Jesus’ temptation by the devil in the wilderness is a familiar story in the Scripture. The Gospel reading for the first Sunday in Lent ‘reminds us that our capacity to repent and to resist temptation comes from our relationship with God and the grace of his deliverance rather than from our own strength and initiative (Lk 4:1-13).’ Many today takes on pride or debate rather than to repent thinking that it is based on their own strength, wisdom or initiative. Genuine repentance from our sinful nature, attitude and habits are based on humble surrender to God’s grace at Christ expense.

Jesus learned His deepest identity and mission after His baptism. He was confronted with the great temptations but He did not take devil’s suggestion for solution (v 12). The temptation for power, recognition and identity are Satan’s ploys to bring us into disobedience to God and His words. The tempter came to manipulate and seduce Jesus with power. Today, in a world with cultures of competitions for power, manipulations, divisions, fake news, Lent invite us to know and understand the Christian story and the good news of salvation alone in Jesus Christ. This understanding will empower us to resist Satan’s power of seduction, manipulation, false stories, fake theologies. Satan’s power is shaped by abuse of Scripture that seek not only to take us captive but to kill, to destroy and steal our joy, hope, peace and love. Abuse of Scripture remains Satan’s ploys for evil devices, manipulations, divisions and temptation. These evil devices and temptation are behind the problem of sin, pride, wars, and church decline.

Beloved, do not be deceived, Satan is real and evil. The Scripture teaches the evil devices of Satan’s ploys ‘in thoughts, words and deeds motivated by sin and fallenness just as Jesus taught during His earthly ministry, concerning Satan and demons (John 8:44, Matthew 25:41, Luke: 22: 31-31, 2 Peter 2:4, Revelation 12:9, Ephesians 6:12, Job 2:1, Jude 1:6-7, 1 Peter 5:8, 1 John 3:8). Satan, a fallen angel, the epitome of all pride, hate, sin, death and destruction … is the antithesis (opposite) of godliness, love and the excellent things of God in Christ through the Holy Spirit.’ Satan, being a fallen angel, beyond the evil sensual love, knows about saving love of God through Jesus Christ to seek and save the lost, those enticed and captured by sin.

 Just as life is full of competing storylines, story takes place in dialogue or debate. The story between Jesus and the devil takes place in the dialogue. Jesus was hungry after Jesus fasted for 40 days and was hungry. Ruth Anne Reese explained that ‘underlying the dialogue between the devil and Jesus are two competing storylines.’ In response to temptation, the dialogue between Jesus and devil are based on quotation from Scripture. The reflection is that, it is not enough to know or quote Scripture. Jesus quotes from Deuteronomy, the devil also quotes from Psalm 91. Devil’s abuse of scripture is the wrong reading on God’s nature, the purpose, plan, and life envisioned for God’s people. Jesus’ right use of the scripture is about life ‘rooted in God’s narrative of deliverance and a response of faithful obedience to God rather than in self-reliance, which is the devil’s story.’

According to Reese, ‘the devil offers a storyline of self-indulgence (make yourself bread from stones), self-aggrandizement (all the nations of the world will belong to you if you worship me), and self-serving religious identity (if you are the son of God cast yourself from the top of the temple).’ The devil’s abuse of Scripture by offering a storyline of self-indulgence, self-aggrandizement, and self-serving religious identity remains the devil’s template and method today. Jesus’ response also offers us a missional and prophetic template on the effective use of Scripture. Jesus’ quotation ‘show awareness of the true source of life and identity (he knows that life is more than food), His reliance on God (the one worthy of true worship and service), and His understanding of God’s character (not one to be tested). Jesus’ responses are rooted in an underlying narrative that he is dependent on God rather than self for life, glory, and identity.’

Satan’s abuse of Scripture which resonates with the abuse of scripture by men and women today is increasing promoting unbelief and causing many to abandon the use of Scripture. Satan’s promises are not only sensual; they are deceitful and ensnares the family, church, and society for destruction, decline and death. Satan’s and people’s abuse of scripture offers sinful gain and temporary pleasure. Satan’s agenda to kill, to steal and to destroy tempted Jesus to be His own murderer. Today, the family, church, and nations are going through self-inflicted death, decline, and wars through Satan’s deceitful promises and agenda. To overcome abuse of scripture through Satan’s ploys of evil devices, Lent reminds us that anything – sex, money, position, pleasure among other can be used to tempt us or to abuse the Scripture. Lent as a means of grace and spiritual discipline invites us to hunger after righteousness by putting on the whole armour of God (Eph 6:11-18).