Meditation on the Commands of Christ (2): Get Thee Behind Me, Satan

                                    Matthew 4:1-22; Luke 4: 1-15In the accounts of Jesus, immediately after his baptism, he was led “up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil” (Matthew 4:1). How perfectly appropriate that Jesus first would teach us to “suffer it to be so now” (Matthew 3:15), and then immediately endure suffering (forty days of fasting in the wilderness) and temptation (which is what happens to all of us when we’re deprived of what we need). What were the temptations? How did Jesus respond? What can we learn for ourselves when we face temptation?In a nutshell, Satan’s temptations were all designed to see if he could get Jesus to act on his own behalf instead of in obedience to God the Father. The temptations were simple and universal: 1. Use personal power to provide for personal needs (rather than relying on God’s direction and timing)  2. Demand God’s protection (rather than waiting for God’s plan)  3. Worship Satan (who is behind anything that distracts us from worshiping God) in order to obtain wealth and power. After each temptation, Jesus responded with Scripture that explained why the suggestion was wrong, and then he concluded by saying, “Get thee behind me, Satan; for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve” (Luke 4:8). I pondered whether or not we could claim such a command for ourselves, since we read in Jude 1:9, “Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee.” If God’s mighty archangel didn’t dare to rebuke Satan, should we? We are definitely counseled to “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you“(James 4:7) and to “take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand” (Ephesians 6:13). I understand that it’s possible to resist and withstand, but can we command?

I believe the answer is yes, but only in imitation of Jesus, who is our perfect example. Notice that Jesus was “full of the Holy Ghost” (Luke 4:1), was “led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil” (Matthew 4:1), and after the temptation was over, “returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee” (Luke 4:14). God wants us to live our lives walking in the Spirit, doing what God asks, and then we will be able to discern right from wrong, resist temptation, and tell Satan to get out of our way!

But, what if we are not children of God by faith or have wandered away from God and are in a mess? Can we still command Satan to “get thee hence” (Matthew 4:10) as Jesus did? Based on Luke 11:14-26, I believe we’d be setting ourselves up for failure, because the power of evil is greater than our personal power. However, the good news is that God’s power is greater than evil. He is also merciful and invites us to “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world” (1 Peter 5:6-9). If we acknowledge our sins and cry out in faith to Jesus for help, He (and He alone) has the power to save us and make us capable—through his Spirit— of overcoming evil with good (Romans 12:21).

One last thought, and perhaps my favorite. When we are facing temptation, depression, anxiety, or despair . . . when we feel the spirit of evil and darkness obscuring our way, let’s turn to the comforting words of Psalm 27:1, “The LORD is my light, and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; ow whom shall I be afraid?” The whole psalm is wonderful, but notice verse eight especially, “When thou saidst, Seek my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, LORD, will I seek.” In these situations, I believe we can say with confidence, “Get thee behind me, Satan!” and turn our faces to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, our LORD and master, who loves us and will rescue us.

Bible Passages Where This Command is Found:
Matthew 4:1-11 and Luke 4:1-14

Psalm 27

1The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?

When the wicked, even mine enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell.

Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear: though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident.

One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to enquire in his temple.

For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock.

And now shall mine head be lifted up above mine enemies round about me: therefore will I offer in his tabernacle sacrifices of joy; I will sing, yea, I will sing praises unto the Lord.

Hear, O Lord, when I cry with my voice: have mercy also upon me, and answer me.

When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, Lord, will I seek.

Hide not thy face far from me; put not thy servant away in anger: thou hast been my help; leave me not, neither forsake me, O God of my salvation.

10 When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up.

11 Teach me thy way, O Lord, and lead me in a plain path, because of mine enemies.

12 Deliver me not over unto the will of mine enemies: for false witnesses are risen up against me, and such as breathe out cruelty.

13 I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.

14 Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.