Words To Live By
Luke 4:1-13

Dr. William S. Epps, Senior Pastor

Sunday, March 6, 2022
1And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, 2Being forty days tempted of the devil. And in those days he did eat nothing: and when they were ended, he afterward hungered. 3And the devil said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, command this stone that it be made bread. 4And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God. 5And the devil, taking him up into an high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. 6And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it. 7If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine. 8And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. 9And he brought him to Jerusalem, and set him on a pinnacle of the temple, and said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down from hence:
10For it is written, He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee:
11And in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. 12And Jesus answering said unto him, It is said, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. 13And when the devil had ended all the temptation, he departed from him for a season. Luke 4:1-13
This is the first Sunday in Lent. Let me remind you that Lent is the forty-day period prior to Easter. Believers in Christ use this time to reflect on the life of Jesus and His experiences as they embrace the implications of what Jesus’ life has done to bring us all life and life abundantly in His name. We begin this season focusing on the experience of Jesus’ temptation. 
Between His baptism and the beginning of His ministry, we find the temptation of Jesus. Matthew and Luke relate the temptation at some length with slight differences in details, the principle one being the order in which Jesus is tempted. 
This is probably one of the most baffling of incidents in the life of Jesus. The One who would teach his disciples to pray, “Lead us not into temptation,” is now led by divine direction and driven by divine initiative into solitude and struggle in the wilderness to be tempted. In His moments of temptation, Jesus is alone, hungry and weak. It has been said that it is alone that we have our greatest spiritual experiences (Moses in Exodus 3). It is alone that we have our severest battles with ourselves (Jacob in Genesis 32:24). It is alone that we measure honestly our relationship with the Lord and access accurately the hindrances that keep us from God and fulfilling God’s purpose for our lives. It is alone with all of our interests and considerations excluded we learn to bring ourselves into true harmony with the will of God (Jesus in Luke 4). 
Let’s be clear about temptation in the Bible before we proceed. The temptation about which the Bible speaks has nothing to do with testing our strength. All our strength, to our horror and without our being able to do anything about it, is robbed and taken away. The psalmist says, “my heart trembles, my strength has left me and the light has departed” (Psalm 38:10). The decisive fact in temptation is that you are abandoned by all your powers. You cannot be victorious in your own strength. 
Psalm 71:16 says, I will go in the strength of the Lord GOD
Consider what it means to go in the strength of the Lord
when your strength has failed.  
Monday, March 7, 2022
Jesus is being tempted as to how He was going to fulfill the purpose of
God in His life.  

The strange truth is that this sort of temptation comes not accidentally, but as part of the very necessity of the life which God is fashioning. The beloved son is driven into the wilderness to be tempted. At the first sound of those words, that seems a strange way to treat a beloved son. All wise parents know that they cannot shield their child completely or keep him/her protected from the contacts of the world. The child has got to be sent out more and more to learn his own way, to make his own choices, to grapple with actual life and overcome it even though he may be bruised, beaten,
and battered. So it was with Christ. The love of God must confront Him with difficult decisions, and let Him hear the plausible voice of false alternatives in order that He would clearly commit Himself to truth.  

Consider what it means for God to permit us to be driven into temptation
because life, with all of its varied challenges and opportunities,
will confront us with being temptation. 
Tuesday, March 8, 2022
The first temptation was about appetite. Your appetite reminds you what you need to survive of which food is essential. When deprived of life’s necessities you become vulnerable and weak. It is then that you are tempted. This first temptation cites an urgent need, hunger. Why not use your power to satisfy your wants?

It does not mean that Jesus literally considered a kind of magical act by which the round stones would be changed into a loaf of bread which He would then take and eat. He was hungry. His experience of hunger was reminding Him of the hunger that exists in the world. He had grown up among the poor. He knew their lot. He knew how many there were who had little to eat, who might be anxious often for life’s bare necessities. He never forgot man’s nature and needs. He would teach His disciples to pray “give us this day our daily bread.” He knew that nothing could gain Him so quick a following as to give people first of all what they most instinctively wanted: better conditions of life, some relative abundance instead of poverty. Suppose He should dedicate His power of leadership to producing that? Certainly that would not be an evil thing. It might seem altogether good. It was good, but for Jesus it could not be the highest good. People would follow him “for the loaves and fishes” and meanwhile might be unconcerned for the supreme gift which they needed to receive – the bread of life that would sustain one through situations of scarcity. In His all
too-brief time, he must help people most of all to hunger for God. The temptation is to turn to Satan for the things that are necessary for life, rather than to God. 

God led you forty years in the wilderness, let you hunger and then fed you with manna, with which, neither you nor your ancestors were acquainted in order to make you understand that you do not live by bread alone. 

Jesus replies with Deuteronomy 8:3, “you do not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the word of God.” 
Consider what it means to have words to live by in order to feed your
appetite when you are hungry and tempted to be guided by
less desirable advice in making a choice.  
Wednesday, March 9, 2022
The second temptation was about allegiance. Jesus rejected what in modern terms we might call the temptation to be a Messiah for the people’s economic life – to set himself to better their material conditions. The second temptation was to satisfy the patriotic passion of his people. Christ was tempted to seize power and glory for himself by an act of unholy submission

There were many in Israel who hoped that the Messiah would come manifestly as a conqueror, the man on horseback with a sword of deliverance in his hand. The oppression of Rome rested heavily upon them. They wanted to be free. They wanted to win a glory for Israel. What if Jesus, with His unparalleled personal power, should arouse the fighting blood of Israel and all the other oppressed people within the Roman Empire? The tempter said, to you I will give all this authority and their glory ….. if you will worship me. The heroic quality of Jesus’ renunciation must be seen against the reality of what the devil said. Jesus could have had limitless power at a priceIt was a price He would not pay; the price of holding that the end justifies the means or that God does not intend for us to be too scrupulous about how we get what we want so long as we can claim that we have a good purpose in getting it. That is the suggestion which often seems so sensible but actually may be satanic. 

