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.’”
Have you ever hidden a verse from the Scriptures in your heart, and when all hell was breaking loose, repeated it until you entered its truth and believed it once again?
When Adam and Eve stumbled in the garden, it was because they did not have an answer for the enemy. Their hearts failed them. They did what Israel did, time and time again. They did what Jesus would not; they failed to answer their enemy.
“It is written” is a phrase that I want to become accustomed to, within my own mind, and in my outward answers to situations and temptations that arise.
There is a better Word than our own to answer the enemy with. Jesus reaches for it. He reaches deep into the covenant narrative of his people for it. In using the phrase, he is invoking an entire history of God’s faithfulness and a spectacular tapestry of worship gone right.
“It is written” is a great way for you and me to answer the enemy when the whispers come.
Several years ago, I went through a very dark season of an entire year battling with health issues, mental health struggles, and a lingering and choking insomnia. In the middle of the night one evening, one in which I thought I might lose my mind, I hit the wall. My face was in a pillow as I knelt on the cold floor, and the chasm between my loving Father and me felt impassable. I was ready to wake my wife to take me to the hospital to check me in. It was a no-turning-back, life-or-death moment in my spirit.
Then, the Word of God came to mind: “Your word gives me life” (Ps. 119:50 NCB). I repeated the phrase over and over into that pillow, so the sound was muffled, and I didn’t wake my wife. At first, I yelled it. Then, as I repeated it, my voice became lower until I entered a slight peace that steadied me.
In those moments, the enemy had almost convinced me I would lose my mind, and that my life and my relationships would fall utterly apart. My answers, my emotionally fragmented and best-sourced answers, even those from positive-thinking quotes and inspired authors, fell flat.
The enemy was winning. I had to have an answer for him that would confront his slow erosion of my sense of calling to be a beloved child of God. He told me God was not good, or that I would be much healthier and stable than I was. He suggested that if “he grants sleep to those he loves” (Ps. 127:2), I must not be one of those he loves.
I felt my heart beginning to move toward hatred of my life in all its misery, and even toward hatred of God for not delivering me from my mental anguish—and that’s when the Word of God, hidden in my heart, reared up and gave me an answer to give.
You know when, in soccer (which I hope you love as my family does), a goal is scored after one scored by the rival team and the announcer lifts his or her voice? I love the moment when the announcer says, “And (my team) answers with a goal—to win the game!”
I want to answer the enemy, in my darkest moments, with a goal-scoring Word that is better than my own good shot or pass. I want a Word to go in the net, to rip it, to stun my rival, and to end the game. It is to the written Word of God we must go in those moments, just as Jesus did.
When we use the Word of God to answer the enemy, we invoke thousands of years of covenant love and faithful lives in the process. With the Word of God in our hearts and on our lips—spoken, sung, or screamed into a pillow—we can win our battles.
“It is written.”
The net is ripped clean through. The game is over. Thanks for coming.
Lord of the Wild, your Word is a living and active, double-edged sword (Heb. 4:12), and is the sword of the Spirit (Eph. 6:17). Teach us to answer the enemy with, “It is written,” rather than struggling for words born of our own strength and will. In Jesus’s name, amen.
Is there a verse you would call your life verse or a go-to verse that you draw on in your darkest moments? What is it, and what does it mean to you?
For the Awakening,
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I don’t have one life verse, but many living verses that take turns burning in my heart and fuelng me from within as the Spirit brings them to my remembrance.
Recently, the word’s of Jesus were given to me as a life verse. This one seems most appropriate for the season that I now find myself living through. Jesus said, “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matthew 26:41) I’m personally tempted to first respond to every problematic situation in the strength of my own flesh, and when met with failure, this brings about frustration and anger.