Sunday, October 6, 2013

Battle in the Wilderness: The Preparation (Luke 4:1,2)

Part 2
Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led around by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil. (Luke 4:1, 2 NASB)

Jesus had just returned from the Jordan after His baptism and had gone to the wilderness in preparation for the ministry that had begun to unfold. Lest you entertain visions of Bear Grylls surviving in the forest, let me remind you that this was not a forest wilderness. It was most likely a bare rock wilderness. There were no trees, no mountain cabins, few streams, and probably just a cave for shelter. It was a wild place, but it was not a bucolic scene. It was a lonely, barren expanse. 

Jesus had gone into this bleak place "full of the Holy Spirit" and led by the Holy Spirit. In a spiritual sense, He was armed to the max, and that was critical, because his enemy, the devil, was there. Satan was ready for battle, and he never let up throughout the entire wilderness experience. 

Matthew Henry, in the early 1700's wrote, "The richest ship is a pirate's prize." The redemption of mankind was a hard fought battle, and it had never been more critical to sideline Christ than at this point. His public ministry had just begun, the Spirit had filled Him, and Satan was likely desperate to turn this around before it got out of hand. The most intense spiritual warfare mankind had ever known was underway, and Jesus was the prime target. 

Perhaps you, too, have gone straight from a mountaintop spiritual encounter with God into a time of intense spiritual struggle. Those wilderness testings are agonizing and hardly seem fair. I would much rather revel in what I've just enjoyed than engage in an all-out fight for my spiritual life. For warriors in the kingdom of God, however, when the Holy Spirit has led you there, the battle is the safest place to be. Paul, writing to the Corinthians, 
addressed the issue of surviving spiritual warfare. "No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it." (1 Cor.10:13)

Ephesians 6 tells us about the tools we have available for spiritual warfare: the girdle of truth, breastplate of righteousness, boots of the gospel of peace, shield of faith, helmet of salvation, and sword of the Spirit which is the word of God. Jesus went into the wilderness fully protected and completely equipped for the battle at hand, and so must we.  If we are to emerge victorious in the fight for the hearts and souls of our loved ones, we must be completely equipped, ever vigilant, and totally reliant on the Spirit to lead us. 

That preparation begins with the girdle of truth. What is truth? Jesus. He is the truth and the source of all redemption. As we begin another day of praying for those who are precious to us, start by spending time with the One who loves you, redeemed you, and IS your Truth. Pray especially that those for whom we pray will recognize and embrace Truth.