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The Living Word and the Written Word

As He stood up, river water rained down from His clothes, His hair, and His beard. His cousin John stepped back as all eyes were riveted to the Messiah. No one, except perhaps John, could have understood what a pivotal moment it was.

Jesus’ baptism marked the beginning of His ministry. It showed not only His obedience to the Father but also provided an example for us to follow.

In that moment the Trinity, who always work together perfectly, made their presence known for our benefit, and, perhaps, as an encouragement to Jesus. God the Father blessed the Son, and the Holy Spirit descended upon the Son like a dove.

Wow.

Don’t Tempt Me
After such an auspicious beginning, did Jesus go to the nearest big city to start His ministry? No. Instead, the Holy Spirit led Him away to the wilderness for forty days to commune with the Father and prepare for His ministry.

Jesus fasted during that time, and the devil showed up, seeing an opportunity to drive a wedge between Jesus and the Father. Satan wanted to attack His intimacy with the Father, especially since Jesus was vulnerable from hunger, so he repeatedly tempted Jesus to sin. He offered whatever he thought might make Jesus break that relationship with His Father.

We have a record of three major temptations Satan used to try to make Jesus stumble. But each time, Jesus responded with Scripture and resisted Satan. He quoted passages from Deuteronomy that were from the time when Israel was in the wilderness, too.

Jesus, the Living Word, understood the importance of the written Word. He knew it by heart, intimately, and He used it to defeat the enemy. Repeatedly.

Luke 4:13-15 says that when the devil ended every temptation, he left Jesus until an opportune time. He would come back when the time was right.

What’s Your Weapon?
One of my favorite movie scenes comes from Raiders of the Lost Ark, the first Indiana Jones movie. In this scene, Indy uses any weapon he can get to fight the bad guys and keep them from kidnapping his friend, Marion. Then, in a freeze action moment, a huge Goliath-type of enemy dressed in black steps forward, wielding a huge curved sword. Indy doesn’t have a sword, though. He does have his trusty whip, and we’ve seen him use it to do all sorts of things, but that whip is not enough to stop that sword. So instead of even trying the whip, Indy, sweaty, hot, and tired, reaches into his holster, pulls out his pistol, and shoots the guy. It is a surprising twist that always makes me laugh, and that moment is now considered one of the most iconic action scenes of all time.

When Satan comes at us, his sword is accusation. He is our accuser. He says things like “you’re a lousy Christian” and “if you were a Christian, you wouldn’t be struggling with that.” He attacks us at our core and challenges our identity. But the truth is that our identity is based on who we are in Jesus Christ, and that will never change.

What is your weapon of choice when you are facing the enemy’s sword? When you are being tempted, do you quote Oprah or some other secular guru of positive thoughts? Do you quote your own philosophy? Maybe the whip in your hands has proved trustworthy in the past, but against Satan, it is just not enough.

But we do have something that’s more than adequate. The living Word—Jesus Christ—used the written Word to fight temptation. Jesus set the pattern for us. He is our example of what our defense should be in times of temptation: the Bible.

It’s useless to look to human philosophies, past experience, and human wisdom, when instead we should just say, “It is written, Satan, leave me alone, on the authority of the shed blood of Jesus Christ.” Powerful words with a powerful outcome.

We won’t always have a Bible at our disposal, and we won’t always be able to Google a reference, so let’s become people of the Book and take seriously Psalm 119:11, “I have treasured your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” When we study, learn, and memorize Scripture, the Holy Spirit uses it to defeat our enemy. We will see from our own experience that Satan’s weapons are no match for God’s Word.

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Phil Tuttle is president and CEO of Walk Thru the Bible.