Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry.
The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.”
Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone.’”
The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to.”
Let’s revisit how the enemy speaks to us. Earlier in our meditation, we noted that the images of the devil we have from the first thousand or so years of art history, including the images we get from Dante, Milton, and others, are not biblical.
Though Jesus may have seen the devil in a way we can’t, as a physicalized evil, biblically the satan is understood to be the influence of evil, the personal presence of evil, inviting us to sin and break covenant with God—or to ultimately extinguish our own life and/or the lives of others. We see the evil one at work explicitly in a mass shooting or a suicide.
But more often the enemy is at work, insidiously, speaking into our hearts and minds ideas and thoughts that disorder our desires from the desires of Christ.
When the devil spoke to Jesus, we don’t know how that conversation took place. But I believe, even with our limited spiritual sight, the battle of words had similar qualities to ours. We are going our way in life, then a dark thought catches ahold of our minds and we catastrophize about it for weeks on end.
Life is being stolen. That is what the word of the enemy does. Like the devourer himself, the extinguisher of inward and outward life (see Madeleine L’Engle’s book in her fiction series, A Wind in the Door), the word of satan comes to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10).
To hear the voice of God is to be given to. To hear the voice of the enemy is to be taken from. To hear the voice of God is to be brought to life. To hear the voice of the enemy is to be drawn to death.
If you hear hope in the inner thoughts you are entertaining, feed them with the promises of the Word of God (and your favorite songs of worship). If you hear despair in the inner thoughts you are entertaining, confront them with the Word of God and reorient with your favorite songs of worship and the blessed words and prayers of the faithful.
The devil will speak to you, just as the devil spoke to Jesus. The devil will seek to cause you to lose faith in your name before God—Beloved—and your calling in God to live out your covenant life as a son or daughter of your loving heavenly Father before others, inviting them to come alive to do the same.
Here’s to hearing God and responding with joy. And here’s to hearing the devil (because you will) and responding with the Word of God, the sword of the Spirit, and the promises and the praises of Jesus.
Lord of the Wild, it is not our desire to hear the devil speak to us, but it is an inevitability in this fallen world. Train us, by your Spirit within and through habits that we choose to cultivate in faith, to resist that voice with an arsenal of your Word we have pre-hidden in our hearts. In Jesus’s name, amen.
Are you learning to distinguish the voice of God from your own voice, or the voice of the enemy? If so, what are you learning?
For the Awakening,