I am going to close my short underdeveloped series on “Spiritual Warfare” with a quick reflection on Jesus’ temptations in Matthew 4; of note will be “how” Jesus took captive the lies that Satan threw at Him in the wilderness. Leon Morris says on our passage:
. . . Matthew tells us that right at the beginning of his ministry Jesus looked at each of these and rejected them all as the temptations of the devil. It is significant that Jesus rejected each of the temptations by quoting Scripture: anything that goes against what is written there must be resisted. Each temptation was defeated by citing a passage of Scripture that had reference to the temptations that confronted Israel in the wilderness. Again we have the thought that Jesus fulfilled Israel’s vocation. Where Israel failed in the wilderness Jesus succeeded in the wilderness. (Leon Morris, “The Gospel According to Matthew,” 70)
Besides the promise/fulfillment and recapitulation that Morris is noting (his last sentence), what is pertinent to our discussion on the issue of “Spiritual Warfare” are a few things. First there is a presupposition involved here, that we must “know” scripture; and not just know it, but know it in its context. When Jesus responds to the devil, He uses scripture that actually responds, in context, to the “temptations” that satan was bringing before Jesus — so not only do we need to know scripture, but we need to be conversant with it! Secondly, that if we are in Christ, then testings and temptation from the evil one should be expected; if Jesus wasn’t immune to such things then neither are we. Thirdly, it is important to remember the outcome of Jesus’ temptations; in other words, He was victorious. We have hope, if we depend and rely upon the scripture, and the resurrection power of Christ provided by the Holy Spirit; as we are faced with temptations, blasphemous thoughts, and whatever else it is important to remember that Christ has already blazed the trail for us — all we are called to do is “actively” stand in that trail.
Take up your “sword” then (to refer back to Paul’s language in Eph. 6), stand firm in His power, and be encouraged . . . the battle belongs to the LORD!