One Word That Can Change Everything

Luke 4:4-5, “…Jesus answered him, ‘It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone (but by every word of God).’ And he (the devil) led Him up and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said to Him, ‘I will give You all this domain and its glory….’ ”

And. Only 3 letters long. Such a small word. And yet, such a powerful word. Without it our lives would be so different. Just think of all the things that we would not have, all the things that “and” makes possible. Without it there would be no dynamic duo (Batman and Robin). Without it one of the all-time classic sandwiches would not exist (peanut butter and jelly). Without it the world of comedy would be missing quite a few laughs (Abbott and Costello, Martin and Lewis, Crosby and Hope). Bert would have no Ernie. Bonnie would have no Clyde. The Captain would have no Tennille. Neither the baker nor the butcher would have a candlestick maker. Up would have no down. Left would have no right. Back would have no forth. To would have no fro. “And” makes it all possibe.

In the account of Jesus’ temptation we are reminded of the power of this one small word. Take a close look at the very beginning of verse 5. See it? There it is in all it’s glory. “AND he led Him up…” No sooner had Jesus defeated the devil’s first temptation then that word “and” appears on the stage of this dramatic battle. What does all this mean for us? Just this…we would do well to remember that the devil is seldom easily deterred. The devil hates to take “no” as the final answer. Yes, he does indeed flee when we resist him. Most certainly. But I am of the mindset that he uses a revolving door on most days. No sooner has temptation exited then it reappears with even greater fury and determination. It seems that the devil just refuses to accept defeat. If necessary, he will try and try and try and try and try and try again. Just when you think it is over, that is the very moment when you should be extremely careful. The “and” of temptation is usually just right around the corner.

I can only speak for myself but temptation seldom travels alone in my life. On most days it is a series of temptations. Much like Jesus’ experience in the wilderness, success in one area generally only gives way to another attack from a different direction. Temptation to pride… and selfishness… and lying… and unbelief… and lust… and hatred… and complaining… and greed… and… and… and… and. The list seems endless at times. If I’m not careful, it is easy to become overwhelmed by the sheer volume of temptation that can cross my path on a normal day. I become weary. I become frustrated. I become discouraged. I find myself on the verge of throwing my hands up in the air and shouting, “You win! I quit! I give in!”

But it is at that very moment the Holy Spirit takes what the devil had meant for evil and uses it for good. In those moments when I feel like I am about to go under, when the tide of temptation is about to overflow the levies of my resistance, I am reminded of one more “and.” You can find it in 1 Corinthians 10:13 (NASB), “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; AND God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.” Temptation and the devil are determined. And God is faithful. No matter how many “ands” come my way this day, the final one belongs to God. He is the One who pulls the leash on temptation and says, “Enough. No more. The “ands” stop now.” He is the One who has the final determination. And in my struggle against temptation He stand faithful, He sets boundaries, and He provides a way to endure.