A Study of Matthew 4:1
Preached in Grove Chapel, Camberwell, 1878 – By Thomas Bradbury
“Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.”
There is not a spot trodden by our blessed Lord, during His pilgrimage here on earth, untrodden by those who hold fellowship with Him in His sufferings. The spots of the Redeemer’s sufferings are consecrated by the infallible teaching of the blessed Spirit in the experiences of the children of God, while some of them are made peculiarly and individually their lot. The identity existing between Christ and His people is too wonderful for poor weak reason to grasp. In fact, to understand this great and spiritual mystery is an utter impossibility for the human mind, and when apprehended in some little measure by the spiritual understanding bestowed upon all those in living union with the Lord Jesus Christ, it is so amazing and so wonderful as to be inexpressible. Just imagine for a moment He who fills all space condescended to become a mere speck on the face of His own creation. He who is the Upholder of all worlds by the word of His power, was upheld on the bosom of His virgin mother. He who dwelt in the bosom of His Father before all worlds, was brought by the Spirit into conflict with, ay, into the very grip of Satan. He, whose nature was so sensitive as to shrink from the very thought of sin, was willing to bear the load of His people’s iniquities and infirmities. It is almost too wonderful for us to think that He who was the joy of all heaven should dwell in our hearts, and by His Spirit produce those desires and longings homeward and heavenward which His poor pilgrim people experience again and again in expressing their dissatisfaction with everything short of a gracious revelation of Himself in them.
It is now our blessed privilege, to meditate upon the portion I have read to you as my text, and may the grace and guidance of the Holy Ghost be vouchsafed to us and keep us near to Him whom our souls love!
We will notice
I. THE PERSONS1. The Saviour; 2. The Spirit; 3. The Seducer.
II. THE WAY AND THE WILDERNESS “Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness.”
III. THE TEMPTATION “To be tempted of the devil.”
I. THE PERSONS1. The Saviour. Here we have a wonderful revelation. Jesus, who was His Father’s delight, voluntarily descends to Satan’s territory, to experience the doom, the death, the disappointments, and dissatisfaction of His people. This He did in all their fullness and entirety, that He might be able to come down to the same spots of temptation, trial, and tribulation into which they are led by the same Spirit, and bless them with gracious lifts and sweet encouragement in the midst of them all. This is a subject too great for the natural mind to receive, and it can only be understood by those in spiritual union with Christ who have been taught according to Prov. 3:6: “In all thy ways acknowledge Him.” See! the children of the living God as led by the Holy Ghost, it matters not where up to the heights of covenant favour, or down to the depths of dejection and despondency; up to the loving embrace of Jehovah, or down to the cruel grip of Satan; up to the enjoyment of forgiveness and acceptance, or down to the experience of sin and shame acknowledge Him. When bowed down under the load of innumerable iniquities, I am taught to acknowledge Him as my Redeemer and Deliverer. When sunk in misery and sorrow, I acknowledge Him in His approaches unto me as my sympathizing High Priest who was in all points tempted like as I am, yet without sin, that He might be able to succour poor tempted me. In every temptation, trial, and tribulation He teaches His poor tried ones to acknowledge Him as their Saviour, Shelter and Support, and gives them in His own time a blessed realization of that solace which flows alone from that heart once broken, and from that spirit once tempted and tried for them.
But look at this glorious Saviour as He appears in the text before us. It is not, “Then was Christ;” but, “Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit.” Why Jesus? According to that which is stated from the first chapter, where, in the account of His conception in the womb of Mary by the Holy Ghost, the angel said to Joseph, “And she shall bring forth a Son, and thou shalt call His name Jesus; for He shall save His people from their sins.” (Matt. 1:21) Here you have the meaning of the name Jesus. It is simply JEHOVAH THE SAVIOUR, or, THE SAVIOUR JEHOVAH. God manifest in His sinless humanity. Perfect man as well as perfect God. In the second chapter we see the Holy Child Jesus persecuted, hated, despised, and hunted from His native land. After He was called out of Egypt, “He came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene.” (Matt. 2:23) Which of the prophets prophesied this? Every one of them from Moses to Malachi proclaimed that Jesus should be a Nazarene, or The Separated One. See how blessedly Paul renders this in Heb. 7:26: “For such an High Priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners.” The perfect separation of Jesus from every taint of sin, and from peccability, must be manifested. See! He “was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” (Heb. 4:15) There is separation. “The prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in Me.” (John 14:30) There is separation. Mark! In us the devil has everything to work upon, but in Jesus he had nothing. In the third chapter we see Him publicly set apart to His threefold office of Prophet, Priest, and King. As Prophet, to reveal His Father to His elect brethren. As Priest, He made atonement for their sins, interceded for them, and bless them. Sitting upon His mediatorial throne, He arranges, manages, and settles all things for His people. Not over some things, but over everything. Ah, my dear friends, the disappointments, losses, crosses, sorrows, and perplexities of your hearts are all arranged in infinite wisdom, and managed with consummate skill by the great King-Priest of His people. It is a marvellous mercy for me to know that He managed the devil for me and defeated him in all his designs against me that He manages my sorrows and sweetly soothes them that He manages my doubts, fears, unbelief, and accursed indifference, scatters them to the winds, and brings me as a trophy of His sovereign love and grace into the presence and home of His Father, saying, This is one of the children that Thou gavest Me to keep for Thee; and though he has passed through many conflicts, temptations, sorrows, and sins, yet, Father, I have not lost him.
