Every once in a while, I will read a verse or a passage of Scripture that will cause me to think, “I never saw that before…does that really say what I think it says?” One such occasion was just a few days ago. A group of us read the Bible together each year and we are using a plan that begins with the Gospel of Luke. Here is the passage that turned my head...
5 Then the devil took him up and revealed to him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. 6 “I will give you the glory of these kingdoms and authority over them,” the devil said, “because they are mine to give to anyone I please. 7 I will give it all to you if you will worship me." (Luke 4:5-7 New Living Translation)
Have you ever really noticed those verses? The person who was taken up to see all the kingdoms of the world was Jesus. The scene was the wilderness and Jesus was praying and fasting, shortly before he began his earthly ministry. The reason the passage caught me off guard was that Jesus didn’t correct the devil. The Son of God didn’t say, “You are lying, devil; you don’t have authority to give the glory and authority of earthly kingdoms to whomever you please.” Instead, Jesus said: “The Scriptures say, ‘You must worship the Lord your God and serve only him.'” (Luke 4:8 New Living Translation)
Could it be that the devil was telling a truth — at least a partial truth — on this occasion? Is it possible that Satan COULD give glory and authority to those who worship him? While that idea is certainly not edgy and has been declared true numerous times by some who have dabbled in the occult, could it be Biblically true? Could God, the creator and sustainer of life, have given authority to the devil, who could then pass it on as he pleases?
Before I go on with this question, let me remind you that the book of Job is clear. The devil can’t do anything without it passing through the will of God. Twice in that book, the devil wants to put Job to the test, but can’t do so without God’s permission. In the New Testament, Jesus said to Simon Peter (Luke 22:31), “Satan has desired to have you, so that he may sift you like wheat.” Clearly, the devil has no real authority, other than that which has been granted to him for a time and he is always accountable to God.
I ask this question about what the devil said to Jesus because of my reflection on talents. “Talents” is the topic at Stone Ridge Church this weekend and I am struck with the number of highly-talented people who seem to zoom to the heights of fame and fortune, only to crash into the rocks of substance abuse, broken relationships and broken hearts. Could it be that they make some sort of deal with the devil, lusting for the money, the popularity and the perks of elitism, without a thought of what it may cost in the end?
To be sure, people with significant talent find themselves facing a plethora of temptations. All of us can understand the desire to use talents as a catapult to everything we ever wanted in life. Maybe the misuse of talents is just another way to gain the world and lose our souls in the process.
Is there a better way? Is it possible to live fuller, richer lives by the proper use of our talents? Could temptation be turned away and genuine treasure be gained as a result? We must dig into this if we are to have healthy hearts. I can’t wait to talk with you about it this weekend at Stone Ridge Church. Can’t be there? Catch the podcast!