2 - Begone Satan!

Greg Aikins on December 5, 2019

Again, the devil took Jesus to a very high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world, and their glory; and he said to him, “All these things will I give you, if You fall down and worship me.”  Then Jesus said to him, “Begone Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.’  Then the devil left him; and behold, angels came and began to minister to him.  - Matthew 4:8-11  (NAS, emphasis mine).

While this command of Jesus was directed at the devil, it is nevertheless an important imperative for me to ponder as Christ’s disciple.  Matthew wants us to know that, as followers of Jesus, we will be subject to the attacks of the evil one at a very deep and personal level, just as he was.  The reason is simple.  You and I are tasked with the very mission of Christ which God inaugurated in Jesus’ incarnation, consummated in his death, authenticated by his resurrection and continues through the work of the Holy Spirit.  We are in Christ, and because Christ, the Light of the world, is in us, we need to learn to recognize and resist the one who seeks to thwart the mission of God in and through us.

As Jesus rebukes Satan, he also shows me that I will need to pay careful attention to God’s affirmation of who I am in Christ.  Each one of the three temptations Matthew describes flows out of the same subtle suggestions:  “God is not trustworthy, you are not who God says you are, you are not enough, so why should you listen to God?”  But Jesus counters each time with, “it is written” which draws his attention back to the voice of God.[1]  And this was not the only time he needed to tell the devil to get lost.  When Satan tried to use one of Jesus’ closest disciples, Peter, as his mouthpiece to keep our Lord from doing what God called him to do, our Lord rebuked Satan while at the same time revealing to Peter the lies the evil one had planted in him about his master (Matt. 16:22-23). 

Paul, in the spirit of our Lord’s powerful rebuke of the devil, exhorts us, “Do not give the devil a foothold” (Eph. 4:27).  The immediate context is a word of caution regarding anger (v. 26).  I myself have a problem with anger.  The only way not to become a pawn of the devil, and thus forget who I am in Christ, is to confess my anger to God, share my problem with others and allow the Spirit of God to reveal to me the source of my anger leading me to further repentance, obedience and life-giving joy.  This robs the enemy of a foothold in my life.

Jesus was subject all his life to the pressure to give up his work and compromise the mission of God.  Paul experienced an ongoing painful encounter with Satan that he describes as a “thorn in my flesh” (2 Cor. 12:7).  Some have conjectured that this was a disease of some kind.  Perhaps it was.  But I find it interesting that Paul personifies this ongoing stress-producer as “a messenger of Satan.”  The devil can sometimes use physical problems to wear us down and sometimes there are problem people that bring pressure on us that won’t go away.  I’ve experienced both, and like Paul, have pleaded for the Lord to remove them (12:8).  However, most often God choses to use me in the midst of the chronic challenges, demonstrating that Christ’s grace is sufficient and that “his power is made perfect in weakness” (12:9). 

Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith “endured the cross, despising its shame” and thus destroyed the power of the devil.  And he comes to our aid by his Spirit, as we fix our spiritual eyes on him (Heb. 2:14; 12:2-3).   In his missional authority and by his power, we may say, “Begone Satan!”

For reflection:  “Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7).

  • In what way(s) might the enemy be attempting to thwart your discipleship journey today?  How might Christ be directing you to resist him?  What will you do in response to the Spirit’s leading?

[1]Speaking of this, Dr. Curt Thompson writes, “Everything he reminds himself of pays attention to his relationship with his Father who loves  him, is pleased with him, will be faithful to meet his deepest longings and will bring Jesus’ creative calling to its climax.” Curt Thompson, MD, The Soul of Shame, (Downers Grove: IVP, 2013), 135.