Oh, my dear friends, to have so precious a Saviour as this, to be blessed with the faintest realization of union to so glorious a Christ, is worth passing through much tribulation to experience, and through fierce and bitter temptations to enjoy. Such is Jesus, the Saviour of the Father’s appointing the Saviour of the Spirit’s revealing the Saviour of the quickened sinner’s embracing the one Object of affection in the hearts of elect, redeemed, and regenerate people. It is He whom we would hold by the feet, ay, we would hold Him by the heart and never let Him go. We would embrace Him as our dearest Lord until we reach the heights of glory, where, with unsinning hearts, we shall praise and adore Him for ever and ever. “We see Jesus” a lowly Babe, a poor Child, a hated and despised Man, One of whom the world was not worthy, a cast out One, yet publicly acknowledged as the Object of the Father’s ineffable love and of the Spirit’s anointing power. He came to be baptized of John in Jordan, but John forbade Him, saying, “I have need to be baptized of Thee, and comest Thou to me?” (Matt. 3:14) And so every child of God will say to Him whenever he wants Him to do anything for him, for the child knows well what that means, “He doeth all things well.” “And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh Us to fulfil all righteousness.” (Matt. 3:15) I wish you particularly to notice the “Us” there “it becometh Us.” Not Jesus and John! Oh, no! for John had no finger in the work of fulfilling all righteousness. Jesus was alone in that work for His people. The Divine Three are the Us set before us in that precious portion, according to Gen. 1:26: “Let Us make man in our image.” You see the Us in creation, and here you have the same revealed in redemption. Jesus, the Holy Ghost, and the Father, whose voice was heard, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (Matt. 3:17) Thus you can understand this glorious Us. John obtained such a view of the glorious righteousness of Jehovah, revealed in the person and work of the God-Man, that he had not another objection to make. The moment that righteousness is revealed by the Spirit of God to the heart of a child of God, he is fully satisfied with what Jesus is, with what Jesus has done, is doing, and has promised to do for him. Ay, he is fully satisfied with that righteousness, and wishes not to make any addition or supplement to it.
When Jesus was publicly set apart, the heavens were opened and the Spirit of God descended like a dove lighting upon Him. In this we see the fulfilment of the prophecy contained in Isaiah 61:1-3: “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me; because the Lord hath anointed Me to preach good tidings to the meek; He hath sent Me to bind up the broken-hearted; to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all that mourn.” Now notice Isaiah 48:12-16. The Person speaking is none other than our Lord Jesus Christ Himself. He styles Himself I AM. “Hearken unto Me, O Jacob and Israel, My called; I Am He; I Am the First, I also am the Last. Mine hand also hath laid the foundation of the earth, and My right hand hath spanned the heavens; when I call unto them they stand up together.” Look at the 16th verse where this same Person, who is the First and the Last, and who laid the foundation of the earth, is speaking, “Come ye near unto Me, hear ye this; I have not spoken in secret from the beginning; from the time that it was, there am I, and now the Lord God and His Spirit hath sent Me.” In both these portions the eye of faith discerns Jehovah the Father and Jehovah the Spirit anointing, qualifying, and sending forth a precious Christ on the glorious errand of redeeming love and mercy. “Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ of God, was anointed with the Holy Ghost and with power.” (Acts 10:38) “He whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto Him.” (John 3:34) The Spirit anointed Him, and the Father publicly proclaimed His appointment to the work of salvation, “This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” (Matt. 3:17) Look at those two words, “In whom.” With everything in Him I am well pleased. With every child of Mine throughout His earthly pilgrimage I am well pleased in Him. Blessed be God, on new covenant ground, He deals with His children in fondest, purest love. Does Peter lie, and curse, and swear? Does Barnabas waver and wander through dissimulation? Ah, my dear friends, it is our mercy to know that our God is silent in His love. It was the silent look of fond affection that brought Peter to his spiritual senses, and the testimony of God concerning Barnabas