Sunday, February 21, 2010

To the Victor Go the Spoils

Invocabit – The First Sunday in Lent – St. Matthew 4:1-11


In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.

There’s really only one temptation, only one sin, and that is to place something or someone in the place of God – to put your fear, your love, and your trust in something or someone instead of God. And most of the time, what you put in the place of God is yourself. It is a transgression, a sin, against the first and the greatest commandment, “You shall have no other gods” – not even yourself.

But it’s not a new temptation. It’s not a new sin. In fact, it was the first temptation and the first sin known to mankind. The serpent tempted. Eve doubted God’s Word and ate. Adam allowed this to happen and even joined in. Adam and Eve desired for themselves what belonged only to God, the knowledge of good and evil. They desired to be gods unto themselves. They did not fear, love, and trust in God above all things, but they placed themselves above God and His Word. And so death entered the world just as God had said. They were cast from the garden of paradise out into the wilderness desert. Adam lived 930 years and then he died. The wages of sin is death.

And you are still there. You are still there in the wilderness desert, continually being tempted and succumbing to the sins of selfishness, religiosity, and idol worship. Who among you have not been tempted to put your own needs above others? Who among you has not come to church, read the Bible, prayed, or done all the right things because you believe doing religious things will save you? Who among you have not put other things before God, like hobbies, work, friends, or even your family? You have fallen prey to all of these temptations and far more.

But God did not create you to die, so He sent a second Adam to do battle with the devil, not in a lush garden paradise, but in a barren and desolate desert. This Adam was not a creature of dust but God’s only begotten Son. Immediately after He is Baptized, the Holy Spirit drives Jesus into the desert to be tempted by the devil. This isn’t even the devil’s idea. Jesus submits to His Father’s will and hands Himself over to be tempted by selfishness, by religiosity, and by idol worship. Jesus is tempted to leave the path of righteousness, the path that leads to our salvation, by the very one who started us on the wrong path in the first place.

As we begin this holy season of Lent, it is important for you to recognize that it is God’s plan for Jesus to be tempted, to suffer, and to die for you. “Even the Devil is God’s Devil,” said Martin Luther. You must know that your battle against the devil, that even Jesus’ battle against the devil, is less about you than it is about God. The devil is God’s enemy before he is your enemy. The devil was the first to sin against God as he desired to be god himself. The devil hates God with all that he is, and the devil hates you because God loves you so much.

In Jesus’ temptation, He does not show us how to fight against the devil, nor does He teach us how to properly use the Word of God. Jesus stands in your place and is tempted. He uses God’s Word to defeat the devil so that you will be blameless and free before God. Jesus is tempted to show that God is righteous and that He is the victor over Satan for us.

We do not, we cannot fight against the devil. Our God-given armor is defensive. But for us fights the Valiant One whom God Himself elected. Ask ye who is this? Jesus Christ it is of Sabaoth Lord. And there’s none other God. He holds the field forever. If God Himself fights for us, who can be against us?

Because Christ has won the victory for you over sin, death and the power of Satan, you are free, just as Christ is free by the resurrection of the dead. You are free to serve your neighbor in love. You are free to receive the blessings of God by faith. You are free to worship God alone, because He alone can save you.

In the Name of + Jesus. Amen.

No comments: