The Satanic Alternative (3)
The Third Temptation: Him Only Shalt Thou Serve
Almighty God, our heavenly Father, we come to thee with thanksgiving and gratitude, because thou art our God. We come to thee giving thanks for all past and present mercies, asking thee to give us faith and grace, to cast our every care upon thee, knowing thou carest for us. Thou knowest, our Father, how often, as we face the monstrous wickedness around us, we become fretful, and we take ungodly thought concerning the morrow. We trouble ourselves and we fret in vain. Give us grace, therefore, our Father, to trust in thee, to commit our ways unto thee knowing that thou art able, that having given thine only begotten Son to die for us, thou wilt do yet more, and care for us. Teach us to trust in thee. In Jesus name, Amen.
Our scripture lesson is Matthew 4:1-11.
“Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred. And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.
Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, and saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.
Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; and saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him.”
We have been analyzing the three temptations of our Lord. As Satan confronted him and offered to him, as he had to Adam and Eve, and to the many sons of Adam, the Satanic society as the answer to all man’s problems.
In the first temptation; “turn these stones into bread.” His temptation was; “…give people as their salvation, cradle-to-grave security. You have the power, you can turn the stones of the mountainside into bread, you can create food out of nothing, you can minister to all man’s problems. How dare you allow people to go hungry when you have this power. If thou art truly the Son of God, the Messiah, turn these stones into bread! Prove yourself! and then cast thyself down from the temple. Perform miracles as needed, make it unnecessary for people to have faith. Make it possible for them to walk by sight, and, moreover, make it your principle that it is wrong ever for God to test man. It is man who has the right instead, to test God.”
Then came the third temptation, the greatest. We must remember, in the face of all these temptations, that our Lord, though without sin, we are told; “was at all points tempted like as we are.” At no point did he succumb, but these temptations were real. He felt the appeal of them, he felt indeed, the hunger of the people, and how easy it would have been for him to ministered to that hunger. He recognized the trial that faith involves, how easy it would have been for him to provide the sight. Now the temptation came;
“…the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; and saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.”
Christ had been called to be king, king of all the world; “King of kings and Lord of lords,” and here he was offered all these things by means of a short-cut, the easy way, and when he was taken up to a high mountain and shown in an instant in vision of all the kingdoms of the world, all the kingdoms of his day, the kingdoms and empires that were to follow; the Holy Roman Empire, the Byzantine Empire, the British Empire, the Portuguese, the Spanish Empires, the United States, the USSR, all these things, all his. Quickly, easily, without the cross. All these things will I give thee, and then he felt, too, the intense desire of his own people, Israel, for that kingdom ruled by a son of David. This was their perversion of scripture. This was their hope, and our Lord was the legal heir to the throne of David. As the legal son of Joseph, he was the legal heir to the throne of David. He had a right to it through his legal father and through his mother. No one else could contest or challenge him in that claim.
Thus, although his estate was a very humble one, he was the legal heir. He had been brought up in the common education of his day, in a thorough study of the Old Testament scriptures and of the history of Israel, and he shared all the intense feelings that were naturally those of any son of Israel, of any Hebrew. He shared all the feelings of pride in those who were his ancestors of the line of David. David, Solomon, Jeroboam, Hezekiah, all the great kings whose wealth had been so splendid, whose power so far-reaching. He was the heir to these things, and make no mistake about it, he loved his people, and he wept on Palm Sunday as he went into Jerusalem, because he knew the judgment that was to fall upon them, and he cried out; “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem. How often would I have gathered thee unto myself.”
So this easy answer had its temptation. “All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.” What was involved in this? “If thou wilt fall down and worship me,” Satan said. “If you will recognize, by that act of worship, that I represent the absolute truth, the righteousness, the justice in the universe in my rebellion against God, in my assertion that every man is his own god, his own king, his own moral arbiter, if you recognize that I was right when I said to Eve and to Adam, that they should declare their independence of God and break with him, join with me in a revolution against God, in which “Ye shall be as God, knowing good and evil,” every man his own god, every man determining for himself what is good and evil so that no man can possibly go astray.”
