Every 3-4 weeks, I receive either an email or a letter from a local car dealership. I bought a truck from them a few years ago, but that doesn’t matter. They want to sell me a truck—another truck. Their last appeal enthusiastically told me that my payments would be $38 less than my previous payments. Did you catch that? Their incentive was to offer me more car payments, but they overlooked two things:
- I already have a truck.
- I own the truck. It’s mine—with no payments.
Why would I pay for something I already have?
To an even greater degree, that’s what Satan tried to tempt Jesus with. The devil came at Him with three temptations, and the third one included an offer of the kingdoms of the world.
“Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. And he said to him, ‘I will give you all these things if you will fall down and worship me’” (Matt. 4:8-9).
Here was Satan tempting Jesus, the One through whom all things were created, with the very things He created. It’s true that the devil has been given reign in this rebellious world; even Jesus called him “the rule of this world” (John 12:31), but his reign will be short-lived. When Christ returns and sets up His kingdom, bringing a new heaven and a new earth, Satan’s reign will be over. Christ will restore His fallen creation.
What Satan offered Jesus was a way to gain all this without the cross. Satan would let go of his hold on this world, but only if Jesus worshiped him. Satan would gladly let go of all he had if the omnipotent God of the universe would simply bow in his direction.
Jesus chose the path of the cross instead. Jesus didn’t have to go along with Satan’s ploy. Satan was offering Jesus something that would ultimately be His. All things were placed in His hands. He will restore His creation and rule eternally as King.
Keep this in mind as Satan and the world comes at you. Satan comes at us with things, consumerism, and a drive to have more and more. But to what end? If you are a follower of Christ, He has promised you an abundant life. This is not the “abundance” the world offers (or the prosperity gospel offers); instead, it is the abundance that will be the inheritance of all those who follow Christ. You may not see it or touch it yet, but it is yours.
Satan comes at us with a cheap imitation of the abundance we already have in Christ. All Satan wants us to do is forego all this “dying to self” talk (Luke 9:23-24). Satan wants to offer us a quick and easy way to the good life, but he doesn’t tell us the full price. It’s a cheap imitation, it’s far more costly, and it won’t last.
Take the way of the cross. Trust the work of Christ on the cross to bring you into His kingdom. Let go of doing things your way (or the world’s way) and live in submission to the lordship of Christ. That means dying to self and all this world has to offer. Living a life that is “crucified with Christ” (Gal. 2:20) brings you into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil, or fade (1 Pet. 1:4).
Satan can’t top that. Not even close.
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This post supports the study “The Temptation to Place Something Else Before God” in Bible Studies for Life and YOU.
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I really enjoy and appreciate these articles and podcasts that go along with each week’s discussion. These are very helpful when I am preparing my lesson plan.