Matthew 4:5-7 – Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'”
We have all seen people throw themselves down into the arms of a crowd, expecting the crowd to catch them when they fall. Sometimes they do, but sometimes they don’t! The landing isn’t always what was hoped for. When they jump, they are deliberately putting the crowd to the test, hoping that they will catch them and protect them from their choice to jump. There is a difference between falling and jumping. Falling usually happens as the result of a cause, while jumping is the result of a deliberate choice. We live in a spiritual culture today that has mistaken jumping for falling. If we saw a person about to jump from a ledge our reaction, in the natural, would be to try and talk them down from jumping, rather than support them in their desire to jump. This is not the case in the spiritual reaction that is being shown toward people who are jumping today. Today people say, “God’s grace makes it okay for you to jump, so go ahead and jump.” And encouraged by the support of others, people jump into sin, putting God’s grace to the test to protect them from their actions. The landing, however, may not be what was hoped for. Matthew 4:1-11 records the story of three attempted temptations of Jesus by Satan in the wilderness. The second temptation of Satan was for Jesus to throw himself down from the highest point of the temple, trusting that God would protect him from harm because he was his son. Satan even used scripture to support his temptation, saying, “For it is written, ‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands lest you dash your foot against a stone.'” But Jesus answered, “It is also written, ‘Do not put the Lord Your God to the test.'” There is a difference between trusting God and testing God, and Jesus knew this. Like Jesus, we must recognize the difference between falling and jumping. We are to trust God to protect us in his grace when we fall because of sin, but we are not to put God’s grace to the test, expecting him to protect us when we deliberately jump into sin. The only way to know if we are trusting or testing is to hold every temptation up to the whole word of God, to see if it passes the, “It is written” test. We trust God’s grace when we fall, but we test God’s grace when we jump.
Satan is still using scripture today to tempt God’s children to jump, only now he says, “Go ahead and commit that sin, for it is written, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” (Romans 12:9). As usual, however, he fails to use the whole word of God. It is also written,”What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace?” By no means!” (Romans 6:15). The strength of his grace is not made perfect in our willfulness to sin, but in our weakness to sin. One is to trust in God’s grace when we fall because of sin, the other is to deliberately test God’s grace to allow us to sin. In not throwing himself down, expecting God to protect him just because he was God’s son, Jesus was distinguishing between falling and jumping; trusting God and testing God. I think we need to make that distinction also.
There are two sides to everything in life, that is why Jesus said,”It is also written.” Knowing the whole Word of God keeps us from being deceived by the enemy. When we don’t acknowledge the whole Word of God, what we believe can be unbalanced and one-sided. We can be deceived if we are using scripture to serve our own one-sided agenda. Satan’s use of scripture to tempt Jesus was unbalanced with the whole truth of God’s Word and Jesus saw right through it. It was one-sided; his side, in order to serve his purpose. Satan has no problem using God’s Word, as long as it serves his purpose. When we seek to use God’s word to support our own agenda, we are prime targets for his deceit. When we fall for his temptation of us to “throw” ourselves down into sin, saying, “If you are a son of God, his grace is sufficient for you,” we would be wise to answer back, “It is also written, ‘Thou shalt not test the Lord thy God.'” The only time we are to “throw” ourselves down is when we throw ourselves down upon the mercy of his grace, trusting Him to hold us up, not testing him to.
But not to worry, God loves his children way too much not to correct them when necessary. Revelation 1:6 assures, “For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines, and He scourges every son whom He receives. It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.” If we are truly a child of God through His grace to us in Jesus, he will discipline us if necessary. When I was a young girl, discipline sometimes came in the form of a switch’n. It was not joyful, but sorrowful indeed! Afterwards, it did yield the peaceful fruit of right behavior in me. Jesus knew better than to jump and test God’s protection of him. Maybe we should follow his lead before we get a switch’n!
When I was a young girl and got to misbehaving
I’d cause my mom to lose whatever temper she’d been saving
I knew there was a limit to which her patience would endure
before I felt the remedy of her switch’s cure
She always gave me the chance to change my frame of mind
before I felt her switch’s sting come down on my behind
She’d say, “Don’t test my patience child,” and with experience I knew
the warning of those words would soon prove to be true
I knew my momma loved me even if she switched my behind
but sometimes it was the only way of keeping me in line
And although I didn’t like the pain of that switch’s sting
I can’t deny the change of heart that it would always bring
And though I never thought I’d say it, especially at the time
I’m thankful for that switch my momma used on my behind
And as I look back now I thank the Lord above
for the evidence in my life of that switch’s love
(Revelation 12:6 – All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.)