“If you are the son of God, command these stones to become bread.”-The Tempter
That was the first test hurled at Christ in the wilderness after his fast. Command these stones to become bread. It seems like such a harmless temptation. Eating bread is not a sin. And the devil had the good sense to wait until Christ was done with his fast. Surely, after fasting forty days and nights, God wouldn’t mind Christ converting a few stones into good old bread, which is nothing as controversial as turning water into wine. Why would this even be a temptation?
But Christ’s answer to this test shows the lure of it. “It is written, man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of the Father.”
This is a direct quote from Deuteronomy when Moses was telling the Israelites as they were preparing to enter the promised land that God fed them with manna in the desert so they’d know that man does not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God. In other words, one should care less about their own needs when it comes to obeying or walking with God.
The principle here is that the one who would walk with God must deny the flesh, deny self gratification and completely negate the self in order to yield to the Spirit. Allow God to give you what He wants you to have according to His Will, and if he doesn’t give you anything then stay faithful to His will, deny your own desires and obey Him even to the point of death if that’s what it takes. It is to exalt the will of the Spirit above the desires of the flesh. The test was not to prove that Christ was the son of God, the voice of God had said so to the hearing of all creation down at the baptism. Christ knew who He was, and Satan knew it too. The test was to see if Christ would prioritize the pressing needs of His flesh over His calling for self denial and sacrifice. Will he deny the needs of his flesh or will he indulge them?
Man shall not live by bread alone.
Is it not ironic then that the tempter has donned a suit, shiny hair and an affluent sheen, mounted the pulpit of the churches of Christ scattered around the world and is now spinning his trap from the altar. “If you are the son of God, if you are the daughter of God, command these stones to become bread.” Command that dry situation to become prosperity. Command money to rain on you. Command wealth to become yours. If you are the child of God, unleash prosperity in your life. The gospel of self denial has disappeared from the church of Christ. The Gospel of self gratification has taken over. The evidence of your citizenship in God’s kingdom is now the full barn and well stocked pantry of the rich fool in Christ’s parable. We now worship the God of our belly. In the battle in our minds between God and mammon, we know who is currently winning.
Don’t get me wrong, self denial does not mean living in poverty. God doesn’t want his children to experience lack. Christ never lacked. Fishes spit out tax money for him, he made six jars of the best wine out of water, he fed thousands miraculously. But he never made prosperity a point of his gospel either. He said the birds of the air and lilies of the field don’t worry about what to eat or drink, and neither should you because God is your Father and you have much more value to him than the birds and lilies. In other words, you will be taken care of. You may be wealthy or not but you will not suffer lack.
. “Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.”
Yet it’s hard to see any ‘man of God’ these days who isn’t whispering
“If you are the son of God, command these stones to become bread.” Because this is what serves their belly and the false hope that brings audiences in.
Christianity is no longer a call to deny the self, deny the pleasures of the world. No, today your affluence and enjoyment of worldly pleasure has become evidence of your piety and your relationship with God. Christ might have preached giving up worldly treasure and laying up your treasures in heaven but your new age pastors know better.
If you are the son and daughter of God, you will command stones to become bread. Satan might have preached it then but we all know who preaches it now.
May God forgive us.