Tell me what you believe and why, what you hope for and why, and who you love and why, and I will tell you who you are. We long for someone to tell us who we are, so that we will know why we are here and be comforted that our life has meaning. We need somehow to make sense of the pains and pleasures of this life, some way to relate the realities of earthly life to our eternal life, to understand as much as possible the ways and the mind of God. Without this understanding, life is unbearably painful – trials have no purpose and pleasure holds no joy – everything is meaningless; life and death hold no hope of redemption, of gaining something for having lived and died well.
After being baptized as an example for us, Jesus began his teaching ministry by teaching us how to deal with the temptation of the enemy, for temptation by the enemy is a fact of life, inevitable and unavoidable, part of the human condition. If Christ chose to teach us these principles before anything else, we should give these teachings their due consideration, for we must learn to overcome temptation if we are to walk side by side with Our Savior and Our Father.
Christ tells us that we don’t live by merely mortal means but by every spoken word of God – his precepts, his promises, and the whispers of his presence. Physical life without spiritual life is hardly worth living. This earthly life was never intended to satisfy our souls or especially our spirits. Hearing from God is not merely optional for us who would live well; it really is a necessity for all of us. A man may appear to prosper for a time by his own strength, but time and chance overtake every man, and then the quality of his soul’s foundation will be tested. If the foundation is self reliance, it will crumble and the man’s life will be in peril. If our foundation is God reliance, come what may and we will still be standing. And not just standing, but rejoicing and prospering in soul and spirit.
Christ also told us not to tempt God. We tempt God when we presume on his goodness and grace and behave foolishly, expecting him to rescue us simply because we belong to him. He very often does rescue us when we sin in ignorance and have not yet learned his ways. However, there will come a day when he expects us to have learned how to live righteously – not that we will never stumble but that we have learned to avoid many of the snares that often tripped us up in our youth. The God of all grace, who has called us to his eternal glory in Christ, after we have suffered a little while, will himself perfect, confirm, strengthen, and establish us. ~1 Peter 5:10
Lastly, we are told not to serve and worship Satan or the physical world – not its people, it’s pleasures, or its possessions. Rather, we are to worship and serve the Lord alone. He is to be our treasure and pleasure, our ambition, and our life. Everything visible is destined to burn when the new eternal heaven and earth appear. All that will survive the translation is our character, our true friends, and our new family. When we behold Christ face to face, we may wonder how we were ever beguiled by mere physical phantoms.