Satan is an expert at twisting truth and dressing up sin in order to entice us. How can we resist these temptations and walk in freedom the way Jesus calls us to? Below are 3 ways Jesus did…
“Woah, that is a long way down!” my daughter exclaims as she abruptly stops running. We cast our eyes down the precarious trail transformed by erosion, with scattered rocks tumbling down a deep ravine. Earlier in our hike, my confident, independent daughter declared herself “the leader,” but is now having second thoughts. I grasp her dusty, sweaty hand in my own as we navigate the rocky desert terrain.
Even in her limited wisdom, I am grateful my four-year-old understands the limits of her freedom when a sheer rock face stares back at her. As I look out across the dry desert canyon, my mind goes to Jesus in the desert. Instead of succumbing to Satan’s mirage of freedom, Jesus perfectly models for us a human life empowered by the Holy Spirit. I hope to emulate Jesus in this way, especially in my parenting journey. When we fail to understand the responsibility of freedom in Christ, we may either find ourselves in risky situations or ignorant of the potential dangers.
Let’s explore three ways Jesus denies Satan’s myths of freedom and walks unhindered in God’s will.
The myth of self-sufficiency.
After fasting for 40 days in the wilderness, Jesus is undeniably hot and suffering from extreme hunger. Satan reminds Jesus he is free to instantly fix the situation all by himself! Instead, Jesus trusts God’s timing and shows his full reliance on his Heavenly Father. He responds,
“It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God’” (Matthew 4:4).
Throughout his ministry, Jesus simply demonstrates how bread and a reliance on God can feed thousands. If we believe Satan’s myth of self-sufficiency, in what ways may we inadvertently miss out on God’s mighty works in our lives?
The myth of blind faith.
Next, Satan tells Jesus to jump from the top of the temple in Jerusalem. He cites scripture promising angels will not allow Jesus to strike his foot against a stone (Psalm 91:12). But God does not call us to an impulsive, insecure faith. Beyond being able to simply quote scripture like Satan, Jesus intimately knows God. He understands God’s character as neither manipulative nor demands blind faith.
Furthermore, Jesus does not need to force God to validate his deity through a miraculous display of power. In a moment when Jesus—in all his freedom—could have done something magnificent, he demonstrates restraint and humility by saying,
“It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test’” (Matthew 4:7).
In reality, God never promises to rescue us when we are using our freedom to walk outside of God’s will. His ultimate display of sacrificial love on the cross requires no further test.
The myth of power.
Finally, Satan offers to give Jesus “all the kingdoms of the world and their glory” (Matthew 4:8) in exchange for worshipping him. Essentially, Satan proposes an easy way out for Jesus by suggesting that if you give me your authority, I’ll give you back dominion over the kingdoms that you deserve without having to go to the cross. But Satan fails to induce amnesia in Jesus the same way he did for Adam and Eve back in the Garden. Nothing can supersede Jesus’ love for humankind and his mission to redeem his creation. Jesus uses his freedom, not for his own worldly ambitions, but to freely pour out his love for us.
It is important to note that the tests, which Jesus humbly allows himself to experience as a man, had direct implications on his calling and future ministry. The same is true for each of us. While it may not always be as painfully obvious as a cliff or being face to face with Satan, walking in freedom apart from God makes us slaves to our temptations and ultimately tarnishes our Christian witness.
Paul implores us not to“use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.” (Galatians 5:13) As followers of Christ, we are charged daily with paradoxically embracing the freedom found in humility and sacrifice.
May we walk confidently as redeemed children of God, using our identities to radically serve others in love.