If you find yourself in the wilderness it’s not because God is mad at you. Actually, in today’s video Bible Study, “God is Not Mad at You”, we’ll discuss that sometimes tests, trials and temptations become the greatest when we’re doing something right. And those thoughts that God is mad at you? Don’t buy it sister. It’s just a trick from the enemy to wedge some distance and mistrust between you and God when you need God most.
Read Today’s Message
So before we go any further with studying Jesus’s temptation in the wilderness I want to just back up a little bit and get some background on this text. Just a few verses up we read about Jesus being baptized. So Lets’ read about that in Matthew 3:13-17:
Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented. As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” – Matthew 3:13-17 NIV
So we read about this beautiful moment in history where Jesus is starting His ministry and He has John the Baptist baptize Him to fulfill all righteousness. Jesus needed to live a perfect life in order to be an acceptable sacrifice for our sins. So in fulfilling all righteousness Jesus gets baptized. Once that happens the heavens open the Holy Spirit comes down from Heaven.
And if that scene was not magnificence enough, God speaks and says the most accepting and loving words a Father can bestow on His Son. And now all Heaven and earth know that God is completely and fully pleased with His Son. I really want you to picture God’s pleasure in His Son as we read the verse that comes next and bring us into our study:
Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. – Matthew 4:1
Ok, so the same Holy Spirit that just came down from Heave like a dove ushering in the very voice of God to proclaims God’s love and pleasure with Jesus then leads Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil? What in the world?
Let’s let that sink in a bit.
Why did Jesus need to go to the wilderness? If God was pleased with Jesus why allow him to endure pain, hunger and temptation?
And I know these are the same questions we ask about our own lives when we are in a wilderness season. Why God? Why me? Why now? Are you mad at me God? Did I do something wrong?
So let’s look at these questions in light of Jesus.
Why was Jesus lead into the wilderness? For one, this testing and temptation further proved that Jesus was the Son of God. That He alone was the sinless lamb acceptable to cover the sins of mankind forever.
Satan wanted Jesus to sin to prevent Him from being an acceptable sacrifice for our sins. Had Jesus failed here in the wilderness of tempting we would not be saved today and would have no hope for a future of eternal life with God.
The second reason Jesus was led here is because it is in the wilderness that Jesus is able to identify with us. As I stated earlier, yes Jesus is God but in the wilderness He experiences hunger, pain, weakness and temptation just as any woman or man. In fact, the fact that satan even tempts Jesus points to the reality that Jesus was not operating in any God like power, but in human vulnerability.
Satan tests Jesus because Jesus was really man. He was really flesh that could fail. If He were not I do not think Satan would have wasted his time tempting Jesus. If you look at each test, Satan is appealing to the desires of Jesus flesh. Satan knew he could not win on a spiritual level, he’s already lost there. But Jesus was in Satan’s territory and jurisdiction and completely vulnerable to the flesh, so Satan attacked, unsuccessfully however.
What does this mean for us? It means just because you are in a wilderness season does not mean God is mad at you. It does not even necessarily mean you did anything wrong. It may simply mean you are being tested. Will you look to your circumstance, your own strength or what makes sense in your mind; or will you trust God no matter what?
Because the wilderness truly reveals what is in our hearts. Will we fall back away from God out of anger, confusion, curiosity or fatigue. Or do we have a heart to faithfully serve Him anyways?
God did not exempt even His own Son from tests and trials and you are not exempt either, but this example of Jesus shows that just because you are in the wilderness does not mean God is mad at you. In fact, the attacks you are facing might very well be because you are doing something right.
I’m reminded of Job, who the Bible tells us was blameless and upright before the Lord. Well, God allowed Satan to test Job. Now, the testimony of Job shows us that God will not tempt you but He will allow you to be tested. And the purpose of the testing to reveal your true heart. Are you really all in? The wilderness is not to show you how bad of a person you are but to refine you, to pull out your weakness and replace it with God’s strength.
So let’s say you are in a wilderness season right now and you’ve been complaining and backsliding and maybe even given up. Well you might be thinking, if this were different or if that didn’t happen or if I had more money or more help I would be better equipped to follow Jesus. No you wouldn’t. I use to think that same thing but your circumstance does not make your heart, it reveals it.
What is your wilderness season revealing about your heart right now and about your attitude towards God?
If your wilderness season is revealing some sins in your heart it’s not because God only wants to show you how bad you are it’s because He wants to help you change. God wants to remove any sin so we can freely enjoy our relationships with Him. He’s stretching you because He doesn’t want to leave you the way you are.
I know some of you might not want to hear this, it’s a hard truth, trust me I understand. But even in your wilderness season God loves you. Look, I don’t like disciplining my kids, but I do it because it will be much worse for them when they leave my house if I don’t. If I don’t discipline them the world will. I’m protecting them because I love them. Proverbs 3:11-12 tells us:
My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline,
and do not resent his rebuke,
because the Lord disciplines those he loves,
as a father the son he delights in. – Psalm 3:11-12 NIV
So if your season of wilderness happens to bring out the not so good in you please believe it’s because God plans on replacing your bad for His good. And I encourage you to let Him because what’s the point of going through the wilderness just to come out the same.
Let God work on your heart here so you can be stronger in Him, with a faith more purified and looking more like Jesus. So, what the enemy meant to weaken you will turn out to be the very thing that strengthens you in your walk with God. That’s what we call being more than a conqueror.