#9 - What the Gospels Teach - Not on bread alone - Matthew 4:2-4

And after He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He then became hungry. And the tempter came and said to Him, "If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread." But He answered and said, "It is written, 'MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE, BUT ON EVERY WORD THAT PROCEEDS OUT OF THE MOUTH OF GOD.'"

One thing that is so encouraging about the life of Christ is the credit we receive from it. This sounds awkward, but it is true, just as we all sinned in Adam, and are all partakers in his original sin, and even made guilty by it, so also at the second birth are we made partakers of Christ’s righteousness and even given the benefits of it. In other words Christ’s resistance of temptation in this event is credited to us! To think that all of the great things He has done have indeed been given to us as well should drive you into active righteousness (not just imputed righteousness) and give you incredible and insatiable desire to serve the Lord.

Now on to the topic: Immediately after Christ’s baptism and the Holy Spirit lighting upon Him He is lead into the wilderness to be tempted by the Devil, and that is where the verses above begin. Now I understand that these verses have been written about thousands of times, and I doubt I will offer any groundbreaking or wonderful insights you have never heard on them, but it is important to visit these verses because they give us insight in to the work of the devil against the Spirit filled believer, and how to deal with temptation in the same manner which Christ did.

Jesus had fasted 40 days and nights, and the first offer of Satan is that of sustenance. Jesus would not break his fast at the bidding of the devil, and used the opportunity to give the devil a little education on the fact that He lived on more than just bread. Moreover, Satan prompts Christ with, “If you are the Son of God...” attempting to illicit pride. Without a doubt the basic concerns of life, what to eat and what to drink drive people in to heinous sin. This is a primary method of Satan in the temptation of mankind, and it is crafty on his part considering the majority of the world lacks an abundance of food. One of the primary reasons crime is so prevalent in impoverished areas is lack of nourishment. Now I will never downplay the teachings of Christ to feed those in need, this is a critical requisite action for the Church of Jesus Christ. At the same we must recognize that no one will ‘live’ on bread alone. Moreover once someone is filled, the devil will simply move on to the next method of temptation. The liberal notion is that ending poverty ends crime. That the reason for most crime is poverty therefore poverty is the enemy, this is a total head fake by the devil. Jesus clearly refutes that notion that poverty is the cause of crime by first of all impoverishing Himself for 40 days and nights, and then looking the Devil in the face and telling him that man does not live by bread alone. The enemy does not change; the enemy is the forces of darkness and the evil one himself. Poverty only allows the Devil an excellent opportunity for tempting. You will notice tawdry sin, at all rungs on the socio economic ladder, so the notion that feeding our neighbor and ending world hunger will bring lasting peace or end violence is wrong. It is not poverty that causes sin, it is depravity that causes sin, and poverty is merely a great motivator towards sin. Yes we must fight for social justice, yet we must fight for that justice in the name of Christ bringing bread for the stomach and the bread of life.
Now on the flipside you must never downplay the need to feed those who are hungry. Jesus is clear that in doing that we are essentially feeding Him. There is drive among fundamentalists to spread the gospel by passing out tracts, getting new testaments in people’s hands, preaching on corners, and so on, and all of those things are good, but it cannot stop there. The scriptures are clear about spreading the gospel, and equally clear on meeting people’s critical needs.

That is all for this post, and unfortunately I probably took a lot more from this text than what is really there. I think the driving passion in my writing lately has been to restore balance to our Christianity, to fight against dead fundamentalism, and liberalism. It seems a paradox but I think I am vehemently moderate, as I also believe Christ was.

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