Read: Luke 4:1-13
Focus: Luke 4:1-2
“Then Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan River. He was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where He was tempted by the devil for forty days.”
Has someone ever told you that God will never give us more than we can handle? Guess what, folks – that’s not true, and I think it’s something the enemy uses against us. The Bible never tells us that God will never give us more than we can handle. It’s a misrepresentation of 1 Corinthians 10:13 which tell us “The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, He will show you a way out so that you can endure.” Scripture tells us that God will never allow us to be tempted more than we can handle, and He will give us a way out from those temptations. However, nowhere does God tell us that He won’t give us more than we can handle. Can you see the difference? As a matter of fact, I submit to you that God often does gives us more than we can handle.
Why would a loving God give us more than we can handle? This can be a sensitive matter, and I’ve struggled with that same question at points in my life, so please don’t think I’m being trite with a simple answer – because we need to be reminded that we need a Savior. As Chris focused on during his message in church this week, it’s not all about us. The Bible teaches us this again and again; we as humans have an inclination to make life all about us and everything we can do on our own; however, that’s not God’s way. God’s way is that life is all about Him, how we need Him, and our relationship with Him. It’s about introducing those who are lost because they don’t know Him to God. It’s about living our lives in such a way that we show God’s love to the people we encounter daily. When we can take our eyes off of our own problems and ourselves and instead focus on Jesus and showing Him to others, we can experience true peace and joy outside of our own circumstances.
So what does that have to do with today’s reading? Quite a bit… The enemy knows that God’s plan is for us to stop focusing on ourselves and to instead focus on God and living life as Jesus lived. When we’re living in a state of self-focus (whether it’s self-pity, self-glorification, or some other state of self), we’re right where Satan wants us – we’re so focused on ourselves, that we can’t be serving God effectively. When, however, we are focused beyond ourselves, being filled with the Holy Spirit, and living life as Jesus taught us to live, Satan will try to attack us to steal our joy and bring our focus back to ourselves. How does he attack us – with temptations, just as he did with Jesus when Jesus was “full of the Holy Spirit” in today’s reading.
The good news though is that God equips us to fend off these temptations. Jesus provides us the perfect model in today’s reading. When faced with the devil’s attack, the biggest mistake we can make is to argue, debate, or rationalize against the temptation. Doing so allows a wedge of doubt to creep in, which provides a foothold for the enemy. Instead, Jesus teaches us to counter the temptations with scripture. On three occasions, Satan attacked Jesus with temptation. On each of these occasions, Jesus resisted the temptation by relying on scripture, and Satan eventually left. As we are told in James 4:7, “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”
As the prayer for today’s devotional, I would ask you to read and pray specifically about the words Paul writes in Ephesians 6:10 – 18. In these verses, God provides us with the tools we need to resist Satan’s attacks against us: the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the boots of the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit. As you can see, the Word of God (the sword of the Spirit) is our offensive weapon against temptation, and Paul finishes with a reminder that our focus shouldn’t be on ourselves as we resist the temptations, but on others (“be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere”).
“10 A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. 11 Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. 12 For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.
13 Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm.14 Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. 15 For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. 16 In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. 17 Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
18 Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.”