I Am Who God Says I AM
I AM WHO GOD SAYS I AM
By Mark E. Hardgrove, D.Min.
Text: Matthew 4:1-11
1 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry. 3 Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, "If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread."
4 But He answered and said, "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.'"
5 Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, 6 and said to Him, "If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written, 'He shall give His angels charge over you,' and, 'In their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone.'"
7 Jesus said to him, "It is written again, 'You shall not tempt the LORD your God.'"
8 Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9 And he said to Him, "All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me."
10 Then Jesus said to him, "Away with you, Satan! For it is written, 'You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve.'"
11 Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him. NKJV
Have you ever taken time to consider who you really are? Too often we allow others to define us. We may have grown up with people around us who told us we'd never amount to anything. Our own parents may have said that we were worthless or that we were losers. It may have been in school that other students teased us and told us that we were ugly or stupid. Sometimes the problem is that we compare ourselves with others and we allow unrealistic standards in the media to define us. We look at the airbrushed magazine covers at the glamorous girls, or the muscular men, and we then we decide that we are somehow defective or inferior by comparison.
The problem with allowing others to define us is that we tend to live our lives in a way that reflects who we think we are. If we think we're a tough guy then we have a tough guy persona. If we think we are a loser then we never even try to achieve anything. If we think we are ugly then we do not take care for ourselves physically. If we think we are not worth loving then we reject others before they can reject us. The point is that how we live our lives is a reflection of who we think we are, and who we think we are is often defined by the world, or by the people around us.
Here's a thought, how about we let God define us? God said we are created in His image and in His likeness (Gen. 1:26-27). God said we are the apple of His eye (Zech. 2:8). God said, "I have loved you with an everlasting love (Jer. 31:3). And if that wasn't enough, God said that you are so valuable to Him "that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3:16).
The world will try to define you, will try to tell you who you are, what you can do, and what you have, but you must not allow the world to have this power over you. You must remember who you are in Christ Jesus. You are who He says you are; you have what He says you have; and you can do what He says you can do. The Word says "greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world" (1 John 4:4). The Word says that you can do all things through Christ Jesus who strengthens you (Phil. 4:13). The Word says that "we are children of God, and if children, then heirs - heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ (Rom 8:16-17). This is who He says you are. Now whose report are you going to believe? I shall believe the report of the Lord. I chose to believe what "thus saith the Lord" concerning me.
When we doubt who we are, when we question our worth, our ability, and our value in the kingdom of God, then we either attempt less than we should and achieve less than we could if we would only hold on to who we are in Christ, or we overcompensate by trying to prove ourselves. You've met people like that. They have an inferiority complex and to compensate they talk louder than everyone else, they act bolder than they need to, and they have an air of conceit or pride about them. In reality it's just a façade, a mask that they wear to hide their own self-doubt and fears. People who allow the world rather than the Word to define them will usually fall into one of these two extremes.
I) THE TEMPTATION OF JESUS
Now let's return to our text. Most of us are familiar with this text. We know that this is the account that follows the baptism of Jesus. He was compelled by the Holy Spirit to go into the wilderness where He fasted for forty days and afterward He was hungry and He was tempted by Satan.
We know that this is what is in this text, but when we talk about the temptation of Jesus it seems that we often fail to appreciate the fact that Jesus was "in all points tempted like as we are" (Heb. 4:15). I think that sometimes we have a borderline docetic view of Jesus. Docetism was a heresy in the early Church that taught that Jesus didn't really have a human body, but that He only appeared to be human. The docetic view is that Jesus wasn't really human at all. But the Bible says that "He became flesh and dwelt among us" (Jn. 1:14). I say that sometimes we have a borderline docetic view of Jesus, because when we talk about the temptation of Jesus there is a tendency to think, "Well, He was tempted, but He couldn't possibly have been tempted like I am tempted."
