He doesn't really care if you believe who HE is ... just that you don't believe who YOU are!
Did He Really Say...?
Now, the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, "Indeed, has God said, 'You shall not eat from any tree of the garden'?" And the woman said to the serpent, "From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, 'You shall not eat from it or touch it, lest you die.'" And the serpent said to the woman, "You surely shall not die! For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings.Genesis 3:1-7
How long had he waited - I wonder - before he dared to approach these creatures who had been made in the image of God? How long had he pondered what to say so that his deception would not be detected by those whose minds were pure genius?
It is commonly stated that humans only use approximately 10% of their brain. Figures could be way off, but I would guess that scientists are quite right in surmising that we only use a portion of our capacity. But it has been assumed that we are getting smarter over the years. What if the history of mankind actually validated that we were actually falling in terms of overall wisdom? We may have made some great gains in the technological fields, but we have lost touch with reality. More could be said, but you have so many examples in your own experience to validate what I'm suggesting.
The deceiver was "more crafty than any beast of the field" (consider the implications!). He had rehearsed this moment. He was ready to trap them with the first words that came out of his mouth! "Indeed, has God said ..." If that slipped by you, then you missed his craftiness. What a slime ball he is! The woman didn't catch it. She focused her attention on the very thing we always do. She thought his deceit was in challenging the specifics of the command, but it was actually the speaking that was challenged! The man didn't pick up on it either. And consider this: he was probably standing right next to her when it happened.
This will sound like an irrational jump, but the serpent just undermined the very identity of the most brilliant man and woman who ever lived. Did you think that the deceiver only questioned God by the statement? Never lose the perspective: these had been made in the image of God. Anything that questioned God's identity likewise questioned their identity! Say again? How was their identity questioned? Ask this instead: Who were they? What made them what they were?
The deceiver posed his question in such a way as to get her to swallow its basic premise. Neither of them wasted any words, but the serpent outwitted Eve by getting her to fall right over his first suggestion that she was not who God SAID she was. And I don't mean that Eve forgot what God spoke in her ears, but in the fact that God spoke and she became!
Do you hear it?
And then God said ...
The Word had gone forth out of the mouth of God and the Word accomplished whatever He desired (check out Isaiah 55:11 and John 1:1-5).
Indeed, has God said ...
...was the primary deception of Satan.
God had spoken and out of the dust of the ground the Word made man in the image of God.
And God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.Genesis 1:27
It made no difference what discussion came after that. He already hooked her and was leading her down the path that left God out of the picture. They ate, their eyes were opened, and when they looked at themselves they did not see the image of God anymore. And so they covered themselves because they were shamed by what they saw.
God did not discuss this aspect with them, though. It was not time for that. Their eyes were opened to the realm of the flesh and closed to the realm of God. What followed was a long, long history revealing the nature of what happened that day. And until Jesus came, all have walked in darkness, not knowing where they are or what they have become. Jesus Christ is the very image of God, and he came to destroy the old and become the new creation of God.
If You Really Are ...?
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he then became hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, "If you are the son of God, command that these stones become bread." But he answered and said, "It is written, 'Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.'" Then the devil took him into the holy city; and he stood 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 give his angels charge concerning you; and on their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.'" Jesus said to him, "On the other hand, it is written, 'You shall not tempt the Lord your God.'" 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 things will I give you, if you fall down and worship me." Then Jesus said to him, "Begone, Satan! For it is written, 'You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.'" Then the devil left him; and behold, angels came and began to minister to him.Matthew 4:1-11 (NASB)
How long had the deceiver been planning his strategy against the one who had come to stomp his head (see Genesis 3:15)? Remember, this was the same slimy serpent who snagged the two most intelligent creatures that had been made in the image of God. When do you suppose he began structuring his words? Do you think it was a spur of the moment attack? Did he start getting serious about a plan when he witnessed the young Jesus baffling the Pharisees? Was it because of the miraculous birth? Or is it possible that his strategy began the moment Satan heard the sentence pronounced upon him? Was he going to let this seed stomp his head? Or could he outsmart him and become the victor?
