Daily Words of God: Knowing God | Excerpt 144
The Temptation of Satan
Mat 4:1–4 Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He was afterward an hungered. And when the tempter came to Him, he said, If You be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. But He answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.
These are the words with which the devil first tried to tempt the. What is the content of what the devil said? (“If You be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.”) These words that the devil spoke are quite simple, but is there a problem with their essence? The devil said, “If You be the Son of God,” but in its heart, did it or did it not know that Jesus was the Son of God? Did it or did it not know that He was Christ? (It knew.) Then why did it say “If You be”? (It was trying to tempt God.) But what was its purpose in doing so? It said, “If You be the Son of God.” In its heart it knew that Jesus Christ was the Son of God, it was very clear about this in its heart, but despite knowing this, did it submit to Him and worship Him? (No.) What did it want to do? It wanted to use this method and these words to anger the Lord Jesus, and then fool Him into acting in line with its intentions. Was this not the meaning behind the devil’s words? In Satan’s heart, it clearly knew that this was the Lord Jesus Christ, but it said these words nonetheless. Is this not Satan’s nature? What is Satan’s nature? (To be sly, evil, and have no reverence for God.) What consequences would result from having no reverence for God? Was it not that it wanted to attack God? It wanted to use this method to attack God, and so it said: “If You be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread”; is this not Satan’s evil intention? What was it really trying to do? Its purpose is very obvious: It was trying to use this method to deny the position and identity of the Lord Jesus Christ. What Satan meant by those words is, “If You are the Son of God, turn these stones into bread. If You cannot do this, then You are not the Son of God, so You should not carry out Your work any longer.” Is this not so? It wanted to use this method to attack God, it wanted to dismantle and destroy God’s work; this is the malevolence of Satan. Its malevolence is a natural expression of its nature. Even though it knew the Lord Jesus Christ was the Son of God, the very incarnation of God Himself, it could not help but do this kind of thing, following closely behind God’s back, persistently attacking Him and going to great lengths to disrupt and sabotage God’s work.
Now, let us analyze this phrase that Satan spoke: “Command that these stones be made bread.” To turn stones into bread—does this mean anything? If there is food, why not eat it? Why is it necessary to turn stones into food? Can it be said there is no meaning here? Although He was fasting at the time, surely the Lord Jesus had food to eat? (He did.) So, here we can see the preposterousness of Satan’s words. For all Satan’s treachery and malice, we can still see its preposterousness and absurdity. Satan does a number of things through which you can see its malicious nature; you can see it doing things that sabotage God’s work, and seeing this, you feel that it is hateful and infuriating. But, on the other hand, do you not see a childish, ridiculous nature behind its words and actions? This is a revelation about Satan’s nature; since it has this kind of nature, it will do this kind of thing. To people today, these words of Satan are preposterous and laughable. But Satan is indeed capable of uttering such words. Can we say that it is ignorant and absurd? Satan’s evil is everywhere and it is constantly being revealed. And how did the Lord Jesus answer it? (“Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.”) Do these words have any power? (They do.) Why do we say that they have power? It is because these words are the truth. Now, does man live by bread alone? The Lord Jesus fasted for forty days and nights. Did He starve to death? (No.) He did not starve to death, so Satan approached Him, prompting Him to turn the stones into food by saying things such as: “If You turn the stones into food, won’t You then have things to eat? Won’t You then not have to fast, not have to go hungry?” But the Lord Jesus said, “Man shall not live by bread alone,” which means that, although man lives in a physical body, it is not food that allows his physical body to live and breathe, but each and every one of the words uttered from the mouth of God. On the one hand, these words are truth; they give people faith, making them feel that they can depend on God and that He is truth. On the other hand, is there a practical aspect to these words? Was the Lord Jesus not still standing, still alive after fasting for forty days and nights? Is this not a real example? He had not eaten any food for forty days and nights, and yet He was still alive. This is powerful evidence confirming the truth of His words. These words are simple, but for the Lord Jesus, did He speak them only when Satan tempted Him, or were they already naturally a part of Him? To put it another way, God is truth, and God is life, but were God’s truth and life a subsequent addition? Were they born of later experience? No—they are innate in God. That is to say, truth and life are God’s substance. Whatever happens to Him, all that He reveals is truth. This truth, these words—whether the content of His speech be long or short—can enable man to live and give man life; they can enable people to gain truth and clarity about the path of human life, and enable them to have faith in God. In other words, the source of God’s use of these words is positive. So can we say that this positive thing is holy? (Yes.) Those words of Satan come from Satan’s nature. Satan reveals its evil and malicious nature everywhere, constantly. Now, does Satan make these revelations naturally? Does anyone direct it to do this? Does anyone help it? Does anyone coerce it? (No.) All of these revelations, it makes of its own accord. This is Satan’s evil nature. Whatever God does and however He does it, Satan follows on His heels. The substance and the true nature of these things that Satan says and does are Satan’s substance—a substance that is evil and malicious.
—The Word, Vol. 2. On Knowing God. God Himself, the Unique V