nullLent 1 2019
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud
March 10, 2019
Deuteronomy 25:1-11, Romans 10:8b-13, Luke 4:1-13

Sermons online: 
Text and Audio:         immanuelhamiltonchurch.com   click “sermons”
Text:                            pastorjud.org  
Audio:                         pastorjud.podbean.com 
itunes:                         bit.ly/pastorjud
Full Service Audio:    bit.ly/ImmanuelWorship

Two summers ago as I was driving back through Kentucky from the North Carolina servant event I received a text message from my credit card company about a potentially fraudulent charge for $7 and change at a hotel in New York City.  I was in Kentucky.  Jeannette was at home in Ohio, but someone was using my account in New York City.  Someone was pretending to be me.

Just a week later someone was using Jeanette’s credit card number to purchase an expensive vacuum cleaner from an online department store and having it shipped to our address using a store account belonging to a woman in West Virginia.  There was also a letter about someone trying to access our UPS account; I assume to change the delivery instructions.  Someone was pretending to be Jeannette.

These issues were fairly easily resolved working with the credit card company to cancel and reissue our cards.  There are much worse forms of identity theft.  How awful would it be to find out someone has taken out a loan in your name, or has accessed you bank accounts, or has assumed your identity online and sent out awful messages and pictures, pretending to be you.  Having your identity stolen is a terrible thing.

In our Gospel reading today we see the devil trying to steal Jesus’ identity.  Jesus is the Son of God; God in flesh; God with us.  At Jesus’ baptism, God the Father declares to Jesus, “You are my beloved Son, with you I am well pleased.” Now, in the desert, the devil tempts Jesus to turn His back on this identity.  Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness is not so much a temptation towards doing something evil but a temptation away from His identity as the Son of God.

Luke 4:3 (ESV) 3 The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.”[1]  If you are…but if you don’t do it, you are not.  Prove who you are.

The devil is tempting Jesus away from His identity.  Luke 4:9 (ESV) 9 And [the devil] took [Jesus] to Jerusalem and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here…[2]  If you are the Son of God…

The devil is trying to steal Jesus’ identity.  The devil is trying to have Jesus take a shortcut to glory without going through suffering.  The devil is tempting Jesus away from His identity as the sacrificial Lamb of God and towards skipping the cross and the grave.

It is similar to one of the temptations the devil uses against you.  The devil wants to steal your identity.  The devil wants to tempt you away from your baptismal identity.  In baptism you became a child of God; a son of God; a daughter of God.  In baptism you were brought from the domain of darkness into the light of the Kingdom of God.  Your baptism infuriated the devil as we renounced him and all his works and all his ways.  Your baptism set you apart from the multitude of unbelievers and put you at odds with the devil and his demons, with the world and with your own sinful desires.

The devil went after Jesus, but since the devil could not get Jesus to give into his temptation to identity theft, the devil has declared war on you, as we read in Revelation 12:17 (ESV) 17 Then the dragon [that ancient serpent , who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world (Rev. 12:9)] became furious with the woman and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus…[3]

The devil is at war with you and wants to tempt you away from your baptismal identity.  “If you are the Son of God…If you are the daughter of God…Did God really say?”  The devil knows that it is hard to be a follower of Jesus in a world that wants to follow its own selfish ideas.  The devil knows there is a great pull to want to give up on what the Bible says and make up your own scriptures, according to your own will.  The devil uses this to tempt you to abandon your identity as a beloved child of God set apart for holy living, and wants you to take on the identity of one of the multitude of unbelievers.  The devil wants you to give up on living according to God’s will and instead live according to the ways of the world.  The devil is at war with you to get you away from your identity as a child of God; a child of the light, and return you to the domain of darkness.

The devil is at war with Jesus trying to steal his identity, and the devil is at war with you trying to steal your identity.  It is war, and the stakes are very real.

Jesus does battle with the devil in the wilderness using the offensive weapon detailed in the armor of God in Ephesians 6.  Jesus uses the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.  Jesus fights against the devil using the Word of God from scripture.  Now, the devil tries to twist God’s word to use it against Jesus and Jesus responds with the truth of God.  Jesus battles with the devil and wins.  Jesus will not turn away from His identity as the Son of God.  He will not turn away from the road to Jerusalem.  He will not turn away from the cross and tomb.  Jesus will suffer, die and rise again for you.  He will not give up his identity to the thieving devil.

You must daily fight back against the devil and his lies trying to get you to turn away from your baptismal identity.  Resist the devil’s temptations to take shortcuts.  The devil wants you to leave the Holy Ark of the Christian Church, give up fighting against sin and evil in your life, give up on loving God and loving your neighbor, and just give in to what feels good; give in to your own thoughts and desires; give in to the ways of the world.  The devil wants you to forget the promises God made to you in your baptism and instead believe the promises of the devil, the world and your own sinful desires.  The devil wants you to give up your identity as a child of God, and pretend you are someone else.  Fight back.  Battle back.  Stand firm in the armor of God and keep the sword of the spirit sharp so you can recognize the devil’s lies from a distance.

And don’t try to go it alone.  Stay safe in the Holy Ark of the Christian Church.  Remember, “A mighty fortress is our God; a trusty shield and weapon.”  Battle back against the devil with the truth of God, knowing that the war has already been won by Jesus.  When the devil tries to steal your identity, fight back with the truest word about him, “Liar!”

Do not let the devil coax you to put down the Word of God; lay down the sword of the Spirit, and be left defenseless.  Cling to the Word of God.  Read, mark, study, hear and learn the Word of God.  Keep the Sword of the Spirit sharp and stand your ground when the devil tempts you.

And when you slip; when you fall; do not listen to the devil who is telling you that you are finished.  Call the devil a liar and remember who you are.  Repent and receive the forgiveness of sins.

Don’t let the devil steal your identity.  Remember who you are.  You are a baptized child of God.  Amen.


[1]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

[2]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

[3]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s