Tuesday, February 16, 2016


I've always been amazed at that verse in Luke 4 where Jesus encountered Satan in what became His temptation to turn the stones to bread in the wilderness. You do recall that Jesus had been forty days WITHOUT food. There is no doubt that hunger was very real at the moment. You will also remember Satan said "SINCE you're the Son of God, command this stone that it be made bread." [There was no doubt in the devil's mind about Who He was and the "if" here, in Greek, is "since."] 

I think we are all honest enough to admit that wouldn't be a temptation to any one of us because we COULDN'T have done that if our very life had depended on it. But He COULD. After all, He was and is the Son of God. But it would be important for us to remember at this point that Jesus DID NOT DO ANYTHING during His thirty-three years on earth, as the Second Man and Last Adam, in the POWER or AUTHORITY of His Divine nature. He willingly laid aside all that stuff and lived as MAN  should live, submitted to the will and purpose of the Father. He truly WAS our stand-in. This is why in verse 4, He responded  that "it is written MAN shall not live by bread alone but by every Word of God." He was MAN, and as truly MAN, He submitted to doing the will of the Father.

My point really is however, did you notice that His temptation came in the ARENA of the greatest strength in His life. He COULD have exercised His divine authority or power, but DIDN'T. I'm thinking that might be at least an illustration of the fact that OUR temptation might come in OUR arena of strength as well__not our weakness__who would have thought? I would have, and always did, think that we've got to strengthen/guard where we're weak because, if we don't, we'll wind up failing/falling in that area of weakness. Satan attacks us where we're weak__doesn't he!

Oh really? If pride comes before a fall, and it does according to scripture, then we must be proud of where we're weak. No wait__pride is usually a possibility ONLY when we think we're pretty good at something. Do you suppose we completely misunderstand this thing of temptation so that we guard our WEAKNESSES, but are vulnerable at our STRENGTHS because we, in fact, don't think we'll fall there?

An illustration of this might help. Think about the ministers of days past who have fallen. Would you be surprised to learn their failure came at the very point where they were strongest in their teaching or reputation. Take a Jim Baker of several years ago who could raise money out of scarecrows. His fall came because of greed and misusing money. Or a Jimmy Swaggart, who was known for condemning those who were being immoral, choosing immoral behavior himself. Remember Gordon MacDonald, who wrote the finest book on marriage I have in my library, and yet he failed in his marriage vow. Nuff said!

By the way, I wouldn't even mention these men were their failure not public in nature. And even with that said__I do not in any way judge or condemn them__they are not my servants after all. But they are my brothers and offer some insight to this thing of being tempted at the point of our strength.

We certainly could go to those in scripture who failed as an example as well. Peter, a man of extreme courage. Remember how he charged that large group at the arrest of Jesus sword in hand and yet failed hours later losing courage at the prospect of being identified as a follower of this one called Jesus arrested and charged with blasphemy. Or Moses who was extremely obedient after being taught by his mother of God's plan for him, in choosing to suffer the reproach of Israel rather than enjoy the pleasures of Egypt. Yet disobediently, struck that rock the second time rather than speaking to it as commanded. Or David, a man whose passionate heart was after God, in a moment of passion, gave his heart to another.

Add all these illustrations to that Luke 4 passage and we may be getting a picture that one would be wise to ask a friend this question. "What is my greatest strength?" Then, be open to the fact it could be at this point the enemy very possibly could gain a foothold in your life.

Were you to ask that question of a friend the answer might be..."You're strong in doctrinal purity and truth" or "You're strong in mercy" or " You're strong in the family" or "You're strong in honesty" or__you get the picture.

For the first, we would generally find them failing because someone disagrees with a minor doctrine or someone might not accept a doctrinal truth the same way [inerrancy] and the doctrinally strong one will separate from them because of pride in their understanding or way of explaining a certain doctrinal position.

For the second, they may need to stand for a truth at some point but, because of fear of hurting some one's feelings, they capitulate on an issue that is important.

