When faced with important decisions in life, what is the formula you use or template you put over your decisions to help you make them? Now, if that question sounds strange, it’s likely you’re making some strange decisions and getting some very strange results! Let’s take a look at the formula Jesus used, not only in His wilderness experience, but as a way of life.
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But he answered, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, ‘He will command his angels concerning,’ and ‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’” Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’” Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him. (Matthew 4:1-11)
Regardless of the decision that needed to be made, Jesus always weighed it against the Word of God. Decisions to teach, minister, heal, judge, justify, rebuke, restore, speak up, or remain silent . . . He based every decision on the truth of sacred Scripture. And when facing the temptations proffered by the devil—temptations which are common to us all—Jesus went to the fountain of Truth, the Holy Bible, in deciding how to respond.
The first temptation brought Jesus to a point of decision regarding meeting the physical need of hunger. Clearly, Jesus was hungry after a forty-day fast. There was nothing wrong with satisfying His hunger, except for the fact that the devil was suggesting the wrong way to satisfy it. Our Lord refused to use His divine power to turn stones into bread to satisfy His hunger; instead, He surrendered fully to the will of His Father and responded with, “IT IS WRITTEN!”
The second temptation brought Jesus to a point of decision regarding the human emotions of pride, presumption, and protection. The devil sought to cause Jesus to question whether God would protect Him if He threw Himself down from the pinnacle of the temple. Would Jesus put God to the test? Or would He simply trust Him? Once again, Jesus surrendered fully to the will of His Father and responded with, “IT IS WRITTEN!”
The third and final temptation brought Jesus to a point of decision regarding the psychological needs for significance and personal importance. The devil offered the whole world to Jesus and all the trappings of significance and personal importance if He would simply bow down to him. The divine decision-making formula of our Master would not allow idolatry to interfere with His passion and purpose in life. For the third time, Jesus surrendered fully to the will of His Father and responded with, “IT IS WRITTEN!”
Jesus used the Word of God as the template He would place over every decision. When faced with the question of whether or not God would meet His needs, Jesus trusted in the faithfulness of God by resting in the promises of God. He relied on the “sword of the Spirit” (Ephesians 6:17) to make every decision; and He was victorious every single time.
One final point must be made. It is not enough to simply know the Word of God and be reading our Bibles. Satan knew Scripture and even quoted it back to Jesus. The devil was in the Word of God, but the Word of God was not in him! The Word of God must be in us if we are going to profit by it. We must be seized by the Word and surrendered to it; when we are, we will be able to say what Jesus said when we are facing any decision in life: “IT IS WRITTEN!”
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!