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 Sermons on important subjects by Rev. Paul C. Jong

 

Blessing Is Fearing God And Serving God


< Matthew 4:1-11 >
“Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry. Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, ‘If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.’ But He answered and said, ‘It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’ Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple,and said to Him, ‘If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written:

‘He shall give His angels charge over you,’ and,

‘In their hands they shall bear you up,

Lest you dash your foot against a stone.’

Jesus said to him, ‘It is written again, ‘You shall not tempt the LORD your God.’ Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory.And he said to Him, “All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me. Then Jesus said to him, ‘Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve.’ Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him.”



The righteousness of God that saves us from our sins is that Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist and that He bled and died on the Cross to save us from our sins once for all, and that God testified that He was the Savior. Today’s Scripture passage is about an event that happened right after the baptism of Jesus at the Jordan River.

After Jesus was baptized, He was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And because He was hungry after having fasted for 40 days and 40 nights, the devil tried to tempt Jesus with three temptations.



First Temptation

The first temptation of the devil is written in verse 3: “Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, ‘If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.’”

How hungry could Jesus have been after fasting 40 days and nights? When Jesus’ body was extremely hungry, the devil tempted Him with food. “If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread. Then you can eat it! Command them to be bread. Then you can live! Aren’t you hungry to the point of death? If you want to live, you can live that way. You fasted for 40 days, and you must be starving to death, how much do you want to eat? But what would be out here in the wilderness? If you are the Son of God, you can command them to be bread and eat, can’t you? So eat. Eat.”

Obviously the devil was tempting Jesus because he knew Jesus was the Son of God. But the devil tempted Him with food. In other words, he was testing Him on His life of flesh. “Rather than dying from hunger, you should make these stones into bread and live. If you want to live now, you need bread of the flesh! If you are the Son of God, you can make bread to eat. You will live then. So, do that. Do that.” He tempted Jesus when He was extremely hungry as if He would live only if He had bread. However Jesus refuted this by saying: “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.

Dear fellow Christians, in essence, what do the body and soul of a person live on? Can a person live eternally on bread for the flesh? The devil was tempting Jesus with bread for the flesh. Truly, what should we believe in to live? The Lord said: “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God,’” and this is true.

When a person is hungry, he thinks that he has to eat bread to live, but, in fact, a person’s life is dependant upon the faith in God’s Word. A person’s life of body and soul depends upon the Word of God. If God’s Word were not in the world, our spirit and flesh would be destined to die. God said that our body and soul would live by the faith in the Word that comes out of God’s mouth, and that is so. Because the written Word of God is the Truth, our souls can live on the Word of God through our faith. Because of the Word of God that is food for life, the bodies and souls of yours and mine can live to their fullness.

God has given His Word to people. Through the Word, He feeds, forgives sins, and lets people live. The Word of God created all things in the universe, and permitted everything humans needed in this world. Also, because there is the Word of God, our souls can receive the remission of sin once for all through faith. The Word of God is the kind of Word that thoroughly wipes away all of our sins. Also, God’s Word is the Word of Truth that leads us to the Light, and therefore only those who believe in it can live. We also need to believe that we can only live by believing in the Word of God. This is true. We must know that humans live by believing the written Word of God rather than living because we have bread for the flesh. Our Lord talked to us about the Word of God.

As we live in this world, we fall in our own temptation at times because we are captivated by our own greed. People think that if we have a certain amount of money, we can live in plenty in this world. Of course, this is understandable. However, what is it that a person truly lives by? On what account does a person live? A person can live by believing the written Word of God. If there were no Word of God, it would not be possible for us to believe in God or meet God.

A person cannot live by bread of the flesh alone. Especially, the righteous can live only if they can hear the authentic teachings on God’s Word. And a person is not made of body alone, but also made of the soul and spirit as well. Therefore, only if we hear the true Word of God, can we resolve the problems of the soul as we live. By reading and hearing the Word of God, our soul and body gain weight and we live in abundance. Only if we hear the true Word of the forgiveness of sin can we receive the purification of the sins of our soul. This is why everyone who heard the true Word of God can live in body and soul by believing in it.

