful and almighty and Jesus Christ was the ultimate sacrifice God gave in order that man would not suffer the consequences of sin;

Philippians 2:7 – (CJB) On the contrary, he emptied himself, in that he took the form of a slave by becoming like human beings are. And when he appeared as a human being,

We can’t fight satan, but we rebuke him in as Christ does in the verse.

We can also focus on the right priorities in life i.e. put God first rather than material wants and needs;

Psalm 39:6 NIV - Man is a mere phantom as he goes to and fro: He bustles about, but only in vain; he heaps up wealth, not knowing who will get it.

Satan tried to get Jesus eyes off his Fathers will with Pride in to enact a great event of invoking angels.

With reference to free will and in we all have it i.e. David in

Psalm 51:5 - Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.

Most importantly with reference to the scripture, David Guzik in his Matthew commentary in how satan used the word of God; “He used a weapon that one can use when they are all alone. He used a weapon to defend His Sonship. He used a weapon to defeat temptation. He used a weapon that was effective because He understood it.

 

What does this message mean for us (God’s grace)?

  1. Ultimately God’s grace means we don’t have to follow the example of Lucifer as our Lord Jesus is light and our salvation not darkness and he is the antithesis of satan.

  2. The Lord is not a deceiver and he has never lied to us, he wants the best for you and me and to serve him as the rightful king and creator he is.

  3. Through sin, Adam distanced us from God, but our Lord Jesus alone bridges that distance and reconciles us to his Father, we sinned BUT God needed to repair that sin.

  4. Our Lord Jesus saviour and our redeemer, he does not want to destroy us, and he wants the best for you and me. If God had a big list with all the things, he wants from you, your destruction isn’t on it. God loves you so much in order you wouldn’t have to be destroyed because of sin, Jesus is the ultimate price God paid in the currency of grace.

       John 3:16 - For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

His love was given in grace as per the story on the bird cage

Amen