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"...if anyone makes the assistance of grace depend on the humility or obedience of man and does not agree that it is a gift of grace itself that we are obedient and humble, he contradicts the Apostle who says, "What have you that you did not receive?" (1 Cor. 4:7), and, "But by the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Cor. 15:10). (Council of Orange: Canon 6)

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  • « Spurgeon on 1 John 5:1 | Main | Encouraging Feedback »

    What was at Stake in the Third Temptation by Satan

    temptedtried-01.jpgWhat was at stake in the third temptation was the gospel. Think about the implications of this offer. If Jesus had accepted it, Satan would have surrendered his reign of terror. Jesus could have directed the kingdoms of the world however he wanted. No more babies would be miscarried. No more women would die in childbirth. Ended immediately would be all human slavery, all genocide, all disease, all poverty, all torture, and all ecological catastrophes. The rows and rows of crosses across the highway of the Roman Empire would suddenly be gone. There would never be a Nero or a Napoleon or a Hitler or a Stalin, or at least you would never hear the infamy of those names. There would be no world of divorce courts and abortion clinics and electric chairs and pornographic images. Whatever is troubling you right now would be gone, centuries before you were ever conceived. This sounds like paradise. Satan was willing to give all of this up because he doesn’t fear Christianity. He certainly doesn’t fear “Christian values.” Satan fears Christ. Remember that Satan holds power only through accusation and condemnation. As long as there is no atoning sacrifice for sin, Satan is quite willing to allow conformity to the external law, even to the law of Christ ruling visibly over the nations from Jerusalem. The accuser simply wants his opportunity to indict his human would-be supplanting powers before the judgment seat, with no shed blood to redeem them back. This is what Jesus’ followers couldn’t understand as he moved down the Roman roads toward the place of the skull. It was there, and only there, as Jesus carried on himself the sins of the world, that he could say, “Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out” (John 12:31). It is only in his triumphant resurrection from the demonic grip of death that Jesus could have “angels, authorities, and powers” subjected to his rule (1 Pet. 3:21–22). A crossless Christianity isn’t just a deficient Christianity; it’s the same old satanism of human striving.


    In every generation the church faces cross-evading liberation theologies of both the Left and the Right. The liberation theology of the Left wants a Barabbas to fight off the oppressors, as though the ultimate problem is the reign of Rome and not the reign of death. The liberation theology of the Right wants a golden calf to represent religion and “traditional values” in the public square and to remind us of all the economic security we could have in Egypt. Both want a Caesar or a Pharaoh, not a Messiah. We will always be tempted to bypass the problem behind the problems—captivity to sin, bondage to the accusations of the demonic powers, the sentence of death. Where there is no gospel, something else will fill the void—therapy, consumerism, racial resentment, utopian politics, crazy conspiracy theories of the Left, crazy conspiracy theories of the Right; anything will do. Where there is something other than Christ preached, there is no freedom. There may be shouts of affirmation or silently nodding heads. There may be left-wing politics or right-wing politics. There may be culturally liberal psychotherapy or culturally conservative psychotherapy. There may be almost anything people think they want, but there’s nothing but judgment in the air. The Devil doesn’t mind “family values” as long as what you ultimately value is the family. Satan doesn’t mind “social justice” as long as you see justice as most impotantly social. Satan does not tremble at a “Christian worldview” as long as your ultimate goal is to view the world. Satan doesn’t even mind born-again Christianity as long as the new birth is preached apart from the blood of the cross and the life of the resurrection. Pastor, Satan doesn’t mind if you preach on the decrees of God with fervor and passion, reconciling all the tensions between sovereignty and freedom, as long as you don’t preach the gospel. Homeschooling mom, Satan doesn’t mind if your children can recite the catechism and translate the “Battle Hymn of the Republic” from English to Latin, as long as they don’t hear the gospel. Churches, Satan doesn’t care if your people vote for pro-life candidates, stay married, have sex with whom they’re supposed to, and tear up at all the praise choruses, as long as they don’t see the only power that cancels condemnation—the gospel of Christ crucified. Satan so fears that gospel, he was willing to surrender his entire empire just to stave it off. He still is.

