Tonight I was listening to a short sermon online by Bill Johnson–whose profound insights I have come to appreciate more and more. He talked briefly about the nature of Satan’s lies and the root of his temptations.
I immediately began forming the following mini-sermon in my head. Satan’s “rolodex” of temptations–too numerous to mention–enter our lives through two primary pathways of doubt and suspicion. Not all doubts are demonic, but the nature of these specific doubts are themselves temptations of a demonic nature. Think of these two primary temptations of doubt as two doors which lead to other doors of temptation being opened, which in turn leads to more doors, etc. “Shut the door” on these two primary doors and we will discover that a great host of other temptations also become shut out of our lives.
The first temptation is to doubt the Word of God
By “Word” I mean more than just the Bible and the various nuances of inerrancy and inspiration. I mean doubting God’s authority and his right to overrule and reign supreme over our opinons.
The second temptation is to doubt our identity–or more specifically who we are in Christ.
These prime temptations are witnessed in scripture. In the garden Satan leveraged the first temptation as follows: “Did God really say you can’t taste…” Satan knew that if he could create ambiguity and doubt over what God said–and therefore bring into question God’s authority– the conquest of man would be made much easier.
We see the second primary temptation when Satan seeks to tempt the second Adam–Christ. Immediately prior to the wilderness temptations the Father spoke unto Jesus through the Holy Spirit: “Behold you are my beloved Son.”
Soon after Jesus is led into the desert by the Spirit to experience desolation and famine. Satan bides his time and then finding him alone, isolated, weak and starving, he attacks his identity.
“If you are the Son of God than command these stones to become bread…”
Satan hopes that by attacking Jesus identity he will arouse a reaction based on fear, insecurity or pride, and thereby cause Jesus to move in a miraculous manner independent and contrary to the will of his Father.
The first primary temptation didn’t really have anything to do with the organic substance of a forbidden fruit–and everything to do with doubting God’s word of authority. Left unchecked such doubts will invariably result in rebelling against God’s authority and establishing our own.
So also the second primary temptation had nothing to do with inorganic rock being turned into the organic composition of bread. Rather it had everything to do with tempting Jesus to react in fear or pride by putting his self-identity to the test.