Sword of the Spirit

Emmanuel tells us how to use the Sword of the Spirit.

Mat. 4:4 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But he answered, “It is written,

“‘Man shall not live by bread alone,

    but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

Then the devil took him to the holy city [Jerusalem] and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written,

“‘He will command his angels concerning you,’

and

“‘On their hands they will bear you up,

    lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”

Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’”Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” 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.’”

11 Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.

 


As Evangelical Christian we believe that the Bible is the “word of God”: it is true and has got authority in our lives.

In this sermon I don’t want to focus on giving defense of the reliability of the Bible, how the Bible came into existence…

There are many good books written about these subjects.

But I think it is important to say at least something about it, as the Bible has come under attack by novels like the Da Vinci Code, etc..

Accusing the Churchfathers of tampering with the original documents in order to stay in power and avoid people from knowing the “real truth about Jesus”.

So called “truths” like: “Jesus was married and had children”, Jesus did not really rise from the death, but people made it up centuries after he died, etc.

This has made people (and also christians) doubt the reliability of the Bible, of who Jesus was and is, and if He even existed!

 

Q: How do scholars, historians know what happened in the past? A: by (historical) sources, “testimonies”.

Source can be eyewitness, written accounts, picture material, archeology, etc.

Not every source is equally reliable, or reliable at all so historical scientists have to classify sources on the basis of criteria.

Here are 4 important criteria:

 

Quality – how well preserved is a source? If it is hardly readable, it is of little use.

Quantity (how many, more is better). – if there are more “witnesses”, something is likely to be more true than if there are few or no witnesses. (like in court). More copies of a manuscript = better

Consistency – how consistent are the testimonies of all the witnesses? If everyone says something different, it makes the reliability of all the witnesses less. The more everyone says the same, the better.

Time span – gap between the historical event and the account of the witness given. – An eyewitness is likely to be more reliable than someone who tells a story he has heard from someone else. A contemporain will like be more reliable than someone who writes down a story that has been passed down through many generations. The story might have been significantly altered by that time!

 

Most people have no doubts the historical reliability and the existence of Julius Caesar and the the Gallic Wars.

The original accounts of the wars were written by Caesar himself in around 50 BC and published in a 7 volume book.

Of this original book copies were made. Today we have around 10 usable copies.

The earliest copy dates from 900 AD, that is almost 1000 years later!

 

New Testament

5686 Greek! manuscripts. Over 19.000 copies in other languages (Syriac, Latin, Coptic, and Aramaic). More than 24.000 handwritten copies!

Manuscripts date from between 50 and 100 A.D. Earliest copies date from 130 AD.

Internal consistency between these manuscripts is 99.5%!

There are many more criteria on which the NT beats every other ancient document by far…

 

The point is: there is no ancient document from this era that can compete with the New Testament.

The New Testament beats them all! If people want to dismiss the New Testament because they think it is unreliable, they should, by the same criteria, also dismiss all these other documents.

 


Spiritual Armor – Spiritual Warfare

Sword is the only offensive part of the armor.

In warfare It is good to have a weapon, but only if you know how to use it.

Spiritual warfare the same: we can have the word of God, but it is of little use if we don’t know how to apply it in our life.

Today I want to look at Jesus as our SwordsMaster and how we can learn from his use of the word of God

 


First attack

Satan attacks us when we are feeling weak.

Jesus had been fasting for “40 days and 40 night”, which in Biblical language means “a very long time”. The Bible does not tell us how He had been fasting, but one thing is clear: Jesus was hungry!

Paul is telling us in Ephesians to be prepared. Being prepared means that we expect to be under attack when we are not at our best! When you are tired, angry, after a very busy week studying…

 

Satan uses any weakness to tempt us into sin

Instead of trying to tempt Jesus with beautiful girls, satan simply tries to tempt Jesus with food. You may think I am crazy (which is partially true), but this is very significant.

If you want to catch someone, you want to make the trap look as normal as possible. You don’t put any signs next to it saying: DANGER! TRAP! STAY AWAY! That’s not gonna work!

But as christian we often think satan is this stupid! But he is not! Look at how he wanted to trick Jesus: with bread! There is nothing sinful about bread, nor about being hungry!

And true, if you are hungry you have to eat or you will die! It’s a necessity!

The appearance of the trap is not the trap itself, as we will see. The trap is not eating or bread, but something else…

 

First defense

But Jesus answered him: “It is written,

“‘Man shall not live by bread alone,

    but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

 

The first thing to notice is that Jesus goes straight to saying: “It is written”.

“It is written”: Gods word is Life

He quotes from Deuteronomy where God tells his people that they have to remember how He cared for them in desert in a supernatural way.

In 40 years wandering around the desert their clothes had not worn out, and God had given “manna”, food from heaven so that they would literally learn that “man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word from the mouth of God”.

Jesus is actually saying to satan: There is something far more important than my basic needs in order to stay alive.

My ultimate need is not natural, but supernatural. It is not bread, but the Life Giving Words from God”.

 

“It is written”: What God has said is more important that what everything else may say

We often say to ourselves: I need this … [fill in for your own situation]. And we let our needs, our opinions, our feelings etc. speak louder than the voice of God.