First, you outlaw God. You outlaw God, and declare your independence of him, and therefore, you have outlawed sin, because sin is by definition any want of conformity to or transgression of the law and the word of God. And if you abolish God, or declare your independence of Him, you also abolish sin, because how can there be any sin if there is no God to have a claim on you, since sin is any want of conformity to or transgression of the word and law of God? And if you abolish sin from the universe, you also abolish guilt. There will be no sinners, and there will be no guilty men, and then history will be free, man will be free. Sin, by definition, is gone, therefore, guilt is gone and man is free. “This is my revolution,” Satan says; “Fall down and worship me. Recognize that the revolution I began against Almighty God is a revolution for the truth, for freedom. By that act affirm that what I have done is just, and righteous, and true. Liberate man, join with me!”
A distinguished historian who, by no means, shared our Christian faith; Ethelbert Stauffer, has written;
“You must first grasp the reality of guilt if you are to know what history is.”
“You must first grasp the reality of guilt if you are to know what history is,” because all of human history has been a struggling of man with guilt. A desire of man to create a paradise, a free world in which he is freed from the burden of guilt. Man faces crime and social disorder, and guilty men who try to pass their guilt onto others, and history gives us the attempt of men to expiate or to nullify guilt, by declaring that some other people, some other race, or some other group is the guilty one, and they are merely victims, or by declaring that there is no such thing as guilt, because there is no such thing as sin. And every one of these attempts, whatever their form, represents a temptation of Satan or a working of Satan. Because whatever other men do, we are ourselves sinners and guilty, until we find our peace with God through Jesus Christ, and our liberation comes first and foremost by making our peace with God.
But today, the essence of what virtually every pulpit in America teaches, let us say conservatively, only ninety-nine out of a hundred pulpits, is precisely this kind of Satanic teaching. Call it modernism, or neo-orthodoxy, or call it existentialism, or call it ‘the Death of God School of Theology,’ or ‘the new morality,’ whatever name you give to it, its purpose is to say; “there is no sin, there is no guilt.” Some take the form of blaming the social structure. Its capitalism, or it’s the environment, or it’s the family, or it’s Christian teaching that gives people a sense of guilt. Something is responsible in the community, or in the heredity, and others simply go all out and say there is no such thing as guilt, because there is no such thing as sin. Man will be free when he realizes that whatever is, is right, and whatever he does is right.
This is modern thought. It is the denial of guilt and a denial of sin, and therefore, it is ultimately a denial of man, because take away responsibility from man, and he ceases to be man. “Free man,” Satan said. “Abolish all these problems. Perform miracles whenever men need them. Give them cradle-to-grave security, and eliminate the problem of history.”
“Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.” Again, our Lord quoted scripture, from Deuteronomy 6. Moses, in warning the people, that in their prosperity and power, they must not forget the source of their prosperity and power, and thereby cease from serving and exalting God and turn instead to exalting man. Warned them of the consequences and said, “Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God that thy days may be prolonged.” Your blessing, your hope of any kind of good life, of paradise, rests on obedience. Serve him! Obey him! Worship him with all thy heart, mind, and being! that thy days may be prolonged, and thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. Beware, lest thou forget the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. Him only.
The Shorter Catechism declares that; “the chief end of man is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever.” And we are required by scripture to serve only God so that whatever we do, whether it be in our home or in our work, in our church, wherever we are, it must be first and foremost a service to God, and then to our employer, then to our husband, then to those around us, but first, an above all else, to God, him only shalt thou service. So that our every other service must be through and through a service to God.
This is the total obedience that God requires of us, and the sad fact is that this total obedience, or anything resembling it, is so remote now to the churches, that it seems almost absurd to many people if you suggest it.