    The first step of any kind of Christian engagement with the outside world then is to focus on the primary arena of Christ’s reign—his church. We threaten the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places by our life together, by being the kind of alternative community that demonstrates that the blood of Christ has triumphed, making those who were at odds into one new reality in Christ ...

    Excerpt: Tempted and Tried: Temptation and the Triumph of Christ by Russell D. Moore

    Posted by John on June 10, 2012 08:56 PM

    Comments

    Wow! Powerful words making that Proverb more proverbially enhanced and powerful: "death and life are in the power of the tongue"(Pro 18:21).

    One thing came to me when reading that promotion of the book. Reading those words was reminding me of something the Lord impressed on me years ago about what Jesus did do to Satan as recorded in chapter 4 of both Matthew and Luke's account of the temptation in the desert.

    We read this:

    Luk 11:21 When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace, his goods are safe;
    Luk 11:22 but when one stronger than he attacks him and overcomes him, he takes away his armor in which he trusted and divides his spoil.
    Luk 11:23 Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.

    The "armor" referred to, in my view, is the "Law of Righteousness" the devil uses to convict and condemn those guilty of violating it.

    Being that there is none righteous, no not one, it seems to me it is far harder for a blameless, "good" person to accept that charge of guilt, seeing they are blameless according to the Law.

    And it also seems logical that Satan would want this world he rules to grow and manifest into a moral and good worldwide society full of all the satisfactions the world produces, a sensible, prosperous world where children are safe and fed and people go on to attain to their excellence!

    The problem for this one world society Satan is desperate to bring about where the worldwide "waters" (Rev. 17:15) of this faux life are united and calm promoting the great whore is this True Church mission and reality:

    Eph 1:7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace,
    Eph 1:8 which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight
    Eph 1:9 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ
    Eph 1:10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

    You can't have a one world government controlled by Satan and the Church rising up united in Him full of His wisdom and insight proclaiming in the world the mystery of His Will according to His Eternal Purpose and not bring about division:

    "...Eph 3:10 so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.
    Eph 3:11 This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord,
    ...".

    This particular passage has always been one of those 'difficult teachings', because it describes a vast amount of power that Satan holds. Jesus doesn't rebuke with, "you don't own all of this to give in the first place", which has always bothered me: how much power does Satan hold over the world? Does he control to some degree all governments and earthly authorities? (from a US political perspective, this is believable...) and what does this mean for anyone who aspires to political office?

    Part of me sees passages like this and thinks that the Amish/mennonite mentality is correct, of Christians staying divorced of things political. Extreme, perhaps, but far less dangerous spiritually, I wonder...

    @RN

    Yet I think Genesis 3:15 would apply here. Jesus came to rescue man from Satan having held man captive to do his will (2 Timothy 2:26) ... and Jesus did so by willingly becoming a man living under the law, perfectly overcoming every temptation and walking in obedience to God's Law without sin, thereby becoming a perfect sacrifice for us (Heb 5:7-10) because he lived the life we should have lived and, in our place, died the death we justly deserved. In doing so He crushed Satan under foot... and all power Satan held over man is undone by the power of Jesus life, death and resurrection as predicted in Gen 3:15 to those whom He sets free.

    John

    Moore writes...."If Jesus had accepted it, Satan would have surrendered his reign of terror." ...and let the fallen world live in peace.

    This premise is true only if...

    First, that Satan is not a liar and can (or even will) deliver what he promises.

    Secondly, it is true only if Satan is willing to forego the TOTAL destruction of humans, sinners or no, and allow mankind to live in "earthly" peace once Jesus stepped back from his appointed, fore-ordained, all-empowered work.

    Thirdly, Moore's assumption is true only if Satan has full power over the things of this world. We know that he does not (Job ch 1). He can only do so far as God allows. There is nothing in the Bible that infers Satan has full control over earthly matters, including kingdoms, neither then nor now. God is the one who sets up and tears down.

