Your Victory in Christ!
Genesis 3:1-21; Romans 5:12-21; Matthew 4:1-11
Vicar Christopher Stout

“Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field” (Genesis 3:1) wielding weapons of “did God actually say?” (Genesis 3:1) and “you will not surely die” (Genesis 3:4).  He mocks and accuses, he tempts and challenges the very words of God that we hear and we often fail, for he is craftier than we are.  With his false doctrine he either leads us to despair and cry out, “O, God, what have I done!” or “there’s no way I can get through this suffering, no way that I can move on” or he leads us to vain glory and self-pride crying out, “Look, what I’ve done!” and “I’ve gotten through this before, and I can get through this again.” He’s got an inside man working for him too, an Old Adam in us.  For sin came into the world through one man (Romans 5), through sin comes weak flesh – easily given into temptation, through one man’s sin comes death – and our movement towards death which includes sickness and bodily suffering. 




Your Victory in Christ!
Genesis 3:1-21; Romans 5:12-21; Matthew 4:1-11
Vicar Christopher Stout

“Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field” (Genesis 3:1) wielding weapons of “did God actually say?” (Genesis 3:1) and “you will not surely die” (Genesis 3:4).  He mocks and accuses, he tempts and challenges the very words of God that we hear and we often fail, for he is craftier than we are.  With his false doctrine he either leads us to despair and cry out, “O, God, what have I done!” or “there’s no way I can get through this suffering, no way that I can move on” or he leads us to vain glory and self-pride crying out, “Look, what I’ve done!” and “I’ve gotten through this before, and I can get through this again.” He’s got an inside man working for him too, an Old Adam in us.  For sin came into the world through one man (Romans 5), through sin comes weak flesh – easily given into temptation, through one man’s sin comes death – and our movement towards death which includes sickness and bodily suffering. 

But this, our history, our narrative, has two parts. Satan plays a leading role in both.  “For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many” (Romans 5:15).  One man faces temptation after he was formed out of the wet dirt of the new earth (Gen. 2:6-7).  He fails, causing death and judgment on all men (Romans 5).  The other faces temptation still wet from his baptism by John (Matthew 3).  He does not fail even up to the point of death, and brings justification for all men through that death (Romans 5). This gospel reading, this temptation of Jesus, is our story; it is for the baptized, for we are Satan’s favorite prey, harassed by him as long as we live in this flesh.  This gospel reading is our story, this victory of Jesus, for we too are victors over Satan through Christ.    

 “‘If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread’ (Matthew 4:3).  Doubt God’s love for you.  The Father won’t provide for your daily needs, so don’t be anxious about it, like so many are, for you can do something about it, Jesus.”  Satan works in consistent ways throughout history, tempting Jesus with food as he tempted Eve with food, “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:5).  He tempts us with similar thoughts, “God is placing unfair restrictions on you.  He doesn’t want what is best for you.”  He closes our eyes and heart to sin so they can be opened later in naked shameful despair.  If you are self conscious of a part of your body or a part of your personality -- if you are embarrassed by your mistakes and sins committed against others -- if you recognize your flaws and dislike those parts of yourself, then you have come to realize that you’re naked -- you have been shown your shame.

 “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4).  Satan uses anything to distract us away from God’s Word which shows God’s love.  He wishes for us to look within ourselves – bodily flaws, anxieties and depressions – to look outside ourselves in to world – so much suffering that friends and family go through, so much death and sickness, so much culture against God’s will.  “Have you seen what has happened in Japan?  How can God love a world and allow that to happen?”  God’s Word shows His true love but so much outside of that seems so often to show otherwise.  Satan tempts a true man with true weak and hungry flesh, “God has forgotten you!  He cares not for your needs.  What sort of God would allow you to go through this?  What sort of God won’t let you to be like him, seeing good and evil?”

But Jesus endures, knowing that even bread supplies hungry needs because God’s Word created it and continues to sustain it.  God’s living Word that man shall live on creates and sustains our bodily needs even now –through bread and water and occupation, through mothers and fathers, the list is too long to consider sometimes.  It will be God’s living Word made flesh who will multiply loaves of bread to feed thousands.  These gifts aren’t eternal, however, not sustaining our bodily life forever, for “death spread to all men because all men sinned.  Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Romans 5:12), speaks God’s eternal living Word made flesh who in bread feeds us His eternal body to sustain our weak temporal body, not only from temporal hunger, but in the midst of temporal trials and sickness and suffering and temptation as He points us forward to an eternal body and eternal realities. 

Satan responds, ‘If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, ‘He will command his angels concerning you’ and ‘on their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone’” (Matthew 4:6).  Satan knows the scriptures, much better than we do.  So well, that he can constantly take it out of context and misapply it. 

If he cannot get us to despair in our sufferings, despair of our sins, he will massage our pride to see if we’re reckless enough to rely on ourselves.  God does not perform unnecessary miracles, and with a staircase likely right next to Jesus, Satan is asking Jesus for just that.  But Jesus will not force the angels to protect him during these temptations, for the New Adam will rely and trust that God will send His angels to minister to him as He sees fit. “If you are the Son of God” Satan repeats from last time.  A temptation that will come out again when a guard will yell out to a dying Jesus, “If you are the Son of God, save yourself.” 

Indeed, He could save himself, but seeing His creation stuck in their sin and pride and shame and despair, He chooses instead to save us.  He bears that final temptation to save Himself, and instead bears the sin of the world.  Adam’s realization of his nakedness brought shame and hiding – all are affected.  But the Second Adam took our sinful shame and despair as He hung naked on the cross.  He would not call angels to save Him or protect Him at Calvary -- but three days later they would announce death destroying – serpent trampled underfoot – shame dispelling – resurrection victory.  

 “Be gone! Satan!” (Matthew 4:10). Instead of Jesus falling down at the feet of Satan, he strikes Satan’s head with his pierced foot, so that our feet may walk in victory over Satan and freedom from sins bondage.  When our eyes are opened to the suffering in the world, when our eyes are opened to our shameful thoughts and deeds, when our eyes are opened to our embarrassing faults and we realize we’re naked, God clothes us (Genesis 3:21), but it did take a sacrifice.  These temptations and this battle against Satan is comfort for you for who Jesus is and what He does on your behalf. Finished on the cross, delivered to you today, this is our story, this is our victory.  Amen.

Luther Memorial Chapel & University Student Center | 3833 N Maryland Ave | Shorewood, WI  53211
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Divine Service: Sundays - 9:00a Mondays - 7:00p Bible Study & Sunday School: Sundays - 10:45a