“Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God” (Matthew 4:7).
Following Jesus’ baptism, God said: “This is my beloved son” (Matthew 3:17). Immediately afterward, Jesus was taken to the wilderness to fast and be tested 40 days.
Satan tempted him there. His temptations all began with, “If you are the son of God…” He began with something that seemed perfectly reasonable: make stones into bread and feed yourself.
Men easily err when they think of what is perfectly reasonable to them, but fail to consult God. Why not turn stones to bread? He had the power. He had the opportunity.
But Jesus, with great humility, appealed to a higher authority, the scriptures: “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God’” (Deuteronomy 8:3).
God’s word must be consulted to determine whether or not what we find logically relevant is also spiritually preferable. Jesus may have felt very good making bread and eating it, but the price would have been separation from his Father.
Sometimes we will have a perfectly logical explanation for something, but it will not matter. It would feel right, but it would be wrong. The scriptures are replete with people who thought precisely this way.
- King Saul thought it was a good idea to save good cattle for sacrifice or to spare king Agag’s life. It seemed logical, but he lost his kingdom.
- Abram and Sarai thought it made good sense to conceive God’s promised son through Sarai’s handmaid. They were wrong.
- Saul of Tarsus (i.e., Paul) thought he should do many things contrary to Jesus and his followers. He felt good in so doing (Acts 23:1). He was dead wrong. These were all logically right, but spiritually wrong.
Men still make these mistakes today. We conceive a good idea and think nothing of hatching it before we’ve incubated it under the lamp of God’s word. People are so concerned with feeling close to God, they forget to ask if what they are doing will actually draw God closer to them. Isn’t that more important?
Is there biblical precedent for it? Has God shown by example that such is unfavorable in his sight? Has such already been excluded by some other command?
It is man’s wisdom, coupled with a blindness to our Father’s will, that brings many otherwise good, logically sensible things to the life of the Christian, and the work of the church, that is spiritually bankrupt. They push God away.
Amos and Isaiah vividly warned Israel that God couldn’t stand their offerings anymore. Those offerings made Israel feel pretty good and probably made them feel close to God. They should have been more concerned with whether or not God was drawing closer to them. God calls this foolishness, blindness, and pride.
Let us pass all our wisdom through the sieve of our Father’s word. Let us be both logical and spiritual. We will not only draw closer to him but, more importantly, draw him closer to us.