It is a glorious thing to know that your Father God makes no mistakes in directing or permitting that which crosses the path of your life. It is the glory of God to conceal a matter. It is our glory to trust him, no matter what. – Joni Eareckson Tada
"If you really are a child of God . . . ."
Has that nagging question ever hovered in your thoughts? If you’re like me, it has. Lots of times. But the accusation shouldn’t surprise us. We’re not the first ones to ever hear it. During the wilderness temptation, Satan challenged the Lord Jesus three times, "If You are the Son of God . . .” (Matthew 4, Luke 4).
I’ve always thought that an odd challenge. The devil knew perfectly well who Jesus was. The angelic visits to Elizabeth and Zechariah, to the Virgin, and the shepherds did not escape the Tempter's notice. Satan knew Jesus was the Son of God. That's why he incited Herod to kill Him.
Some theologians argue that the devil hoped to trick Jesus into using His divine powers to benefit Himself, instead of entrusting Himself to the Father. They say using those powers would have short-circuited the great plan of redemption.
Perhaps that is true. But I wonder if Satan had another plan. If he could have caused Jesus to doubt who He was and to whom He belonged, would that have sidetracked the Father's plan?
It’s a rhetorical question. No one knows for sure, but it raises a sobering spiritual application for all of us who seek to serve Christ.
Scripture could not be clearer about the Christian’s relationship with the Father. All of heaven and hell know we are children of God through our baptismal faith (see 1 Peter 3:21; Catechism 189, 537, 1226). However – and this is crucial – if Satan can seduce us into doubting that relationship, he will lead us down the path of despair and destruction, effectively removing us from fruitful service to the King.
"If you are . . . .”
How should we respond to that accusation? Read the Temptation text and you’ll discover at each turn, Jesus responded with God’s Word.
And so should we.
When doubts about our relationship with the Father trouble us, we can anchor to God’s promises such as: "See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God” (1 John 3:1), or, "As many as received [Christ], He gave them power to be made the sons of God, to them that believe in His name" (John 1:12). When we hear whispered in our ear, “God doesn’t even know your name,” we can shout God’s answer: “Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even should she forget, I will never forget you. See, upon the palms of my hands I have written your name; your walls are ever before me” (Isaiah 49:15, 16).
Satan's accusations smolder from the depths of hell, but our faith in God’s promises will form an impenetrable seal against hell’s noxious fumes. We are children of God. He will never leave us. He will always forgive those who seek His mercy.
We have God’s promise about that.
Whom will we believe? The Liar – or God?