The devil often tempts everyone with words such as these: “If you are the Son of God, command these stones become bread. Make these stones into bread and eat them. If you were the Son of God, wouldn’t it be possible? Hungry, aren’t you? Do it. Do it. If only you have bread, you will live, won’t you? At any rate, a person would live if he eats three meals a day, and has enough food in storage for 365 days a year times about 70 or 80 years. Wouldn’t a person live and not die if only he has food?” This is what the devil tells us.

The devil tells people this, and many people are fooled and fall for this. There are people, who fall for this, thinking, “That’s right. I can live if I only have this.” We are not necessarily talking about money only, but the thought that we can live if we have a few of the worldly materials that we want. We think, “I can live and not die even without the Word of God.”

However, that is a big miscalculation. In reality, our body also dies without God’s Word. Truly, a person does not live by bread, the abundance of worldly material, or the sexual desire that the world can gratify. This is why we need to listen carefully to what Jesus said, when the devil tempted Him, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” The devil tempts us when we have become weak, when we are starved and hungry, and so our soul is exhausted. He asks people, “You would live only if you have bread, won’t you?” and confuses them. Many people consider what they have, and think, “Oh, I have sufficient possessions to sustain my life! Then, I would live and not die even if I do not hear the Word of God.”

But, fellow Christians, even when the devil tempts us like that, we do not live by bread alone, but by believing every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. I hope we keep this in mind. I hope we keep in mind that we cannot live if we do not have the Word of God.

You can live only if God’s Word is in your heart. Dear fellow Christians, is this so? Or is it not so? It is so. Don’t forget the fact that we can live because there is God’s Word. The reason that mankind has existed until now also is because God’s Word exists. When the gospel of the water and the Spirit is spread to the end of the world, our Lord will come back, and when He comes back, He said He would end this world and start a new world. All these will be completed according to His Word.

Dear fellow Christians, the Word of God is the Truth. Jesus beat off the first temptation of the devil by saying, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’” When the devil heard this, he was astonished. However, the devil was not someone who would stop at this.



The Second Temptation

The second temptation appears in verse 5: “Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple,and said to Him, ‘If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written: ‘He shall give His angels charge over you, and, In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone.’ Jesus said to him, ‘It is written again, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God.’”

The devil tempted Jesus by taking Him up on the pinnacle of the temple and told Him to throw Himself down. He turned God’s Word against him when he said, “For it is written ‘He shall give His angels charge over you and in their hands, they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone.’ Earlier you refused my temptation because you believe in the written Word, didn’t you? Then, you should do as it is written. You believe in these words, right? Throw yourself down, and according to the written Word, God shall give His angels charge over you in their hands, they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone when you throw yourself down. Try it now.” Then Jesus said, “It is written again, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God.’”

Dear fellow Christians, the devil sometimes tempts people using the written Word of God. However, Jesus said not to tempt the Lord our God. The devil said to Jesus, “Surely, you shall not die. Why? That is because you are the Son of God.” This is true. Jesus Christ is the Son of God. Therefore, He would not have died. Jesus is different from us, the humans. However, the devil tempts. But the written Word of God says “not to tempt” God. In other words, we must live by believing the written Word and God rather than tempting God.

Often, people tempt Jesus. There are too many times that people tempt God, “I did it like this, but why do God treat me this way?” But if we just believed in God there would be no need to tempt Him. We do not have the qualification to tempt Him, and we must not tempt Him. God is not someone who should receive temptation from us. The reason we are tempted is because we are dragged by our greed, and it is not because God tempts us that we are tempted.

Some one might raise an objection against God, taking Abraham as an example: “What was it all about that God had Abraham offer his son Isaac? Is this not God tempting Abraham to see whether or not he believed?” But that was not the case. It is not that God tempted Abraham. Rather, it is that God permitted the process to show us how surely Abraham had the faith that truly believes the Word of God in his heart, and how he became the father of faith by his faith.

Dear fellow Christians, we must believe in the Word of God. Even though God is not visible to us, we must believe in the written Word of God as the Word of God that God spoke. We experience by believing in the Word of God that the Word of God is fulfilled in its entirety. Therefore, we must believe. If that is how the Word of God is, we must believe it as it is, and not be swayed regarding our faith in the Word no matter how the circumstances and situations shake and change.