is, “he was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost.” (Acts 11:24) You think about this; the Father’s declaration, “This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased,” has respect to all His dealings with His children. God in Christ is a delighted God, a God of eternal love, a God of unchanging affection, a God rejoicing with exceeding joy. He says to one, “I have loved thee with an everlasting love.” (Jer. 31:3) To another who fears banishment, “I hate to put away.” To another who dreads desertion, “I will never leave thee nor forsake thee.” (Heb. 13:5) To another who feelingly deserves wrath and condemnation, “Thy sins, which are many, are all forgiven thee.” The Father declares His good pleasure and unceasing delight in the Son of His love, when, from the full display of His acceptance as the anointed Prophet, Priest, and King of His Church, His acceptance as the appointed Saviour of His people, His acceptance as the Deliverer of all Jehovah’s captives, His acceptance as the Comforter of all the mourners in Zion, Jesus was led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. Let us now consider
2. The Spirit in connection with the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. Every point and particular of the work of Jesus was under the guidance, grace, and sovereignty of the Spirit. The formation of His sinless body, the movements of that body, and the directing of His mind, were all in the power of the Holy Ghost. He said, “I came not to do Mine own will; but the will of Him that sent Me.” (John 6:38) How did He accomplish the will of Him who sent Him? Under the direction, guidance, and power of God the ever-blessed Spirit. He said, “The Spirit formed Me. The Spirit anointed Me. The Spirit sent Me.” Did He come in the likeness of sinful flesh? Yes, but not in sinful flesh. I say this because of the vain notions and blasphemous speculations of those who would have us believe in the peccability of the human nature of Christ. Yes, there have been those who have had the hardihood to say, that the humanity of Jesus bristled with corruption, and it was by the Spirit triumphing over these corruptions that He became a true Sympathizer with His tried and tempted people. Such a devilish device we gladly leave. Read for yourselves Lev. 2, where you have the meat-offering, a type of our adorable Lord’s humanity in the cake made of fine flour mingled with oil. The antitype you find in Luke 1:35: “And the angel answered and said unto Mary, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee; therefore also that Holy Thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.” Who should call Him the Son of God? God Himself from His excellent glory in the words, “This is my beloved Son.” Here you see the fine flour of Christ’s humanity mingled with oil, the grace and operation of the Holy Ghost. Yes, God the ever-blessed Spirit was the Former of the pure, spotless, immaculate, and impeccable humanity of our blessed Lord in the womb of a poor sinful virgin. Ah! Precious do those chaste and profound words of England’s Te Deum sound in my ears, and vibrate through my very soul: “When Thou tookest upon Thee to deliver man, Thou didst not abhor the virgin’s womb.” A Man, a perfect Man, a pure Man, formed by God the Holy Ghost. As we dwell upon the history of our gracious Lord and Saviour, we see the Spirit with Him at every step. Was He a child? “He grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon Him.” (Luke 2:40) At His public dedication the Holy Ghost descended in bodily shape like a dove and lighted upon Him. (Matt. 3:16) Was He tempted of the devil? He was led by the Spirit. (Matt. 4:1) Did He come defeated, or any the worse, from that temptation? No. But He “returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee; and there went out a fame of Him through all the region round about. And He taught in their synagogues, being glorified of all.” (Luke 4:14) Did He cast out devils? It was by the Spirit of God. (Matt. 12:28) Did He offer Himself without spot to God? It was through the eternal Spirit. (Heb. 9:14) Did He rise again from the dead? The Spirit of holiness declared Him to be the Son of God with power. (Rom. 1:4) Did He ascend into heaven’s highest glory? It was to send the Holy Ghost upon His gathered ones. See Psalm 68:18: “Thou hast ascended on high, Thou hast led captivity captive, Thou hast received gifts for men; yea, for the rebellious also, that the Lord God might dwell among them.” The first gift after His ascension was His blessed Spirit, bestowed to the Church on the day of Pentecost to abide with His quickened ones for ever.
