Recently in our adult Bible class at West Main we were studying the temptation of Jesus in Matthew 4. Leah Farquhar, who is a school nurse and the wife of one of our Shepherds, offered this insightful analogy.
“When Jesus was tempted by Satan, He answered each temptation with ‘It is written.’ This reminded me of Psalm 119:11, “Your Word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You.”
As a nurse,” Leah said, “this spoke to me of the idea of preventive medicine. When you choose to immunize your children against life-threatening diseases, you must have the vaccinations administered before they’re exposed to those dangerous illnesses. In like manner, knowing and internalizing God’s word is an immunization that will protect you from succumbing when you’re confronted with temptation. It‘s a proactive and preventive measure that must be taken before the temptation or trial arises.”
Spiritual immunization. What a great thought! Since I don’t like getting shots, I would have never thought of this comparison. But the more I think about it the better I like it.
Just like a physical virus is a microscopic infectious agent that we cannot see there are spiritual viruses that the devil seeks to infect us with. He uses unholy thoughts to infiltrate our minds. These thoughts soon become feelings that captivate our imagination And before long an unholy attitude is developed, which leads to some ungodly action.
When tempting Jesus the devil employed three devices to infect his heart and lead him astray. The apostle John identifies them this way “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world — the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life — is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever” (1 Jn. 2:15-17).
The temptation to satiate his hunger by selfishly using his power to turn the stones into bread appealed to the lust of the flesh. To reckless jump from the pinnacle of the temple to prove his Divine protection, appealed to the pride of the life. And the view of the kingdoms of the world in exchange for bowing down to the devil appealed to the lust of the eyes. As Leah suggests Jesus was immunized with the Word and responded each time “It is Written.” This response put the devil to flight.
The devices of the devil are age-old. He used them against Eve to commit the first sin. He uses them today. He uses a variety of spiritual viruses but they all come from the same source. He may disguise these viral agents through people we trust that lead us astray. He uses modern technology. Social media. Lurid entertainment. Unwholesome literature. Physical pleasure. The lure of riches. Selfish ambition. And partisan politics to polarize people.
Once infected these viruses can spread throughout a family, a community, and a nation. And he loves to infect churches with gossip, backbiting, rumor, innuendo, and division. They are works of the flesh that weaken us, leave us spiritually sick, and ultimate cause our demise (Gal. 5:13-19).
The answer is for us to get vaccinated with God’s Word. Engage in a regular Bible reading program. Attend Bible classes. Study. Take notes. Mediate on spiritual matters. And pray for strength and guidance.
Be proactive. Get your spiritual shots today!
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman