I was sitting in church just this Sunday past with one of the elders preaching on power, and one of the sections that was noted was the way that all of the responses of Jesus to Satan in the wilderness temptation were scriptural responses, as well as that all Jesus needed to do was to command a demon to come out, and they did.
A few ideas came into my head : Jesus was able to do what He did with regards to power, because who He was, and What He said corresponded to the truth of what reality actually is. This may sound strange, so I’ll elaborate:
I’ve been reading through Scott Olphint’s book Covenantal Apologetics, and one of the sections that came up was:
“This should be obvious to any Christian, but it is oftentimes not as prominent in our thinking as it ought to be. When we claim to be Christians, we are doing more than just listing a biographical detail. We are claiming that the truth set forth in God’s revelation describes the way things really and truly are in the world. That is, we are saying that what God says about the world is the way the world really is. Any view or position that opposes what God has said is therefore, by definition, false and does not “fit” with the way the real world is. This means that the views of any who remain in unbelief are, in reality, illusions. They do not and cannot make sense of the world as it really is. Not only so, but, we should notice, there are at bottom only two options available to us. Either we bow the knee to Christ and affirm the truth of what God says, or we oppose him and thus attempt to “create” a world of our own making. No matter what kind of opposition there is to Christianity, before we even know the details of that opposition, we know that it cannot make sense of the real world. We know that it is self-destructive.”
Oliphint, K. Scott (2013-07-31). Covenantal Apologetics: Principles and Practice in Defense of Our Faith (Kindle Locations 899-907). Crossway. Kindle Edition.
In short God has set up this world in a particular way, and with universal laws, and objective moral values that have consequences if violated. To put simply, the world is designed to work in a particular fashion – just as a car would work in a particular fashion. You shouldn’t put diesel into a petrol car, or the other way round – it won’t work properly. In the same way then, our aim should be to have our thoughts and actions in conformity with the way the world actually is – and the way we know that is through God’s revelation to us in scripture.
The problem we have is simply this : the desire for autonomy.
Autonomy literally means a law unto oneself. Essentially, in practice, it is the idea of placing yourself in the place of God and saying what is right and wrong, what exist, what doesn’t, what can be known, what can’t – essentially placing yourself in Genesis 1 and creating the world as you see fit, and declaring all have determined as ‘good’ in total opposition to the real Creator of the universe. Our view of the world is different from the way God has set it up – or our ‘worldview’ is in conflict with the way that the world actually is, as determined by God. As Oliphint said above, this means that living in a way contrary to God’s revealed will is actually attempting to live in some kind of illusory world, – a desirable fiction created by a fallen sinful heart that desperately wishes to overthrow God and set itself as Lord and Ruler over all, rather than submit in humble obedience by trusting and believing what God has said as true.
The result of all of this? Sin, pain, suffering, punishment, wrath. We are driving full speed on the wrong side of the road, declaring that all the cars coming in the other direction are fiction – sooner or later, reality strikes.
How should this help us as Christians?
We are normally used to using presuppositional apologetics in defending the idea of the Triune God of Christianity’s existence to unbelievers, but how about being consistent and apply the same thought to our own hearts and thought processes in our daily lives?
When you have a temptation coming your way, just as Jesus did, reference back to what God has said, by doing so, you are saying how things really are, rather than the distortion of reality that the temptation is purveying. The temptation could be saying that something that is sinful, is actually good, is actually beneficial – but according to what standard? Where does this temptation get it’s standard of ‘good’ outside of God’s revelation? Where does the idea of what is beneficial or not come from outside of God’s word? No other standard is objective, binding, and reflecting of the way that reality actually is except God’s standard. The temptation to sin is wrong, by the impossibility of the contrary.
What about assurance? When Satan comes and tries to make you doubt God’s love for you, what is His basis for saying so? Again, answer with scripture. Don’t believe the fiction that is trying to be sold to you – question it, doubt it, and show its futility outside of God’s word.