Then Jesus said to him, “Away with you, satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only you shall serve.’” Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and ministered to him. — Matthew 4: 10 – 11
“Serve God with the end goal in sight. May our goal to meet God be something that always drives us. Let us put Jesus Christ at the centre of everything and we will be able to do more and achieve more.” These were the poignant words with which Shepherd Lance Smith began the divine service held at Midrand Congregation on Sunday, 25 January 2015.
The Shepherd then spoke about the morning’s text word in which Christ is being tempted by Satan in the wilderness where he spent 40 days without food and water. After being baptised by John the Baptist, Christ received the holy spirit in the form of a dove. This is when he went through the re-birth or being born again process. Following this, and being led by the holy spirit, he went into the wilderness where Satan tempted him in every way a person can be tempted.
Members heard that because Christ took on a human form, he was also subjected to all the challenges that we face. “So Christ knows how we are tempted because satan tempted him in various ways, day in and day out.” He explained the three questions that Satan posed to Christ:
- The first question: “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” Christ answered: “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God’.”
- Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple and asked his second question: “If you are the son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written, ‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone’.” Jesus answered him: “It is also written, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test’.”
- And for the third question, the devil took Christ to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendour. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” Christ said to him: “Away from me, satan! For it is written, ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’”
The Shepherd then said that Christ stood strong throughout it all and the devil finally left him, following which the angels came and ministered unto him. He then explained to members why this word is important for our spiritual life.
Christ, he said, was a perfect example as he lived his life for God. The Shepherd explained that it is difficult for all of us to go through a day without sinning but we must look to Christ who was a wonderful example of how to resist temptations. Examples of our daily temptations are: “Don’t go to church today, you’re tired, you work so hard, God will understand”.
The Shepherd reminded us: “Don’t give in to these temptations because it is in church that you receive strength through the word of God. Let us refer to the text ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God’. Let our conduct be Christ like in every aspect,” he said emphasising the importance of reading the Bible as we gain strength from doing this.
Members then heard of Christ’s perfect way in which he worshipped God; served God and his neighbour; and accepted those who God had sent. “Let us learn from this and bring honour to God in everything that we do. If we do the opposite, can people say that Christ lives within us?
“We must also learn that Christ did not reject the angels who ministered unto him, he accepted it and moved forward. How often has God sent angels to us in the form of humans? Let us not look at the stature and status of people but let us understand that God has sent these people to us.”
Practical ways to achieve this
In summarising the service, the Shepherd said that Christ as a human being experienced much temptations, but he did not give in, so his life should be a reference for us. We will have many more temptations, it is part of the growing process. The holy spirit leads and guides in all truth – let us draw from it to live our life. There are three things we can do to resist temptation and grow spiritually:
- What is our motivation, what is our purpose? Be motivated every day. We all have a task, let us be motivated in what we do. Have a goal and work towards it every day.
- Be vigilant every day of our life. Monitor our behaviour and ask ourselves, how are we reacting to situations, and then once we establish this, we must work at fixing it.
- Manage your effort. Persevere and have will power. Say I want to achieve my goal.
It takes 21 days to learn a habit, said the Shepherd, so I we learn one new habit every month, we will have 12 new habits by the end of the year.
Before serving holy communion the Shepherd encouraged members to read James 4:17 which tells us that if we know what the right thing to do is, and we don’t do it, then it’s a sin.
* Adapted from the divine service held at Midrand Congregation on Sunday, 25 January 2015.