2 Knowing God (2)

Below are based on true stories that happened in high school in Canada:

It’s Kelly’s turn to supervise in the cafeteria again. She was a bit reluctant to go since this was her second time this week. Yesterday she had to fill in for another teacher who was absent. While Kelly was busy marking papers, she overheard some of the students’ conversation. “Is it against the Ten Commandments to take your neighbour’s wife?” Dwayne was asking Chris. Tyler replied, “It is not right and is a sin…,” They were still talking while Kelly moved closer and tried to join in the conversation. “Yes, it is a sin to take your neighbour’s wife.” Kelly said. Dwayne continued, “It’s so hard, they would keep calling you and talk to you and tempt you until you fail!” Kelly was a bit more involved, “Then you need to have more self-control and pray to God for help!” Chris cut in abruptly, “That was impossible. I have tried so hard and made up my mind not to do it, I could only keep my promise for three days!” Kelly was very concerned and tried harder to engage in their conversation as well as to let them know that they need to change their direction of life. After a while, Dwayne blurted out sadly that it was too late and pulled out a keychain from his pocket – on one side was a picture of a lovely little girl. “That’s my daughter!” Dwayne murmured while walking away at the bell….

Jason picked up the cell phone. It was his teacher Mr. Evans. “Jason, I haven’t seen you for a month, where have you been?” Mr. Evans was obviously not too happy about it. “Well, my mom dropped me off everyday at school, and then I left from the side door and went to my friend’s place to hang around.” Mr. Evans demanded Jason to get back to school next week since they would have the examination pretty soon. Jason showed up on the exam day and behaved very differently. Normally he was quiet and cool. However, he seemed a bit hyper and kept on speaking in a trembling voice while flipping over the exam paper with his shaky hands, “Hurry up, I need to leave as soon as I finish. Make it quick please!” Mr. Evans was alarmed and asked Jason what he had done last night. Jason mentioned that he was partying and had taken ecstasy. He was so excited and had to leave to another party once the exam was done…..

Julie saw Rose at lunch and chased after her, “Why didn’t I see you at church on Sunday?” Julie yelled across the hall. Then she saw Ben passing by and started talking to him, “Oh, have you read your Bible today? What did God speak to you?” While they were walking down the hallway, Bob bumped into them and Julie raised her voice again, “Bob, why did you go to your friend’s Birthday party instead of attending the support group on last Friday? Have you invited any of your ‘non-church’ friends to church?” As Julie was still reprimanding Bob, Susan showed up at the foyer. At last, I could have a break, Julie thought. Susan would understand totally why I am so mad at all of them. She rushed toward Susan and started her speech again, “It’s so hard to keep everyone accountable. They just cannot follow my example, I read my Bible twice a day, I never skip church, even though I am not working, I make offering out of my pocket money every Sunday, not like Jess who spent all her money on herself, I am so tired of taking care of everybody, reminding and exhorting everyone to be a good Christian……” The bell rang while Julie was still bluffing and walking toward her third period class.

Your initial response

What’s wrong with Dwayne, Jason and Julie? How could victory in Christ help them?

Matthew 4:1–11

1Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 

2After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.

3The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” 

4Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” 

5Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. 

6“If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written: “ ‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’” 

7Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” 

8Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 

9“All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” 

10Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’” 

11Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him. (Matthew 4:1–11 NIV) 

1) “Eye” (“i=Eye”)

iEXP Bible Study Method

1 Draw a question mark at the place where you have difficulty of understanding.

2 For example, who is the devil?

3 For example, when was Lord Jesus tempted by the devil?

4 For example, where was Lord Jesus tempted by the devil?

5 For example, what was the temptation of devil all about?

6 For example, why did Lord Jesus have to face the devil’s temptation?

7 Why did Lord Jesus fast before facing the devil’s temptation?

8 For example, how did Lord Jesus overcome the devil’s temptation?

9 What happened after Lord Jesus overcame the devil’s temptation?

10 Underline anything that relates to God’s attributes and dealings.

11 Put a circle next to the newly found insight.

2) “Expound” (E)

iEXP Bible Study Method

1 Why did the Holy Spirit lead Lord Jesus to face the devil’s temptation in the wilderness?

2 Why did Lord Jesus fast for forty days?

3 The devil tempted Lord Jesus in three different places respectively; any significance?

4 What tricks did the devil employ to tempt Lord Jesus?

5 What methods did Lord Jesus use to overcome the devil’s temptation?

Matthew 4:1

As the gospel of Matthew did not mention the actual location of the wilderness, we cannot be sure of its exact location for that reason. After Christ accepted the baptism, he might be waiting on the Lord whole-heartedly for His mission. After fasting for forty days and forty nights, Satan came forward to tempt the Son of God.

Matthew 4:1

“Devil” has a connotation of slanderous, accusing falsely. In short, the devil is the slanderer.

Matthew 4:1

A scholar translates “tempted” as “to be pressured.” It also means try, make trial of and put to the test. This verb could have both positive and negative aspect. When used in a negative way, it meant “testing” or “temptation” (Matthew 16:1; Gal. 6:1); also, it could use to describe how man put God to the test (1 Cor. 10:9). Yahweh had once tested his people in the wilderness (Ex. 20:20), now the Holy Spirit actively led Christ to the wilderness to receive the trial of God as well as the temptation of Satan.

