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You Must Know His Word to Know His Will
Scripture: Matthew 4:1-11
Track 5 of 8 in the Inside~Out: Discovering the Will of God series
Running time: 31 minutes, 58 seconds.

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Tony Twist Speaker: Tony Twist
Tony Twist

View all sermons by this speaker.

"You Must Know His Will To Know His Word" October 28, 2007

They wanted a bigger family so they tried hard to make it happen. Their relationship was excellent. They constantly preferred one another in love. They were completely one in spirit. So they put together all the necessary resources, and they created an ideal environment. Even the only son was excited. He looked forward to having younger brothers and sisters, and he worked hard to make this a reality and to get everything ready.

Being very wealthy they acquired lots of servants so that they could help with the expected children. Most of the servants shared in their joy, but as the years went by without kids some servants became jealous of the anticipated children. One of the most influential servants actually began to stir the others up out of this jealousy. We've served for many years, he reasoned. Why should all our hard work go to benefit little kids who have done nothing.

In time, this chief servant stirred up a rebellion, and many of the other servants joined him. They hated their master for preferring little children over them, and they hated the children because they would inherit everything the master owned.

Finally, the children were born. The father placed them in a prepared planet in a corner of the universe which was an ideal setting for them, a place where they could grow and serve and love and live and work, where the children, where more and more children could be raised up to love the father. And the father was very, very pleased. He said, it's good.

But the rebellious servant that we know as Satan, came to visit Eve, and he said to her this, did God really say you cannot eat from any tree in the garden? He planted the first seed of doubts. Surely God would want you to eat. I mean, you got to have food. I mean, surely some little rule is not more important than your health and your happiness. God cares more about your physical well-being than some petty little regulation, right?

Eve remembered what God had told her, and relying upon her own knowledge said to the serpent, well, we may eat fruit from any of the trees in the garden, but God did say, you must not eat from the tree in the middle of the garden. You must not touch it or you'll die. You won't die, the serpent said to Eve. God doesn't mean you'll die. Test it for yourself. You'll see it's not as bad as you think.

Eve was beginning to see the logic of this. Maybe she was supposed to have more. Maybe she did deserve better. Maybe God didn't mean it exactly like that. Where is the harm in living on the edge just a little bit? It can't be that bad. Satan continued, God knows that when you eat of this tree your eyes will be open and you'll be like him. He knows this, and you need to be smart like he is and you can be right now. You don't have to wait until later. Look, Eve, you're a big girl. You should have it all now.

When Eve saw that the tree was good for food and it was pretty, pleasing to the eye and it would make her smart just like God, she took it and she ate it. She gave some to her husband who was right there with her and he ate it. And the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized that they were completely vulnerable. They were transparent, that they were naked. They now knew evil, but not like God who knows evil, all about evil without doing it, without participating in it. They knew evil like Satan, intimately by doing it.

So because of this disobedience these children were cut off from the tree of life. No longer could they eat God's eternal life giving food. The bread of heaven would not nourish their souls. They were cast out from God's presence, and the rebellion grew. The children were not ready to handle this powerful knowledge yet. So the virus we call disobedience worked its way in their DNA. They became so wicked that the father had to flood the planet in order to make a fresh start. But the rebellion continued.

In time the father called out from a city named Ur a man with the name of Abram. Through Abram God established a plan to get his kids back. He wanted to raise up the children of Israel, sons and daughters who would really know and love the father. It would take lots of time and suffering and hard work, but God was determined to stop this deadly infection. Because of his love, especially his love for his children, he persisted.

Abraham's son Isaac had a son named Jacob, and Jacob's name, as you know, was changed to Israel; and the children of this family, as you may remember, were taken by the Egyptians into slavery. But God continued working to get his kids back.

Remember Moses, Moses through God -- God through Moses delivered the children of Israel from Egyptian slavery, and then God did something amazing. Coming down on the mountain at Sinai with the light and the thunder and the power, God revealed to his kids his word. We call it the law. But what it is it is a word from his heart on how his children could live in healthy, good ways even surrounded by pagan culture. They saw his power on the mountain. They experienced his presence.