The Bible is clear that Jesus became flesh and blood. The Bible is equally clear that Jesus was "in all points tempted like as we are." So when we read of the temptation of Jesus in our passage, we need to appreciate the fact that Jesus was tempted. He was hungry and He was tempted to turn stones into bread (illus.), but He allowed the Word of God to be the guide for His actions. He was tempted to throw Himself off the pinnacle of the temple to see to see if angels would catch Him, but He allowed the Word of God to direct His actions. He was tempted to bypass the crucifixion and take the easy road, but He resisted and triumphed over temptation by coming back to "it is written."
This illustrates how important it is to know what is written. It illustrates how important it is to read the Word and to know the Word. Jesus overcame the temptation of Satan by saying, "It is written." I hope that you will join me and others in the church this year by reading through the Bible with us. It may save your life, but even more importantly, it will let you know who you are in Christ Jesus.
There is no doubt that from a youth Jesus studied the scrolls of the Old Testament and Jesus knew the Word. The Bible says He "grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom" (Luke 2:40). When Jesus came out of the wilderness, the Gospel of Luke tells us He went to the synagogue where He had grown up and found in the scroll of Isaiah where it is written, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because He has anointed me." He didn't have the Bible like we do, divided in chapters and verses. Jesus was so familiar with the Scriptures that He was able to take the scroll and roll it out the passage affirmed that He is Messiah. This is why Jesus could stand up to Satan and say with authority, "it is written."
This is important because as Jesus illustrates in our text, a key to spiritual victories is found in "it is written." Likewise, a key to answered prayers is found in the Word. Jesus said, "If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you" (John 15:7, KJV). In addition, the key to faith is found in the Word. The apostle Paul said, "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Rom 10:17, KJV). Yet there are so many people trying to live victorious lives without getting into the Word or letting the Word get into them. They may attend church and even Sunday school, but until you read and study the Word for yourself you will always be at a disadvantage to the enemy when he comes to tempt you.
II) THE TEMPTATION OF SELF-DOUBT
As I said earlier, the Word of God is the only sure source for telling us who we are and what we have in Christ. Without the Word we will be allowing the world to define us, and our lives will be a reflection of those definitions. But when we know who we are in Christ, our lives will reflect that self-concept, that self-understanding of who we are. We will truly talk the talk and walk the walk.
Look closely at the text we read today. Notice how Satan prefaced the first two temptations. He said, "If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread" and, "If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down." This was part of the temptation. Jesus was being tempted with self-doubt. Jesus was being tempted to prove it, to do something stunning and spectacular to prove to Satan and to prove to Himself that He was the Messiah. (Pharisees and even His mother also tried to get Him to prove it.)
Satan wants to fill you with self-doubt. He'll say, "If you are really a Christian, then do something spectacular to prove it." Some people will go far beyond what God's will is trying to prove something. They will go into debt and acquire bills they cannot pay, and call it faith. They think that gain is godliness and they try to prove their faith with their possessions. When you know who you are in Christ, you don't have to try to prove anything to anyone.
Jesus didn't have to turn stones into bread or leap from the pinnacle of the temple to prove who He was. He knew who He was and all He said was, "it is written." He came back to the Word. Remember what Jesus told the Pharisees when they denied that Jesus was the Son of God. Jesus said, "You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me" (John 5:39, NKJV).
Jesus knew who He was because He knew the Scriptures and He knew that "it is written." And because Jesus knew this, He didn't have to prove anything to the devil. You don't have to prove to anyone how spiritual you are. You don't have to prove to anyone that you are some great saint or some great preacher or teacher. All you need to do is know who you are in Christ Jesus, know what the Word of God says about you are and then live it. The fruit will follow when you live a life that is in line with who God says you are.
Self-doubt robs us of the victories that should be ours. Self-doubt steals the joy out of our walk with God. Self-doubt causes us to either go to extremes to try to prove something. You've seen people like that-their first time in a church they have to testify and talk about how much faith they have and start speaking things over the church. Or self doubt causes us to retreat and never try anything for fear of failure.
