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How to Relate to the Accuser

How to Relate to the Accuser June 26, 2021

How to Relate to the Accuser

How to Relate to the Accuser

Luke 4:1-13

Today is the first Sunday of Lent. Traditionally, Lent is a time when Christians around the world will deny themselves in order to grow spiritually. We are going to take the following Sundays in March and April to look at the ways that Jesus dealt with different people. Today, we will see how Jesus dealt with the Accuser, Satan. Later in this series, we will look at other people in the life of Jesus. The hope of this series is to help each of us as Christians to get a better handle on how to deal with the different kinds of people in our lives. This message will help you see how to relate to the accuser. 

We all have accusers, spiritual seekers, the hopeless, and helpless, and the grieving. We will examine some of the ways to interact with different people we may encounter as Christians. Here, we meet Jesus in the desert. Jesus spent forty days in the desert, where he fasted. After the forty days, He was met by Satan.

PARALLELS OF TEMPTATION ACCOUNT IN THE GOSPEL OF JOHN

The temptation of Christ is not found in the Gospel of John. However, some readers have identified parallels inside John which indicate that the author of John may have been familiar with the Temptation narratives in some form.

John 2

In John 2, Jesus performs a Messianic sign in the temple.

So the Jews replied to him, “What sign will you show us for doing these things?” Jesus answered, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it up in three days.”” (John 2:18–19, CSB)

So we see references that show John was away of this event. However, this event is written in three Synoptic Gospel accounts. That’s Matthew, Mark, and Luke. The shortest account is in Mark.

Immediately the Spirit drove him into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and the angels were serving him.” (Mark 1:12–13, CSB)

John 6

In John 6, Jesus refers to the bread in the wilderness as a sign.

Jesus answered, “Truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate the loaves and were filled.” (John 6:26, CSB)

Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, just as it is written: He gave them bread from heaven to eat.”” (John 6:31, CSB)

In John 6:15, Jesus realized that the crowd was going to make Him a king by force.

Therefore, when Jesus realized that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain by himself.” (John 6:15, CSB)

ORDER OF EVENTS IN MATTHEW VERSUS LUKE

In the account in Matthew, the three temptations are listed in a different order than in Luke? Does that mean that the Bible is contradicting itself? No, not at all. Matthew presents the three scriptural passages cited by Jesus not in their order in the Book of Deuteronomy. Instead, the sequence of trials are similar to he trials of Israel as they wandered in the desert, as recorded in the book of Exodus. Matthew presents Jesus as the royal King of Israel, who passed the trials that the Israelites failed.

In the account of Luke, the temptations are listed in the order they appear in Matthew. There are probably different reasons for this. Luke’s order of the temptations is a parallel to two different accounts.

The Garden Temptation

First, it parallels the temptation of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.

The woman saw that the tree was good for food and delightful to look at, and that it was desirable for obtaining wisdom. So she took some of its fruit and ate it; she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.” (Genesis 3:6, CSB)

The Wilderness Temptation

Second, the passage parallels the journey of the Israelites in the wilderness. In the desert, the Israelites who followed God were tempted to follow other gods. They failed by forming a golden calf and worshiping it. It is also interesting to note that in the Exodus account, the Israelites were leaving slavery to get to freedom and desired to go back to slavery. Here, Jesus leaves His baptism where He is assured by His Father of His worth and goes to the desert where He is tempted to sin.

Similarity to Gospel of John

Third, the passage is similar to what John wrote in 1 John 2:16:

For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride in one’s possessions—is not from the Father, but is from the world.” (1 John 2:16, CSB)

Luke’s order seems to be a parallel to 1 John 2:16: the lust of the flesh with the stones being turned into bread, the lust of the eyes, with the world’s kingdoms and glory, and the pride of life, as we see the command to jump from the pinnacle of the temple.

Purpose of Luke’s Account

Fourth, Luke’s account moves with purpose.

Luke’s account “represents a more natural geographic movement, from the wilderness to the temple”. In other words, Matthew’s order shows the people wandering in the desert. Luke’s order shows that that the movement happens with purpose. Jesus is moving and preparing for greater ministry.