If that is how the Word of God is, that is the truth. And if it is not fulfilled as the Word of God says, then the problem lies on our side. It is because we do not have faith, or our faith is not strong enough, that is, our faith is shaking, sometimes we seem to have faith, and sometimes we do not. In short, it is because of the problem of our faith that it is not fulfilled as the Word says rather than because there is a problem with the Word of God.

God works His miracles for those who truly believe in God’s Word. However, God said those with shaky faith should not even think to gain (James 1:7-8). No matter how small our faith is, whether we believe or not believe is what is important. We must believe and not tempt God. If we believe in the Word of God, we receive the remission of sin, and it is fulfilled to us as the Word is. Dear fellow Christians, do you believe?  ―Yes. ―

To you and me, it is the faith that believes in the Word of God that is important. It is because God sees the heart of a person rather the outward appearance of a person. God sees whether he really believes, behaves according to the faith, and lives by the faith. However, it doesn’t mean that you have to show God your strong faith right now. Even if your faith is as small as a mustard seed, you have to confess your faith in His Word, saying, “I believe. My faith lacks, but I believe. I do it because I believe. I wait Your reply because I believe in You. I follow You because I believe Your Word of promise.” God sees such stable and firm faith in our hearts. When the devil tempts you and me, we must fend him off by believing in the written Word.



The Third Temptation

Thirdly, verse 8 tells us: “Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to Him ‘all these things I will give you if you will fall down and worship me.’ Then Jesus said to him ‘Away with you Satan, for it is written: ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.’ Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came to Him and ministered to Him.”

“For it is written: you shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.” What we, the people, have to do is only worship God and serve Him. What is needed between God and us? How should we live before God?

We must fear God, worship Him, believe in, and follow Him if it is His will, and because God is a God of the Word and He exists as the Word, by believing in Him, we believe in the Word, and obey Him according to the Word, and worship Him and follow Him with such faith. This is how we must live before Him―“You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.” This is the duty that you and I and all of mankind must do in God’s eyes. There is not much else that we, the people, have to do. There is not much else we need to do throughout our lives other than acknowledging God, believing in the great God, and obeying, bowing down, believing, following and serving God the Creator. This is our solemn duty and this is so.

The devil took Jesus up on an exceedingly high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. What is the highest mountain in the world? Mount Everest. The mountain is 8,848 m high. It is very easy to memorize, isn’t it? Dear fellow Christians, perhaps the devil showed the world on top of Mount Everest. The devil said to Jesus that he would give Him all, that as they looked at the world from the top of the highest mountain, if Jesus would worship him. The devil said that if Jesus would believe the devil to be God, and serve and obey him, he would give Him the whole world.

But what did Jesus say? Jesus said: “Away with you Satan, for it is written: ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.’ The One I need to bow down and serve is God the Father and not you. What I should bow down and serve is not the glory of this world.” That is what Jesus said.

Bowing down before God and serving God are our joy, our satisfaction and our all. Worshiping and serving God is everything to a person. This is what we have to do, there is nothing else to do, and there is nothing more valuable and nobler than this. Bowing down before God is acknowledging every word of God, and serving God is acknowledging God Himself. What better things are there than bowing down before God who made us as His creation? What better life could there be than that? What better glory could there be than that? We only worship God humbly. And we thank God for all His blessings and everything in Him.

What is a blessing to us is that we can worship God, and God anoints us with heavenly blessings when we bow down before Him, obey Him, believe in Him and spread the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Because God is the one who gives everything to us, He is our all. Because He is our all, because He is everything to those who have been born again, I hope you know that bowing down before God is a blessing.

Even now, because God is alive, we are joyful and glad, and we are living, receiving all blessings. Because there is God, and we have the heart that fears God, we can glorify Him in His blessing.

Did the devil say that he would give everything if we worship him when he showed all the kingdoms of the world? There are many magnificent things in this world that we do not know about, we may be captivated by its splendor momentarily. However, we cannot worship the devil even if there are many things that could dazzle our eyes.

If the devil tempts us with worldly material and says he would give us everything in the world if we serve him as God, we must fend him off with the written Word of God: “Away with you Satan, for it is written: ‘you shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.’” We must fend him off this way. And in reality, the devil cannot give us many things. The devil bluffed to Jesus as if he was God and said: “If only you bow down before me, I will give you all this,” but in reality who is the owner of everything? It is Jesus.

