Many in the Body of Christ are in a wilderness experience in this day and age. The wilderness is a place in Christ in which you are out of the house of bondage but you are not quite in the Promised Land. The Promised Land is when you are walking in the fullness of the Spirit and of Purpose in Christ Jesus The wilderness is a great time of testing, confusion, frustration, and it brings out the dark side of our soul because we are constantly confronted with our false self which manifests the most while we are in the fire. Many saints of old have called this period “the dark night of the soul.”
The following are the four main temptations every one of us go through based on the epic contest between Satan and Jesus when He was in the wilderness.
Text: Luke 4:1-13
(Jesus, as the second Adam, didn’t sin in the midst of temptation even when He was hungry and in the wilderness, which contrasts with the First Adam who sinned by eating the forbidden fruit while in Paradise with all his needs being met.)
Temptation # 1- “If” you are the son of God = the test of identity
One of the greatest tests when we are in the wilderness is we begin to doubt our identity in Christ. Satan said IF you are the Son of God — when we are in our greatest tests and trials the enemy tries to get us to doubt our salvation, our place in Christ as His child, and even the reality of Christianity. When we lose our identity then the enemy can frame another identity for us. Our culture or ethnicity can become our primary identity and reason for existence. We need to be centered on God and be hid and lost in God for our name and identity (Colossians 3:3).
Temptation #2 – Turn these stones into bread = Performance
The enemy tries to get us into a performance trap in which we have to do good works to prove to ourselves and to God that we deserve salvation and grace, or we fall into a performance trap in our key relationships. The problem with this is that we all fall short of the glory of God and this mentality is a slippery slope in which we can never fully satisfy ourselves or God with this mentality because there will always be a lot of things left undone, not done the right way, or done the wrong way because we are fallible, sinful humans. It becomes a performance trap in which we will find our selves working harder and harder to please God -even though we find ourselves feeling worse and worse about ourselves.
(Some even get worse by praying and reading the bible more and more hours — not because they love God but to earn God’s love by works.)
Temptation # 3 – Jump off the roof because God will protect you = Presumption
Often when we are in the wilderness we do not hear God’s voice clearly because of anxiety and frustration; and to compensate for how we feel we begin to do our own activities to try to make something happen for God. Instead, we need to learn the difference between faith and presumption. Psalm 19: 13 includes a prayer that asks God to keep us from presumptuous sins. Presumption is when we make our own plans and then after they are in motion we ask God to bless them (this is because of a root of pride and independence from God).
Many Christians have made many important decisions without getting proper counsel and without waiting upon the Lord to know His will. Some have moved out of state, left their job for another job, got married quickly without advice or marriage counseling. They then expect the church and God to bless their decision and when God doesn’t bless them they get angry at God and backslide (Proverbs 19:3).
When we don’t have a deep prayer life and regularly pour over God’s word then we will live in presumption because we will live outside of His Truth.
Temptation # 4 – Bow down to me and I will give you the Kingdom = the sin of expecting Power without process and pain
Satan offered Jesus all the kingdoms of the world in an instant because He knew that Jesus’ ultimate goal was that all the kingdoms and kings of the earth would come to Him and bow down to Him in worship (Daniel 7:13,14). Jesus’ temptation was that He would receive in an instant what would have taken more than three years and much pain to accomplish. God never bypasses the process and the pain that comes with the process; because what is done in you is often more important than what is done through you!
God always determines that power and purpose is to be surrounded by problems and pain so that when we have the power we will not want the glory that comes with the power! When something comes too easy or if something seems too good to be true then it probably isn’t true or isn’t good for you! Many of us want quick fixes and instant answers to our situation but that is only like experiencing a “sugar high”– it stimulates you quickly for a short time and then after that you are tired and you need another sugar fix! Ultimately it ruins you physically!
So this year, if you are in the wilderness — take heed to the four main tests God will allow you to experience. After Jesus passed these tests He was ready to walk into His destiny and purpose. If He would have failed in one of these tests He would have been unfit for ministry and would have never been able to redeem us. Let’s stick close to God during these challenging seasons so that we will be able to pass through the wilderness and come into our promised land.