INI + AMEN.
(2. The devil always speaks the same lie: “Did God really say?”)
The devil’s lie is always the same. He’s been a liar and a murderer from the beginning. With this lie he deceived Adam and Eve. He tempted Jesus with this lie. He uses this lie against you. He uses this lie out in the world. With a lie the devil poses as an “angel of light,” leading men into darkness, a place they’re more than willing to go because “men like the darkness more than the light.” So, what is this lie? What’s the one thing the devil keeps saying? What’s the one trick he has up his sleeve? No matter what the devil says, or whatever form his temptation takes, it can be summarized this way: “Did God really say?”
That’s certainly the lie out in the world, and there’s so many examples of this. We really shouldn’t be unaware of his schemes and devices out in the world.There’s so many areas where I could talk about the devil spinning his lies, which are all variations on the same theme. So for the sake of time, I’ll only discuss one area: marriage. Now, the devil spreads his lie in two ways out in the world. The first is this way: “Did God really say that divorce is all that bad? Did God really say that marriage is only between a man and a woman? Did God really say sex outside of marriage is wrong? I mean, come one, that was just cultural stuff, written for that time and place. Our situation, our time, our century, our culture is completely different. The Bible wasn’t really written with our new enlightened understanding.” That’s the first way. The second way is this: “God didn’t really say. God’s all about love, and it’s just the Christians who hold to this stuff because they feel holier than everyone else.”
Now, the devil doesn’t just spread this lie out in the world. He spreads it in your life too. To piggyback off of how he works in the world, he may speak that same lie to you, leading you to think that maybe that stuff isn’t sin. You see, the devil doesn’t want people to believe it’s not sin just because he likes people living badly. That he wants people being immoral for the sake of being immoral. No, that’s not it at all. He wants you to believe things aren’t sins—no matter what the sin is—because then you’ll believe that Jesus didn’t die for it! Think about it. If lust wasn’t a sin, then Jesus didn’t die for it. So just go on lusting, it’s not a problem. That’s what the devil would say because he wants people to live in their sin, enjoy their sin, not turn from their sin, and then die in their sins. It’s not about being naughty at all. It’s about keeping people away from faith in Jesus who died and rose for their sins. It’s about keeping them from the NEW life Jesus freely gives them.
The devil also spreads his “did God really say” lie in your life another way. He wants you to believe that you’ve done something, believed something, thought something, that can’t be forgiven. “If you are a son of God would you have said that?” “A daughter of God wouldn’t have done that.” “You’ve been too bad a person for God to love you.” “A child of God wouldn’t struggle like you do. Really, you must try harder. You’ve shown yourself to not be a faithful child by what you’ve done, haven’t done, said or didn’t say, or even thought. God can’t love you now. You’re too far gone.” The other side of the same coin is this: “you’re doing good on your own; you’re not that bad of a person, you’re a pretty good person.” Both despair and self-righteousness are lies of the devil.
It just so happens that this is the same lie the devil tried with Jesus. “Are you really the son of God? Did God really say that about You at Your Baptism?” “Did God really say that, Jesus?” Now, the devil can’t lead Jesus away from trust in Jesus and His death and resurrection, but he can tempt Jesus to be a different Jesus than the one He was sent to be. “You don’t need to trust Your heavenly Father for bread, Jesus. You’re heavenly Father’s not going to let You die, Jesus. He commands His angels concerning You. You don’t even need to die, Jesus. Want to save the world? Just worship me.”
But not matter how many ways the devil asks his question, no matter how many times the devil tries to get Jesus away from or down from His cross,
(1.) Jesus’ response is always the same: “It is written.”
That’s what we see in our text today, this first Sunday in Lent. Lent is when we focus more clearly on all the aspects of Jesus’ work to save us, and so we look first to Jesus’ being tempted by the devil. He preaches again and again against the devil. He preaches His own Old Testament Word against the devil. “It is written,” Jesus says. Again and again He says it. “It stands written, devil. You can’t undo it,” Jesus says, “You may point Me away from it, but it stands written.” He doesn’t just preach this in the desert, but He preaches on Calvary’s hill too. For you see, “when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from His until an opportune time.” That opportune time would be the cross. “Save Yourself, Jesus! You don’t have to die! Worship Me! No? Well, just come down from the cross. If you are the Christ, come down, and we’ll believe.” There on the cross Jesus silenced the devil forever: “It is finished!” The tomb would be empty three days later. The tomb was opened,—Jesus lives!—and so the devil’s mouth is shut forever.
Jesus wants this preached to all and to you, dear Christian. He doesn’t want anyone to die in their sins. He carried all our sins. Not what we think are sins, but what He has written are sins. Through the preaching of His Word, Jesus defeats the devil and his kingdom. The devil’s kingdom has power and glory, causes you can get behind. But Jesus has a fast in the desert, a death on a cross, and an empty tomb which save you from all that. He delivers it to you too. In the saving waters of your baptism, Jesus’ cross and empty tomb are delivered to you. You’ve died and been raised with Jesus. What can the devil have on you? Jesus’ absolution delivers to you personally Jesus’ “It is finished!” for each and every sin. Jesus’ Word delivers to us His body and blood for the forgiveness of our sins. The devil runs away from the flesh and blood of Christ. He doesn’t want us to believe what Christ says, “This is My body and blood FOR YOU.”
The devil may try and open his mouth to speak lies, but
JESUS HAS SHUT THE DEVIL’S MOUTH FOR YOU.
He may roar and lead the world astray after lies. But Jesus wants all people to hear His Word. “It stands written!” Jesus says. It’s why we come to Church. Why we want others here with us! “It stands written” for all and for you. The devil may lead us away from the Word, from our Baptism, from Jesus’ body and blood, but…“It is written!” There’s no sin too bad. There’s no sin too great. There’s no sin Jesus hasn’t saved already you from. Jesus says to the devil, “I’ve already said it. You can’t undo it, foolish devil. You think you’re all high and mighty, but you’re not. What I’ve had written stands written. What I’ve said has already happened.” “It is finished!” This message is for everyone, but also for you, dear Christian. Jesus says, “I washed you at Baptism.” “I forgive you all your sins.” “Take, eat, My body given for you. Take, drink, My blood shed for you.” The devil can’t undo that. Dear Christian, don’t let the devil mislead you to think otherwise. He lies. He twists the truth. But listen to the Truth: “It stands written! I’ve already said it. It’s done, finished! My Word and Gifts endure forever. Be silent devil.” He is.
Did God really say? Yes, Jesus said “It stands written!” He said it and did it FOR YOU.
INI + AMEN.