SBTS chapel live blog: Mayday someday: why we’d rather be right than rescued

Communications Staff — March 10, 2009

Preacher: Russell D. Moore, senior vice president of academic administration; dean of the School of Theology at Southern Seminary.

Text: Matthew 4:5-7

This sermon is part two of three of a series on the temptations of Christ in the wilderness.

The desire to be right

Everyone has a desire to visibly seen to be in the right. You see this when a single student and his girlfriend break up and the man calls all of his friends and wants them to say, ‘She is crazy!’ You see this when a seminary student fails Hebrew and wants to say blame his professor instead of looking at his own faults.

It is this longing that Satan targets in his second temptation of Christ.

Satan’s temptation seems odd to us at first: why would a man be tempted to throw himself off of the temple? But this temptation becomes clear as we examine it.

Satan sought to sever the Word of God from the presence of God

The temple is the locus of the presence of God. It is the visible representation that God is with His people, Israel.

The issue with Israel’s complaints, ‘How can we really know God is with us and for us?’ But God did deliver Israel. The Israelites’ problem was they wanted God to demonstrate his deliverance in their timing.

In tempting Jesus to throw Himself off the temple, Satan was tempting him with, ‘Are you really the Son of God?’ ‘Will God really deliver you?’ And Satan was tempting Jesus to take matters into His own hands.

Satan sought to sever the Word of God from the purposes of God

Satan said to Jesus if you are really the Son of God then act on it. Fulfill the Old Testament promises about you if you are really the Son of God, Satan said. If you are the anointed one of God, if you step out and the Father has so much delight in you, then He will rescue you, Satan said.

Satan is a preacher and he knew about the Old Testament promises concerning the Messiah of God’s people.

Jesus wanted the Father to vindicate Him. But Jesus did not want the Father to vindicate Him without His people. Jesus had a people to redeem, a people to save and He did not want the Father to rescue Him without those people.

Satan sought to sever the Word of God from the Lordship of God

Satan tempted Jesus to fulfill the promises about Him in Scripture in His own timing, apart from dependence on God and submission to God.

There are some of us who have a zeal that is not so much for the glory of God or the mission of Christ as it is for the self-vindication and visibility of being right.

There are some of you right now, who are zealous to be successful in ministry because you have family members who just don’t get what you are doing. The desire you have in your life is to preach the Gospel with power and conviction not just to faithfully proclaim the Gospel, but so you can prove to your family members that what you are doing is in fact worthwhile.

There are some of you grumbling because you are waiting tables at Olive Garden and saying ‘I have gifts for ministry’ and you work until 12:30 in the morning and go home and study, and you say, ‘What am I doing?’ You do not have to win the argument as to why you are here (at seminary). You don’t have to be vindicated in the eyes of the world right now.

The desire of your heart, if you were honest, would be to be able to look at people who are looking at you right now, after you are in a visible ministry situation and say, ‘What do you think of me now?’

Some of you struggle when your children disobey or when you have conflict in your marriage because you don’t want to be embarrassed or humiliated in front of other people.

We want to be vindicated; we want to be visibly seen as having the blessing of God, in a way that cannot be disputed.

Satan says to Jesus, if you will just throw yourself off of this temple, you will prove that you yourself of the Son of God. But what Jesus recognizes is that Psalm 91 doesn’t stop where Satan stops. Jesus recognizes that Psalm 91 goes on to say that He would trample the serpent underfoot.

Jesus doesn’t throw Himself from the pinnacle of the temple, because you weren’t there. Jesus doesn’t vindicate Himself in the city walls of Jerusalem, because you weren’t there. Jesus goes outside the camp, to the place of the skull to suffer and die, so that one day — when He is vindicated — He will be surrounded by all who believe in Him, by His church.

Do we trust our Father enough to test us even if nobody around us can see the blessing that we identify through the eyes of faith? Is it enough for us to know that Jesus is with us always, even to the end of the age, if it is impossible to see, except by the Spirit?

Is it enough for us to prove to be vindicated, not because of our righteousness, but because of the righteousness of Christ at the resurrection of the dead?

Are you ready to become a pastor, counselor, or church leader who is Trusted for Truth?

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