Different Aspects of the Power of God’s Word

Genesis 3:1-21, Romans 5:12-19 and Matthew 4:1-11 are the appointed Scripture readings for the First Sunday in Lent this year. These readings show the power of God’s Word but in different ways.

Genesis 3:1-21 is the story of Adam and Eve’s fall into sin. This fascinating story shows the power of God’s Word in a negative sense. Adam and Eve disobeyed God’s Word and suffered the consequences. Immediately they were ashamed and then later the curses came.

God’s Word said very clearly Adam and Eve were not to eat of the tree in the middle of the garden. This was not just any garden, it was the Garden of Eden, a perfect, abundant place where Adam and Eve did not lack anything.

Yet the devil convinced them that God was holding back from them, that eating of the forbidden fruit would somehow be a good thing even though the Word of God said otherwise.

So they ate and the consequences were immediate. Their eyes were opened, they felt shame, they covered themselves. Later they tried to hide from God because of their nakedness.

Then there were the later consequences; the devil was cursed to eat dust and would live knowing that someday the seed of the woman would crush his head.

The woman’s pain in child bearing would be increased and her husband would rule over her.

For the man, the ground would be cursed with thorns and thistles. It would only yield its fruit by sweat and in the end he would return to the dust from which he came.

So that is a story about the power of God’s Word from a negative sense. Anyone who disobeys God’s Word will pay the consequences. And, of course, that is still true today.

The Gospel shows the power of God’s Word in a positive sense. The devil tempts Jesus and, rather than use his almighty power to defeat him, Jesus uses the Word of God.

Man does not live on bread alone. I know that, in addition to feeding my body, I need to feed my soul a steady diet of God’s Word.

Do not put the Lord your God to the test. I know that God’s angels are always around me to protect me but that does not give me the right to engage in risky behavior.

Worship the Lord your God and serve him only. The devil wants our worship but he has done nothing to earn that. He only wants to hurt and destroy us. God is infinitely worthy of our worship because he sent his own dear Son to die for us and rescue us from the devil.

If we could all just follow those three passages of Scripture we would have the upper hand against the devil.

Then in the epistle reading for today we have nice summary of the entire Word of God: the free gift of God overcomes the sin of man.

One man’s trespass, Adam’s sin in the Garden of Eden, led to death for all.

One man’s act of obedience, Jesus’ death for us on the cross, led to life for all.

The devil tries to distort this. He wants us to believe that our sins are greater than God’s mercy. If there is one thing we must always learn from Scripture let it be that God’s mercy in Christ overcomes all sin.

This leads to the next question. If God’s mercy and the free gift of salvation is so great then why can’t we just go on sinning? Paul answers that in the next chapter. Being in Christ means we have died to sin. We cannot live in it any longer. In Christ we have a whole new identity. Christ lives in us through his Spirit and he causes us to live for him and avoid all sin.

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. (Romans 6:1-4, ESV)

Another tactic the devil tries to use to undermine the Bible is saying that all we need to focus on in the Bible is the Gospel. If there are historical or chronological errors in the Bible it’s not important because what’s important is the Gospel. The problem with this view is that once we start questioning one part of the Bible what is to stop us from eventually questioning the Gospel itself? The Bible can be trusted in all that it says including, and most importantly, what it says about the free gift of God’s grace in Christ.

God’s Word is powerful in both positive and negative ways. If we disobey his word there will be shameful consequences. If we follow his Word we have the power even to overcome the devil. The free gift of salvation we have in Christ far outshines any amount of evil we have done. Then let us live for Christ in everything.

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