Strengthening Your Spirit
We probably think about many things in our lives that need to be strengthened such as our bodies, our minds, or our relationships. What we may not think of is our “spirit.” There is a process by which we can strengthen our spirit, and God’s word tells us how it is possible. (See Romans 8:5-8 and Galatians 5:16-18; 25)
The best demonstration of building up our spirits is to look at our Lord as He began His ministry. (See Luke 4:1-14) Jesus did not go into the wilderness of His own choice or initiative. He went there because He was led by the Spirit. We need to remember that Jesus laid down His rights as God when He came to earth. So He, as a man, was being led by the Spirit. The gospels indicate that there is something very definite about the word “led.” It also means: “to bring” or “drive,” or “to eject” or “cast.” This action indicates something stronger than being “prompted” to go.
So what we have is Jesus in the Spirit, and He is in the wilderness. This also tells us that the environment of the Spirit in His life was greater than the environment of the wilderness. Jesus is leading by example for us, and this is the way it should be in our lives as well. The environment of the Spirit in our lives should be greater than the environment of the atmosphere that we find ourselves. If Jesus was doing this as the Son of God, then of course it would be impossibl for us, but He didn’t. What usually happens is that our environment often overwhelms us, and we find that our spirits are weak. Most of the time we are surprised when we are facing a “wilderness experience” in our lives. We call a wilderness experience things like the loss of a job, suffering, betrayal or a death. It usually is something that shakes us. I believe Jesus is saying that there is a way to be ready for it, and that way is “walking in the Spirit.”
Next, we notice the types of attacks that we should be ready for in the wilderness. The first attack on Jesus was physical. It is what we would describe as “the lust of the flesh.” The enemy wanted Jesus to use His divine power to meet His own needs, but Jesus did not do that. He demonstrated reliance upon the Father and used the spiritual resources available to Him in God’s word. Jesus was demonstrating what each of us can do when temptation comes our way.
The devil’s lie was that all that was needed in life was to satisfy the physical desire, but Jesus stated God’s truth that bread without Him is not life at all; there is something more.
The second attack tempts Jesus on a social level, and we call this “the lust of the eyes.” Of course, this can involve many things, but in this case it dealt with ruling God’s way versus the desire for power and status, the devil’s way.
Satan was offering Jesus the control, the power or status of a world system. We could say it was to have authority by compromise or a short-cut method to rule. Satan’s offer was, “You can get the glory of all of this for an ‘if’.” That “if” was worship, and he still offers the same today. What we see is that Satan’s pattern is to start with glory but to end in suffering, while God’s pattern is to start with suffering but to end in glory. Jesus chose the later.
Then the third attack on Jesus was spiritual. This attack dealt with “the pride of life.” Here Satan adopted a new strategy by trying to manipulate Scripture for his own benefit. He basically was saying, “Prove that you are who you say you are.” This was an attack on Jesus’ relationship to God.
Even though the enemy was trying to use Scripture to gain a certain result, Jesus showed us the need to combat this type of attack by comparing Scripture with Scripture and having a balanced view. Whenever someone uses an isolated text, they can practically make it say whatever they want it to say. This is why we need to practice discernment and take great care whenever we are using Scripture.
Every time Satan tempted Jesus with a thought contrary to God’s will, Jesus declared God’s heart on the matter. This is how He demonstrated “walking in the Spirit.” We can follow His example and find that as we exercise our will to align with God’s will, our spirits will be strengthened.
Satan tempts to bring out the worst in us, but God can use the experience to put the best in us.
Pastor Tim Dunahoo