And then after receiving his word they were led into the wilderness for 40 years. For God sent them manna from heaven and prepared them to enter a land where there would be pagan cultures and idolatrous influences, but with the word embedded and instilled in their hearts and minds from this wilderness time they would be ready.

As they were ready to go over into the promised land and claim it, Moses who was at the end of his life tried to give them the last, the last push to faithfully follow God in pagan land. He reminded them that even after 40 years of providing for them in the wilderness, that even after all of that time they needed to remember. They needed to never forget how that God had led them in the desert to humble and to test them, and when they came into that land never forget to keep God's words close and so that when you are tempted by the flesh you would remember how God had taken care of them and fed them and to remember and hear Moses' words: Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.

He wanted to remind them of the time that they had grumbled and complained because at a place called Massah because they didn't have water and they were thirsty and so they were crying out to say, is God with us or not? As they were preparing to enter this pagan land Moses reminded them not to put God to the test by quarrelling again like they had done there, not to doubt that God would always meet their needs.

They were coming into a land where there would be plenty, where the houses would be filled with good things. A land like we live in. Their vineyards, their olive groves would flourish. And he told them, don't forget, when you come into a land of plenty how that God had bought you out of slavery. And especially when things are good, always remember to worship God and to serve him only.

With these words in their ears the children of Israel went over into the promised land. They began driving out the pagan influences, but they very quickly began to forget the word that had been spoken to them, and they continued the rebellion seduced by the pagan cultures that were surrounding them.

But God didn't forget. He wanted his children back. So in the fullness of time -- you know the story -- he sent his son born in Bethlehem of the virgin Mary. He grew up in Nazareth, had a very quiet life, and then at 30 years old he went down to the Jordan River to be baptized by John. As he came up out of the water, you remember the heavens were open. And God spoke from Heaven, This is my beloved son. In him I'm well pleased. And the holy spirit descended upon him in the form of a dove. It was almost like Sinai revisited.

There was something new about him, and the angels were watching from above and the demons were watching from below. Just like in the first creation Satan was scheming how he could continue the rebellion. After Jesus was baptized, he was led of the spirit into the wilderness, fasting and praying 40 days and 40 nights, just as the children of Israel had been led into the wilderness for years.

Interesting, the children of Israel were provided manna during their wanderings, bread of angels, so that they could eat and survive. But in Jesus' desert time he was given nothing to eat. At the end of those 40 days he was -- the scripture tells us he was hungry. I think that's an understatement. He was to the point where malnutrition was starting. He was at his very weakest point. And at that point Satan came to him.

Since your God is sovereign, tell these stones to become bread. And he looked down in the Judea wilderness, and there were these smooth stones that were smoothed over by that desert wind and the sand, and they looked very much like the bread you could buy in Galilean bakeries. Satan said, you need something to eat. God is well pleased with you. What good would it do for you to die of starvation here in the wilderness? Surely it would be, it won't hurt anything for you to take care of yourself? Don't you mean more to God than some religious practice like fasting?

Jesus, who had lived on scripture his whole life so that he almost embodied -- he was the word. He replied with the words that Moses had used from Deuteronomy. It is written, man doesn't live on bread alone, but every word that comes from the mouth of God.

And then the Devil took Jesus to Jerusalem and had him stand at the highest point of the temple. Now, this was a very dangerous place to be standing. One false move from up there and you would plummet to your death. Since you're God's son, throw yourself down. For it's written, he will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift up your hands so that you won't strike your foot against a stone.

Now, actually this made good sense. Jesus was in a place of extreme danger, and you know he was weakened from hunger. Surely God would want him to be rescued from that danger. God would want him safe. God would provide, and the angels were watching from above, and Jesus could have commanded ten legions to come and to catch him. They would come to the aid of Jesus.

But, again, Jesus, recalling God's word, remembering how the children of Israel had doubted God when they were vulnerable in the wilderness. It is written, do not put the Lord your God to the test. Don't presume on God's grace. Wait for his deliverance. Jesus chose to remain vulnerable and in danger rather than to make God prove himself.

