God does many things that are strange to our way of thinking. That is because we do not know the end from the beginning: but He does (Isaiah 46:10). After the extraordinary public conference of Father, Son and Holy Spirit when Jesus was baptised (Mark 1:9-11), why should the Spirit 'send' Jesus into the desert to meet Satan? The original wording is even more dramatic: it is 'cast out' or 'drive out' - a word used 88 times in the New Testament, mainly for 'violently expelling' demons. Why should the Holy Spirit powerfully eject Jesus from the holy fellowship of the Trinity, surrounded by repentant sinners at the Jordan River, to meet His adversary?
Jesus certainly came to save sinners (1 Timothy 1:15), but that is part of a bigger picture. In God's global plan, the devil - the root of the problem - had to be confronted and defeated: that was Jesus' job too (1 John 3:8). Yet everything in the sinless character of our Lord was revolted by evil (Habakkuk 1:13). It took all the energy of the Spirit to move Him from the peace of baptism to challenge Satan. This confrontation was to be a personal affair: God against Satan. The devil had arrogantly lied to Adam and Eve, causing them to doubt God's Word and disobey Him – bringing sin into the world (Genesis 3:1-6). Satan continued to assume that he had the right to control God's world (John 12:31). So, like a troublesome tenant, Satan was given 'notice to quit' by Jesus.
Jesus was alone in the Judean wilderness without food. The wild animals surrounded Him and Satan taunted Him. At the end of 40 days, three pivotal temptations were resisted, and God's Word was restored as the 'gold standard' of truth. In the end, the devil had no answer – he had lost all his arguments and failed to take authority over the Son of God (Matthew 4:1-11). It was the beginning of the end of the Evil One, continued when Jesus rose from the dead (Colossians 2:15) and will be finalised when Jesus comes again (Revelation 20:7-10).
Most Christians in the workplace and community are surrounded by words, values and actions that are opposed to the culture of heaven. Sensitive believers are right to loathe the world's corruption. Escaping from it might seem to be the holy option. While it is important to treasure Christian fellowship at church, the college Christian Union or workplace prayer group, that is not the whole story of a Christian's life. God deliberately sends us out into a dark world, to be light in the darkness and salt in the dung-pile (Matthew 5:13-16). This is morally obnoxious to the believer. If God did not drive us to confront the corruption in the world with His Word, and lead the victims to Christ, we would not want to do it. If the Holy Spirit's power and protection was not available, we could not survive: if His powerful Word could not be our sword, we would fail. So, do not despair if you are surrounded by corruption and temptation - God has placed you there to be a light that cannot be extinguished by the darkness. As you tell the truth, Satan's captives may see the lies which have ensnared them, and call out to Jesus to be saved (2 Timothy 2:24-26).
© Dr Paul Adams