With such declarations as these concerning God’s Christ, what standing has the poor free-willer for a single moment in the presence of a just and holy God? As it was with the Christ of God, the glorious Head in the days of His flesh, so it must be with every member of His body the Church. As the Spirit was with Christ, and was the moving power in the accomplishment of the Father’s will by Christ, so every desire, thought, word, and the act of ours which finds acceptance with the Father at the hands of our Representative in the courts of heaven is the alone production of God the ever-blessed and indwelling Spirit. The Holy Ghost, in His person, offices, and operations, is grievously ignored in these our days. You may go into a thousand churches and hear the congregations singing, “Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost;” but what do they mean? They will talk of the Father’s love, and of the Son’s grace; but when you ask them, Why do you sing, Glory be to the Spirit? Free-willers and free-workers must stand confounded. These, according to their creed, have nothing to glory in Him for, having the ability and will to act for themselves. But all those who are brought into profound subjection to God’s Word, by the guidance and governance of the Holy Ghost, can sing feelingly and intelligently, “As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.” With them it is glory to the Eternal Three in covenant, in grace, and in glory. See! It is glory to one just as much as to another. We give glory to the Spirit for His grace and power in revealing in our hearts the person, work, love, blood, and righteousness of our Lord Jesus Christ, which, according to His covenant engagements, must be performed by Him in the heart’s experience of every member of the one body. This brings us to consider
3. The Seducer. Some would have us believe, and they profess to believe, that the devil is destroyed, dead, and done for. He is not dead, though he is destroyed and done for in all his designs against the Christ and the Church of God. You may depend upon it, he never will be dead while I am alive, and as long as I am in the flesh he will not lack a witness to his existence, subtlety, and power. Who is the devil? He is the chief enemy of God, the adversary of God’s Christ, and the accuser of God’s children. He is ofttimes miserably misrepresented, and that by his own brood. He is set forth as a hideous monster with horns and hoofs. I do not believe he is anything of the kind, but that in all these misrepresentations his children are producing miserable caricatures of their father. Satan is a wonderful being, a wonderful intelligence. He is mighty, though a fallen being, possessing powers approaching omniscience; but, blessed be God, though he knows much, he knows not everything. He knows much concerning me, but there is much concerning me that he does not know, and there is much in every child of God that he can never get at. What kind of a being is he? He is crafty, deceitful, envious, malicious, proud, subtle, and treacherous. See! Sometimes he appears profane, and sometimes pious, and in his pious moods he vents out more spleen, bitterness, rancor, and gall than when he shows himself in open profanity. Turn to 2 Cor. 11:14: “Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.” He appears in the chancel and in the pulpit. He is detected under white lawn and bleached surplices, where he appears so pretty and so pious that silly women, ay, and silly men too, are beguiled by his devices; and as the sweet name of Jesus flows from his beguiling tongue, the more dangerous are his devices to the peace and spiritual prosperity of the poor child of God. He deluges this land, ay, Protestant Christendom, with that accursed production of his, “Hymns Ancient and Modern” a book no more acceptable to God than the most obscene song book in creation. I declare the solemn and settled convictions of my soul when I say that the devil does more harm with that wretched hymn book than he does with the most profane song book you can find. He makes use of the name of Jesus; but it is to debase Him and exalt Mary. He will speak of the person of Jesus, but ridicule His power. He will sing with his brood of the beauties of Jesus; but he burlesques and nullifies His salvation. Satan is, in deed and in truth, transformed into an angel of light and his ministers into ministers of righteousness. You need not go to the haunts of debauchery and vice to form an acquaintance with him, for in numberless pulpits there are those who profess to be servants of Jesus, who in their testimony exalt the seducer and debase the Saviour, ay, who would dethrone Zion’s King if they could, defame His character, and detract from the glory of His person and the perfection of His salvation. These assume the power which belongs solely to the Holy Ghost, and call upon the lifeless to live, the sightless to see, and those whose hearts are all enmity to God to believe in and love Him. They cry with infatuated zeal and delusion, “Come now and embrace the offered mercy. Why will ye die, ye dead, why will ye die? Salvation is yours if you will only receive it. Now is the accepted time.” Such know not the meaning of that Scripture, “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” (Isa. 49:8; 2 Cor. 6:2) This is the day and the time settled in the eternal counsels for the manifestation of the Father’s love in covenant to His elect children through the gracious Covenantee, His beloved Son, in whom He is well pleased with them. Having dwelt upon the persons, the Saviour, the Spirit, and the Seducer, let us notice
