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. If you worship me, it will all be yours.”
Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.’”
The devil led him to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down from here. For it is written:
“‘He will command his angels concerning you to guard you carefully; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”
“It is written.” Let’s put aside for the moment that satan is throwing the phrase back at Jesus. I want to continue to expand on what it means to have “it is written” in our hearts.
We are in the third test, the third temptation, and the third response of Jesus—that response is the same one he has relied on each time the devil has approached, and if Jesus saw it as the most powerful way he could respond to temptation, then surely, we should learn that way ourselves.
I love to pray the Scriptures, and to get others to pray them with me. When we simply read Scripture, we can miss the personal power each passage has when declared back to God in prayer and worship.
When I answer the devil, and my own wayward heart, with “it is written,” I am drawing on thousands of years of covenant history built around the lovingly delivered truth of God to humankind. When I pray the Scriptures in the face of testing or temptation, I am entering them—and they are entering me. When I pray the Scriptures, I am defining what is true not only for the devil before me, but for my own heart seeking to walk in the way of Jesus. When I pray the Scriptures, I am declaring that my own emotionally fragmented self will not offer enough good and true words to do battle for me.
When I pray the Scriptures, I am alive to God and God reveals himself to me.
There is no way around it; the Christian who does not hide the written Word of God in his or her heart has put down the sword of the Spirit in order to pick up a pocketknife for battle. There is no surviving the battle raging for our hearts without the sword of the Spirit, and the rest of the armor of God, protecting us along the way.
It bears reading Ephesians 6:10–18 (emphasis mine) out loud in order to get its truths settling in us as we respond to the enemy, “It is written,” in the battles ahead:
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.
In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.
You and I will make it if we always have the Word of the Lord hidden in our hearts with which we can respond with holy fire to the evil one.
Lord of the Wild, we are committed to committing the Word of God to heart. We know how important it has been to us to cling to your Word in times of trouble in the past; help us prepare for the future and the hiding of your Word in our hearts we will need in times to come. In Jesus’s name, amen.
Do you have a psalm to which you return again and again when facing down temptation or rising in faith to tests? Which one is it, and what words in the psalm most strengthen you during a challenge?
For the Awakening,
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Psalm 119:133 Guide my steps according to your Word and keep sin from ruling over my heart.
Bible words ignite a fire within me that doesn’t go out when I close the cover but continues to blaze as long as I keep my heart wide open to Scripture’s fuel and the Spirit’s presence.
I don’t have a favorite psalm, but I have many various Scriptures come across my heart throughout the day.