PURPOSE OF TEMPTATIONS OF SATAN

Fifth, and this is extremely important for this passage. Satan’s purpose is to accuse Jesus. The accusations are designed to destroy. Satan has a purpose in his temptations of Jesus. He wanted to destroy the relationship that Jesus had with God the Father. The devil does it by accusing Jesus. It’s a pattern with Satan. He looks at others and their relationship with God and tries to destroy that relationship. In the Garden of Eden, Satan sees that God has a special relationship with Adam and Eve. The devil destroys that relationship having them question the nature of their relationship with God.

Satan destroys relationships

Satan does the same thing here. He accuses Jesus and tempts Him by “luring Jesus to act independently of the Father and thus creating a rebellious Sonship”.1 In other words, Satan tries to destroy the relationship between the Son and the Father before it has a chance to change the world.

Satan sweet-talks Jesus in his accusations to try to get Jesus to go against the purpose that God has for Him. The same is true with you and me. Satan is an accuser. He will try to tempt you to go against what God has in store for your life. By the way, Satan doesn’t have to show up in your life for him to do this. There are many people who are blindly following Satan, even unknowingly, and they will try to destroy your life. There are a bunch Satanic mini-me’s running around doing his bidding. They just don’t know it.

We all live in this tension where we as Christians are affirmed by God of our relationship with Him. He says to Jesus:

““You are my beloved Son; with you I am well-pleased.”” (Luke 3:22, CSB)

Yet, after hearing this, we go through an experience where we are asked to doubt this assurance. Notice that Satan questions Jesus three times about His loving relationship with God.

Satan questions relationships

First, Satan questions the nature of the relationship between God the Father and the Son.

The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.”” (Luke 4:3, CSB)

Next, the devil entices Jesus with something that sounds better.

The devil said to him, “I will give you their splendor and all this authority, because it has been given over to me, and I can give it to anyone I want.” (Luke 4:6, CSB)

Then Satan questions the nature of the relationship again.

So he took him to Jerusalem, had him stand on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here.” (Luke 4:9, CSB)

Satan tempts us to bring out the worst in us, but God can use these difficult experiences to put the best into us. Temptation is Satan’s weapon to defeat us, but it can become God’s tool to build us (see James 1:1–8, 13–17).2 Yet, Jesus shows us how to relate to the accuser the proper way. 

THREE GREAT TEMPTATIONS THE ACCUSER WILL HAVE ME FACE

The temptation to question God’s provision and care for me.

The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.” But Jesus answered him, “It is written: Man must not live on bread alone.”” (Luke 4:3–4, CSB)

Notice the motive: the devil questions Jesus with an intent to question Jesus’ relationship with God the Father. Satan will tempt you to question your identity in Christ so that you will question His provision and care for you. He did it to Adam. He even did it to David with the census. Satan did it to Job. Here, Satan tempts Jesus and questions His identity. Satan will put the same doubt in your mind as well.

The temptation to abandon my loyalty to God and give it to someone else.

The devil said to him, “I will give you their splendor and all this authority, because it has been given over to me, and I can give it to anyone I want. If you, then, will worship me, all will be yours.” And Jesus answered him, “It is written: Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.”” (Luke 4:6–8, CSB)

In a clear call-back to the Exodus event on Mt. Sinai, the devil suggests to Jesus that He can place His trust in Satan instead of God.

The Forty Days Parallel

Notice in the Exodus event, that Moses was on the mountain for forty days.

Moses entered the cloud as he went up the mountain, and he remained on the mountain forty days and forty nights.” (Exodus 24:18, CSB)

It was at the end of the forty days. God wanted to build a covenant with His people. The people wanted to worship a golden calf. So one of the ways that Satan tempts us to avoid the Christian church community for an extended period of time. Forty days include five Sundays. The point is the longer you avoid the worship of God in community, the less likely you will stay loyal to God and the more likely you give your loyalty to someone else.

I don’t think Satan has to be that direct with us today. I don’t think Satan says: “worship me.” Instead, I think all Satan has to do is to prevent you and me from worshiping God. Because when we stop worshiping God on a daily basis, we will stop serving Him as well.

