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.
There is a spiritual power of evil that both exists and has a purpose—to get you to either forfeit or extinguish the precious gift of life your Creator has given you.
In the wilderness, Jesus contended with the devil not as one contends with an equal, but as one contends with a persistent distraction from vocation. You address it or you drift, you succumb, you lose faith in your own God-graced name. The path of life is taken, or the path of death (Ps. 16:11). That’s the fight that is on.
In the Middle Ages, if you view art from that time period, you’ll see the satan, meaning “accuser” or “adversary,” depicted as a scaly, horned creature obviously bent on doing no good. This same kind of embodiment of satan, or “the satan” as the Hebrew suggests, continues to soften as history marches on. I think that’s a good thing. Evil rarely presents itself as evil; it usually presents itself as a higher good.
The satan, as we reflect on the broader image of the devil passed down from ancient Hebrew tradition, is a spiritual presence that bends the heart toward wickedness. However we understand the satan (I’ll keep that generic, lowercase name going just to keep the enemy in place and to counter the idea that satan is the opposite of God), there is a real demonic spirit of accusation and dehumanization alive in the world, a spiritual power that wars against the Creator’s agenda and seeks to unseat the royal priesthood of God (you and I, according to 1 Peter 2:9) from our understanding of our place as a child of God and as the beloved of God.
In fact, that spiritual power is after everyone made in the image of God.
Almost immediately after Jesus was baptized in the waters of the Jordan, the Father and Spirit present, and almost as soon as Jesus received the belovedness blessing of his Abba and his clear vocational call as the Son of God, that vocation was challenged.
And we know our adversary does not play fair. In fact, one of the satan’s primary ways of taking out beloved children of God, and those made in God’s image, is to get us alone and then accuse us until we break and believe his evil, peppering, nagging, relentless, breath-stealing voice.
I’ve attended the funerals of those who have taken their life by suicide and walked with people through their stories of self-hatred before the Holy Spirit lifted them out of darkness into his marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9 again). No one can convince me there is not a spiritual power of evil focused on stealing, devouring, and destroying a soul this side of eternity. I’ve seen it, felt it, addressed it, and battled it myself. My guess is that you have, in some way, as well.
The satan, the accuser, knows the Lord who walked out of those baptismal waters. The satan knows that his mission is to “destroy the works of the evil one” (1 John 3:8). The satan knows that the life of the world is at stake. So, in the temptation that came with the testing in the wilderness, all bets were off, and the devil, as always, was pulling no punches. All of hell’s fury was released at Jesus.
Friends and family, if you don’t believe there is an enemy of your soul who is out to steal your life from you—one hateful thought, impression, narrative at a time—then you are being set up for a fall. Hell has one goal: to extinguish your life and end the possibility that you would find your hope in God.
Jesus confronted and defeated the satan in the wild. He held onto his belovedness and vocation. You and I can as well, because his Spirit lives within us. That’s the way this works; the mystery of the gospel is Christ in us (Col. 1:27).
We conclude with 1 John 5:18–20a:
We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the One who was born of God keeps them safe, and the evil one cannot harm them. We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one. We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true.
Amen. To know Jesus is to know him who is true, and to distinguish his voice from him who is false.
Let’s learn to know the difference.
Lord of the Wild, we know that voice that seeks to steal, kill, and destroy in our spirits. Help us to defeat the accuser, as Jesus did, with the Word of God in our hearts and the Spirit of God contending for us. In Jesus’s name, amen.
Have you ever seen a situation that was filled with evil righted by God and turned around for his glory? What was that like?
For the Awakening,
Subscribe to get this in your inbox daily and please share this link with friends.
As a retired law enforcement officer of a major city for 22+ years ( Houston Texas), I’ve personally witnessed the the fact that Satan is still very much alive and real. I’ve also participated in a successful deliverance of a close relative and observed the change made in someone who’s experienced freedom from demonic oppression. There’s no doubt in my mind that we who’ve been baptized into Christ are both at war with the principalities and dark powers of the spiritual realm, but at the same time have received the authority over them in Jesus’s name.
Seeing scary people as beloved by God and turned around for His glory:
I was a counselor and chaplain in an alcohol and drug rehab for 5 1/2 years. Men would tell me stories about the evil that they had done, and I would be shocked and appalled at the things I heard. Then I would be equally shocked by the kindness, mercy, and compassion that rose up in me and flowed out as I prayed for them and often wept with them. Afterwards, those same men treated me with such respect and kindness that I was in awe at how God changed their attitude.