This weeks study shows a difference between applying the Bible incorrectly and correctly. I hope it helps us all better understand God’s Word.
Jesus was led into the wilderness to be tempted by the deceiver, and things didn’t work out well for the deceiver in the first try. Jesus met non-truth with the truth that is contained in Scripture and a spiritual “tap-out” was seen by satan. However, there was quite a bit at stake for the adversary, so he gave it another go in the ring with the Son of God. We open the text in Matthew 4, and we see the tempter changing the scenery. He takes Jesus from the wilderness to highest point of the temple in Jerusalem. Michael Wilkins in his commentary on Matthew writes: “The ‘highest point’ probably refers to the southeast corner of the temple area, which loomed some 450 feet high over the Kidron Valley. . .” A dizzying height for one to behold.
It this setting, the deceiver says in verse 6: “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, ‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and ‘On their hands they will bear you up,lest you strike your foot against a stone.’ ” This is a quote from Psalm 91:11 and 12, but not a direct one. He removed a clause from the original Psalm which says: “to guard you in all your ways.” The deceiver’s use of Scripture that was not complete and this is the first problem that we see.
The second, and most poignant problem is the intention behind citing this passage. This Psalm teaches God’s protection of His people. Notice the fact that they are His people. The credit here belongs to God, and not to the people. Satan uses it differently though. He uses it as an enticement for Jesus to serve Himself which is completely and totally misapplied. Jesus humility to The Father bleeds from the text when He replies: “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’ ” This is a direct and fully applied quote from Deuteronomy 6:16.
The core of Scripture is for God to be glorified and not ourselves. Especially with the current problems in Law Enforcement, we have all heard many people in high places quote Scripture for self-serving purposes, and this stands in direct opposition to what the Scriptures teach. To serve yourself with Scripture is to place yourself above God’s revelation to mankind which is an unwise thing when it comes to a righteous God. It is unwise to test Him.
When we serve ourselves with Scripture we are elevating ourselves to a position that is unwarranted. We are elevating ourselves to a godlike position by using His Word to support what we think is right. Let there be no mistake here. This is an act of idolatry and we are violating His commandment. However, when we read and process Scripture with humility in the presence of God the credit stays where it belongs. When we apply Scripture in our lives and we receive the blessings of that application it is not of our wisdom that we have benefitted. It is His wisdom, and the credit belongs to Him and Him alone. Let us not test The Lord.
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Matt. 4:7 – “Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’”