8 Again, the devil took Him to a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory; 9 and he said to Him, “All these things I will give You, if You fall down and worship me.” 10 Then Jesus said to him, “Go, Satan! For it is written, ‘YOU SHALL WORSHIP THE LORD YOUR GOD, AND SERVE HIM ONLY.’ “ 11 Then the devil left Him; and behold, angels came and began to minister to Him.
This last temptation of Jesus we see recorded might not seem to directly relate to us. Has anyone ever had Satan offer them dominion over all the kingdoms of the world? He does, however, promise us things as long as we would turn away from God. He offers us pleasure, power, control, satisfaction, and many other things if we would only violate the most important commandment.
The devil’s goal isn’t always necessarily to get us to serve him, but to not serve God. If you aren’t serving God, you probably won’t encounter many temptations or inner struggles regarding things you know you should or shouldn’t do. Certainly, we all encounter situations where we have to make a decision about what we think is the best thing to do, but it isn’t until we dedicate ourselves to loving and serving the Lord our God that our spiritual enemy begins barraging us with temptations to turn the other way.
Notice the way Satan tells Jesus that he will give Him dominion over the entire world. Satan had dominion over the earth at this time. He took it from us in the Garden of Eden. Jesus’ purpose was to win it back for us and He did! In John 16, Jesus tells His disciples just before His crucifixion about this retaking of the world:
32 “Behold, an hour is coming, and has already come, for you to be scattered, each to his own home, and to leave Me alone; and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me. 33 “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”
Later, in one of John’s letters (1 John 5) to the Christians scattered abroad, he wrote:
1 Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and whoever loves the Father loves the child born of Him. 2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome. 4 For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world -our faith. 5 Who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
So, Jesus not only overcame the world, but also gave us back our rightful dominion over it! When we are born again, we hold the authority of Jesus over the world. All we have to do is take back what has once again become rightfully ours! It’s like someone bought a mansion for us and we just have to open the door and walk in and take ownership of it. All the hard work has already been done! But as we can see through John’s writings, the only way to claim this dominion and live in it is to worship and serve God.
If we reread what is recorded in Matthew here, we can see that Satan himself was trying to be like God! He was offering rule and dominion over the world if Jesus were to only worship him instead of God the Father. Similarly, he offers us pleasure and dominion but what really happens is we become slaves to sin. We might not necessarily be worshiping the devil, but we are worshipping whatever it is we continue to seek in order to receive that false promise. But God’s promises are fulfilled when we uphold our side of the deal. If we worship and serve Him, He hands us the keys to the Kingdom of God, which rules over all kingdoms and principalities.
So what will you do: chase after an empty dream of temporary satisfaction or walk into the Kingdom and claim your rightful domain over the world around you?