For the third, they may have a son or daughter divorce or a daughter get pregnant and they cannot find it in them to embrace that one in love, forgiveness and acceptance, [that's REAL failure] for the life of them. Because it would be [in their minds at least] a capitulation in standards for family life.

For the last one, they may fail to report a gift to the government or twist a word or phrase to cover a mistake and this would be because of a gain of something personal, such as reputation or financial gain.

The whole point is that failure comes because our eyes are tightly shut to our vulnerability at the point of STRENGTHS. We would never fail BECAUSE of our strength there__but we do. It is, after all, His strength that is made real in our weakness but, in Kingdom living our greatest weakness IS our strength, and we just don't seem to get that.

May God never allow me to write something to anyone else without applying it to my own life first. I think I'll ask Mary my wife, what she thinks my strengths are. She knows me better than anyone else and loves me enough to tell me the truth. On me!! Am I ready for this?

Paul B.


Aussie John said...


What a great message! I'm sorry to say that, many years ago, I learned, the hard way, of the truth of what you write, but, even with the embarrassment and shame I'm so glad I did!

The warning here is that it is the least expected discovery in one's life! The apostle was well advised to warn as he did in 1Cor.10:12.

Praise God for His great grace!

Paul Burleson said...

Aussie J,

I'm afraid this is one of those "learn the hard way" lessons for most of us, isn't it!

Rex Ray said...

Glad you’re back. I was missing you. You held a revival at our church years ago and left to catch a plane while the service was being dismissed in prayer. I followed you and yelled in the parking lot, “Shane, come back Shane. We love you.” (1953 movie.)

You ask if you’re ready to hear your strong points from your wife. I know what you mean, but I’ll bet you’ll be more upset if she tells your weak points. :)

It’s been said if a preacher’s sermon on some sin is heard over and over, it’s probably a sin he’s having a problem with. (His weak point)

When the devil tempted Jesus to turn a stone into bread, Jesus was WEAK from hungry. If Jesus had been full of food (‘strong’) there would be no temptation. The same with Adam and Eve; their weakest point was wishing to be wise as God in knowing good and evil.

You said, “Jesus” did not do to anything…in the Power or Authority of His Divine nature.”


Message to John the Baptist: “…the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life…” (Luke 7:22)

“…believe because of the work you have seen me do.” (John 14:11 NLT)
“…believe because of the miraculous deeds themselves. (Net Bible)
“…Who is this man…even the wind and waves obey him.” (Mark 4:41)

Paul, have you tried walking on water? :)

I know I’ve missed your point, so will you explain how?

Paul Burleson said...


I would only say that Jesus served the Father as MAN was intended to do. BY FAITH. When the devil said, "SINCE you're the Son of God....." he was tempting Jesus to meet a physical hunger by NOT trusting the Father, but in His OWN Divine power. But MAN was created to walk by FAITH in the Father's purpose and provision and THAT'S how Jesus lived for 33 years on planet earth. THAT'S why He said, "It is written MAN shall not live by bread alone...."

Of course He walked on water, raised the dead, healed the sick. The POWER of FATHER God is capable of anything being done when man is TRULY fully surrendered and living by Faith. That was Jesus, my friend, standing in for us as the Second Man, Last Adam, truly fully surrendered as man was intended to live. So NOW we're able to be saved because of His doing AND dying ON OUR BEHALF!!

Let's take our shoes off because we're on HOLY GROUND.

Rex Ray said...

On the subject of Jesus being tempted, he was tempted as we are. “…he faced all of the same testing [temptation] as we do…” (Hebrews 4:15 NLT)

We never see the devil with horns and neither did Jesus because “We are not fighting against flesh-and-blood, but…against evil spirits in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12 NLT)

I believe when Jesus saw the stones, a ‘thought’ came to him and he knew it was from the devil.

A ‘thought’ came to him that he could jump from the temple, and he knew it was from the devil.

Jesus could see physical only a small fraction of the world from a mountain, but he could visualize the whole world that the devil own. A ‘thought’ came to him how man could be returned to God and he knew it was from the devil.

What do you think?