Matthew 4:5

Pinnacle meant the highest point (Matthew 4:5; Luke 4:9). Evidently, the Temple is a symbol of God’s presence with the Israelites. Moreover, the temple was the organising centre of Jewish life and theological beliefs. Besides, the holy city (Jerusalem) was located in the highlands of Israel, with Mount Zion and the temple as the most imposing location in the land, and Jerusalem was considered as the centre of the world. Therefore, both the Holy City and the Temple are of importance.

Matthew 4:8

“A very high mountain”, we do not know which it was (4:8), but we could be certain that from there a good panoramic view could be pictured. Satan was there, using all the kingdoms of the world, and their glory to tempt Jesus, in order to make the Son of God bowed down to him.

Matthew 4:10

The meaning of Satan is the adversary (4:10).

Matthew 4:1-4; 4:5-7; 4:8-10

One Bible scholar considered the three temptations had different nature, they were “The Personal Temptation” (4:1-4); “The National Temptation” (4:5-7); and “The Universal Temptation” (4:8-10). Converting the stones into bread could solve the problem of starvation, it was considered as “The Personal Temptation” (4:1-4). The Temple was the holy place of the Jews, and Satan tempted the Son of God there. In the history of the Israelites, they had tested God many times, provoking Him to anger (Deu. 6:16; Ps. 95:9). Jumping down from the pinnacle of the Temple deliberately was an act of testing God. Hence, we can see that this temptation was related to the holy people, showing that the Israelites were extremely rebellious, and the Son of God was ultimately submissive. Satan suggested that the Son of God worshipped him, and he would grant him all the kingdoms and their glory, this temptation was related to the fate of all human being; because if Jesus Christ was being tempted, he would never have died on the cross to accomplish the salvation.

Conclusion

Praise God that God’s Son, Jesus Christ, has entirely overcome the devil’s temptation and He has left behind the principles of overcoming temptation for future generations of Christians to follow:

Receive the guidance of the Holy Spirit

“Led”, means to lead up, or bring up. The tone was a passive voice. During the process of temptation by the Satan, the Holy Spirit played a very important and active role. On one hand, if it was not out of God’s permission, Satan could never come over and tempt Jesus. On the other hand, we could see that the Holy Spirit was with Jesus Christ, and he was willing to submit to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, this was the secret of how the Lord could overcome temptation.

God’s will as the first priority

Satan was the fallen archangel, his fall was related to his self-centredness (Isaiah 14:12-14); in other words, the fall of Satan was due to his refusal in accepting God’s will. Satan tempted the Lord three times, from the quotes by Jesus Christ, in between the lines, we could know that He considered the will of God or truth as utmost important (Matthew 4:4. 7, 10), and would never put his own will before God’s will.

Through the way of fasting

In Scripture and Jewish tradition, the figure of 40 years is frequently associated with hardship, affliction, or punishment. Also it is commonly recognised that the number 40 has several links with the wilderness (Deuteronomy 8:2; 9:9-18; 1 Kings 19:8, 15). Although here it did not correlate prayer and fasting together, in general, the prayer of victory was always tied up with fasting (Matthew 17:21). Many people treated their bodies as idols, they lived for their bodies, during the day of living, no matter it was day or night, they always thought about the satisfaction and pleasure brought about by indulgence in feasting and drinking. Now before facing the temptation of Satan, Christ abandoned his physical need for forty days and nights (4:2), and waited quietly upon the guidance of the Heavenly Father. Christ considered the spiritual need (God’s will or His mission) more important and indispensable than physical need, this became His motivation in overcoming temptation.

Apply God’s word properly

Surprisingly, Satan also applied Bible, but he twisted the meaning (4:6). In the three temptations, Jesus Christ all quoted the truth of the Bible, dumbfounded God’s enemy, Satan. Hence, we can see that Jesus Christ was not only familiar with the Scripture, but also knew how to apply the Scripture appropriately.

Dare not to put God to the test at ease

In the Israelite history, they tempted God many times, in return they were punished and judged (1 Cor. 10:9, 10). Jesus Christ was after God’s heart, and He knew that man could not put God to the test (4:7). From the prompting of Satan, it showed that Satan’s goal was to put God to the test. Not only could the Son of God see through his wicked plans, but could also reprimand him directly.

Acknowledge the target object to be served

Not treating God as God, but substitute God with other idols, this was the problem of the general public. The one true God was the only one that we should serve, we should not have other people, things, or affairs replace the position of God in our hearts, or else we would be trapped in the pitfall of idol worship. Christ was clear about His target of service (4:10), this also helped Him to overcome Satan’s temptation effectively.

Resist Satan with faith

Jesus Christ trusted God wholeheartedly, and through this faith could He resist the wicked plots of Satan (4:10).

3) “Exercise” (X)

iEXP Bible Study Method

1 Satan’s attack is fierce and penetrating; hence we must beware of his temptation!

2 Read the Bible more and try to memorise some key verses.

3 Learn to join other believers in public prayer meeting so as to pray and keep watch for God’s family.

4 We serve for God’s glory, not our own!

5 We need to focus on serving the Lord, not the world.

6 Christians must be alert in praying and never let Satan to have an opportunity to take advantage of harming the relationship between believers.

7 Ask the Lord to protect our heart and give us the appropriate attitude to deal with the opposite sex.

8 Let us be led by the Holy Spirit and rely on the Lord to gain victory over all temptation.

4) “Proclaim” (P)

By applying the biblical truths to their lives, believers would experience God. When the Bible students experience God and His truths, they should follow the example of the early Christians of testifying to non-believers and believers boldly. By means of speech, we witness to non-believing friends and to edify believers alike. The fourth step of the iEXP Bible study is “Proclaim”.

iEXP Bible Study Method

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