I was distressed recently to learn of a little incident which was so revelatory what the life of Christians today has come to be. In one particular congregation, a very fine one, one of the prominent women members was conducting a meeting and spoke at length along certain lines, and because of her lack of training in certain areas, was clearly, although thoroughly well-intentioned, in error at several points. The pastor didn’t hear the talk or didn’t get a report of it, but in the course of his discussion of a related subject from the pulpit, it was almost as though he was correcting the woman, because he gave the truth about the matter, the clear-cut statement of doctrine that was necessary, and the result was devastating. The woman was outraged, she felt she had been corrected, and she felt it was uncalled for, that her statement was perfectly proper. “Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God and him only shalt thou serve,” and if it is the Lord we serve, we cannot declare our independence of His Word and of His truth as they are faithfully declared, and we must place ourselves under the criticism of the Word, under the correction of the word.
Is it any wonder that the communists are succeeding in our day? One of the prime requisites of being a member of a Communist cell is to submit to self-criticism. You stand up and you criticize yourself and your past actions, and your present thinking as you analyze it, and you subject yourself to the criticism of the other members, which is a ruthless thing, and it has one purpose; to break down your self-will, so that you view yourself not in terms of your pride, and your own desires, but in terms of the party disciple and the party faith. And though this discipline be put, as in this case, to an evil cause, it does give them a power that Christians do not have, because they will not heed the word of God. “Him only shalt thou serve.” Christians cannot afford the luxury of being thin-skinned and sensitive. “Him only shalt thou serve.”
“Then the devil leaveth him…” The kingdom that Satan offered, our Lord rejected. He chose the cross. He chose the way of indeed seeing children die of hunger, and of people having to walk by faith, sometimes when it seems impossible for them to maintain their faith, of being tried and tested, over and over again, but He chose that way which was, first of all, the way of the cross, for himself, because only thereby could paradise be regained. Only thereby could man truly be man under God, and immediately; “…behold, angels came and ministered unto him.” And Mark tells us that the wild beasts of the desert were there and harmed him not. He had gone out into the wilderness, into a desert and a waste place, a fitting symbol of what sin had made of this world, and by his resistance of the temptation, by his faithfulness to the Word of God, standing upon the Word of God. “It is written… it is written… it is written…” He said thrice. He made that wilderness, for a moment, paradise restored.
As with the first Adam, so now with the second Adam, the beasts of the wilderness were around him, subject to him, and at peace with him. The angels of God ministered to Him. There was full communion between heaven and earth, paradise restored. And paradise is restored in our hearts when we accept Christ as the Lord and savior. Communion is restored between God and ourselves, between God and this world. And every step of the way as his kingdom is extended in the hearts of men, in homes, in civil government, in businesses, in Christian education, there we see an outpost of paradise regained, of the reconquest of this world, as God’s kingdom. “Unto the end the kingdoms of this world might become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ.” Let us pray.
Our Lord and our God, we give thee thanks that thou hast called us unto the glorious victory of Jesus Christ, the victory which overcometh the world, and that thou hast called us unto the citizenship, not of a doomed city or a doomed empire, but of a city of a kingdom whose builder and maker thou art, a citizenship unto victory, a citizenship unto peace. Make us mindful, our Father, of our citizenship and of the power and the glory thereof, that we may face all things confident that we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. In Jesus name, Amen.
Rev. R.J. Rushdoony (1916–2001), was a leading theologian, church/state expert, and author of numerous works on the application of Biblical law to society. He started the Chalcedon Foundation in 1965. His Institutes of Biblical Law (1973) began the contemporary theonomy movement which posits the validity of Biblical law as God’s standard of obedience for all. He is credited with igniting the modern Christian school and homeschooling movements in the mid to late 20th century. Many ministry and educational efforts that continue today, took their philosophical and Biblical roots from his lectures and books. Learn more about R.J. Rushdoony by visiting: https://chalcedon.edu/founder