Friday, May 2, 2014

An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday May 4, 2014

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(Knowing and abiding by the Word of GOD helps us resist temptation)
(Matthew 4:1-11 & Deuteronomy 6:13-16)

One of the great truths in life is, that, after every great moment of achievement, there comes a moment of human reaction to that achievement that makes us more vulnerable to the wiles of satan, than we ever were before. In Matthew chapter 4, verses 1-11, the apostle Mathew gives us his account of the immediacy of which the temptations of satan, followed the baptism of JESUS CHRIST, one of the greatest moments in human history. There satan tries in vain to tempt even JESUS, and move HIM away from the plan of GOD at the beginning of HIS ministry, by trying to stumble HIM with Scripture and magnificent offers. However, JESUS was able to hold fast to the Word and plan of HIS FATHER in Heaven, even while in a weakened state of hunger.
In Deuteronomy chapter 6, GOD calls on all of the people of Israel to wholeheartedly commit themselves to HIS Word and commands, and to also pass down HIS instructions to coming generations. Here the LORD presents the obedience to HIS laws and commands as the only defense we and our children have against the satanic attacks and temptations that are sure to come, as we strive to advance HIS plan of spreading the Gospel of CHRIST to the world.
Here in this passage, Moses is concerned about the Israelites being tempted in their new land as they were at Massah (Exodus 17:1-7), where they complained against the LORD in their time of testing, instead of holding fast to their belief in the only wise GOD. Moses hoped that in the future they would remember their embarrassing sinful behavior at Massah, and the next time, choose to do that which is good and right in the sight of the LORD. Then, no matter what hardship GOD allowed satan to tempt them with, they would be able to overcome if they remembered HIS laws, commands, and regulations. Through their obedience to GOD, just like with JESUS, all things would go well for them.
More than a few times in Biblical history, we see a great moment of achievement by men of GOD being quickly followed by a great temptation from satan. In fact, the Scriptures are indeed rift with such incidents as these. We see it in Genesis 13, for example, when a very wealthy Lot is able to separate himself from Abram, and, for the first time in his life, is on his own in the world, free to make his own decisions. Surely that must have been a great moment in this young man’s life. However, we see in chapter 14, that, no sooner than he had made his first big decision, which was to move into the area of Sodom and Gomorrah, after he was “tempted by what he saw in the world”, that, he is drawn into a conflict with rival kings, and is captured, and loses everything that he owns.
In 2 Samuel 11, we see it again with King David, fresh off his big victory over the Ammonites, and deciding to skip the next battle and stay at home and bask in his own glory for a while. Here we see this glorious, victorious, legendary king waking up from his nap, and deciding to take a stroll on the rooftop of his palace. Then, all of sudden satan shows him this woman of unusual beauty, named Bathsheba, taking a bath, in the home of her husband Uriah, who was a member of David’s army.
Giving way to “the temptations of the flesh”, David has her brought to him in his palace, where he has sex with her, and she, as a result, becomes pregnant with his child. David then tries to cover up his sin of adultery by murdering her husband, Uriah, by ordering him to be put on the front line in the heat of battle.
Then in Matthew 16:13-19, Matthew writes of JESUS and HIS Disciple’s visit to the area of Caesarea Philippi where HE poses the question to them, “Who do you say that I am?” When Simon Peter answers, “YOU are the MESSIAH, the SON of the LIVING GOD”, JESUS replies, “You are blessed, Simon son of John, because my FATHER in Heaven has revealed this to you. You did not learn this from any human. Now I say to you, that you are Peter, and upon this rock, I will build my Church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven”.
Now surely this must have been a great moment in Peter’s life. But in verses 22-23, we see satan immediately “tempting Peter spiritually”, by using him to try and convince JESUS against GOD’s plan for HIS crucifixion and subsequent resurrection, by telling HIM “ Heaven forbid, LORD, this will never happen to YOU! JESUS turns to Peter and speaks to the spirit of satan who had entered into him, and says, “Get away from me satan”.
And so yet another great moment is foiled by the ensuing temptation of satan. Man must forever be on guard against the temptations of evil, especially in areas where we are most sure of ourselves, and especially following moments of great achievements and gains in our personal life and works for the LORD. With all great achievements, comes an equally great measure of human pride, and satan will often use that reactionary moment of pride, to enter into, and try to destroy our lives.
GOD has given everyone a gift of some sort, and everyone has to decide whether they’re going to be good stewards with those gifts, by using them to advance GOD’s work here on earth, particularly, by building on to the kingdom of GOD through our positive reaction to the needs of our fellowman. And we will be tempted all along the way, by satan, to try to get us to use our gifts and talents in selfish ways, apart from GOD.
And, even though we may not be able to escape such temptations 100% of the time, the more we abide in CHRIST JESUS by keeping our focus, the more we will be able to summon up the strength given to us, through HIM, by GOD. In other words, we can battle temptations more successfully when we understand and act upon the Word of GOD. And we can be encouraged by the fact, that, JESUS met and overcame temptation, not as a GOD, but rather, as a 100% human being, living here on earth.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander

                                           LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website

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