However you view it, you'd better believe his timing was not coincidental; and each of his words were chosen with the utmost care and craftiness! For this was the first verbal encounter Satan had with Jesus, and his guns were loaded.
Okay, what do the responses of Jesus tell us? That quoting the appropriate Bible verses ward off evil? Is that the message of this story? Then why does that sound so much like sorcery and witchcraft? There is no questioning that Jesus did, in fact, reply with an "It is written" for each challenge of Satan. But why? First, look at the sneaky words of the deceiver.
- If you are the son of God
- command that these stones become bread.
If Jesus had missed the real challenge and had fallen for the lie of the devil, then his words would have sounded more like this: "I could turn these rocks into bread if I wanted to ..." And it would have made no difference what he said after that; the hook would have already been set! But that was how Eve had been snagged. For the temptation offered to Jesus was designed to produce an identity crisis! If you are the son of God ... And that is the exact same thing he presented to Adam and Eve because he cast doubt upon the source of their very beings.
Listen to the reply now:
It is written, 'Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.'Matthew 4:4
We quote these words as if they were some magic formula, and yet we miss the profound significance! Jesus is not a crafty deceiver. He was not scheming with his words ... his words were life!
It is written ... Hmm... any connection here with the fact that...
In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God ... and the Word became fleshJohn 1:1&14
Any significance in the reality that...
So shall My Word be which goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.Isaiah 55:11
Is it possible that Jesus was speaking as the source of the "It is written"? After all, he prefaced each remark with the phrase. Was he also reminding Satan that he knew of the original temptation: "Indeed, has God SAID ..."? His answer started each time: God HAS said!
And then the specific written saying that Jesus quoted told the master strategist, in no uncertain terms, that I am not playing into your game! He did not fall for the lie, because he KNEW who he was! He did not have to SAY, I know who I am, because he KNEW who he was! He KNEW that his very being was nothing less than the word that proceeded out of the mouth of God! Figure out the rest of it yourself.
Do we not know who we are? You mean, with all the seminars and classes and books and websites on discovering your identity we could have a problem with it? Is it possible that you could get all the right answers and know the right stuff and yet have an identity crisis? What if you agree with such an esteemed authority as "the shovel" (we all know that the shovel is a highly regarded tool! :) ... would you not be exempt from this crisis? Let me tell you something. If someone could listen to Jesus himself and still have a problem with it, then I have no illusions about those who adhere to what I say!
There is no magic in the construct of any language. The source of the power is found in the Spirit of God who gives life to the words!
...which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.1 Corinthians 2:13
And if you think this is referring to some kind of strange, unknown language here then you have missed the boat! Or if you have the idea that the "spiritual with spiritual" is supporting the concept of cross-referencing scripture with other scripture, then you have adopted the mindset of the Pharisees!
The deceiver still whispers his lie. It always sounds different, but it has not changed. He knows who he is talking to ... do you? And when we fall for his deception, this is the reason why. Did you miss that? Oh, we give credit to Satan in such a way that he would have to be everywhere at the same time in order to do it all. But he is not. Nor does he need to give personal attention to the things we credit him for. As long as the initial lie is believed he can take a vacation from you; he is not that interested in how you answer the rest of the question. Who, for Christ's sake, are you?
How is it that we have read the account of Satan's tempting offer to Jesus and still do not get it? Listen! This is not a story about someone else. This is our story! Don't you understand our relation to Christ? His message of freedom by having passed from death into new life makes us sharers in his life. Did you think the reference to believers being made sons of God was only figurative?
