Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’” Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him. Matthew 4:8-11
Finally, Satan gets down to brass tacks. In this, he almost tells the truth, except that, if you read it closely, all he’s doing is twisting it again. Satan wants to be God. It’s not enough to be a supernatural creation with more power than all of humanity combined. No, Satan wants to be God. He wants to replace God, who can’t be replaced. Like a petulant child, Satan wants what can’t be given (and shouldn’t be given).
Jesus’ response? “You aren’t God.” Past and present, it’s forever true.
Years ago, around the time of 9/11, political pundits chastised President George W. Bush for using the term, “Axis of Evil.” It was an effective rhetorical name because it called out the intentions of five nations to advance evil. The pundit class didn’t want to mention evil, because it was unpopular, and because it might be difficult to have to explain to people who had become comfortable with it. Bravo to anyone who ‘says it like it is’ because good is good and evil is always the opposite of good.
Just as Satan, the created and limited being, is the opposite of Jesus, the incarnate Son of God, the trinity of unlimited love, justice, and power. Satan is the nexus of evil, and the verses (below) that cross-reference today’s account of Jesus’ third temptation accurately portray Satan as he is and was. Satan is pure evil, pure anti-Christ, against all that is of Jesus, including you and me. Today, Satan drops pretenses of testing Jesus and simply lies to Him: “just worship me because I want to be God.”
Never mind the impossibility of Jesus doing this. Never mind that simply worshipping Satan wouldn’t make him God. Never mind that nothing Satan showed Jesus actually belonged to the devil. Never mind the foolish and ridiculous nature of even tempting God Immanuel. Never mind that, to even say this, Satan had to lie, had to stick to deceit as his only modus operandi.
Worship was Satan’s only motive, and that motive was based in the envy and lies he so enthusiastically embodies. He tried them on Jesus and spectacularly failed. The still-evil Satan tries them today, and his advance or retreat here depends on our responses. Tell it like it is.
For more reading: Deuteronomy 6:13, 1 Chronicles 21:1, Job 1:6-9, Mark 4:15, Luke 10:18, Luke 13:16, Luke 22:3 & 31 & 43, Romans 16:20, 2 Corinthians 2:11, 2 Thessalonians 2:9, Hebrews 1:14, James 4:7, Matthew 4:12
Lord Jesus, I believe in You alone. Help me to stand against Satan.