II. THE PLACES The Way and the Wilderness. “Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness.” Mark well, first, the time, “Then.” When? At the time of the Spirit’s anointing, when the Father’s voice of approbation and delight was heard. When Jesus felt Himself most at home, then He was led up into the wilderness. This is the case ofttimes in the experience of those who follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth. One moment at home with the Lord, the next in the wilderness with Satan. See how clearly this is set forth in Jacob’s case, as recorded in Genesis 35:13: “And God went up from him in the place where He talked with him.” This has been the case many times with some of us. Now, we are rejoicing in the company of our God; then, as led by the Spirit too, we are wandering in the wilderness. Now, we delight in His presence; then, we mourn His absence. We are now led to consider our blessed Lord as the Representative of His people, according to Rom. 5:19: “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of One shall many be made righteous.” Satan tempted the head of creation and succeeded. He tempted the Head of the new creation and failed. In Gen. 3, we have an account of the first temptation in which Eve transgressed and Adam sinned. She was deceived by the dust of fleshly expectancy thrown into her eyes by Satan; but he sinned with his eyes wide open, out of pure love and attachment to her, but this caused his sin to be none the less. He loved the creature more than the Creator. He fell, and all his posterity fell in him. God drove out the man from Eden’s beautiful garden to roam amid the intricacies of this world’s wilderness. Destitute of a good hope through grace and the experience of the presence and preciousness of the Lord Jesus Christ, what is this world to us? Is it not a wilderness? Indeed it is. Without Him, disappointment, dissatisfaction and death abound in everything. Our earthly comforts, what are they? On every one of them there seems to rest a curse, yet, blessed be God, if we belong to Him, from every seeming curse there springs a blessing. In Gen. 6, we find the ground was cursed. The world was a wilderness. Why the last Adam? Because there never was to be a third. Satan defeated the first Adam, but he could never defeat the Last. Hence there is no necessity for three Adams. The last Adam, our precious Christ, began where the first Adam broke down. He commenced to display the righteousness of God in the very spot of the first Adam’s failure. Adam was driven from Eden, no longer to enjoy the garden of delights, into the wilderness where our blessed Lord seeks, finds, saves, and succours all the election of grace, and will present them perfect and complete in the sight of the Father, holy and without blame before Him. Jesus must be led into temptation and to death, that He might guide every elect vessel of mercy safely through all the conflicts and tribulations of this wilderness world, from the first sigh in regeneration until he shouts victory in glory. In every temptation, trial, and tribulation, Satan is defeated, God’s poor weakling defended, and at last delivered for ever from this evil world.
“Cold mountains and the midnight air,
Witnessed the fervour of Thy prayers;
The desert Thy temptation knew,
Thy conflict and Thy victory, too.”
See how blessedly you have this set before you in Hosea 2:14. Read that glorious chapter for yourselves and see how the people of God had wandered after other lovers how the Lord had hedged up their way with thorns, and when a thorn hedge would not do, how He would build a wall that she should not find her paths. “Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably unto her.” This is as much as to say, I will surfeit her with her lovers, fleshly pleasures, and worldly enjoyments, and with all these she shall experience a wilderness indeed. Do you know anything of this? Has your mind been bent on the enjoyment of earthly pleasures, and God has given you the desire of your heart and sent leanness into your soul? (Ps. 106:15) I know what that means. It has been a wilderness, a desolation to me. See! Man sighs for position, he seeks for place, he strives for power, and if he is God’s child, he may be lifted up to the very pinnacle of his fleshly hopes, only to be cast down, to fall upon the Rock and be broken, so that a precious Christ may bless him with healing, health, and cure. Now turn to Ezek. 20:35: “And I will bring you into the wilderness of the people, and there will I plead with you face to face.” It matters not what favours a child of God may enjoy, sooner or later, the wilderness must be his portion. Is he a pastor? A faithful minister of Christ? His very congregation will be a wilderness to him. As he looks first at one member and then at another he is subject to solemn surmisings. Is that a true mark of the Spirit’s inward work? Has God begun His own good work of grace in one? Has another been sprinkled with atoning blood? We may well wonder at the wilderness. Here I am tempted of the devil, disappointed in all schemes of earthly joy, that I may leave my concerns, my cares, my congregation, my family, my all in those gracious hands which alone can manage the whole for me. “Then was Jesus led up.” Up, not down. When a child of God is passing through great tribulation and fierce temptations, the path way appears to be downward. Despondency and dread may seize upon the weary traveller, but as assuredly as he is blessed with the leading of the Spirit, he will see that the motto inscribed upon the banner of eternal love is “Excelsior.” That word indicates, not higher, but the highest. So to the highest all the tempted ones in union with Jesus are led. It matters not what their feelings may be, UP! UP! UP! they go, until “Glory to God in the highest” is the joy and delight of their heart down here, and their song of praise in the home above.
