“And when the tempter came to him, he said, if thou be the son of God, command that these stones be made bread. But he answered and said, it is written that man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeding out of the mouth of God” –Matthew 4:3-4
I want to take two things from these verses. Firstly, in verse 3, Satan says, “if thou be the son of God’; I think it’s important to recognise here, that what Satan is doing, is challenging Christ’s divine identity. I’ve recently spent a lot of time thinking about my own identity and who I am outside of boy mum, semi-obedient wife and anxiety-ridden mess. And although I’m still not actually sure on a temporal basis, what it is I’m supposed to be doing in the long run, I’ve become increasingly firm in the knowledge that spiritually, I am a daughter of God, and that I have a Heavenly Father who loves me, who sent me here to this place, in this time, foreordained with a divine purpose.
Although I’m still on the fence as to what that purpose is, that doesn’t take away from the fact that I know that there is one. And as I actively seek revelation about this, it is only confirmed to me just how real my Heavenly Father really is and I think there is genuine power in knowing who you really are.
When Satan challenged Christ by saying ‘if thou be the son of God’ Christ testified that he was indeed the son of God by not proving it, by not giving into temptation. Christ knew who he really was and I think that if we were immovable in the fact that we are also children of God then it would become easier for us to resist temptation. And I don’t mean just a casual belief, but really knowing and believing that you are, that we all are children of God.
Christ responds to the temptings of Satan in verse 4: ‘but he answered and said, it is written that man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God’ firstly, just focusing on ‘man shall not live by bread alone’. I’m sure We are all familiar with the phrase ‘you are what you eat’. The world for the most part would have you believe that a person who consumes any unhealthy foods as a part of their main diet, is a person who is consuming the triggers of sickness, infirmity and life threatening diseases and although I mostly disagree with this I want to borrow the principle in a spiritual level.
An individual who does not consume the words of God or the bread of life as their main spiritual diet, causes their spirit to decay in the same manner. The scriptures teach us to make searching, pondering and praying over the words of God our main source of spiritual nourishment. We know that the word of God isn’t limited to the scriptures, we have personal revelation, the teachings of prophets, hymns and other church materials.
I think it’s also worth noting that if we are not filling ourselves up with the things of a god then that leaves room to fill ourselves up on things that are not of God, and although it is not inherently wrong to be chilling out with a Netflix original, if our spirits are filled solely on Netflix then we are lacking in the nourishment of Christ and become susceptible to the temptations of Satan.
I’m quite mindful that we often hears talks about how we should be nourishing ourselves spiritually and I used to feel quite not good enough because I wasn’t studying to the degree of colour coding, cross referencing and journaling impressions, or I was not actively listening to and note-taking at every conference session and I can barely make it through an hour of sacrament without having to chase a toddler to the car park, but I’m still here. I just think it’s important to clarify that something is always better than nothing regardless of how small that something is.
I have a very black and white brain and so I used to think that if I wasn’t going to be able to sit at a desk and study my scriptures properly, with notebooks and no kids and an array of pens then there was no point in me reading them at all. But I’ve come to live by the principle that there is a time and a season for everything and I believe that this is the season for me to explore the grey area of my brain. It’s a place where reading half a chapter of Alma on my phone during a 3am night feed is ok. Where listening to a conference talk while travelling to Tesco is okay. Where praying in the shower is still praying and they are all enough to nourish your spirit and we know that when are spirit has adequate nourishment then we will be stronger in the face of temptation.
Ezra Taft benson said: ‘Satan would have you believe that happiness comes only as you surrender to his enticements” and in Mosiah we read: ‘ye should consider upon the blessed and happy state of those who keep the commandments of God’ As a convert who has spent longer out of the church than in, i have lived both sides of the coin and i know that there is of course happiness in sin, or it wouldn’t be tempting in the first place. But it’s a different kind of happiness. It’s not real. It’s not the joy that comes with keeping the commandments of God. When we succumb to temptation we are sacrificing this greater joy for temporary happiness, happiness that has an expiration date.
I have a friend who lives by the principal: “we are here for a good time not for a long time”, and as catchy as that might be it’s so inaccurate. Although our time here on Earth is very short, we are eternal beings. Eternal beings that crave the eternal glory that is promised to us after our obedience. When we adjust our perspective to this it becomes easier to choose joy over happiness, God over Satan and eternity over now.
I don’t want to tell you that you need to be praying, studying, fasting, paying tithing or attending the temple as you already know the things you need to be striving for but I think that ultimately what’s going to to give you strength in the face of temptation is being strong in the testimony of who are are, where you came from and where it is you want to go. It’s being strong in the testimony of Gods plan of happiness, and to achieve that we need to be doing all this things that we already know, to whatever degree we are currently capable 💛