Mondays with Manton: Christ's Temptation (5)

Continuing through the neglected Puritan Thomas Manton's (1620–1677) Christ's Temptation and Transfiguration Practically Explained and Improved in Several Sermons  (Works, 1:258–336), we come to sermon 5, which deals Matthew 4:8-9 (click here for sermon 1, 2, 3, 4).
One of the first questions Manton dealt with was how could Satan show Jesus the kingdoms of the world when the "the earth is the Lord's?" (Ps. 24:1) The power that Satan has "is not given, but permitted; not absolute, but limited. It is a lie that Satan can given these things at pleasure" (p. 303). This is a corrective to the kind of demonology I was taught within Pentecostalism that said the devil is "god of this world" in an absolute sense. This is also an encouragement to us that even when Satan does mighty things to deceive, he is still God's devil.
Manton then offered up several observations for us to consider. The first is that "we must expect not only to be tempted, but to be often tempted" (p. 307) and therefore we must watch and avoid judgment of others when they are tempted. But also, since we will be tempted, Manton said, "Be not overmuch troubled and must make your way to heaven almost every step by conflict and conquest...the more trials the more glory" (p. 307). We don't think this way, do we? We think of the Christian life as always full of happiness and success. Look at Jesus and identify with him, brothers and sisters!
Another observation that is so relevant is that how the devil uses the world in temptation. He seeks "to divert us from God and heavenly things, that our time, and care, and thoughts may be wholly taken up about things here below" (p. 309). How much of yout time and energy is spent on your kids' extra-curricular activites? How much time do you spend in the garage fixing up cars? How much time do you spend watching your favorite shows? You may be being tempted and not even know it, Christian.
So how can you and I fight back against the Devil? Manton said concerning this particular temptation of Jesus that it teaches us not to believe the Devil's promises (p. 310). His promises are false (p. 312). Instead, rest in "the sufficiency and stability of God's promises" (p. 312). And to do that, let's take up the Word, let's study it, let's listen to it be preached, and let's apply it in life every day.
Danny Hyde