“The tempter came to him and said, ‘If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.’”Matt. 4: 3
One of the ways Satan disorients Christians in their walk with God is sowing doubts into the reality of their situation and identity. We could see this vile strategy during the first temptation of Jesus in the wilderness. Satan was trying to stir up doubts regarding his status as the Son of God. He is indirectly challenging Jesus to prove his identity by turning stones to bread. Satan’s point is simple: If indeed Jesus is the Son of God and the promised Messiah, he should be able to do this simple miracle and satisfy his hunger.
But Jesus did not attempt to do what was told by Satan.
Was he short of power to do this miracle?
No! Gospel is full of supernatural signs and miracles performed by Jesus.
Then, why didn’t Jesus prove his sonship by simply proving Satan wrong?
The clue lies in the events of the previous chapter where Jesus is getting baptised by John. Matthew records what happened in 3: 16 & 17: “At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” Heaven declares Jesus to be the beloved son of God. If Heaven had declared that Jesus is the Son of God, no need for him to prove it by performing a miracle which Satan is dictating. Jesus identified this as a trick. Satan already knew who Jesus was but merely he was trying to make Jesus do what he wanted. He resisted it by quoting the words of scripture: “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (4:4)
Satan tempts us in a same way. He tries to distort our status and strives to present a doubting picture of the reality. It could be that we live (or at least strive to live) a godly life but Satan would tempt us to think that we are worthless and we are sinners. This could lead us to live doubting our salvation and quit living a godly life. Or it could be the opposite. We might be living a life which is displeasing to God but Satan would make us believe that we are indeed righteous and all others are sinners. When one accepts this lie, a self-righteous attitude develops and we refuse to accept our shortcomings and seek God’s grace.
Both type of doubts are dangerous for Christian living. We should examine ourselves regularly to know about the reality of our inner state. If we try to deceive ourselves by creating an alternate reality, we will be disappointed when we are face-to-face with the reality at one point of time.
Jesus’ response to Satan invites us to ponder about our status in God. Do we determine our status in God’s house comparing ourselves with God’s word? Or are we listening to Satan’s lies and creating a false image of ourselves?