Focal passage: Matthew 4:1-10
I sat in a massive ballroom surrounded by 4,000 college students as a speaker commented on the warfare language often used in sports. He said, “I hear people say, ‘It’s a battle out there. It’s a war.’ No it’s not! It’s a game! Meanwhile there is a real spiritual war being fought every day, but you don’t have time to fight the real war because you are too busy with your pretend ‘war.’”
John Piper spoke those words 15 years ago. They rocked me to the core then and still rock me today.
Do you think about the Christian life as war? The scriptures paint two battlegrounds on which this war takes place.
First, there is the external war against Satan and his fallen angels in this broken world (Ephesians 2:1-3).
Second, there is the internal war that takes place in our hearts.
James captures the bloody battlefield of the heart asking, “What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this that your passions are at war within you?” (James 4:1).
We often lose the external battles with temptation from without because we first lost the internal battles of idolatry from within.
Not so with Jesus of Nazareth.
Jesus didn’t need to feed on bread because He was feasting on His Father’s will.
He didn’t need to test the Father’s protection because He was fulfilling His Father’s plan. He didn’t need Satan to give him a wicked crown because His crown was on the other side of His cross.
Jesus won the external battle because He won the internal battle. He was the truer and better Adam who recognized the Serpent’s lies and defeated them with His Father’s truth.
He was the truer and better Israel, the faithful Son of God who trusted and obeyed His Fathers word.
He ate the feast of the Father’s will and washed it down with the cup of the Father’s wrath so that He might be the tempted as we are, but without sin (Hebrews 4:15).
We win our war by trusting in the victory of Christ in our place.