“And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.” (Matthew 4:3)
In the wilderness of temptation, Satan gave Jesus permission to exercise His power to accomplish a good end. After all, why starve to death in the desert when you can make a meal out of rocks and live? So all the elements of a justifiable decision seemed to be there: a definite need, a desired goal, and the power to achieve that goal. For Jesus though, one thing was lacking – the right to act. Though He had the ability to transform the rocks into bread; did He have the authority? Though He had the power to do so; did He have permission?
We all have desires, needs, goals. At times, we feel very pressed to fulfill those desires and meet those goals. What can prevent us from doing so is a lack of resources. We may want to get out of debt, but we can’t – there’s not enough money coming in. We may want to be free from some responsibility that weighs us down, but we can’t – to do so would bring us shame.
Into such a dilemma, comes the voice of the tempter – showing us a way of escape, giving us permission to do what we “need” to do to survive. But who gave him the right to give us permission to do anything? Jesus knew Satan had no business telling Him what He could do to “fix” His problem. His response: “I live by every word that comes from God’s mouth, not yours.”
Having the power to do something doesn’t mean you have God’s permission.
Satan is the god of this world. He emboldens human beings to do what they have no right to do by fashioning himself as a legitimate authority. He infiltrates human government to legitimize what is abominable in God’s sight. He loves being a pseudo-god, doling out “rights” to people, who in turn love the “freedom” they have to fulfill their desires without guilt or shame.
One day we will answer to the true God of the universe for all we did in and with this body He gave us. It will do you no good in that day to say that the government gave you the right to do this or that. We have no rights but those given to us by God Himself. Having the power to do something doesn’t mean you have His permission. Receiving from another creature the “right” to do something doesn’t mean your Creator is on board with it.
Don’t be deceived. The spirit and god of this world will champion your “freedom.” But the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are behind you having true freedom. They will give you the power and the right to do what is good and right in their eyes, not your own.