Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written,

            ‘You shall worship the Lord your God

              And Him only shall you serve.’”

Matthew 4: 10

This is not a thought that I can claim as great and unique revelation from God. In fact, it is almost laughable to even state this idea. But here it is, Jesus got life right all of the time. That is, when He said or did something that was in response to the sorts of issues and struggles that all people face while living out our days on earth, His responses are the model for the rest of us to follow. This scene involving direct, face-to-face temptation by Satan is not one that I have experienced, thankfully! Yet, this is what is occurring to all of God’s people every day of our lives. Satan is active and seeks to entrap and devour people. Often the methods and the means that he uses involve people and situations that on the surface seem safe, attractive, and benign. However, evil surrounds us; it has infiltrated the very structure of our world, and it always leads people away from God and His righteousness.

What does it mean to live righteously? That is a complex question that warrants examination and that each of us should explore prayerfully with God. However, in simple terms it means living in a manner that is fully consistent with God’s Word, that brings glory to His name in our world, and that declares Christ through the sacrificial love, mercy, grace, and truth that we live out regardless of life circumstance or situation. This is not exactly an easy path to follow or one that will guarantee popularity and success in human terms. Yet, anything and everything else is functionally and factually idolatry. It is setting before us a standard for living that comes from a source other than God, Himself. It usually places us as the arbiters of what is right and just so that our personal desires, lusts, and comfort are served while the sacrificial love of Christ is hidden and locked away.

So, on view here we have Jesus’ most direct response to the sort of pressure and temptation that we face. Satan has asked Jesus to bow down to him and offered the world as the reward. When we turn away from thinking, saying, and doing what is loving, gracious, merciful, understanding, just, and truthful; we are agreeing with Satan’s request. For us humans the tension that exists between evil’s continual appeal and God’s will is going to continue throughout our earthly lives. The situations and the power of the temptation will at times be subtle and deceptive and at others it will carry the force of a great waterfall. That is why Jesus’ modeled response matters so much. We certainly can and should invoke Christ and His Spirit’s power in order to resist evil in all of its forms. Yet, there is much more here. The real answer to temptation is found in worship. Righteousness is made real and is understood more fully as we bow down before God. Temptation is defeated as we remain with our hearts and minds focused on Christ and away from ourselves.  

For He says,

“At the acceptable time I listened to you, and on the day of salvation I helped you”;

behold, now is the acceptable time, behold, now is the day of salvation.

2 Corinthians 6: 2

 

Most of us experience times of questioning and wondering about the timing of certain decisions and about the best way to proceed through various situations that we encounter. God has equipped all of us with an inquisitive mind and with the ability to discern what is right so that we can make wise and informed decisions. However, there are also many times when we need to operate from a perspective of trust in our Lord and simply do what is right so that we demonstrate what His righteousness looks like in our world.

 

When we hit the point where our need for spiritual life exceeded our will to push on without God’s direct and personal involvement in our lives, Christ was there with a heart that listened to every urgent cry and that counted each of our tears as precious. At that point in our life journeys, Christ was ready to accept our surrender and to provide us with the purifying blood of His sacrifice so that we were made perfectly righteous in God’s eyes.

 

Now we are the ones who are called upon by the Lord to live as if that cleansing were our total reality. We are to behave as if everyone that we meet is in that same spiritually dead state, and we are to seek to live in a manner that makes every breath that we take an expression of the saving grace of Christ. Today is the day to live with your heart lifted up by your confidence in Christ’s grace and acceptance. This is the time when your life will matter for the eternity of another, for this can be the day of salvation for someone that you will meet.