Dear fellow Christians, to whom belongs everything in the universe? It is you, the righteous. To whom belongs everything in the universe? It is the sons of God. This is why God called us the ones who would inherit Heaven. He calls those who are born again the ones who will inherit Heaven. This universe is the heir’s, then whose is it? It belongs to the righteous. 

However, the devil says: “Bow down before me, if you don’t believe in God, but believe in me and follow me, I will give you everything in the world.” This is a method that the devil often uses. The devil once thwarted me that way as well. It is a method that he used to use on me as well even before I believed in Jesus. By the way, the devil was knocked out in the third round.

Dear fellow Christians, how should we live in God’s eyes? We need to live a life that worships God, and only serve Him throughout life. God forgave our sins, all the sins by the water and blood, wiped us clean and made us His children, and gave us the blessing that we can worship God and serve God. We must thank God who gave us the blessing of salvation, and worship Him by faith and serve Him throughout life.

Carefully consider the Word of God that wiped our sins clean. The Lord wiped us clean by taking on all of our sins through His baptism, being crucified on the Cross and receiving judgment on the sins for us. The Lord gave us the blessing that we can worship God and serve God by wiping us clean and neat with water and blood and taking us as the people of God.

What kind of temptation is pressing on you and me? How do you fend off these temptations? Jesus gave us the correct answer through the three temptations He experienced in today’s Scripture passage. He had fended off the devil’s temptations with His faith in the Word of God. If we understand this answer, and live our lives, believing in it, we can also fend off these temptations. Although worshiping God is a blessing, we do not know it very well.

Dear fellow Christians, do you think it is better to be served than to serve Him unconditionally? But, it is a very good thing that you and I are serving God. Dear fellow Christians, worshiping God is a great blessing. It is a great blessing that we worship someone who is at a very high position. Is it so or is it not so? It is so. At any rate, we have to serve somebody in this world, and cannot live without serving anyone. If we do not serve God, we serve the devil. Surely. If we do not serve the devil, we serve people. In any case, we have to decide whose servant we will become. Dear fellow Christians, under this circumstance, is it not a great blessing that we serve God? However, because we live without knowing this, Jesus received the third temptation and told us the correct answer: “You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.”

Dear fellow Christians, we must believe in the Word of God. As we hear the Word of God we think: “Oh! Jesus told us the correct answers, and living this way is right, as I worship God, it is righteous to worship if it is the Word of God. Even though I am sometimes like a moron, an idiot, a fool, and an imbecile, I am someone who has received a huge blessing. I thought I should live to my heart’s content without being restricted by anyone, saying ‘it is my life’, but that was not it. Now I know it is strange to live that way. It is righteous to attend the Lord as my Master and live as the servant of God.” We must comprehend the truth of the gospel of the water and the Spirit and have faith that believes and live by being blessed. Although sometimes we look a little stupid when we look at ourselves, but in reality the fact that you and I can worship God and serve God-you must know that this is a great privilege and a righteous way of life to you.

I wonder what I would be serving if I have not been serving God now. Surely, I would be serving the gods of this land, which could give me the pleasures of flesh. I would be drinking and eating everyday, worrying about how to live, and serving the gods of this land. Every kind of beverage might be my god. I would be living, holding onto these things.

Dear fellow Christians, Jesus had us be born again, and told us what kind of life we should live and what kind of faith is the true correct faith. Although we are lacking and weak, we are not what we were before. I hope you thank the Lord who gave us the blessing that we can be saved, acknowledge God and worship God. You have a thankful heart to the Lord, do you not? Yes. It truly is a blessing that we are greatly thankful for.

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Jesus gave us this faith by fending off all three temptations: Believing that a man lives by the Word of God. Believing that we must not tempt God. Believing that it is righteous to worship God and serve the Lord throughout life. God gave us the faith that it is a great blessing. We must have faith and live as we worship and serve God throughout life.

This is how we must live. Dear fellow Christians, do you believe? ―Yes. ― Do you believe that this is righteous? ―Yes. ― We must believe in our hearts that this is the righteous way of life.

What a blessing is this that we, the righteous, can worship God even though we fall short? How big of a blessing is this that we have the God of the Word? We give thanksgiving before God. God gave all of us this righteous faith, and we hope that God gives everyone in the world this righteous faith. I hope that the souls of yours and mine receive constant blessing from God by believing in the Word of God.

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