I know the little games theologians have played to make distinctions between us and him, such as:
* Son with a big "S" vs. a little "s" (I purposely used the lower case)
* "a" son vs. "the only begotten" Son
* miraculous birth vs. natural birth
My point is that while we go out of our way to expose info that is more than obvious to any natural mind; God has gone out of His way to declare that we have been made the very thing the natural mind considers blasphemously impossible! Why do you think God would have persisted with that sort of revelation to those who wrote the letters about the good news? Just take a quick read through the account of John. If you take what Jesus said to be truth, then he made it very clear that the things that are true about Jesus are also true about those who have received him. I dare you to read Paul's writings and not see it; he was a crazy man for the truth! One of his favorite expressions was to say that believers are in Christ.
This is not blasphemy. There is no suggestion that God has created any new deities, but He HAS made us SHARERS of HIS divine nature (yeah, Peter believed it, too! 2 Peter 1:4). Don't you get it? An entirely new thing happened when God invaded human history and became a man! He joined the creation forevermore with the creator! Then he killed the old creation when he died and rose as the head of the new creation. We truly are new creations, and Christ is the substance, the core, the life of our new identity!
And the deceiver has whispered in your ear. It is the same thing he said to Jesus. If you are the son of God then let's see some proof!
I remember hearing the story of Adam and Eve and the devil as a child. I was naive. To me, it was bigger than life, and I accepted it without question. But it was long ago in a land far away. I also remember Santa Claus. I was naive. To me, he was bigger than life, and I accepted him without question. Now, he may have lived far away at the North Pole, but, at least, he came to visit me once a year!
The Santa myth was dispelled first. My brother and I used to do a lot of exploring around the house while my parents were out doing more Christmas shopping. We eventually found every hiding place. I mean, we figured, What evidence was left to substantiate Santa's existence? We even had a serious meeting with my dad where we let him know that we knew ... and that we would help out if we could! :) It's funny how stuff from Santa only comes in an envelope anymore! I'm sorry if this news has come as a shock to anyone. ;)
Somehow, it's easy not to question something that doesn't have any real effect on your daily existence. Santa Claus only came once a year, but that one day was enough. We may have entertained some serious questions about his existence from January till around October, but the closer it came to December 25th, I discovered that the pay-off for remaining in ignorance was worth it. In my mind I had created (with much help) a mythological world that was beyond the realm of reality. And when the first major challenge came it rattled my world ... but I'm not referring to the Santa myth!
In my first year of college I took a course on World History. I can't remember if it was something the professor had said or if it was just the place I was at in the book, but I discovered a paragraph about the nomadic tribes of Israel in Bible times. The force that slammed me was not as much in what was written (which did downplay their important role in history), but in the fact that I couldn't find anything else written about it! There was only one stinking paragraph in the whole book!
I looked at the maps. I had never discerned the proportional distinctions before. Abraham and Moses and Israel had always looked so BIG; my Sunday School lessons presented it so. But here were some raw facts, and my bigger-than-life concept of God's activities in the world was reduced to an insignificant people wandering about in some minuscule god-forsaken land! It was like vertigo, for I remember sitting in my chair with my whole world spinning around me! I'm glad I wasn't called upon to answer a question. I dread to think what sort of babble would have come out of my mouth!
I thank God for the shattered myths; He does quite well without them. The true God delights in being known as the One who speaks to the nothing and calls it into being! I am not questioning the people, the places, or the events ... this stuff we have learned either is or it is not true ... there are no other options. But these things are not really the source of the doubts! And if not, then the doubts themselves cannot be removed by simply believing the facts.
Doubts are found not in reality itself but in how reality appears to us. And if believing the bare facts of God's existence does the demons no good, then I would suggest that our desperate attempts only make us more like the Cowardly Lion from The Wizard of Oz. Remember? During the attack of the flying monkeys he stood paralyzed by fear, repeating the phrase, "I do believe in witches, I do, I do!"
Do you see it? It is your world -- your perspective -- that is the myth! Who we are is not who we think we are. It makes no difference if you do believe or do not believe in Satan (the deceiver, the devil). A deceiver will accept any conditions that do not interfere with the root of his deception.
All of his challenges are an attempt to cause you to question your identity. Is it working?