On an earlier occasion, I wrote concerning the satanic strategy. In particular, concerning overt behavior or otherwise assuming a more deliberate low profile. While citing examples of each instance, along with the admonition to “put on the full armor of God” (Eph. 6:13), and thus succeed in our conflict with the demonic adversary.
In keeping with the sage saying: “The past is prologue,” we now return to explore the topic further. “Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the desert, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil” (Luke 4:1-2). Initially, we are alerted to the fact that Jesus was full of the Spirit, and lead by the Spirit. Thus in anticipation of the public ministry which would follow in due course.
We are also reminded of the fact that the wilderness got mixed reviews in Jewish tradition. On the one hand, life was precarious. On the other, God had provided for the needs of his chosen people in their wilderness wandering. No doubt both came to mind as the experience approached.
Moreover, Jesus subsequently fasted for forty days—reminiscent of Israel’s sojourn in the wilderness (Acts 7:36). While fasting was an approved exercise for spiritual pursuits, Jesus was famished after this extended time. Sizing up the situation, the devil impugned: “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.” Thus to verify the claim, or otherwise to cast it in doubt.
Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but every word that comes from the mouth of God,’” (Matt. 4:4). Which recalls the voice from heaven at Jesus’ baptism, saying: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased” (Luke 3:21). Such constituted the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
The devil then took him 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 splendor, for it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. So if you worship me, it will all be yours.”
While an inviting offer, the condition was decidedly not acceptable. “It is written,” Jesus consequently replied: “‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him alone.’” Anything less would constitute a part-truth.
Then the devil led him to Jerusalem and had him stand on the pinnacle. “If you are the Son of God,” he again impugned, “throw yourself down from here. for it is written: ‘He will command his angels concerning you, to guard you carefully; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’” He thus employed Jesus’ deference to Scripture, as a means of appeal.
True when taken in context, it was otherwise misleading. Such as recalls the saying, “A text without the context is a pretext.” Jesus then answered, “It says: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” Do not settle for a part-truth.
It can be readily seen from the above that Satan employs part-truths in a deceptive manner to lead persons astray. In more analytical terms, a part-truth is a deceptive statement that contains some element of truth in it. For instance, does God want persons to be happy? Most assuredly, but not in a superficial manner that fails to come to grips with reality. Consequently, he is an advocate of so-called hard love. So that according to C. S. Lewis, because he loves us, he strives to make us lovable.
In Jewish tradition, a part-truth actually constitutes a lie. Since it misrepresents the facts. But in a more deceptive fashion, in keeping with the demonic agenda.
Which, in turn, recalls when Jesus addressed the Jews who had believed him, saying: “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31-32). The promise is conditional, depending on their continued reliance. Otherwise, it resembles a part-truth, poorly conceived and selectively applied.
Jesus solemnly replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.” Regardless of profession or isolated instances. “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” Not hypothetically but actually free.
“I know you are Abraham’s descendants,” Jesus subsequently allowed. But if children of Abraham, then calculated to be open to God’s leading—as was he. Otherwise, grasping for straws, but lacking substance.
“We are not illegitimate children,” they protested. “The only Father we have is God himself.” “They dimly perceive the drift of Jesus’ discourse. He was not speaking of physical paternity when he spoke of their spiritual paternity” (Leon Morris, The Gospel According to John, p. 410). If an accurate assessment, then dimly perceive could qualify as a part-truth. Only time would tell.
We can readily conclude from what has been said that part-truths are variously conveyed. As a further illustration, Jesus observed: “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven” (Matt. 5:14, 16). Indeed!
However, this has led some to advocate doing good without God. Is this possible? Only in a qualified sense, but not ultimately so. Why? Since the good we do is meant to honor our heavenly Father, who gives and sustains life. Accordingly, the lesser good ought not to replace the greater good. Even though vigorously promoted as a critical aspect of the demonic deception.
In conclusion, “Submit yourselves, then, to God” (James 4:7). By way of a positive course of action. “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” Thus resisting the appeal of part-truths, with the prospect that Satan will withdraw as a result.
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