Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; And saith unto him, “All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.” Then saith Jesus unto him, “Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, ‘Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.’” (Matthew 4:8-10)
When Jesus was born, the angels told Mary that God would give Him the kingdom of His father David. Jesus came to do the will of His Father in Heaven and He knew that this will would lead Him to the cross. Only by suffering the death of the cross would He inherit the kingdom through the resurrection from the dead.
The kingdoms of the world had been given into the hand of Satan as a just punishment for sin. When Adam fell, mankind became slaves of sin and misery and under the bondage of the devil. If Jesus was to plunder the kingdom of Satan, Satan must first be bound (Matthew 12:29-30). In order for Satan’s kingdom to be plundered, Jesus must deal with sin. The only way to deal with sin was to go to the cross and suffer the pangs and torments of hell in the place of His people.
But when Jesus was in the wilderness, Satan offered Him another way. “I will concede every kingdom to you. You can usher in peace, prosperity, long life and endless joy – just fall down and worship me, and all this will be yours. No cross. No wrathful God to deal with. Just me.”
And so it always is. Satan offered the same thing to Adam. He offers the same thing to every believer. “Just fall down, serve me, and I will give you your heart’s desire.”
“Are you lonely? Just one night with that girl in the bar.”
“That man that you have your eyes on can make all of your dreams come true. God is not good. He won’t bless you. Reach out. Serve me. Everything will be better.”
“Perhaps if you just work a bit harder; submit a bit more; make sure dinner is on time – then you can have the home of your dreams. Your husband is angry and stressed. Make things easier on him and you can have all you want. Serve a little harder. Try a little more. Work a little longer.”
And how often do we forget that God alone is the fountain of all good? Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning (James 1:17). We reach out to people or to things or to ideas in order to ease the pain of a cursed world, and forget that Jesus already paid it all. He alone can salve this broken and contrite heart. He alone can take away the curse.
But the devil and his children will always offer another way. “Just serve me a bit better, a bit more; just work harder, and you can have whatever you dream of.”
But whatever you do, and whatever you say, and however hard you work, you will never attain it. It’s a lie. It’s a lie because the devil is a murderer and a liar and his children follow in his footsteps. They can’t give you eternal life. They can’t give you peace. They can’t even give you food and drink. They can never ease the loneliness and the heartache of living in a sinful world. But they can enslave you to a life of “work harder; do better; submit more; don’t make me mad – you know how my temper is!”
If this sounds like your life, please remember what Jesus said to the tempter. Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve.
Wow. Astounding words! Jesus will do good to all men. He will willingly wash feet. He will take the lowest form and die the death of a criminal. He will do good deeds of love and mercy and truth. He will become servant to all and call us to do the same thing. But He will never, ever, worship anything or anyone other than the One True God who has revealed Himself in His word.
As redeemed men and women, we have the glorious calling of reflecting Christ’s glory – of being transformed into His glorious image. We have the Holy Spirit. God calls us the apple of His eye!
When the devil and his children give this promise, “I will give you what you want if you will only serve me,” remember where it comes from. That which comes from God is pure and peaceable, brings joy and reconciliation, and gladdens the heart. The promise of the devil brings shame and guilt and bondage. There are always strings attached to every promise of an evil man. You shall worship the Lord Your God, and Him alone shall you serve.
But there’s more. Jesus commanded Satan to depart. Satan and his children will never settle for anything less than worship. They will continue to hound, berate, revile and reproach you until you are finally groveling at their feet – but even then, they will not be satisfied.
There is only one thing to do with this: Cast him out. “Get out! I will worship God alone.” Here is what that looks like in a marriage. I will serve God in my marriage by seeking my spouse’s good; by taking the lower place and joyfully doing what God has called me to. I will joyfully give up my rights and even my life if that is what God calls me to. But I will never, ever, worship and serve the creature. I will worship and serve God alone and expect good only from His hand. If my marriage has been irretrievably broken by the wicked actions of my spouse, I may even need to pursue divorce; but I will no longer submit to the demands of the wicked one to bow and serve and worship the creature rather than the Creator.
I will not grovel at the feet of a scoffer and reviler hoping for some crumbs of peace to fall. I will not serve a son of Belial in the desperate hope for a smile from the sneering face.
I will not seek from the creature what only the Creator can give. I will seek reconciliation; I will seek forgiveness; I will seek peace, but if they are for war, I will withdraw and plead my case to the Almighty. But I will never worship the creature. Only the Creator can give me peace. It will never come from the lies of the devil. Jesus has freed me from the bondage of sin and misery. He has made me an heir to eternal life!
I can’t earn it. I can’t work harder and get it. It’s the devil that tells me to work more, be better, grovel more, abuse my body more. Jesus’ love is sanctifying, cleansing, unearned, complete and infinite.
Husbands, if you are withholding love and tenderness and honor from your wife until she works harder, submits more and learns her place, ask yourself who you most resemble. Is this the picture of Christ, who loved the church and gave Himself for her? Or is it the picture of Satan who said, “All this I will give you, if you only fall down and worship me.”
Perhaps this is why Paul said that a reviler (one who uses abusive and vicious speech to belittle and intimidate others) will never inherit the kingdom of heaven (1 Corinthians 6:9). Nothing can be further from the beauty and love of Jesus than a reviler. A reviler says, “Worship me, and I will give you rest.” But the reviler is the one causing the unrest! So not only is he a reviler, he is also an extortioner. How can he inherit the kingdom of heaven unless he repents and becomes something else?
But Jesus actually gives rest. He takes away sin and shame; He doesn’t use it to control and manipulate. He covers our ugliness and bitterness with His perfect righteousness. He gives us a new heart and a new spirit so that we can become more and more like him.
So we can say with confidence, “I will do good to all whom God has placed in my path. But I will worship and serve God alone.”
Rev. Sam Powell
Yuba City, CA