And the tempter came and said to Jesus, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But Jesus answered, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Matthew 4:3–4
This verse is deeply meaningful, but there tends to be little personal consideration of its true profundity. When this simple verse is given time to really soak into our hearts, it has the power to obliterate an entire category of Satan’s temptations (the world’s promises) and transform our lives to one that basks in the freedom and joy promised by Christ (Galatians 5:1 and John 15:11).
The fact is, focusing on the material world is suffocating to our souls, simply because it distorts our view of heaven and the work of God and discourages us from doing good. Focusing on the material world also provides Satan an avenue to make us frustrated with God as we may feel He is not listening when prayers are not answered exactly as we ask. Most dangerous of all, it tricks us into thinking we’re more powerful and important than we really are.
Last week, a friend of mine told me about his first spiritual attack. During it, he could only call on Jesus to bring him through. Afterwards, he recounted how powerless he felt against the forces we are all dealing with. The spiritual world is very real and it affects the material world more than we should dare be comfortable with.
Yet we continue to focus on the material because it is the more immediate of the two worlds. How many times have we snapped at someone we love out of stress? How many times have we fallen into temptation out of a feeling of lack? How many times have we told small lies out of fear or convenience? These situations arise because we allow Satan to fan the flames of insecurity within our souls.
This is not to say that we should begin focusing only on the spiritual and put aside the material world; instead, we need to pay more attention to the world beyond and see the spiritual realm for what it is. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus did not say material things are not important, He only said we shouldn’t worry about them because our Father in heaven will provide for us (Matthew 6:25–34).
When we respect the spiritual realm, we see a more complete picture of our world and gain deeper wisdom into how things really work (hence Proverbs 9:10). We see the demonic chains that bind people, we see the spiritual war in our world and grow a healthy respect for scripture’s prophetic accuracy, and we see the attention God has for our lives and grow in our understanding of our identities as His daughters and sons. In Jesus’ rebuke of Satan above, He highlights that beyond the fabric of this material universe, there is a God who cares deeply for His creation.
Let us put the material world properly beside the spiritual world and see our lives through this expanded framework. Let us give thanks to our Father who provides for us materially and fills us up spiritually, so that we may be effective in bringing Him glory through our words and deeds.
- Thank God for His unstoppable and overflowing love, patience, grace, mercy and forgiveness to you.
- Ask God to open your eyes to His work in your world and show you how to contribute to His mission fields.