III. THE TEMPTATION “To be tempted of the devil.” “And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He was afterward an hungered.” There are some people who would have us believe that it is far better for a child of God, especially if he is a minister of the Gospel, to be kept in poverty, want, necessity, and tribulation. Well, if I were to tell you what comes into my mind in respect to these wretches who appear to be so deeply interested in their dear minister’s welfare, I am afraid you would all bolt. You look here. Hard thoughts will arise in the mind when the cupboard is bare and the exchequer is low. When health fails, infirmities increase, and gloomy forebodings abound, are you very humble? and are these evils calculated to make you very savory? Do you leave your home as though you had been living upon honey? More like vinegar! How is this? It is because Satan knows well when to tempt, try, and tease a poor child of God. It is when the heart sighs,
“When gathering clouds around I view,
And days are dark, and friends are few.”
But, Oh! how blessed if this be true in our experience,
“On Him I lean, who, not in vain,
Experienced every human pain;
He sees my wants, allays my fears,
And counts and treasures up my tears!”
Then was Jesus led, and then the tempter came. When? When Jesus was an hungered. He said, “If Thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.” We know something of these accursed “ifs.” If thou art a child of God, would thy Father have left thee in want and necessity when He has all the supplies of providence and grace at His command? There are many spots where Satan tempts the child of God to distrust and deceit. He suggests, Take the present opportunity to use what means are ready to your hand, for you are perfectly justified in turning an honest penny. An honest penny from the father of lies! Whatever position God’s child occupies in this wilderness world the devil will be sure to tempt him, and he must be a highly-favoured one who at one time or other succumbs not. But Jesus knew how to manage him. He wielded the sword of the Spirit. “It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.”
Then came the temptation to presumption. To the holy city, to a pinnacle of the temple, Jesus is conducted. “If Thou be the Son of God, cast Thyself down: for it is written, He shall give His angels charge concerning Thee: and in their hands they shall bear Thee up, lest at any time Thou dash Thy foot against a stone.” Christ quoted Scripture, Satan misquoted it. See Psalm 91:11. Satan left out “to keep Thee in all Thy ways.” The ways of Divine appointment. “In all their affliction, He was afflicted.” “Cast thyself down.” Elijah cried, “Lord, take away my life.” Jonah sighed, “It is better for me to die than to live.” Heights of presumption and depths of despondency are not unknown to those who, in heavenly places, wrestle with wicked spirits. Here Satan suggests, Cast thyself down, make short work of it; if thou art a child of God, thou canst never perish. But Christ will foil Satan in all the temptations of His people with, “It is written again, Thou shall not tempt the Lord thy God.”
From an exceeding high mountain Satan showed Him all the kingdoms of the world. Luke says, “in a moment of time.” Philosophers have objected to this saying. This earth is a sphere, therefore the kingdoms of the other hemisphere could not be seen. But the truly-taught child knows that the Spirit can show him, in a moment of time, all things in heaven, on earth, and in hell. If He could not, He is not worthy the name of a God, or of our adoration and worship. Satan said, “All these things will I give thee, if Thou wilt fall down and worship me.” Isn’t he a liberal devil? Ay, and an impudent one also. See! he looks the Lord-Proprietor of all things in the face and promises to give Him His own possessions! Many so-called liberals are marvellously liberal with money that does not belong to them; but when there is a call upon their own pockets, they are wonderfully conservative. “Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shall worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve.” This was too much for the devil; he left “Him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto Him.” That is blessedly true,
“Thy ministering spirits descend
To watch while Thy saints are asleep;
By day and by night they attend.
The heirs of salvation to keep.”
“Bright seraphs, dispatched from the throne,
Repair to the stations assigned;
And angels elect are sent down
To guard the elect of mankind.”
The children of God have their seasons of retirement from the world, and from the Church holding communion with Jehovah; and they have also times of spiritual worship in the assembly of the saints, where Christ is exalted, and a perfect salvation for perfect sinners, a finished redemption for finished sinners is proclaimed. In such place the saints of God delight to worship and serve Him who teaches them to know what that means, “Ye are not your own, for ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” (1 Cor. 6:19,20)
May the Lord add His blessing for His great name’s sake. Amen.