Again, the devil took him to a high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in all their splendor. All this I will give to you if you will bow down and worship me. Here is what Satan was saying to Jesus. Why put yourself through suffering to get God's children back? There is an easier way. Let's work together. It's the way things are done down here in the real world. Jesus, join my team. You get what you want; I get what I want. Everybody's happy/, what do you say?

Jesus remembered how that the children of Israel had rejected God when they compromised with pagan gods. So in reply, away from me, Satan, and, again, he put himself in solidarity with scripture, quoting from Deuteronomy. Worship the Lord you your God and serve him only. Hungry, exhausted, physically depleted, yet Jesus stayed obedient to the father because he was obedient to the word.

When the devil left him, the angels quickly came to attend him. God did send them, but at the proper time. The text does not tell us this, but I believe the came to congratulate Jesus, to honor him for making a way back, for showing the children obedience, unlike Adam and Eve and the children of Israel, defeating Satan, showing us how to defeat the devil. They came to express their love and gratitude and to take care of his human needs.

You see, all of us here are human, we do get hungry, we do have needs, and God will provide for those. But there is something more important than our health or our security or our power, and that more important thing is obedience. And you know why? Because God wants to use all of us to help him get his children back. He loves his kids. He has worked for who knows how long, age upon age, to get every single one of us back.

Many of you have here have prayed for one of our students who right now is in prison in Azerbaijan in a Muslim country. He was recently put in jail in violation of their own law. The police came to the church service, a service like we are having here today. They hauled him off. They accused him of beating up six policeman. And this guy he is a small guy. He has got health problems, and it's absurd.

We hoped that he would be able to fight this. We have got international pressure working on it, but they just voted to keep him in prison. The Muslim authorities hate this christian preacher. He does what Chuck Sackett does for a living, and they are going to keep him in jail at least for two years.

Why do the Muslims hate us so much? I would like for you to think about it a moment from their perspective. I would look for you to pretend for a moment that you're from the middle east, maybe you're a Bedouin tribal leader in Wazeristan or some place. What do you want in life? Well, you want your kids to grow up healthy and good. You want them to live lives free from alcohol. You want them to be sexually pure. You want them to be decent, moral, upstanding people.

Then you get a T.V., and bringing into your country from America, a christian nation, is MTV, desperate Housewives, the same sex marriage, and the world according to Hollywood, and you look at this, things worse than you have ever even imagined, and you see it coming from a christian country. What's your response to that? I'll tell you what his response is. He looks at it in disgust and he sees what it is doing to his kids, and he says, my God, this is satanic. It's completely pagan. Somebody must do something. We need to declare jihad against this kind of paganism.

Now, I don't agree with strapping bombs to your body to blow up your enemy, but it is hard to disagree with his analysis of us. Do we care about his kids? Do we care about our kids? Enough that we want to fight the paganism all around us? If we do, the answer is not to strap on bombs and do a suicide mission into a mosque somewhere. The answer is more radical than that. The answer is to start fighting right here at home by becoming radically obedient just like Jesus showed us.

He showed us the way to defeat the enemy, and that way is to so immerse ourselves in the word of God that every time we're tempted we immediately fight with the sword of the spirit. We have the word of God right there.

I would like to ask you today to join the battle so that when we leave from this place all this week we're ready to commit ourselves to obeying his holy will. We eat what he wants us to eat, we look at only what he wants us to look at, and we keep the word in our heart ready so that whenever we need to make decisions or we're tempted the word is right there to guide us. Would you join me this week in declaring jihad against the pagan influences all around us that are ruining us globally?

I would like to ask you to stand, please, and I'd like for you to take just a moment of silence, close your eyes. Are you willing to join the fight in a more deeper way this week? If you are, I'd like for you to take a pledge of allegiance from me recited together with me as I lead you through it. Our father, who art in heaven, hallowed be they name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven, give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.

[Transcribed by GN12]