10 Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written,
“‘You shall worship the Lord your God
and him only shall you serve.’” Matthew 4:10
We get to the third temptation faced by Jesus in the wilderness and Satan puts it all on the line. He will give Jesus all that he he surveys from the highest mountain peak if only Jesus would bow down and worship him. He is proposing blatant idolatry, the worship of something, anything, other than the Lord God. In this case it is the worship of Satan himself. That is ultimately what all of our temptations are really about; idolatry. Every temptation we give in to is a statement that we prize that temptation above the Lord. In that moment we place the experience of the sin above the experience of intimacy with and obedience to the Lord. All sin is the placing of something other than God in the center of our affections.
One of the tragedies of giving in to temptation is that it always gives us less than God wants to give us. Think of the temptation given to Jesus. Bow down and worship Satan and Jesus can be master over all that he surveys from the highest mountain peak. Yet, when he is obedient to the Father and fulfills his mission of laying down his life, Jesus is raised up to take his throne over all creation and every knee will bow down to him and declare that he is Lord. (Philippians 2:9-11) Satan offered him a few miles of a kingdom. The Father gave him all creation.
We so often settle for far less than what the Lord offers us. Sometimes because we don’t believe God really loves us. Sometimes because we believe the lie that God is trying to keep us from really enjoying life. Sometimes because, like little children, we can only think about the cookie in from of us and not the feast to come if we just don’t eat the cookie.
But there is still more in the passage. Jesus dismisses Satan by commanding that he be gone, and by rightly quoting scripture back to his face. That is authority. It is an authority that comes from the Word of God rightly understood and handled. There is a power in the Scriptures that goes far beyond the wisdom and inspiration of the words themselves. God attends to his word and by his word makes things happen. He spoke and there was light. He spoke and Lazarus came forth from the grave. He spoke and Satan fled.
The need to know and believe and apply the Word of God to everyday life situations is essential for a life that is blessed and flourishing. God wants you to have so much more than Satan offers. Will you trust God’s Word on that?