The Devil Quotes Scripture

The Devil Quotes Scripture January 4, 2024

Photo by marianne bos on Unsplash

God’s word is a light for our way (Psalm 119:105), but the devil quotes Scripture if he can use it to mislead us.  That’s why we need to read, understand, and apply God’s word to our lives each day!

Scripture:       

Genesis, chapters 9-11; Luke, chapter 4

Luke 4:1-13 (CEB):

Jesus returned from the Jordan River full of the Holy Spirit, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness. There he was tempted for forty days by the devil. He ate nothing during those days and afterward Jesus was starving. The devil said to him, “Since you are God’s Son, command this stone to become a loaf of bread.”  Jesus replied, “It’s written, ‘People won’t live only by bread.’”

Next the devil led him to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. The devil said, “I will give you this whole domain and the glory of all these kingdoms. It’s been entrusted to me and I can give it to anyone I want. Therefore, if you will worship me, it will all be yours.”  Jesus answered, “It’s written, ‘You will worship the Lord your God and serve only him.’”

The devil brought him to Jerusalem and stood him at the highest point of the temple. He said to him, “Since you are God’s Son, throw yourself down from here; for it’s written: ‘He will command his angels concerning you, to protect you’ and ‘they will take you up in their hands so that you won’t hit your foot on a stone.’” Jesus answered, “It’s been said, ‘Don’t test the Lord your God.’” After finishing every temptation, the devil departed from him until the next opportunity.

Observations:

The Devil Quotes Scripture

One thing that always strikes me when I read this passage is the fact that the devil quotes Scripture. We know that Satan and his way are the opposite of what the Bible teaches, so the idea that he quotes Scripture is a bit jarring. Of course, we can’t trust what he says about Scripture. Neither should we assume that he quotes it accurately. Satan is a liar: “He has never stood for the truth, because there’s no truth in him. Whenever that liar speaks, he speaks according to his own nature, because he’s a liar and the father of liars” (John 8:44, CEB).

But we need to remember that he’s perfectly willing to quote Scripture in order to deceive us. “Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. It is no great surprise then that his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness” (2 Corinthians 11:14-15, CEB). As I said, we can’t trust what Satan says about Scripture, nor how he interprets it. That’s why it’s so important for us to know and understand Scripture!

We see that demonstrated in today’s passage. In the third temptation, Satan tempts Jesus to prove that He is the Son of God.  “Throw yourself down from here” (the top of the temple). “For it’s written: He will command his angels concerning you, to protect you” and “they will take you up in their hands so that you won’t hit your foot on a stone.” Satan quotes that passage (from Psalm 91) with the challenge, “Since you are God’s Son.”

The Devil Quotes Scripture Deceptively

In this instance, Satan quotes Scripture correctly – but applies it wrongly. Psalm 91 does say what Satan claims it says. However, it is always dangerous to take a Scripture out of context. You can quote Scripture to support just about anything you want if you’re willing to take it out of context! It’s not enough to quote it; we have to understand it. And once we understand, we have to obey it.

Jesus shows us how to put Scripture back into context. He reminds Satan – and us – that no Scripture stands alone. While Psalm 91 does say that God commands His angels concerning those who trust in him, we have to remember that trusting in him includes obeying the rest of Scripture. Jesus reminds us that Scripture also says, “Don’t test the Lord your God.” “Testing,” in this sense, means trying to prove something by forcing God to act for our own purposes.

If Jesus had done what Satan dared him to do, Jesus would have been trying to “use” God’s promise to prove that He is, in fact, the Son of God. In reality, that’s the same temptation Satan used with Adam and Eve. “Substitute your judgment for God’s command. You will become like God…” You’ll be in charge! Make your own decisions; you don’t need to do what God says! When we give in to that temptation, spiritual disaster awaits.

Application – The Devil Quotes Scripture, But We Shouldn’t Listen to Him

When we forget that the devil quotes Scripture, we can be deceived into thinking that God is speaking to us when in fact He is not. “The Bible says that. It must be true! Therefore, I can do this, because it must be from God!” NO! Satan doesn’t care what we do – even if it’s something “good” – if we do it outside God’s will. He is happy to package disobedience in any kind of “good” if it turns us away from God.

In fact, one of Satan’s most subtle tricks is to sneak spiritual pride into our “obedience.” If we’re going to obey God, Satan will try to make us proud of our obedience. He’ll tempt us to compare ourselves to others. Of course, when he does, he tries to make us think that we’re “better” than them. More humble, more obedient, more willing to serve, more caring. It really doesn’t matter if we become proud.

The devil quotes Scripture – but there are probably some Scriptures he doesn’t quote. For example: “Adopt the attitude that was in Christ Jesus: Though he was in the form of God, he did not consider being equal with God something to exploit. But he emptied himself by taking the form of a slave and by becoming like human beings. When he found himself in the form of a human, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:5-8, CEB). That’s our example!

Prayer:

Father, thank you for reminding us that the devil quotes Scripture – for his own purposes. Help us not to trust in our own understanding, but to follow your leading. Thank you for the Holy Spirit, who leads us in the truth and reminds us what we’ve been taught. All Scripture is inspired by you, and your Holy Spirit reveals your truth to us as we read and listen to you.  Help us to walk in your way today.  Amen.

 

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