Satan offers Jesus the opportunity to rule all the dominions of the world and to partake of their glory if he will worship Satan. Luke uses the word for world that refers to the Roman Empire. Satan tempts the church to accept life in the empire with its idolatry, injustice, poverty and other forms of brokenness as normative. 
Jesus replies with Deuteronomy 6:13, a passage that calls the community to reject idolatryJesus knows that the deity one worships determines the character of the worshipping community. Worship of the God who is restoring the world will lead the community itself to be restorative. 

Jesus responds with holy indignation: Get behind me Satan. He refused to entertain a suggestion so utterly opposed to His spirit of consecration, so subversive of all His high purposes and lofty hopes. He met it with a quotation of a word which demanded entire obedience to the will of God and full devotedness God’s service. Jesus says, “You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.”

Consider what it means to have words to live by that remind you
of the One to whom all your allegiance is due.  
Thursday, March 10, 2022
The third temptation is about ambition. Consider what has happened. Jesus has made two absolute choices involving two great renunciations. He has determined that He would not seek an easy following by ministering to people’s temporal wants. Neither would He buy devotion by appealing to mans' combative passions. He would take a longer and more difficult road toward the world’s redemption. I admit that in your consecration you are completely God’s son. Therefore, you can expect no more perplexity or hardship. Since you are God’s son, certainly God will protect you. Nothing henceforth can hurt you. Into whatever seeming danger you may go, you can be sure that God’s angels will be there to bear you up in their protecting hands.

This temptation objectifies in an extreme way the whole area of physical risk which Jesus' life might face. The final temptation is for Jesus to jump from the pinnacle of the temple, an act that would immediately win a wide following. In support, Satan cites Psalm 91:11-12: 11For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. 12They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.

Faust is the protagonist of a classic German legend based on the historical Johann Georg Faust (c. 1480–1540). The erudite Faust is highly successful, yet dissatisfied with his life, which leads him to make a pact with the Devil at a crossroads, exchanging his soul for unlimited knowledge and worldly pleasures.
The Faust legend has been the basis for many literary, artistic, cinematic, and musical works that have reinterpreted it through the ages. "Faust" and the adjective "Faustian" imply sacrificing spiritual values for power, knowledge, or material gain. 
Before Faust, Jesus reminds us of making a pack with the devil. Jesus realized that ambition is not a bargain you make with anyone. You do not sacrifice autonomy made in God’s image and fashioned after God’s likeness to subject yourself to the authority to anyone other than the source of your existence to fulfill your purpose in life.
Consider what it means to have words to live by in fulfilling your ambition. 
Friday, March 11, 2022
Luke implies, however, that simply quoting a bible passage is not adequate. A community must have a valid way of interpreting how scripture can help discern the purposes of God. Jesus cites Deuteronomy 6:16 which says, “Ye shall not tempt the LORD your God.”
You cannot expect God to work a miracle in order to gratify unholy eagernessYou cannot expect God to bless means which God has not sanctioned. You cannot expect God to own and honor methods which are not in accord with the principles God has revealed.  

This passage refers to the people in the wilderness questioning whether they would reach the promise land because they lacked water (Exodus 17:1-7; Numbers 20:2-13; Deuteronomy 32:50-52; Psalm 106:32-33). Deuteronomy 6:16 reminds the people that just as God provided water in the wilderness at Massah, so they can count on God to bring the divine realm through the patient work of Jesus as suffering servant. 

Consider what it means to permit scripture to be misunderstood, misinterpreted, and misapplied in fulfilling ambition.  
Saturday, March 12, 2022
Jesus responds with, "thou shall not tempt the Lord thy God." He did not lay down any conditions. He would face whatever awaited Him, even if at the end of the vista there might be the shadow of the cross. 

The victory of Christ is our encouragement. Jesus has used scripture from incidents in the life of His faith tradition as He faced the temptation of His appetite, allegiance and ambition to show us that we can do the same as we follow His example. 

I heard an old, old story, / How a Savior came from glory,
How He gave His life on Calvary / To save a wretch like me;
I heard about His groaning, / Of his precious blood’s atoning,
Then I repented of my sins; / And won the victory.
I heard about His healing, / Of His cleansing power revealing.
How He made the lame to walk again / And caused the blind to see;
And then I cried, "Dear Jesus,Come and heal my broken spirit,"
And somehow Jesus came and brought
To me the victory.
O victory in Jesus, / My Savior, forever.
He sought me and bought me / With His redeeming blood;
He loved me ere I knew Him, / And all my love is due Him,
He plunged me to victory, / Beneath the cleansing flood.
Consider what it means that you have victory in Jesus without requiring
God’s proof beyond reflecting on what God has already done to prove the reality of
God’s presence: providing sufficiency in lack of sustenance, providing the parameters
to operate within the limits of allegiance to the Lord alone,
and operating within the limits of self-imposed restraints that conform
to the One to whom your allegiance is due in life’s challenges.  

Victory in Jesus
Carrie Underwood
2412 Griffith Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90011 
Phone: (213) 748-0318