Context Matters // Luke 4:7

Context matters. I reference it frequently in my preaching and teaching. I saw something on Facebook the other day that reminded me the critical importance of context. It was a meme from a daily calendar that had this Bible verse: “Just worship me, and you can have it all.” (Luke 4:7, CEV) The verse included a caption that said something to the effect of, ‘if you knew who said it, you would think twice’. So who made the offer we see in Luke 4:7? None other than Satan. If you do an Internet search of Luke 4:7, you will find many warm-and-fuzzy images that in no way match who spoke the words and why.

The context of that encounter is Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness. The devil tempted Jesus with power, popularity, and prestige. What made the temptation even more nefarious was how the deceiver used Scripture in his attacks. That is such a vital key to remember in spiritual warfare. The devil and his demons use tactics that might even seem reasonable at first, tempting us to drift ever so slightly from our foundational convictions. The more we slip, the more momentum mounts toward further slippage. Then, before we know it, we are flying down a heavily greased slippery slope.

Jesus was able to parry the devil’s attacks by replying accurately with Scripture. Christ knew God’s Word, but He also knew the “why” that supported it. This is a magnificent example for you and me. We need to know God’s word, but also know what’s behind it so we are not caught up in rationalizing our bent toward sinning. This process begins when we put the Lord at the center as opposed to self; otherwise, we essentially put self at the heart of things, and that center — or sin-ter — is no place to be.