January 11, 2023

January 11, 2023

Author: Pastor Gordon Cook
January 11, 2023

And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And he ate nothing during those days. And when they were ended, he was hungry. The devil said him, “If you are the son of God, command this stone to become bread.” And Jesus answered him, “It is written, man shall not live by bread alone.” And the devil took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, and said to him, “To you I will give all this authority and their glory, for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.” And Jesus answered him, “It is written you shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.” And he took him to Jerusalem and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for it is written, “He will command his angels concerning you, to guard you,” and “On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against the stone.” And Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’”

Luke 4:1-12

This past week we focused on Proverbs 4:23. The whole matter of keeping your heart with all diligence. And sort of like the soldiers who are to the guard the castle or guard the crown jewels, we are to guard our hearts. We emphasized the priority, you can translate that Proverbs 4:23 ‘Above all things’, keep and keep on keeping your heart. Then we considered the difficulty of keeping the heart. We focused on three major sins ignorance, sloth and pride and just plain old business. Now Flavel, if you’ve ever read Mr. Flavel, he has maybe four or five sermons that he preached on keeping the heart. It’s put into a book form, but he has quite a lengthy section where he deals with what are special seasons or occasions that require greater diligence or greater awareness or alertness when it comes to keeping the heart. And we’re always on the battlefield but he says there are times when the devil knows that we are more particular vulnerably or that we are weaker, whatever and he's always on the prowl looking for those occasions.

And again, go back to Luke chapter 4 the devil attacks Jesus at the back end not the front end but at the back end of his 40 day fast. So, it’s obviously a time where Jesus would be more vulnerable, more challenging time for our Lord when it comes to this epic encounter with the devil. But Jesus was ready for him and on a red alert. Jesus always kept his heart he kept It perfectly. That’s why those grenades you could save those grenades of temptation never landed on his heart and imploded and left him mortally wounded. He resisted the devil at every turn. But notice what Luke says in the very back end he knows the devil’s coming back. He says the verse 12 “Until an opportune time, until an opportune time.” So, if you follow the story, fast forward and you can see the devil coming again and again against our Lord. And there’s at least two very clear occasions where the devil comes after Jesus. Remember enroute to Jerusalem. He uses Peter-Jesus’ own disciple and Jesus knows it, “Satan get behind me Satan.” And then later on in the upper room he gets into the heart of Judas. So, the devil is on attack again.

Some think the devil is in Gethsemane, at least Jesus makes reference to the fact that this is now the devil's hour or the hour of darkness, at least at the back end in the garden of Gethsemane. But there are occasions obviously in the life of our Lord and even in our lives where we are more particularly vulnerable to sin and temptation. And Flavel gives at least eight or nine different occasions. I won’t mention them all I’ll mention three of them. One of the times in which we are vulnerable is times of prosperity and wealth. He believes that is a very vulnerable time as Christians and believers. When we are doing well financially when we have temporal blessing. He says when the providence of God is smiling on you that could be a dangerous time. I think of David, when did David fall and stumble? Not when he was in those caves but he when he was on a throne in II Samuel 11, it was at the prime of his career when David was at the top of his game. David suffers a grievous fall. So that that’s one occasion, that’s when enjoying wealth prosperity and success that’s a time where we need to be on alert. That’s what Flavel is saying.

The second season is that of adversity or trial. You could think of people in your Bible where that was certainly the case. I think of when Job is in his intense period of trial, his faith begins to waver he begins to have a suspicious attitude towards God. He views God as his enemy. Then Asaph in Psalm 73 he’s going through a hard time remember. He begins to have some heart struggles and says he became envious of the wicked, Psalm 73. So again, that’s another season, another occasion where we can be vulnerable, and we need to keep special alert.

Towards the back end, John Flavel points to another occasion, and this is really where we’re coming tonight. He talks about times of religious duty, times of worship. He said we can shuffle over religious duties. We can have a loose and careless spirit. Haven’t you found it sometimes to be tempting when you pray, not even five minutes after you start praying you your mind Is wandering somewhere else? It’s easy to go to through the motions. And we all know that we can come to worship on Sunday, and we struggle just to keep attention. We find that in personal devotions but even in public context. That’s the point he’s making it’s hard to give a serious attention to prayer, to hearing the word of God. And that’s one of the times in which we are vulnerable, one of the times we have to be on alert and guard our heart. And Jesus had that in mind when he talked about the parable of the sower. When he talked about the devil’s activity under the analogy of birds of the air that come and take away the seeds that is sown, by distraction. That is one way the devil seeks to get our minds off the Lord. He’s crafty, he knows when we are vulnerable. He can distract us by distractions, taking our thoughts somewhere else even by captivating shiny objects to lure us away from worship. So, all I’m saying brethren this is we need to be careful whenever we come to prayer, private prayer and corporate prayer be on special alert.