Satan, Be Gone!!
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
Matt. 4:10a Holman Then Jesus told him, . . .
In this third temptation, Satan offered Jesus universal sovereignty on easy terms. This strongly tempted Jesus. He wanted His beloved world back.
He grieved the fact His domain had been stolen by Satan; yea, stolen very effectively. The Bible leaves no doubt; this realm is Satan’s. He is “the ruler of this world” (John 12:31; 16:11), “the god of this age” (2 Cor. 4:4). “The whole world is under the sway of the evil one” (1 John 5:19). God takes the blame for many tragedies Satan spawned in Eden. The legal term for natural, unavoidable catastrophes for which no one can be blamed is “Act of God”.
Because he felt this thinking negatively reflected on God’s reputation, a longtime Pastor at a large Southern Baptist church refused to let his congregation sing the song, “This Is My Father’s World.” He felt it caused people to think unfavorably about God when they experienced the harsh difficulties of life. I know what he was trying to accomplish by not singing the song, but I disagree with him. The hymn deals little with the world’s governance. Its theme is the created order’s beauty, which is worth celebrating.
Jesus said no to Satan’s offer, but the evil one has had others take him up on it. Life came unglued for them. Nebuchadnezzar went insane. Haman died on the gallows he built for Mordecai. Alexander died drunk. The Roman Senate assassinated Caesar. Napoleon died in exile. Mussolini’s dead body was hung upside down at a service station. Nero and Hitler died as suicides. People who abuse worldly power are often abused by it.
This third temptation from Satan was malignant. Jesus was being dared to subordinate the spiritual to the material, to clutch Earthly power at the sacrifice of doing what Heaven deemed right. The devil wanted Jesus’ “sense of God and duty swayed by personal considerations” (Thomas).
Satan tries the same trick on us. He tempts us to try to change the world by not renouncing the world and being different from it, but by bowing to the spirit of the age. He urges us to become like the world, to make terms with what looks politically correct, rather than what looks right.
The devil wanted to be worshiped by Jesus. Satan still loves to be worshiped, not obviously and blatantly of course, so as not to call undue attention to his ugly self; but to be worshiped nonetheless, indirectly, through attractive idols that let him hide behind a thin veil. In our culture, he entices people to bow before idols of secularity, sex, power, and money.
We talk much about the latter three, but I think the former is the true root of Satanic success. The ultimate issue in our nation right now is not any particular behavior, but an environment, a pervasive mindset that makes all sorts of evil deeds acceptable. David pulled no punches, “The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God” (PS 9:17 KJV). The main problem facing us is not any specific sin, but people’s apathy toward God.
In our society, some live in flagrant sin, but the vast majority simply let the physical and material domains hold absolute sway in their lives. God is ignored, His will is disregarded, and human will dominates.
The Bible has at least three definitions for its phrase “the world”. One, it refers to planet Earth. Two, it refers to the inhabitants of Earth (John 3:16).
Three, it refers to society forming itself without reference to God. This third definition is what we are seeing all around us every day. Our culture truly is Satan’s “world”, on its knees before him. People would never admit it, but whether they like it or not, Satan is the very alive personality, the driving force, behind what they deem an impersonal nonliving secularity.
Matt. 4:10b “Go away, Satan!”
Jesus, having heard enough of the hiss, could stomach no more of Satan’s brazenness. When taunts became blasphemous bribes, Jesus, with utter indignation and disgust, ended the debate, and told Satan to be gone.
Learn from our Master. Do not yield to Satan, and do not toy with him. Don’t flirt with evil. Avoid places and situations where compromise can easily happen. Run with all your might from the very appearance of evil.
This scene revealed the sheer ugliness of Satan. He had the gall to imply he would treat Jesus better than the Father was treating Him. Satan uses the same awful temptation on us. He wants us to think we are being mistreated by God. The moment anyone believes this, sin happens next.
For Jesus, from this moment on, the die was cast. It was war to the death, a struggle that ended in victory for God. Jesus essentially told Satan, “I will take these kingdoms God’s way. I will win them by running you out.”
Matt. 4:10c “For it is written: Worship the Lord your God, and serve
Jesus could not tolerate dishonor to His Father. He let nothing deprive God of the exclusive right to receive worship. Showing undivided allegiance to the Father, Jesus showed Satan a different boss prescribed His job duties.
Jesus became Earth’s King by proving He was Heaven’s Servant. Instituting a kingdom built on love, He ruled and obeyed, thereby combining royal kingship and suffering servanthood. The kingdom will thrive under God, and over people’s hearts. Built on suffering, sacrifice, goodness, and gentleness, its primary emphasis would be loving God and others.
Because Jesus loves the Father and loves us, He won against Satan. He proved no temptation in and of itself is irresistible. We can live in this world and yet not give in to sin. Jesus’ victory foreshadows our victory.
Whatever temptation comes to us, God gives us grace to endure and overcome it. Do we always win? No, our flesh haunts us. Can we always win? Yes, Satan is on a leash. God restrains the devil. Jesus allows and disallows. Satan would destroy us totally, but God won’t let him. As with Job, Satan is allowed to go only so far, but no further.
However intense the battles, do not give in, but if you do, don’t quit. Repent, ask forgiveness, stand, dust yourself off, and go on. God sets limits. He won’t let our battle be unbearable. He grants us breathing room at times.