The bible warns us about the pride of life, lust of the flesh and lust of the eyes, but yet those are three concepts that define our world (culture).
Our culture assails us with phrases like “Do it Your Way,” “Have it Your Way,” and “Do it.”
Media in all forms: TV shows that capitalize on self-centered, crass and degrading themes; commercials that tempt us with things it says we deserve: new cars, trendy clothes, success; and much of music and gaming media that glorifies the lowest, basest self-centered instincts we have (eg. violence, lust, pride).
1 John 2: 15-17 says – 15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. 17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever.
So what I’m wondering is why we have an overabundance of pastors who preach prosperity, happiness and success when these are the very ideas we are warned to stay away from. I mean, think about it. If you go to a church where the pastor says you can have anything you want, God will favor you, and bless you for asking for whatever you want, isn’t the pastor tempting you with the very things that we are warned against in the above passage?
Jesus was tempted by Satan after fasting for 40 days. There’s an account of this in Matt 4: 1-11 and in Luke 4: 1-13. Jesus was really hungry and physically tired and that is when Satan swooped in and tempted him to turn stones into bread. Jesus rebuked him with God’s word so Satan led him to a high place overlooking cities and lands. He told Jesus that if he’d worship him, he would give Jesus all the kingdoms and land. Jesus rebuked him again with God’s word. Satan tried one more time by tempting him to take a risk, jump off the high place and let his angels save him. Jesus rebuked him a third time.
Jesus resisted satisfying his hunger because it was Satan, the evil one, who was tempting him. Jesus resisted the idea of power over kingdoms because Satan, the evil one, was doing the tempting. Jesus resisted taking the risk of falling and being caught by angels because it was Satan who was tempting him.
Are you seeing a pattern here?
Actually, I see two things happening here.
1. The pattern is that Satan is tempting Jesus with the very things our culture tells us are ours for the taking. But another, probably more important pattern is that every time Jesus is tempted, it is in weakness (hunger, tiredness), but He uses God’s word to defeat Satan.
2. The other thing I see is that Satan is trying to tempt Jesus with things that Jesus already has. As God, the father in flesh, He can satisfy his hunger, He already owns everything in the world, and He doesn’t have to take risks because He directs everything from the angels on down.
The take away for this is simple yet very hard for people to do, because it is
counter-cultural, wholly un-PC, and will for sure make you an outcast in society. It could even result in your persecution, loss of job/friends/family and ultimately loss of life.
When we hear messages, whether they come from culture or the pulpit, we need to look at God’s word, the Holy Bible, to see what He says about the message we’ve heard. Does it line up with His truth, or is this something God warns us about?
The other thing we must remember is that as a “child of God” we already have life-sustaining, living water and bread (God’s word) by which we will never thirst, nor ever go hungry. Also, as a “child of God” we are already heirs to the kingdom. The big one; not the earthly, corruptible cities on earth. Finally, as a “child of God” we don’t have to work towards success because our lives are in God’s hands.
His will, will be done.