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The Last Temptation

The Last Temptation of Christ was a controversial film directed by Martin Scorsese. This 1988 movie deviated from the New Testament Scripture Hebrews 4:14-16, using a what if concept to imply Jesus gave into a final temptation. Yet, one of Jesus’ disciples tells the real story in the passage below. The first temptation focuses on physical desires. The second temptation is like a dare given by teenage friends that tests human minds. However, it’s the last temptation which most people can relate to, exchanging eternity in heaven for temporary control and power on earth.

Then Jesus was led (guided) by the [Holy] Spirit into the wilderness (desert) to be tempted (tested and tried) by the devil. And He went without food for forty days and forty nights, and later He was hungry. And the tempter came and said to Him, If You are God’s Son, command these stones to be made [[a]loaves of] bread. But He replied, It has been written, Man shall not live and be upheld and sustained by bread alone, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God, Matthew 4:1-4.

This is not to diminish the first two temptations as many human beings struggle with food and beverage addictions. Nor I am overlooking anorexia and bulimia that has a way of paralyzing countless souls. Trying to prove oneself often leads to mind games similar to that which the serpent played with Adam and Eve. Yet, the idea of possessing control and power over others is too good to pass up. If you don’t believe me, just take a look at all the life long congress men and women who will do whatever it takes to get re-elected no matter what the cost or consequences.

Then the devil took Him into the holy city and placed Him on [b]a turret (pinnacle, [c]gable) of the temple [d]sanctuary. And he said to Him, If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down; for it is written, He will give His angels charge over you, and they will bear you up on their hands, lest you strike your foot against a stone. Jesus said to him, [e]On the other hand, it is written also, You shall not tempt, [f]test thoroughly, or [g]try exceedingly the Lord your God, Matthew 4:5-7.

Using his charm as a former archangel, the devil takes Jesus to the highest mountain in the Middle East. Despite being tired and hungry from fasting for 40 days, Jesus doesn’t fall for this attention seeking ploy. Remembering the first commandment written down my Moses, Jesus doesn’t waste time, quickly rejecting the Devil’s final temptation. Unfortunately, many human beings end up like Eve in the Garden of Eden, considering the possibilities of the Tree of Knowledge. There is nothing new about New Age philosophies except for the people pushing them.

Again, the devil took Him up on a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and the glory (the splendor, magnificence, preeminence, and excellence) of them. And he said to Him, These things, all taken together, I will give You, if You will prostrate Yourself before me and do homage and worship me. 10 Then Jesus said to him, Begone, Satan! For it has been written, You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him alone shall you serve. 11 Then the devil departed from Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him, Matthew 4:8-11.

This leads me to the question: why are so many Christians unable to resist temptation? What causes the masses to cave to forbidden fruit by indulging in temporary pleasures? Is this more a byproduct of a hollow faith or merely a sign of spiritual immaturity? Whatever the reason, Christians need to be more like the individual in 1 Corinthians 13:11-12. Perhaps it’s time to look at the person in the mirror to see who you have really become. In the meantime, stopping looking for excuses to keep sinning by start scanning the room for an escape route, the way out of temptation, 1 Corinthians 10:11-13.

by Jay Mankus

Christ is Greater Than

The greater-than sign dates back to the 1560’s. This mathematical symbol denotes an inequality between two values. The widely adopted form of two equal-length strokes connecting in an acute angle at the right was first discovered in documents in the 16th century. Yet, there is a first century book that uses an analogy rather than the greater than symbol.

He then goes on to say, And their sins and their lawbreaking I will remember no more. 18 Now where there is absolute remission (forgiveness and cancellation of the penalty) of these [sins and lawbreaking], there is no longer any offering made to atone for sin. 19 Therefore, brethren, since we have full freedom and confidence to enter into the [Holy of] Holies [by the power and virtue] in the blood of Jesus, 20 By this fresh (new) and living way which He initiated and dedicated and opened for us through the separating curtain (veil of the Holy of Holies), that is, through His flesh, Hebrews 10:17-20.

The author of Hebrews refers to Jesus as the Great High Priest. Using a reference from the Old Testament, Jesus is linked to the order of Melchizedek, Genesis 14:18-20. When you add these nicknames with someone who became a living sacrifice, 2 Corinthians 5:21, this is what makes Christ greater than any other god, rising from the dead.

And since we have [such] a great and wonderful and noble Priest [Who rules] over the house of God, 22 Let us all come forward and draw near with true (honest and sincere) hearts in unqualified assurance and absolute conviction engendered by faith (by that leaning of the entire human personality on God in absolute trust and confidence in His power, wisdom, and goodness), having our hearts sprinkled and purified from a guilty (evil) conscience and our bodies cleansed with pure water. 23 So let us seize and hold fast and retain without wavering the hope we cherish and confess and our acknowledgement of it, for He Who promised is reliable (sure) and faithful to His word. 24 And let us consider and give attentive, continuous care to watching over one another, studying how we may stir up (stimulate and incite) to love and helpful deeds and noble activities, Hebrews 10:21-24.

The passage above serves as a calling to respond to God’s gift, John 3:16-17. The thought of God’s demonstration through Christ should elicit and stimulate souls to act, Romans 5:8. If modern day Christians could simply love others as God has loved us, Matthew 7:12, a revival would begin. If it only takes a spark to get a fire going, Christ could become greater than ever if hearts illuminate love, grace and mercy.

by Jay Mankus

When the Perishable Puts on the Imperishable

The expression “Living on Borrowed Time” originated in England during the 17th century. The Old Style Calendar the English followed belonged to April. Thus, it was common for individuals to describe the first eleven days of May as borrowed days. Depending upon your age, you may be living on borrowed time now, but what Jesus did on a cross at Golgotha can alter your future.

And when this perishable puts on the imperishable and this that was capable of dying puts on freedom from death, then shall be fulfilled the Scripture that says, Death is swallowed up (utterly vanquished forever) in and unto victory, 1 Corinthians 15:54.

In the passage above, the apostle Paul describes the spiritual significance of Jesus’ death on the cross. Prior to His crucifixion, Jews were forced to follow Old Testament law and practices to be forgiven. However, Hebrews 4:14-15 describe Jesus as the Great High Priest who became a living sacrifice. After Jesus conquered death by rising 3 days later, the perishable, human bodies, are now able to put on the imperishable, Jesus Christ.

[Thus you were circumcised when] you were buried with Him in [your] baptism, in which you were also raised with Him [to a new life] through [your] faith in the working of God [as displayed] when He raised Him up from the dead. 13 And you who were dead in trespasses and in the uncircumcision of your flesh (your sensuality, your sinful carnal nature), [God] brought to life together with [Christ], having [freely] forgiven us all our transgressions, 14 Having cancelled and blotted out and wiped away the handwriting of the note (bond) with its legal decrees and demands which was in force and stood against us (hostile to us). This [note with its regulations, decrees, and demands] He set aside and cleared completely out of our way by nailing it to [His] cross, Colossians 2:12-14.

In a separate letter to the Church at Colosse, the apostle Paul explains in detail how Jesus’ death and resurrection disarmed Jewish law. The passage above highlights Jesus’ spiritual accomplishment. Instead of being forced to live according to the motto, “living on borrowed time,” Jesus opened the door to eternal life. In a private conversation with disciples, Jesus reveals that He is going away to prepare a place for you in heaven, John 14:2-4. When this was completed, the perishable can now put on the imperishable.

by Jay Mankus

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