Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point. —C. S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters
Jewish rabbis called Satan Kategor. It sounds a lot like our word categorize, doesn’t it? Categorize means to separate or divide. Satan accomplishes this with specific tools—the same tools he’s used since Eden. Let’s take a look at Luke 4 and analyze the methods used by Satan as he tried to foil God’s plan for Jesus:
- “Tell this stone to become bread.” (4:3)
- “I will give you all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. If you worship me, it will all be yours.” (4:5-7)
- “Throw yourself down from here. For it is written … ” (4:9-10)
Freshly baked bread! What a temptation. After 40 days of fasting, I’d be able to imagine the smell of it baking in the sun. Yet Jesus declines Satan’s offer of immediate gratification. How? Jesus knows that saying yes to temptation is saying no to God’s best for you.
When offered the kingdoms of the world, Jesus declines with a second “no.” Jesus knows Satan promises things he can’t deliver. Temptation almost always links sinful activity to an imagined reward. That reward is Satan promising you something he can’t deliver.
Finally, Jesus resists the temptation to build an immediate platform and launch his career with a BANG. What’s really fascinating is Satan takes Jesus’ response—“For it is written … ”—and uses it to quote God’s words out of context. Satan’s mode of operation is to twist Scripture. He’s been doing it since Eden.
These are Satan’s three tools of separation. While Satan is a formidable foe, Jesus overcame.
That’s good news for us! If Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and if Jesus indwells us as believers and lives through us, then His life in us today will look like His life among us then.
We can overcome our enemy, too.
Jesus, on my own, I am not strong enough to turn down immediate gratification or rewards. Some of them are so enticing. Some of them I’ve been hoping for my entire life. But Your Spirit is strong, and together we desire God’s best. I invite You to say no through me so temptation will leave. Amen.
Learn more from Pete’s teaching on Luke, What Will Jesus Do?