The false promise on the mountain

Matt. 4:1-11, “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 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.”  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.'”  Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.”

Do not underestimate the devil.  If he was willing to tempt Jesus Christ, how much more willing is he to tempt you and me.  He knows something we all should be aware of, “Millions of people are more afraid of not being recognized by man than they are of God’s judgment.”  That may seem strange at first, but look around you and see how many people forsake the teachings of the Gospel for the sake of acclaim.  Satan will take you to the figurative “high mountain” and promise you “all the kingdoms and their glory,” but make no mistake; he has no intention of ever giving you anything.  And it is not only because he does not have the authority to, but also because lying is his nature. This is made abundantly clear in John 8:44, “You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him.  When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of all lies.”

How can the prince of darkness, the author of evil and deceit, be trusted for one second?  Christ did not fall into his trap, but so many people do that it can be disheartening at times.  The devil is clever.  He is a master of disguise, manipulation, deception, and evil, and he knows your greatest weakness.  Armed with that knowledge, he will set a trap for you.  Those false promises of glitz and glamor so callously made will await you near the trap.  If you pay any attention to him, you will soon be asking, “Why can I not have new, shiny things, that beautiful person who belongs to another, tons of money, or the big mansion?”  Give into his empty promises, and you will begin to chase the worldly treasures like fame, fortune, and acclaim, storing up for yourself fleeting wealth on earth instead of lasting treasures in heaven.  And he will offer you freedom too.  He will say, “Not only the kingdoms and their glory, but worship me and I will give you freedom from the restrictions of Christianity. Worship me, and I will make you the god of your world.

Sadly, millions fall for those lies, but they are not real.  They think they will escape God and his rules and become self-proclaimed gods, but nothing is further from the truth.  Instead of freedom, they will become prisoners. Instead of gods, they will be enslaved.  The delusion will be revealed as a mirage in the desert to a thirsty traveler.   The promise looks real, but the reality is quite the opposite – you never reach the mirage because it keeps moving.  In the end, you will die of thirst.  It is as pointless as chasing a rainbow to get the pot of gold at its end.  There will be no riches and no freedom because their captor will auction them off to the highest bidder, and they will become slaves to drugs, immorality, and other evils.  That is the power of the devil – to use pride, envy, jealousy, and greed to lure people from the safety of Christianity into the pits of sin and despair – and their end will be eternal punishment.  How sad that the “here-and-now” is more important than the invaluable treasures of the “then-and-ever after.”  How sad that a short time on earth is more important than an eternity in heaven.

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