DayBreaks for 11/05/13 – Satan’s Opportune Time
From the DayBreaks archive, 11/03/2003:
Luke 4:13 (NIV) – When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time.
Sometimes we may have the very mistaken impression that Jesus’ temptations were limited to the wilderness tempting as recorded in Luke. We couldn’t be further from the truth if that’s what we think. Don’t you suppose that Jesus was tempted in the garden, that he was tempted at times to use his great power to put on a show for no other reason than to silence his enemies and critics? Don’t you suppose that he was tempted on the cross – “If you are Jesus, save yourself and us!”?
We’re told that Jesus was tempted in every way that we experience temptation. We should take that at face value. But what captures my interest in verse 13 from Luke 4 is the insight into how the devil works. He tempts us – and if he fails, he doesn’t quit. He just withdraws again for a while, until “an opportune time”. Here’s how it works:
- Satan doesn’t get discouraged if we resist – he knows that our resistance to temptation will either make us stronger, or it will weaken us due to the continuous attack and onslaught that comes our way because the old man of sin within us is still struggling to get out. He’s hoping we’ll weaken. And if we do, he knows it’s just a matter of time;
- If we successfully resist the temptation, he lies in wait for us like the lion in the tall grass, waiting until we get close enough to evil again that he can pounce on us again. He did it with Jesus. He waited for an opportune time – a time when Jesus would be in a position where he could be tempted again.
What this tells me is that we have something to do with this “opportune time”. Where we go, who we meet and talk with, what we choose to think about, what we choose to see – all of those things can contribute to making an “opportune time” for Satan. Or, those very same things can help to deny Satan the opportune time he is waiting for if we spend the time thinking about “whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable” (Phil. 4:8).
If you want to get brutally honest with yourself for just a moment and take the time to examine how you get into sin, isn’t it because you actually help Satan to create the “opportune time” by edging ever closer to the temptation that captures your interest and lust? More often than not, our opportune times are characterized by one of these four things:
Idleness: the old saying about “An idle mind is the devil’s workshop” is very true. We are meant to work, to be busy, to grow and learn. When we stop doing those things, we start to live in our minds and our fantasies. And therein lies danger.
Weariness: it is not by accident that Satan tempted Jesus after he had fasted for 40 days and nights. This would be the time of perhaps the greatest physical weakness in the life of our Savior. When we are weary, our resistance is lowered to anything that we might normally fight against. Just as soldiers in physical battle need rest to be able to fight their hardest, we need physical rest too in order to be able to fight the spiritual war.
Loneliness: being by ourselves is dangerous. That’s one of the reasons that God made us into a family in the church – so that we could encourage and help one another. Whether it is the businessman on the long road trip or the bored housewife alone at home or the student who is an outcast at school – loneliness is the breeding ground for dangerous sin.
Weakness: weakness comes from being sick or from not exercising. Sin makes us sick, and when we’re in a weakened state, we can’t fight as strongly as we need to. The cycle must be broken by the power of the Spirit of God. And we must exercise our spiritual muscles so we’ll be ready when the “opportune time” comes up!
If Satan could find opportune times in the life of Christ, it’s a sure bet he’ll find them in my life. We need to pray for one another to God to help us find the way of escape!
PRAYER: Help us to be aware of the conditions in our lives that cause Satan to find “an opportune time” to tempt us! In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Copyright 2013 by Galen C. Dalrymple.
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