    Lastly, it is true only if it were possible for God's ordained plan of salvation to fail. God is all-powerful. What He ordains, he does. And He ordained that the Son would not fail.

    It appears to me that Moore holds a low view of God's sovereignty.

    Whitestone

    Thanks for your points. We agree with your view of God's sovereigty. However, I think you may perhaps be missing the point entirely. Moore does not assume any of those things are true or even possible... He does not have a low view of God's sovereignty at all.

    I am personally superlapsarian (or beyond) and can still benefit from what Moore said. It is not unlike saying that if we obeyed God's law perfectly we would not need a Savior. Well, I know that is an impossible supposition but it is used as a teaching tool to help understand the idea of sinlessness because Jesus Himself did obey the covenant of works perfectly .. and this is what made grace possible... living the life we should have lived and dying the death we justly deserved.

    Likewise Moore can perfectly well teach this to make a point even if such a thing could have never taken place. Didactic tools like this are indispensable.

    John, your response does not explain nor negate Moore's "blanket statement".

    "If Jesus had accepted it, Satan would have surrendered his reign of terror."

    The phrase "if Jesus had accepted it" puts a condition on the possible consequence. "If". So we will assume, for the sake of the discussion, that there is a possibility of the "if".

    (Theologically, I know that this "if" is impossible under God's sovereignty and decrees. But for the discussion, I'll leave it there.)

    So "if" in Moore's statement is followed by a "consequence"...that "Satan would have surrendered his reign of terror." Moore states this categorically, not as one of a thousand possible consequences, but as THE consequence. And he has no scripture to back up that supposition.

    As in my previous comment I reiterate that neither the "if" nor the "consequence" are plausible. The statement, as written, is written as fact. It is not written as a possibility, nor plausibility, nor conjecture. In his choice of grammar Moore writes it as fact.

    That leaves me wondering...is this what he teaches? This untheologically sound possibility... that IF Jesus had failed (impossible in God's design and decree) that Satan would leave mankind to live happily on this earth?

    I don't see that as a Biblical concept. Satan's intent is to destroy. He has no friendship with either saint or sinner. He hates all. To say that he would have left the world as a "paradise" if Jesus had sinned is not a Biblical concept. It's bad conjecture.

    Moore goes on to say, "Satan so fears that gospel, he was willing to surrender his entire empire just to stave it off." Again...who says he was willing? Yes, he made the offer. But again...he is a liar and a deceiver. His having made the offer does not mean that once Jesus submitted to him that Satan would have completed the transaction. So we really cannot say that Satan was "willing to surrender his entire empire". We know his words (from Scripture) but we do not know his intent (Scripture does not define that).

    Whitestone

    Morality is just as damnable as immorality. Moralism apart from salvation in Jesus Christ alone is destruction.

    If the devil could get everyone to be polite, stop all cursing, close down all the porn shops eliminate homosexuality and fornication and have everyone go to church where Christ is not preached, then he would have, in fact, destroyed us.

    Satan does not tremble at a society that is ordered and moral. This is because such people are no better off than those who are held captive by him to do his will in immorality. I think this is what Moore is getting at. You may be trying to be a bit technical. I understand your point but I still benefit tremendously from his point. If you do not, that's fine and understandable, but he does not eradicate God's sovereignty on iota as I read it.

    My argument is not in regards to morality versus immorality and the consequences thereof.

    What is in dispute is Moore saying categorically that "If Jesus had accepted it, Satan would have surrendered his reign of terror." (underline 'would have')

    Jesus would not have accepted; he was the Son and His completion of the plan of salvation was foreordained from the foundation of the world.

    And Satan wouldn't have surrendered his kingdom. There is no scripture to indicate he would have carried out what he promised.

    And also in dispute is the statement, "Satan was willing to give all of this up because he doesn’t fear Christianity."

    We cannot assume his willingness to do in action what he offered in words regardless of whether or not he fears Christianity.

    To use such statements (which appear to be conforming to scripture but do not) and consider them merely didactic tools is not good teaching in my opinion.

    I'll leave it at that.

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