The Holy Spirit and the Lord Jesus Christ

Chapter 3.....In The Wilderness.

"And Jesus being full of the Holy Spirit returned from the Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness. . . . And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee." -Luke ch. 4: 1 & 14.

Matthew, having concluded the account of the baptism, declares: " Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil." Mark writes: " And immediately the Spirit driveth Him into the wilderness." This intimate connection between the two events is important. Being full of the Spirit He was immediately led of the Spirit. The first experience of the indwelt Man was a desolating wilderness. There He had not only the challenge of solitude, but the deeper challenge of Satan. Satan was to be confronted by the Man in the flesh. In every contest so far, the man of flesh, without exception, had failed. Satan had never been without victory. But this Man was confronting him as he had never before been challenged by one not only of flesh but indwelt by the Holy Spirit in fulness. In the prayer that he suggested for the use of His disciples, our Lord included this petition "And lead us not into temptation." Well He knew the meaning of such a prayer. The Spirit led Him where Satan should challenge Him. Satan had already attacked Him through Herod in the slaughter of the innocents, but now they confront each other

. The tendency of the flesh is always to avoid the personal contact, but the Spirit yearns to overcome. Some principles may be observed here before we come to the consideration of the temptations in detail. It is clear that the Body of the Lord was the battlefield between the Spirit and Satan. The issues were between principalities and powers in the heavenlies, but the ground of battle was the Lord's body. That, of course, is true of every temptation. The man of the world does not know what temptation means because he is the bondslave of sin. The believer is made to realise that powers greater than his own are bearing him down and that he must wait upon the Holy Spirit for the power which can alone give him victory. The deeper his yielding to the Spirit the more fierce will be the nature of the conflict. And we must not fail to notice that victory in the flesh was possible for Satan. The power that could overcome him was the Spirit in the fully yielded Man. We miss much of the deep blessing of this record unless we see clearly that the secret of the Lord's triumph was the Indwelling Spirit. There is no record that our Lord did any miracles until, after the wilderness experience. He not only needed to be baptized by the Spirit, but Satan must be beaten. When He came up out of the Jordan He was full of the Spirit, when He came from the wilderness it was in the power of the Spirit.

The Spirit in Him had been demonstrated and He was an overcomer. Many of us wish to do great things in the might of the Spirit, but before those greater works can be done, Satan must have been met in our bodies and he must have been defeated. The fullness of the Spirit must be demonstrated by victory over every tendency, habit, disposition and weaknes. Not in our strength, that is impossible, but by a complete yielding to the Indwelling Spirit in the power of His might. The mightiness of the Word of God is also apparent. Those who would wish ministers to cease preaching from the Old Testament should reflect upon the wisdom of our Lord. He used the Scriptures, and let it be noted, the Pentateuch, with precision, with confidence and with marked success. Led of the Spirit into the wilderness, returning from the wilderness in the power of the Spirit, He was surely controlled of the Spirit in meeting Satan. Does not Paul declare that the sword of the Spirit is the Word of God? Every man who would be in the power of the Spirit must be a man who has taken victory by the confident use of the Sword of the Spirit. We may conclude without the shadow of a doubt that every effort to undermine the authority and eternal vitality of the Scriptures is the work of Satan.

Many ministers who are disturbing the minds of the people by doubts about the Word of God are much more the instruments of Satan than instruments of the Spirit. The writer to the Hebrews, records that our Lord was tempted in all points like as we are, yet without sin. His test was no mere display. His victory was not in Himself but in the Indwelling Spirit. How true that was may be judged by the essential character of the temptations, which we will now consider in detail.

The first temptation was one concerning the maintenance of the body. During forty days of hunger our Lord was brought to great physical weakness. Satan seized upon this condition and on the ground of the declaratory voice of the Jordan naming Him the Beloved Son, urged that as a Son He should, command bread out of the stones. If He were the Indwelt Man, let the truth be manifested in the bread! But our Lord declined: " MAN shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." The principle of sonship is submission of the body, not its satisfaction. His was a precious body, prepared of the Spirit, baptized of the Spirit, but even His body must yield first obedience to the will of the Spirit.

Following Luke's account the second temptation was the challenge of the pinnacle of the temple. First a solicitous care for the body, then Satan tempts a risk of the body. It is a strange test. The holy city, the temple, suggests a helpful environment so different from the hunger of the wilderness. It may teach us that, unless the Spirit is Master of our bodies, Satan can be master of any environment in which we find ourselves. Very evidently there is a peril in the temple, a temptation to trade upon our sonship, to presume that being sons liberties may be taken. Our Lord answered this temptation significantly. He did not speak of man, but He replied: " Thou shalt not tempt the Lord Thy God." Any risk with the body implies a formidable restraint upon the Indwelling Spirit, and if we remember this we may find here the explanation of much of our failure and our feebleness.

The third temptation was the offer of the kingdoms of the world in exchange for worship. It is to be observed that Satan's possession of those kingdoms is not disputed. In the purpose of God (we may assume) Satan was lord of the earth under God. His rebellion brought him the penalty of forfeiture and the passing of dominion to man. Hence in his jealousy Satan engineered the downfall of the race, refusing to recognise the place of man in the economy of God. Being in control of man unredeemed he is the god of this world, not under God, but in rebellion. But while Satan's power over the kingdoms is not challenged his ability to maintain that sovereignty is disputed. His tenure was determined by the Cross to which our Lord was committed. Satan implies that he is prepared to yield the sovereignty over flesh, if he may still be prince in the aerial sphere. But our Lord knew that Calvary would not only redeem man, it would cleanse heaven itself and make Him Lord of all. Hence He refused.

But let us not miss the audacity of this temptation. Does it not seem incredible that our Lord should even have the suggestion to Satan worship? If He could thus he tempted, may we not presume that Satan worship is no rare experience? This Indwelt Man, Whose body was prepared of the Spirit, baptized of the Spirit, this Man was tempted to maintain His body by means other than those of the will of the Spirit. He was tempted to risk His body by trusting it to Satan rather than be obedient to the Spirit, by prostituting it to Satan rather than preserving it for God alone. And there is much more in this than the unreflective Christian will recognise immediately. Satan worship is always worship of the body. The stately ceremonials of the Roman apostasy, with their appeal to the senses, to the emotions are not of the Spirit, they are of Satan. In Pagan and heathen countries the religion centres in the body because it is not of the Spirit. The kingdoms of the world love to decorate the body, the associations of men are wedded to their regalia and all these things to the enlightened child of God are significant. But when the believer living in the consciousness of the Indwelling Spirit is called to Satan worship he can offer no reply save that of Jesus His Lord: " Get thee hence, Satan!" There are some helpful assurances for us in this incident. Let us never forget that the conditions of temptation of every obedient indwelt child of God are always determined by the Holy Spirit. The only way to silence Satan is by complete obedience to the Spirit and by nourishing the heart upon the Scriptures, so that the Spirit may have a strong sword in us. And, finally, let us take our stand as being filled with the Spirit, partakers of the Divine nature, sons of God, with bodies plunged beneath the waters and kept in the will and obedience of the Spirit. We shall live in the power of victory and who is he that shall harm us?

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