I rejoiced with those who said to me,
“Let us go to the house of the Lord.” Psalm 122:1

Devilish Temptation: Adam Succumbs; Jesus Resists

Ash Wednesday – Pr. Anderson sermon
Genesis 3:1-6; St. Matthew 27:37-44 “Devilish Temptation: Adam Succumbs; Jesus Resists”
February 14, 2024 | Christ Lutheran Church

In Nomine Iesu
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I walk in danger all the way; the thought shall never leave me. That Satan, who has marked his prey, is plotting to deceive me. This foe with hidden snares may seize me unawares. If e’er I fail to watch and pray; I walk in danger all the way. I walk with Jesus all the way; His guidance never fails me. Within His wounds I find a stay when Satan’s power assails me, and, by His footsteps lead, my path I safely tread. In spite of ills that threaten may, I walk with Jesus all the way. Amen. (Evangelical Lutheran Hymnody #252 v. 1 & 5)

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen. (Rom. 1:7, etc.)

Out in the woods hunting, a hunter has to be crafty if they are going to be successful in taking game from the field. To be a good hunter, one studies up on the game that he or she is hunting. You learn about how it moves, what it eats, where it sleeps, and the list goes on. This is one of the ways for a hunter to be successful. A hunter also has to be proficient with the weapon they are using. If that is not the case, then there could be bad shots or misses entirely. If the hunter is not ready, then the hunt will fail. Even if all of these things are put together, the hunter still has to be crafty when stalking his prey to win the day. As St. Peter records in his letter about how the devil is a prowling lion, we can already look in our lives and see that he is a very crafty hunter and he has a pretty good success rate. This does not bode well for us. The more we look at the devil and his hunting methods, we see how easy prey we actually are. His temptations are ruthless. As we give into those temptations, there is One who didn’t give in. No matter what the devil tried, he failed at tempting Jesus. Devilish temptations succumb Adam but are resisted by Christ.

The lion who hunts began his hunting as a serpent. He slithered into the Garden of Eden going after Adam and Eve. Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.'” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” He went after the woman who was told the commands of God by her husband. She did well to resist the first temptation. The crafty serpent comes back with another. He knows God’s Word and He tweaks it. He paints God not as a loving God, but a God who is hiding something from the man and woman. It looks like He is not letting them live to their full potential.

We have heard that one before. That is exactly what secular culture has been going on and on about. They want to live to their full potential. The devil has painted God as a gate keeper. The crafty temptation tastes just as good as the fruit. “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.” God had said that all trees could be eaten from except for this one. For Adam and Eve to love God, they showed their love and worship by not eating from the tree in the midst of the garden. The desire and thought that God had not given them enough became too much and Adam succumbed to the devilish temptation.

As we inherited that sin from our first parents and are born in our parent’s image, those devilish temptations come along from Satan and we succumb to them too. We want to know everything. How else can we stand out unless we look like a god? As we search for that knowledge like Eve was tempted and overcome by, we forget where knowledge is obtained. Knowledge comes from God. It is from God that Adam and Eve were told to not eat from the tree. They would try to pass the buck on who sinned first, that it wasn’t their fault and like them we do the same. Another trait from them is not repenting when we get caught. And now that they have eaten from the tree, the following lie that they will not die will eventually get them. As the devil fooled them, he will attempt to fool us, that we can avoid death. As the world tries and as we try, we brace for the reality, we have succumbed to sin, and death is what we deserve.

As we earned death, Jesus though innocent is hung on a Roman cross. And over his head they put the charge against him, which read, “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.” Then two robbers were crucified with him, one on the right and one on the left. And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads and saying, “You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” So also the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked him, saying, “He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him. For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.'” And the robbers who were crucified with him also reviled him in the same way. Does anything sound familiar? Do you hear Satan whispering in Jesus’ ear about how he can make it better? Jesus resists his temptations and carries on.

The devil has worked so hard, just as he has worked hard on you, but Jesus doesn’t give in. Even as He hangs on the cross suffering a death that He did not deserve. The Lord of life resists every temptation all the way to the end. This is the comfort that He brings to you. The devil will try to convince you that you are all alone in your sufferings because you have given into his temptations. He tries ever so hard to lord it over you. Jesus points you to His life. You see that He has indeed felt all of your trials and temptations. The devil went after him just as he goes after you and Jesus did not give in. Jesus destroyed the work of the devil. The devil is finished!

As Adam and Eve and the world has been tempted to believe that they are like God, Jesus in resisting the devil proclaims to you that He is God. Only God can destroy the works of the devil and only God can make atonement for your sins. So, the Son of God gives up His life on the cross for those who wanted to be like God. He did it perfectly and willingly. As He died on the cross and resisted the devil even in death, it is in His death that you now have life. When you repent, the sins of being like a god are forgiven by the true God who descended from heaven, was born man, resisted all of the temptations that you have had come your way, and died on the cross for your forgiveness. Not only did the true God die on the tree, but He rose from the dead confirming to you with His empty tomb that God keeps His promises. Your sins have been wiped clean by Jesus’ blood.

The world has been given such a sweet gift of forgiveness that still works today through the Holy Spirit. It is always there as the devil’s temptations will continue to come. The devil will not give up because he wants us all to suffer with him. The devil cannot beat God’s Word. God’s Word continues to spread throughout the world, bringing forgiveness of sins, life and salvation to all who want to hear and learn it. The devil may be strong, but the devil has been defeated by Jesus’ death and resurrection. Even defeated, the devil will continue to tempt and we will continue to fall for his lies and deceptions. When we fall and realize the error of our ways, Jesus comes to us through the Means of Grace bringing healing, forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation.

Adam and Eve were placed in a beautiful and perfect garden to take care of for the Lord. God had given them everything they needed. Through the devil’s temptations they gave into the desire to have more than everything they already had. So it is fitting it that the Son of God gives them and gives us a perfect and beautiful heavenly home by restoring us through the Means of Grace, giving us the gifts that beat back Satan and his attacks. Satan’s temptations were resisted by Christ. A perfect life that now clothes us. We find strength in Jesus’ Words when He told us to pray, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” Amen.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost; as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, forevermore. Amen.
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