Satan's Three Favorite Types of Temptation

 A preview of February's email-only article.


Glenn Carstens-Peters

Did you know I write a monthly article just for email subscribers? It's true!

This month we're discussing the three most effective temptations Satan uses against us, and why they're so effective.

Here's how the article starts:

 

Have you ever asked God to strengthen your faith? 
 
I have, but I didn't really think through what I was asking for. How else can he strengthen our faith except by testing it? My faith isn't going to get stronger by magic, but instead by opportunities to exercise it. Had I thought things through, maybe I would have been more reserved in asking for a stronger faith. 
 
Jesus, in order to sharpen his resolve, focus, and faith went to the wilderness at the prompting of the Spirit in order to be tested. But first he had to fast for forty days. I don't know about you, but I get cranky after fasting for four hours. The Scripture, though, tells us he went a month plus without food. 
 
As a result, I imagine the first temptation Satan brought upon Jesus must have been pretty enticing. "If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread" (Matt. 4:3). 
 
The tempter is shrewd. He loves setting up these false conditions to cause us to stumble. What's the connection between being the Son of God and turning stones to bread? Well, certainly, the Immanuel would have the power to transform rock to rye, no sweat. But is doing so a condition of being God incarnate? Of course not. But Satan was trying to play both to Jesus's physical weakness (hunger) and to the psychological weakness of humanity (pride) in tempting Jesus to prove his divine status. 
 
Jesus didn't take the bait. He responded, "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4). Jesus quoted Deuteronomy here, referencing the manna God provided the Israelites in the wilderness. In doing so, he acknowledged God's role as provider and sustainer of life. Just as Moses didn't provide water from the rock, Jesus knew that God would provide the sustenance he needed. 
 
Realizing he couldn't take advantage of Jesus's hunger, Satan tried another play at his pride.

 

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One Reason for Encouragement in Dark Times

God can restore all things.


Ben Hershey

If you've ever started reading the book of Job but neglected to finish the book, you're doing yourself a serious disservice.

The last chapter is the most critical.

In then end, what happens? God restores Job. He doubles his fortune, he blesses him with more children, and Job lives a long, happy life.

This resolution is crucial because it demonstrates the divine, omnipotent power of God to set things right. To our modern sensibilities, the last chapter of Job might sound too neat. It might seem like some sort of deus ex machina—an unrealistic ending to the story.

A Primer on Maintaining Sanity through Suffering

A preview of January's email-only article.


Owen Beard


Did you know I write a monthly article just for email subscribers? It's true!

This month we're discussing the isolating effect suffering can have on its victims, but how Jesus is able to empathize with every trial we face.

Here's how it starts:

 

I don't know what kind of trials you are enduring right now, but I assure you Jesus does. And he can relate. 
 
You might think being a God-man would be an easy task with access to the supernatural at his fingertips. But remember, Jesus willingly limited himself to serve as the role model for humanity. Think you've got it tough, or have your fair share of temptations? I'm sure you do. But Jesus had it worse: 
 
We do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Hebrews 4:15 
 
The life of Christ even before the crucifixion wasn't exactly a cakewalk. Once he began his ministry and claimed spiritual authority, the Pharisees and other religious leaders tested him ad nauseam. More than once they threatened to kill him. Many of Jesus's own family and also his hometown rejected him. Though he was an incredible teacher and healer, he had no possessions at the time of his death. 
 
Such a reality should serve as a source of encouragement to us, knowing that whatever type of trial or struggle we could go through, Jesus has already endured it. 
 
Have you ever undergone some sort of ordeal and no one around you could relate?

 

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What I Read in 2020

Four of my favorite books from 2020, plus I'm giving one of them away!

Darren Richardson

Whatever else you can say about 2020, time spent sequestered at home afforded the opportunity to read more than usual. And, although I conclude just about every year wishing I had spent more time reading, I navigated my way through some good books these past twelve months. Here's what I read.  

Deus intra Machina: The Incredible Story of When God Subjected Himself to His Own Creation

A preview of December's email-only article.


Jill Sauve


Did you know I write a monthly article just for email subscribers? It's true!

This month we're discussing the incredible story of Immanuel--God with us--and what that means for you and me this Christmas season.

Here's how it starts:

 

As the creator of our universe, it is no big deal for God to restore the material. For the Israelites in the wilderness he supplied bread out of thin air in the form of manna. He provided water from a rock so they could drink. He restored Job's fortune and health at the conclusion of the man's trials. And God even restored the life of Lazarus though he was dead for four days.

Nevertheless for God to restore humanity from the curse of their sins, something radical had to occur. You see sin, no matter how innocent it may seem, must have a consequence. The most extreme of these consequences, as God warned the first couple, is death.

This isn't some kind of power play or overreaction to eating a piece of fruit, although such a result is certainly the right of an omnipotent, omniscient, God. Instead, death is a natural consequence of sin. All sin results in death.

 

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