Twisted Truth

Would it have happened? Was the devil speaking the truth when he told Jesus that the heavenly Father would send angels to catch Jesus if He jumped off the temple pinnacle (Luke 4:9-12)? Scripture doesn’t lie, right? So when the devil quoted it he was speaking truth, right? Wrong! This temptation twisted truth, applied it inappropriately and so turned it into a fat lie.

It followed an ancient recipe:

Take a grain of scriptural truth. (The devil chose Psalm 91:11-12. He will give His angels charge concerning you to guard you.)

Add a vague general principle to enhance the flavor. (“Nothing is impossible for God.” It’s popular, but misquotes and takes out of context Gen. 18:14; Jer. 32:17; and Luke 1:37.)

Blend them together with something that tastes good . (In Jesus’ case, a short and easy path to fame.)

And . . . Voilà.

To the amateur chef it sounds great, but a vital ingredient is missing. The Master instantly noticed a substitution. What tastes good to us often substitutes for what tastes good to God. The devil tempted Jesus to bake up something of His own. Jesus knew better.

God is a creative baker, surprising us by turning what seem strange, bitter, or sour life ingredients into exquisite dishes. For that to happen we must adopt the role of sous-chefs—assisting not directing Him. He makes promises. He can do the impossible. But He never acts outside His will—what tastes good to Him, if you like. When He adds strange ingredients to your life bowl, smile, and lick your lips.

Jesus knew God’s will did not include a gravity-defying circus stunt. The Scripture promise could never apply to anything outside of God’s will. When Jesus dismissed the devil, no one could ever accuse Jesus of having too little faith in God’s word. Faith focuses first on God and His revealed will, then on promises in the context of His will.

Are you and I tempted to elbow God out of life’s kitchen? Do we try to apply faith and promises without considering His will? Snake handling is not faith in context of His will, but it’s a rare and rather obvious example. Dismissing precautions based on the laws of epidemiology that govern infectious diseases (and are as unbending as the law of gravity) is more widespread. What assumptions and presumptions do we make about God? Are we putting Him to the test?

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