Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore, let us go forth to him outside the camp, bearing his reproach. For we have no continuing city here, but we seek one to come.
Select a thought to read by choosing a collection, the month, and then the day:
“Whom the Lord foreknew . . .”
From a sermon by Pastor John, 2005
In Luke 4, we are told that the Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted by the Devil. This means that God, not the Devil, was the Designer of this event called “The Temptation”. Jesus did not just happen to wander out into the wilderness. In the gospel of Mark we are told that “the Spirit drove Jesus into the wilderness.” It wouldn’t surprise me to learn that the Spirit also drove the Devil into the wilderness to face the Lord. Whatever the case, God was fully in charge of the monumental spiritual battle that took place between Jesus and Satan.
There are only three ways that anyone can be tempted. The apostle John would later describe those three ways in 1John 2:16: “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life, is not of the Father but is of the world.” Satan tried all three of these ways on Jesus. In Luke 4:3, he tried the lust of the flesh by appealing to the desire of Jesus’ flesh to eat. In Luke 4:4-7, he appealed to the lust of Jesus’ eyes by showing Jesus all the glories of the kingdoms on earth. In Luke 4:9-11, when Jesus had overcome those two trials, the Devil finally resorted to the third and last way that he can tempt a righteous man; he appealed to the pride of life that was in Jesus’ flesh.
An important lesson for us in this final test Jesus faced, Satan’s appeal to the pride of life, lies in the fact that the Devil used the Scriptures to try to puff Jesus up. He pointed out to the Lord that there were prophecies written about him, and he used that fact in an attempt to inject pride into Jesus’ heart. But the “meek and lowly” Jesus overcame that challenge to his faith by refusing to leave his sanctuary of humility. Can we do as well as our Lord did when confronted by spirits that would puff us up?
How would you feel if the Devil came to you quoting famous ancient prophecies and pointing out that they were spoken about you? But then, the better question would be, how do you feel when you read famous ancient prophecies that were spoken about you, for if you are in Christ, there are many such prophecies. For example, Isaiah 65:1, as quoted in Romans 10:20): “But Isaiah is very bold and said, ‘I was found by them who sought me not; I revealed myself unto them that asked not after me. I said ”Behold me!“ unto a nation that was not called by my name.’ ”
Who were these people who did not seek God but to whom God would reveal Himself? They certainly were not the Jews, for God said, “They seek me daily” (Isa. 58:2). And “To what purpose is your multitude of sacrifices unto me?” (Isa. 1:11-15). Then, who were these people? They were believers in Christ Jesus. They were you! And there is much, much more that was said by the prophets about you:
Hosea 2:23; 1:10, as quoted in Romans 9:25-26: “God said by Hosea, ‘I will call them my people who were not my people, and her ”beloved“ who was not beloved.’ ” And “It shall come to pass that in the place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people’, there they shall be the children of the living God.”
That’s you! And there is more. Much more.
Ps. 18:43: “A people whom I have not known shall serve me.”
Among all the nations, God “knew” only the Israelites (Amos 3:2). This prophecy could not be a reference to them. It is to you!
Ps. 22:30-31: “A seed shall serve him; it shall be counted to the Lord for a generation. They shall come, and shall declare His righteousness unto a people that shall be born, that He hath done this.”
The “people who shall be born” are those who have been born in spirit, not in the flesh, for “they who are children of the flesh, these are not the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted for the seed” (Rom. 9:8).
Isa. 66:8: “Who hath heard such a thing? Who hath seen such things? Shall the earth be made to bring forth in one day? Or shall a nation be born at once?”
A nation was born at once on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2, and if you have received the promise of the Spirit, you are a citizen of that heavenly nation. You are loved. You were thought about before you were born. You were wanted and planned for from the foundation of the world.
Ps. 102:18: “This shall be written for the generation to come, and the people that shall be created shall praise the Lord.”
You were made a new creature by the baptism of the holy Ghost. This prophecy is about you!
Isaiah 43:18-21: “Remember not the former things, neither consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing - now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. The beast of the field shall honor me, the dragons and the owls, because I give waters in the wilderness and rivers in the desert, to give drink to my people, my chosen.”
Isaiah 49:5-12: “And now, saith the Lord that formed me from the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob again to him, ‘Though Israel be not gathered, yet shall I be glorious in the eyes of the Lord, and my God shall be my strength.’ And he said, ‘It is a light thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the preserved of Israel. I will also give you for a light to the Gentiles, that you may be my salvation unto the end of the earth.’ Thus saith the Lord, the Redeemer of Israel, and his Holy One, to him whom man despises, to him whom the nation abhors, to a servant of rulers. Kings shall see and arise, princes also shall worship because of the LORD that is faithful, and the Holy One of Israel, and he shall choose you. Thus saith the Lord, ‘In an acceptable time have I heard you, and in a day of salvation have I helped you. And I will preserve you and give you for a covenant of the people, to establish the earth, to cause to inherit the desolate heritages, that you may say to the prisoners, ‘Go forth’; to them that are in darkness, ‘Shew yourselves.’ They shall feed in the ways, and their pastures shall be in all high places. They shall not hunger nor thirst; neither shall the heat nor sun smite them, for he who has mercy on them shall lead them, even by the springs of water shall he guide them. And I will make all my mountains a way, and my highways shall be exalted. Behold, these shall come from far and, lo, these from the north and from the west. . . .’”
This is a people not acknowledged by man. This is a nation that has no representative at the United Nations because it is a nation that is not recognized as a nation by the world. When you enter into Christ, you become a mystery to the entire planet, and a mystery even to the invisible spiritual powers that are around us. In fact, as Uncle Joe testified in a prayer meeting in 1970, “There comes a time in every one of our lives when we become a stranger to ourselves.”
Do you know who you are in Christ? None of us know ourselves when we are born into the nation of faith any more than we know our Father. But if we stay filled with the Spirit, we will come to know Him. We will also come to know ourselves and that we were spoken of and dearly loved long before we were born into this life.
One reason that the Devil failed to puff Jesus up with the knowledge that there were prophecies about him is that Jesus remained humble enough to understand that those prophecies really were not about him but about God’s great mercy. And can we say, really, that those prophecies mentioned above were about us rather than God? Don’t those prophecies show us God’s goodness and power and wisdom? What part do any of us really play in those prophecies other than we were chosen and blessed? And then, what glory belongs to us because of that? None. It is all God’s. That was Jesus’ secret weapon against the wiles of the Devil. He understood, as he would later tell a rich young ruler, “There is none good but one; that is, God.”
The prophecies above, as well as the many others like them, whether about Jesus, us, or other people and events, all declare the glory of God. If we listen to the spirit of Satan and forget that truth, we will become proud as he did, and do as he did, and die as he has.