Sword Fighting - A Reflection on Luke 4:1-13
Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing at all during those days, and when they were over, he was famished. The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become a loaf of bread.” Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘One does not live by bread alone.’ ”
Then the devil led him up and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And the devil said to him, “To you I will give their glory and all this authority; for it has been given over to me, and I give it to anyone I please. If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.”
Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.’ ” Then the devil took him to Jerusalem, and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here,
for it is written, ‘He will command his angels concerning you, to protect you,’ and ‘On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.’ ” Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’ ” When the devil had finished every test, he departed from him until an opportune time.
It seems so vapid when you read this. The devil tempts Jesus. Jesus resists with a verse from Scripture. The devil tempts Jesus a second time. Jesus resists again. The devil tempts Jesus a third time. Jesus resists once more. The devil leaves with his tail between his legs and the angels arrive like cops in a movie after the hero has saved the day.
As anybody who has ever been tempted will attest, it would have been a fierce battle fought out there in the wilderness with the devil assaulting Jesus with three of the greatest human weaknesses of appetite, power and pride, and Jesus firmly resisting, using the word of God on each occasion to defend himself from temptation. It is for a reason that the word of God has been called the Sword of the Spirit (see Ephesians 6:17).
The word is a mighty weapon, and we see Jesus wielding it to great effect. Unfortunately, most of us don’t, because we have never learned to use it. As I said a few days ago (see February 22) just like a sword needs to be unsheathed, wielded, and practiced with until it becomes an extension of the arm, the word of God needs to be read, studied, and meditated upon until it becomes part of our lives. Then when the enemy comes with his blandishments, we will be able to resist, just like Jesus did.
For example, if he tries to tempt us with sexual sin, if we know the word of God, we will be able to say to him: “It is written: “Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.”
There are other verses that are equally powerful and if they are internalized as truths understood and lived, you are a formidable fighter. And you need to be. If you are serving God, be assured that you will be tested. If you undertake something and it doesn’t come under attack of some kind from somewhere, then reassess its value. There is not a saint in heaven or a truly great person on earth who has not, or does not attract some vicious slander or find their paths strewn with obstacles.
But if you know how to wield this sword, don’t be afraid. Victory is yours because God will give it to you.