Overcoming Temptations 3 - Sinful Shortcuts
Updated: Sep 9, 2019
Chan Gin Kai
The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendour; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. If you worship me, it will all be yours.” (Luke 4:5-7)
Was it in IMAX, virtual reality, or augmented reality? Did it come with Dolby Atmos? We don’t know how Satan showed Jesus the splendour of all the kingdoms, but if Satan wants to tempt someone, we know he’ll spare no efforts. It'll be impressive. Satan told Jesus that he could have all that was shown to him, if he bowed down to Satan.
But does Satan really have the authority that he claimed to have? Scholars differ on that.
One camp says that dominion of the world was given to Adam and Eve (Genesis 1:26), but was surrendered to Satan when they sinned. Paul also talked about taking a stand against the rulers, authorities and powers of this dark world (Ephesians 6:12). Jesus didn’t refute Satan’s claim because it was true.
The other camp argues that God rules the entire universe. So Satan doesn’t have the authority he claimed to have and he was simply lying. Satan is after all the father of lies (John 8:44) and a lie like that is not surprising. Jesus didn’t bother to refute him because Satan’s claim is unsubstantiated anyway.
Whether Satan was telling the truth or lying made no difference to how alluring the temptation was. We know our materialistic pursuits will never fill the void in our hearts, but we chase after them anyway. We are aware that the pleasures of sins are temporary and the consequences can hurt us, yet we succumb to them. This springs from our craving for instant gratification over long-term happiness, the desire for a spike of physical thrill over a deeper, measured contentment.
Sometimes, we choose to sin because of weariness and fear too. We take shortcuts because the long and narrow path may be the right one, but is too painful to walk. We have persevered for so long and wonder how long more it’ll take. We know shortcuts are dangerous, but we need a respite badly. We end up making foolish choices that we grow to regret later.
The temptation was appealing to Jesus too. Satan wouldn’t have attempted anything that wasn’t. If Jesus was given the authority Satan promised, he could live like a king instead of a poor teacher. He would gain instant respect from the people. He wouldn’t have to debate with the religious leaders and get persecuted. And he wouldn’t have to die on the cross. Pleasure instead of pain, revered instead of rejected. That certainly sounds attractive to me.
But Jesus took no shortcuts. He took no quick road to happiness, no convenient way out of problems. Instead of giving in to Satan and receiving the authority and splendour that the devil promised, Jesus took the painful road to the cross. But he received something far more glorious in the end; God “raised Christ from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come” (Ephesians 1:20-22).
All that Satan has to offer pale in comparison to what God promises. Who do you choose to worship, Satan or God? Let’s be patient, avoid the shortcuts, and await God’s infinitely better rewards.
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Chan Gin Kai
Gin Kai is a film producer who believes in the power of media to inspire positive changes. He has spearheaded disaster relief and capacity building projects in impoverished communities across Asia. In church, he serves as a mentor to young professionals in the EDGE Ministry. He describes himself as "just a sinner who wants to get right with God".