Satan will tempt you by giving you an alternative to worship outside of the church community. Make Sunday a day of rest that doesn’t involve the worship of God. When Satan does that, he has tempted you to abandon your loyalty to God.

The temptation to test God by my lack of faith.

So he took him to Jerusalem, had him stand on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here.” (Luke 4:9, CSB)

And Jesus answered him, “It is said: Do not test the Lord your God.”” (Luke 4:12, CSB)

Now I suspect Jesus knew that if He did stand on the pinnacle of the temple and threw Himself down, that God would protect Him. Yet, He had just spent forty days in the desert. He knows that God doesn’t need to test His faith in that way.

Sometimes, we experience leaps of faith. But my leap of faith should not be testing God. It should be trusting God. Doing drastic stunts like this is not the way that God operates. Suicide attempts that ask God to save them is not the way that God wants me to trust Him. We do these things because we are desperate. We choose to test God. Instead, we should choose to trust God. 

SEVEN POWERFUL SPIRITUAL RESOURCES AVAILABLE FOR ME TO DEFEAT THE ACCUSER

Let me end by making some observations about the spiritual resources that you and I have at our disposal when we encounter temptations. We have at our disposal the same spiritual resources that Jesus used when He faced and defeated Satan. These spiritual resource will help me discern how to relate to the accuser. 

1. God’s love and acceptance

and the Holy Spirit descended on him in a physical appearance like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well-pleased.”” (Luke 3:22, CSB)

This was a foundational spiritual. Friend, you are God’s child if you know Jesus. God wants His best for you. You need to realize this as a resource when you goo through hard times. How to relate to the accuser is very different how God relates to me. 

2. Power and leadership of the Holy Spirit

Then Jesus left the Jordan, full of the Holy Spirit, and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness” (Luke 4:1, CSB)

When you let yourself be led by the Holy Spirit, He will never steer you wrong. I may confront Satan. But the Holy Spirit will never put you in a situation where you will be defeated. The Holy Spirit reveals to you how to relate to the accuser. 

3. Prayer and Fasting

for forty days to be tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and when they were over, he was hungry.” (Luke 4:2, CSB)

After he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. Then the tempter approached him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”” (Matthew 4:2–3, CSB)

The first powerful spiritual resource available to me is prayer. Actually, the form of prayer that is most powerful is fasting. Fasting deprives the body so that the mind can focus on the spirit. Jesus fasted for forty days. He needed that intense time of fasting to confront the devil. Prayer and fasting gives us the space we need so that we can focus on how to relate to the accuser. 

4. God’s Word

When I memorize God’s word, it is a powerful tool. God will take the Word of God, and personalize it for you. He will take certain Scripture verses and give you the right Scripture you need for that moment. This is why it is important to continue to read God’s Word. Systematic reading of God’s Word gives you the spiritual nutrients you need when you need it. God’s Word gives me the wisdom I need to know how to relate to the accuser when he shows up. 

5. Ministering Angels

Then the devil left him, and angels came and began to serve him.” (Matthew 4:11, CSB)

Angels are ministering agents. The way I relate to angels is different than how I relate to the accuser. God sends them to us as a way to comfort us when are having trouble or challenges in life. Angels serve us in our time of need, especially after Satanic attacks. 

6. The Intercession of Jesus

Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens—Jesus the Son of God—let us hold fast to our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in every way as we are, yet without sin.” (Hebrews 4:14–15, CSB)

Angels minister to us in our time of need. At the same time, Jesus also prays for us when we are going through challenges. He not only set the example of how to relate to the accuser, but He also helps me when I encounter Satan as well. 

7. Time

After the devil had finished every temptation, he departed from him for a time.” (Luke 4:13, CSB)

Satan as an accuser is a defeated foe. The Bible says that Satan left Jesus to come back at another opportune time. In other words, Satan quits on you when you stick it out. Time is on your side as a Christian. Therefore, time gives us an opportunity to be ready for the next time, showing us how to relate to the accuser when he comes. 

1 Darrell L. Bock, Luke, The NIV Application Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1996), 128.

2 Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, vol. 1 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 182.

Photo by DISRUPTIVO on Unsplash

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