Matthew 4:8,9 “Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. ‘All this I will give you,’ he said, ‘if you will bow down and worship me.'”

     The devil offered Jesus all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor if He would just bow down and worship him.  How sad it is that the devil pulls this terrible trick off with many of us with far less.  You see the devil was offering to Jesus what was already His.  What a trick – to offer a what isn’t yours and temporary in trade for something  of priceless eternal value.

     Satan doesn’t ‘own’ the earth although he has temporary control over it; “Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out.” (John 12:31) God hurled him down to the earth.  Jesus was there when it happened; “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.” (Luke 10:18)   Satan’s control is for a short time; “But woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has gone down to you! He is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short.” (Revelation 12:12)

     God didn’t give the world to the devil, we give control to the devil by our decisions and intent.  Like Adam and Eve, when we buy into his lies we give him control over us.  Jesus saw through the devil’s tricks; “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.'” (Matthew 4:10)  Matthew Henry cautions us; “Satan tempted Christ to idolatry with the offer of the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them. The glory of the world is the most charming temptation to the unthinking and unwary; by that men are most easily imposed upon.”

     False preachers tell people that as ‘good’ Christians they should live in affluence, peace and permanent good health.  If they don’t always prosper and live in good health  their faith is too weak and their vision to mean.  This is known as the prosperity Gospel; “One of the key underlying beliefs of the prosperity gospel is that ‘total victory’ can be achieved in this lifetime as a result of the believers’ giving of offering and/or faithful confession.” (Unwrapping the Prosperity Gospel (pt 2): The Lie of Total Victory)  This isn’t what Jesus tells us: “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)  It’s His victory not ours that carries us through tough times.

     Like Esau we can be tempted to give up our birth-right for a ‘bowl of stew’ so we don’t have to suffer; “I am about to die; of what use is a birthright to me?” (Genesis 29:32)  Jesus tells us; “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.” (Matthew 16:25)  A bowl of stew falls far short of being offered ‘all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor’.  How cheaply we trade away what Jesus paid such a high price for.  The devil knows our weakness.  The devil is a cheater!

       Yet the reality is that the ‘good life’ of worldly prosperity is an empty life filled with empty promises and shallow happiness.  It is the best the world has to offer – the best that Satan has to offer on a very temporary basis.  It is a devious counterfeit of what God offers for  eternity to those who choose a life in Jesus Christ.  Jesus warns us; “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10)

     Don’t fall for the devil’s tricks and discount your life and Jesus’ sacrifice by living for what you can get because the riches of the world have become your idol.  Jesus tells us; “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21)

     Keep your eye on Jesus.  Don’t fall for tricksters who offer you what really is nothing in exhange for your heart.   Let us stay away from idols (1 John 5:21).

     Praise the Lord!