A Pattern to Spiritual Attacks

photo credit: The Library of Congress Gen. W.A. White (LOC) via photopin (license)

Matthew 4:1-11

One of my goals for this year was to read through the Bible in a year.  I have tried this before and always failed. I would stop to examine a verse or verses in greater detail. Taking off on a rabbit trail and then fall behind on my plan because I got distracted.  I have grown a lot since the last time that I had tried. I wanted to try again knowing that even if I didn’t stick to it I had the freedom to abandon the plan without guilt.  My desire for reading it this way is because I know there are many books in the bible that I just haven’t studied yet.  Some I may have never read completely.

As I was going about my reading I came to the part where Jesus is taken to the wilderness.  It was here that God began to reveal some things to me that I found fascinating.  A clear pattern of questions from the enemy and an outline of attack against us.  Jesus has fasted 40 days and nights.  I just can’t imagine going without food for that long. Or the impact on your mental, physical and spiritual condition.  In that heightened state of awareness, Satan comes and says “If you are the son of God, command that these stones become bread.”  It hit me that here the enemy is questioning Jesus identity.

As I got to thinking I realize that often the enemy does that to us also.  Think about it how many times has the enemy said to you “If you were loved, they wouldn’t treat you that way”. Or “If you were important they wouldn’t overlook you.” “If God cares about you then this wouldn’t be happening.”  Is it not all an attack against our identities?  The enemy wants us to doubt our standing, within ourselves, with others, and with God.

We all know how Jesus answers.  Then Satan takes him up to the pinnacle of the temple and says, “If you are the son of God, throw yourself down.  So now Satan has attacked Jesus identity and here He is asking Jesus to “prove” himself.  How many times have you heard that same temptation in your life to prove yourself to someone?  Whether you hear it internally or whether another person throws out the temptation I know that we have all heard it.  If Satan can’t confuse us on our identity than He is going to try to make us prove our worth.  If Satan can make us try to prove our point then we have stopped trusting in God to be our defender.  When we are following after God we no longer need to prove ourselves.

The third time Satan takes Jesus to a high mountain and shows Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory.  Satan says, “All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.”  If Satan can’t get you on the things above causing you to take God’s rightful position in your life. then He is going to provide a counterfeit promise.  Jesus already knew that He would rule the world and all that was in it.  Jesus knew that He was to get all the glory.  So the temptation that the enemy gives us is inevitably a shortcut.  A way to bypass the pain and move forward into the promise on our time table.

If we think about it in the story of Abraham and Sarai they were offered a shortcut. This happened when Sarai gave Abraham her maid Hagar to have her child.  She ended up with an Ishmael and was still no closer to the promise than before.  Now everything was messier and more complicated because Hagar didn’t respect her. She also had Ishmael to deal with.  So when Isaac the child of promise has come along something must be done.  Ishmael was a counterfeit promise.

Satan tells Jesus I’ll give you the glory and you can bypass the cross, bypass the suffering.  I wonder how many times in our lives we see that the enemy gives us a counterfeit promise. Especially when He knows that we are getting weary in the waiting.  Let us purpose to be more aware of the ways that the enemy attacks so that we can say like Jesus, “It is written, and state our promises and resist the devil.

In conclusion, we can see here that in the attacks against us that Satan is going to

  1. Question our Identity (or cause us to question our identity)
  2. Ask us to prove ourselves
  3. Offer up a Counterfeit Promise.

I have the feeling that from here on out I will be much more aware of the ways these thoughts come across my mind in the future recognizing this as an attempt of the enemy against me.  I hope that this proves helpful for you also.

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