Each sermon is published in large print for use in preaching, and for easy reading by several people gathered around the computer monitor.
HE IS ABLE TO KEEP YOU FROM STUMBLING
A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT
THE HIGH HILL UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS
8 MARCH 1992
By Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor
Deuteronomy 6:5, 13, 16
Preparation Verses: (Ephesians 3:20-21)
20. Now to Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us,
21. to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.
The title of today's sermon, "He is able to keep you from stumbling," comes from Jude's benediction (verse 24).
And in order to keep it in context, let's listen to the entire verse:
24. Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy,
There are two words here that are important for us to understand: able and make.
We are not told that God will keep us from stumbling, but only that He is able to keep us from stumbling.
This implies a mutual willingness.
But once we are there, He will make us stand blameless in the presence of His glory.
We cannot be blameless, unless we have repented of our sins.
But once we have, then the Lord Himself will overcome our fears and make us stand blameless in the presence of His glory with great joy.
I believe this great joy is mutual, both ours and His.
And here is where we come back to understanding God's willingness to keep us from stumbling.
When our whole being is firmly set upon serving Him and obeying Him, He will always be with us and will help us.
Jesus gives us a very practical example of this in Luke 4:1-13, where we are told of His temptation by the devil.
Let's turn there and see how His words can help us and keep us from stumbling.
1. And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led about by the Spirit in the wilderness
2. for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And He ate nothing during those days; and when they had ended, He became hungry.
We would be fortunate to still be alive after forty days, and we can well understand how hunger can also be a temptation.
But Jesus was being tempted throughout these forty days.
He was full of the Holy Spirit, and the Spirit kept Him from stumbling; but He did not keep Him from being tempted. This, above all, is important for each of us to understand.
Temptations teach us the ways of the devil; and we are to learn from them, but not to fall into them.
And if we truly believe and have confessed our sins with our whole heart, then we, too, should be full of the Holy Spirit and should be going forth in the same power as Jesus did.
Yes, the same power!
Now, let's go on and see how Jesus and we can use this power.
3. And the devil said to Him, "If You are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread."
4. And Jesus answered him, "It is written, 'Man shall not live on bread alone.' ''
Jesus is answering in the power of the Holy Spirit, and part of the power comes from His testimonies of the truths of God; for the Holy Spirit cannot be upon us, or within us, without our having a desire to read and learn of God's Word.
This, too, is a temptation; for the devil doesn't want us to know God's word. He wants us to remain ignorant, so that he can overpower us.
Here we see that the power of the Holy Spirit brings to remembrance Deuteronomy 8:3 as the tool that overpowers the devil and keeps Jesus from stumbling.
For as Jesus was wandering in the wilderness, He was obviously thinking about the wandering of the Israelites in their wilderness, and how they were also allowed to go hungry.
3. "And He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord.
Here again we have a conditional relationship with the Lord our God: That they and we might learn, not that they or we would learn.
Jesus turned off the temptation of the devil by letting him know that He did learn, and that He also understood what the devil was trying to do, and that He would have no part of it.
The power of the Holy Spirit kept Him from stumbling because He was willing
And the same power will keep us from stumbling if we are also willing.
Jesus is tempted even further:
5. And he led Him up and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time.
6. And the devil said to Him, "I will give You all this domain and its glory; for it has been handed over to me, and I give it to whomever I wish.
7. " Therefore if You worship before me, it shall all be Yours."
8. And Jesus answered and said to him, "It is written, 'You shall worship the Lord your God and serve Him only.' "
Jesus again relies on the power of the Holy Spirit within, as we should,
And this time, He not only uses verses from Deuteronomy 6:13 and 10:20 to keep Himself from temptation, but He also uses them to rebuke the devil for not worshipping God.
Lets take a moment and look at these two verses in the context they were written.
13. You shall fear [reverence] only the Lord your God; and you shall worship Him, and swear by His name.
This was so important to the welfare of the people, that Moses said this to them right after he told them the Lord's greatest commandment in Deuteronomy 6:5:
5. "And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.
It was obvious that the devil didn't love God; but Jesus loved the Father, and it was inconceivable to Him to love or worship another.
We should feel the same way.
Now let's look at Deuteronomy 10:20, but hear it in its context beginning at verse 16.
16. "Circumcise then your heart, and stiffen your neck no more."
It was obvious to Jesus that the devil was trying to entice Him because of his pride, and it should be just as noticeable to us, every time we are tempted to sin.
We can never be one with God if we have not softened our heart and died to our pride.
17. "For the Lord your God is the God of gods and the Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God who does not show partiality, nor take a bribe."
Do we really recognize who God is, and the strength of His character?
18. "He executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and shows His love for the alien by given him food and clothing.
19. "So show your love for the alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt."
And since Egypt also represents the land of sin, we are also to love the sinners of this world; for we were also sinners, and through the grace of God we were forgiven.
Thus, through our love, they might be brought to repentance and forgiveness.
It is in this context that Jesus uses the next verse to rebuke the devil.
20. "You shall fear [reverence] the Lord your God; you shall serve him and cling to Him, and you shall swear by His name."
Now let's return to Luke 4, beginning at verse 9, and see with what else the
devil tried to tempt Jesus.
9. And he led Him to Jerusalem and had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, "If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down from here;
10. for it is written,
'He will give His angels charge concerning You to guard You,'
'On their hands they will bear You up,
Lest you strike Your foot against a stone.' ''
The devil, seeing that Jesus used Scripture to rebuke him, now resorts to using Scripture to tempt.
Let's take a look at these two verses from Psalm 91:11-12.
11. For He will give his angels charge concerning you,
To guard you in all your ways.
12. They will bear you up in their hands,
Lest you strike your foot against a stone.
What the devil did is very subtle. He omitted a part of verse 11, "To guard you in all your ways," and instead, simply said, "To guard you."
Because Jesus is knowledgeable in Scripture, as we should also be, He uses other Scripture to rebuke him (Luke 4:12).
12. And Jesus answered and said to him, "It is said, 'You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.' ''
Once again, Jesus returns to the Book of Deuteronomy, to chapter 6 and this quote from verse 16:
16. "You shall not put the Lord your God to the test, as you tested Him at Massah."
Jesus also left out the end of the verse, not to deceive, but to let the devil know that He knew where he was coming from; for at Massah the people grumbled against the Lord, and did not wait upon Him for their welfare.
By quoting this, Jesus is also telling the devil that he has lost, for He is going to continue to wait upon His Father.
13. And when the devil had finished every temptation, he departed from Him until an opportune time.
And the devil will depart from us as well; but as with Jesus, he will return
to tempt us again, if we give him an opportune time.
Thus, we must remain on guard, and always remember that the Lord and His word are our strength and our shield.
So, if we are willing to do our part, it is He who is able to keep us from stumbling.
Your Comments are welcome
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