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Month of Sundays: Temptation

Once more the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms in the world and their glory. The devil said to him, “I will give you all this if you will bow down and worship me.” Jesus said to him, “Go away, Satan! Scripture says, ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve only him.'” Then the devil left him, and angels came to take care of him. (Matthew 4:8-11)

The term “Faustian bargain” means a deal with the devil (literally or figuratively) which has a stiff payback. In English literature the story has its debut in Christopher Marlowe’s The Tragical History of Dr. Faustus, written about the time of Shakespeare and the King James’ Bible. When Mephistopheles (Satan’s agent) first appears, Faustus asks him why he wants so many souls for his kingdom (Hell.) Put simply, Mephistopheles’ response was, “misery loves company.”

Talk of heaven usually turns on it being the place where we will see our loved ones again. Unfortunately there are those of us who have the sinking feeling that some of ours have sunk to the other place. One pastor performed a funeral for a motorcycle gang member whose gang called itself “Hell is Our Home.” They left no doubt where they intended to meet for that last bike ride.

Company or not, misery is still misery. Eternal misery is dreadful; it’s referred to as the “second death. (Revelation 20:14). Just because we think those we like in this life are there doesn’t mean that we should follow them.

Jesus, as God, knew the emptiness of the devil’s promise of being given the world in exchange for the worship of Satan. The evil one knew the Scriptures, and knew this was included: “The earth and everything it contains are the LORD’S. The world and all who live in it are his.” (Psalms 24:1) But that didn’t stop him from trying.

He still is trying, and tempting us to turn our backs on the God of the universe so we might have a little “pleasure” in this life. But the payback is eternal and unbearable, no matter who else is doing it.

Will you yield to his temptation? Or serve the real Master of all?


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