Home > Lent > For us Fights the Valiant One. Invocabit Sermon 2014. Matthew 4:1-11

For us Fights the Valiant One. Invocabit Sermon 2014. Matthew 4:1-11

temptation-of-christ-1896 ilya repinInvocabit (First Sunday in Lent) + St. Peter Lutheran Church + St. Matthew 4:1-11 + March 9, 2014

“For us Fights the Valiant One”

IESU Iuva!


Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them.  The LORD said to Satan, “From where have you come?”  Satan answered the LORD and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.”  Job 1:6-7


Like he’s pacing.  Restless.  Never satisfied.


Yet he dares to come into the presence of God with the other angels.  He appears at the side of the Son of God in the wilderness while He is weak with hunger.


He enters Paradise and speaks through the snake to the mother of all the living.  He goes away for awhile, but he returns.  He always returns.  Always when you’re not ready.


He grabs Peter’s throat and tempts Christ with his beloved disciple’s voice just moments after Peter had confessed unto salvation by the Holy Spirit.  “Get behind me, Satan;” almost the exact words Jesus speaks to the devil here in the temptation in the wilderness.


He enters into Judas as Jesus is instituting the sacrament of His body and blood.  He can even show up at the Lord’s Supper to tempt and drag the soul of one of the twelve to damnation.


He can and does and will continue to do so.


We don’t know it’s him when he comes.  He comes when we don’t expect it.  He comes where we don’t expect him—in the holy places.  When we’re engaged in God’s work.  When we’re tired and most defenseless.  When we aren’t paying attention.


And what he has to say sounds so good.  So often it’s dressed up in Christianity.  He says things that sound like what Jesus says.  The woman anoints Jesus with perfume at Bethany and the disciples say, “Why wasn’t that perfume sold and the money given to the poor?”


Often we don’t know we’re being led into sin until we’ve fallen.  He lobs some easy temptations at you to make you feel secure, like you can handle it.  “Did God really say you can’t eat from any of the trees in the garden?”  “No, of course not.  We can eat from all of them except the one in the center of the garden.  That one we can’t eat or even touch it, or we will die.”  “Tell these stones to become bread.  Jump down from the temple.”


And then after you’re off-balance and thinking this is a snap, he shoots a flaming arrow into your heart.  You forget all about God’s Word and all you can see is the object of your desire.  Maybe it never tempted you before, but now it feels like it’s all you’ve ever wanted.  Now it becomes more clear who you’ve been having a nice chat with, but he doesn’t seem so bad.


“You will not surely die.  God knows that when you eat it you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”


“All this I will give you if you will fall down and worship me.”


“No Lord!  Rejection, shame, death?  This will never happen to you!  Don’t say such things!”


With human beings we can have compassion and be gracious to them even when they serve the devil.  We were all once enslaved to sin, and Jesus came to set us free.  Jesus does not permit us to hate or despise our human adversaries.


But there is no dialogue with the devil.  If you try to reason with him you have already lost.  If he tempts you to sin or to despair, and you try to reason your way out, you have lost.


The only help is the Word of God—to hold on to it and not discuss with the devil.  His name, “Devil,” means “slanderer.”  He slanders God and you.  He will convince you that black is white.  Just look at our world today, what we call good and evil.  The devil tempted Jesus to doubt that He was the son of God.  He will easily convince you that sin is not sin, that you are not saved, that forgiveness is not for you.  That baptism is plain water, the supper mere bread and wine, the bible man’s word.  That insistence on pure doctrine is petty, arrogant, unimportant.


There’s only one response to Satan.  Not to discuss with him, but to hold God’s Word, meditate on it, and confess it.  And to renounce Satan.


When the Israelites came into the promised land, God told them not to make a covenant with the people, not to try to convert them, not to try to keep the gold of their temples and idols and reuse them for something else.  The people in the land were devoted to destruction along with their idols.  There was no compromise and no discussion because God knew that the people would be led astray to idols, not the other way around.


That’s how it is with Satan and all his works and all his ways.  God doesn’t command us to kill non-Christians.  We are supposed to let them injure us if that is necessary.  But He doesn’t say, “Have a dialogue with the doctrines of Satan.  Tolerate his teaching and his practices.”  The only way to deal with Satan is to renounce him, no matter where he speaks.  We don’t renounce and hate his servants or those who fall and serve him, like Peter did.  But we don’t excuse sin, any sin.  We have to hate it and treat it like it is—an abomination that will destroy us.


+But we have relied on human wisdom to be Christians.


+We have focused on bread.  Tested God and said, “Is he among us or not?”  And then when he gave us good things, like He gave the Israelites, we did what they did—forgot that it was the Lord who did it all.  Miraculously delivered us to be His people.

We have wanted to be like everyone else, another nation pursuing its own goals instead of a holy nation, the people of God.


+++Jesus renounced Satan once and for all.  He is the Holy One, and the holy nation are those who are born again into Him.


++He overcomes Satan.  He renounces him and has nothing to do with him.


+He ransoms us from Satan with his obedience to death.

With his blood.


+He fights for us with His Word (Luther’s hymn)

Not through our willing not to sin do we overcome Satan


We take refuge in Him and believe His word of justification.


+We take refuge in Him to protect us from Satan’s tricks and deceptions.

In hearing His Word.

In prayer.


Without this we are led astray and Satan uses us as his instruments against Christ and one another.


This has happened to us far too much!  Lord, have mercy!


We meditate on Christ’s passion and we come to Him for forgiveness, help, and healing at His table.  In His passion, in His body and blood, we share His “no” to Satan and his victory over him.




The peace of God…



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