“I cannot forgive this person, if he does not repent” – Instead of: “I am going to forgive this person, even if he does never repent, because God has forgiven us and told us to forgive others.”

We often bring up excuses why NOT to do what God has said: it is cultural, that’s outdated, no one will take me serious anymore, people will laugh at us, doesn’t God want us to have fun?

“What God has said” had absolute authority in the life of Jesus, even if it meant that He would be hungry, suffer, etc. and so it should be in our lives!

 

“It is written”: Jesus knew “what was written”

How did Jesus know the Bible? …By reading and studying it regularly! Even from young age he surprised people by his knowledge of Scripture and of God.

Jesus tells us in the Gospels that we should not worry about what to say to people when we are being persecuted because of his Name, because the Holy Spirit will give us the words. (Mat. 10, Mark 13)

Some people think that it means that we should not prepare anything or study our Bible. But Jesus said: do not be afraid…not: do not read your Bible!

Also, the context of the this story is that Jesus has just been baptized and is full of the Holy spirit (Luke).

He knows his Bible and at the right moment the Holy Spirit helps Him to say what is needed!

 


Second attack

The devil is very clever and uses Jesus own words to attack Him:  “It is written…” and quotes from the Bible, Psalm 91.

But Jesus answers him, saying: “It is also written….”

satan also knows the Bible, often better than we do.

You can memorize all the Scriptures by heart, but if you don’t know how to use them, it is like having a garage full of tools to make every possible thing, but you don’t know how to use the tools!

 

You must not only know what the Bible says, but also how to APPLY it

This is not an easy job, the Bible even tells us that people twist Scriptures and abuse it to their own destruction and the destruction of others (letters of Peter).

But this does not mean it’s impossible or extremely difficult.

Jesus has given us the Holy Spirit, our brains, and our brothers and sisters in the church to help us!

 

Identity –

You may have noticed that satan twice says: “If you are the Son of God…”

Like I told you earlier: Jesus had just been baptized by his cousin John. When He came out of the water, the heavens opened, the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus.

And God the Father said: This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.

What satan is trying to do is tempting Jesus to prove that He really is the Son of God instead of trusting in what God has said about Jesus.

Again we see how very subtle satan works! Our identity is not something sinful (WATCH OUT, TRAP, STAY AWAY!). Identity is even very important (Knowing who you are).

But our identity should be based on what God has said, not what we have done or prove!

This is what ’s happening: satan wants to trick Jesus in making his own achievements more important that what God has said about Him.

 

Another strategy of satan: Not outright denial, but a little seed of doubt

satan does not say: “you’re not the Son of God. If you are the Son of God, prove it!”.

No, he sows his little seeds of doubts…if you really are the Son of God…?

Just like with Adam and Eve: “Did God actually say…?” (Gen. 3)

Jesus answers is: it is also written: “you shall not put the Lord your God to test”, which could be translated: you shall not ask prove of God, because you doubt His faithfulness.

 


 Third attack

Satan realizes he can’t beat Jesus with Scripture, nor with His identity, so he pulls his last trick.

The third attack has everything to do with Jesus purpose and mission, his calling.

Our purpose in life is important, so is our God-given calling!

 

Jesus, as the Son of God, being the rightful Heir of God, would inherit all the earth, all the kingdoms, nations, wealth: everything!

In other words: Jesus was called to rule the Earth! And satan is offering it to Him, NOW! “If you want all this NOW, you just have bow down before me…”

Again, we see how clever satan is…

1.     He makes an appeal to our rightful calling

2.     He offers it NOW, instantly

3.     By way of compromise…

1. Jesus was called to rule the earth, but…through obedience and suffering (Gospels)

Jesus was not only called to rule, but also to atone for the sins of the world, to be the sacrifice, the Lamb of God that would take away the sins of the world.

Jesus tells his disciples that He must suffer and rise again on the third day. Jesus was obedient, even if it cost Him his comfort and His life!

But because of his obedience to God the Father, God the Father raised Jesus from the death and exulted Him above everything and everyone else!

Without suffering their would be no sacrifice for sins.

Without obedience to God there would be no praise from the Father for Jesus

2. Jesus was called to have faith and perseverance and wait patiently for God

Heb. 2 Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. 16 For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham. 17 Therefore he hadto be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. 18 For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

No quick fixes for us, no quick fixes for Jesus…

3. The “temptation of Jesus” ultimately shows us that the true battle is not about our needs, our identity, our calling, but about the Glory of God

Satan was ready to give Jesus all the glory of the world and give Him anything, “if only” He bowed down before satan. “IF ONLY!!!”

Again: satan knows what is really important! If ONLY Jesus had bowed down, He would have given up on his Father and made it clear that satan was truly god.

Jesus would have enjoyed earthly glory at the expense of eternal glory!

 

From this we can also learn the essence of sin: it is not in the things itself, but in “dethroning the one and only true God”.

Just like Adam and Eve in the Garden: preferring the word of satan above the word of God. Preferring their own desires above obedience to God.

Ultimately spiritual warfare is about worship: who or what is most worthy of our worship?