So where should we be? What should we do? We should be the sons and daughters of God. We should do what He calls us to do in His Word. We should stand up to the enemy and let him know that we don't have to prove anything to him, and we will not allow him or the world to define us. We are who God says we are. We have what He says we have. And we can do what God says we can do. How do we know these things? We know them when we know what thus says the Lord. We know them because "it is written."
We often live far short of our true potential in the Lord simply because we don't know what God has spoken in His Word over our lives. God said in Jeremiah 29:11-12
11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. NKJV
Did you know that God has been thinking about you? His Word says that His thought are for your peace and not evil, and for your future and hope. It is written.
III) VICTORY IN THE WORD
Verse 11 tells us that after the third time that Jesus said, "it is written," the devil left. In other words, it was clear that Jesus knew who He was, He knew what was written, and He didn't have to prove anything to the devil. The devil gave it his best shot, but it wasn't enough to cause Jesus to fail. If we will stand strong in who we are in Christ, and if we will stand upon what thus saith the Word of God, with the shield of faith in one hand and the sword of the Spirit in the other, then we can also put the enemy to flight.
However, if we don't know the Word, then we will inevitably fall. David wrote in Psalm 119:11, "Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee" (KJV). The Word of God tells us who we are and the Word of God enables us to live a life that reflects the fact that we are the children of God. The Word of God sets the boundaries and points us the way to victorious living in Christ. But if that Word is not in our heart, if we don't know it and won't live it, then we are vulnerable to the attack of the enemy and we will fall to temptation.
If you will join me and the church in a renewed emphasis of the Word of God in our lives this year, I know that you will find yourself stronger in faith, better equipped to overcome temptation and sin, and you will know who you really are in Christ. It will change your life.
When Satan tempts you to be unfaithful, you will say, "I know who I am in Christ. I am married to the person I am going to spend the rest of my life with, and I will not sin against her or God and be unfaithful."
When the enemy tempts you to take drugs or drink that alters your mental capacity, you will stand up and say, "I will not take that drug, I will not drink that drink, because I know who I am in Christ. I have put on the mind of Christ and I will not distort it or destroy it with drink or drugs."
When the devil tempts you to hide in the shadows and not to do anything to advance the kingdom of God, you will stand up and say, "I am a child of God, the enemy is under my feet, and I will I stand up and be accounted for in the kingdom of God."
When the enemy tempts you to hold back your tithes and offerings, you will pull out your wallet and say, "I know that God is my provider. He'll never fail me. He'll never let me down. He said that if I seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, then He will supply my needs."
When Satan tries to silence your witness, you will step up the place and say, "I've got a testimony and I'm not going to be afraid to tell it to the lost and dying world. He said that I am His witness and I have the power of the Holy Spirit on me to tell the world that Jesus saves!"
Do you know who you are today? You may have had, and you may still have, people in your life who have tried to tell you who you are. But unless they are speaking God's Word over your life, then they don't know who you are. God says you are His child. The apostle John says, "Beloved, now we are the children of God" (1 John 3:2, NKJV). The apostle Peter said that we have been called "out of darkness and into His marvelous light" (1 Peter 2:9). We are children of the light (1 Thess. 5:5). We are devil stompin', victory walking, Jesus talking, Spirit filled, sons and daughters of God and we don't care who knows it. We're not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation to them that believe (Rom. 1:16).
Do you know who you are and if you do, does your life reveal it by how you live? John wrote:
10 This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother. (1 John 3:10, NIV)
If you are a child of God, let your light shine, let your love show, and let the joy of the Lord be your strength.
If you're here today and you know that your life does not reveal that you are child of God, if you are trying to overcome the definitions that others have tried to put on you, or if you are ready to break out of the self-doubt and walk in confidence in the Lord, then I want to pray with you today. I want you walk out here humbled by that fact that God calls you son or daughter, but also empowered by that reality to live the abundant life.