Early in the Gospels we find a peculiar story where Satan gets the chance to go “mano y mano” with Jesus. Yes, Satan assaults Jesus in broad daylight. It’s the first account we have of him drawing the incarnate Son of God into a human temptation ring. Sure, the assassination plot in Bethlehem proved a fiasco, but now it’s man to man. If you had “one shot” at the Son of God, one chance to skew the redemptive campaign of God, what would your opening punch, your TKO attempt be? For Satan is was insidious: sabotage of identity. No physical strike, no IED or nuclear strike – Satan fires a cosmically ballistic virus of “if you are” to draw Jesus into a vortex of compromised identity. Prove it. Grab the ring of acclaim, comfort and validation, Jesus! Why?
The corruption of identity is the cosmological equivalence of sabotaging the core reactor, corrupting the very OS of a human. A WMD when deployed effectively. Swap the IV drip from water to poison and the toxic cascade begins instantly!
If this is the signature play of Satan for Jesus, what are the implications for us as followers of Jesus,? Like going to Baskin Robins, there may be 31 flavors but it’s still all ice cream – and while there is a wide array of “poses” we each may battle, it is the same essential fulcrum of identity we must confront directly.
Jesus asks YOU – who do YOU say I am? God asks you if you want to live your broken life or my perfect life? In Christ, when we exchange our life for His, He is the one living through us and nothing we do determines or enhances that identity…but trying to earn it is one way to deny it and fail to experience it!
Satan asks “if you want to be like, then try to/get/do/look/feel..”
Notice that Jesus didn’t wrestle Satan MMA style, he shut down the argument. You don’t wrestle, you don’t entertain and satisfy the test – you shut it down. Name it (as death), claim it (life by identity in with complete work of Jesus) and move on.
What are you trying to prove? That you’re good, you’re better, reformed, excellent, worthy, accomplished something, secure, powerful, brilliant, deserving, approval of your father? All of those are 31 flavors to death apart from Christ. What defines you?