Spiritual Strategy

by Stephen F. Olford

"Then Jesus was led...by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil" (Matt. 4:1, NKJV).

Thought: It is clear from this verse that the believer is to expect testing by the devil, and to regard it as a discipline of spiritual strategy into which the Holy Spirit shall lead him. This is why Paul could declare: "No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it" (1 Cor. 10:13). Note:

The Period of Testing-"Then Jesus was led up" (v. 1). The adverb links us to the last verse of the previous chapter. The Lord Jesus had just received heaven's commendation: "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased" (3:17). This teaches us that after the greatest attestation comes the greatest testing.

The Purpose of Testing-"Jesus was led up of the Spirit...in order to be tested" (v. 1, Weymouth). The writer to the Hebrews tells us, "Though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered, and having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation" (Heb. 5:8-9). Perfection of character issues from tested obedience. That's why the Holy Spirit leads us into paths of testing. Needless to say, a guided way is a guarded way and always leads to a triumphant issue.

The Power of Testing-"Then Jesus was led...by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil" (v. 1). Though Satan has supernatural power, he is not omnipotent. If the Holy Spirit is in control of the life, He will guarantee the victory. The Bible assures us that "when the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard against him" (Is. 59:19). Praise God, we can know victory against all satanic attacks in days to come.

Thrust:

My foes are ever near me,

around me and within;

But Jesus, draw Thou nearer,

and shield my soul from sin.

John E. Bode