satan once tried to bring about the downfall of Christ by offering Him all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them.
Here is sufficient proof that the devil is wise, but not wise enough!
He knew fallen human nature and just how to handle it. He knew the power of pomp and circumstance to charm the sinful heart and bring it into captivity. In presenting to the Man Jesus the glory of the world, he was shrewdly taking advantage of a known weakness in the human race. The trick should have worked, and it would have worked but for one thing: This was no fallen man. satan was attempting to seduce; it was a sinless Man full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whose penetrating glance pierced the world's attractive exterior and saw what was inside. What He saw revolted Him. He would have no part of it.
Our Lord saw in the world's glory not what other men saw and, conversely, He saw what other men could not see. He saw not beauty but death, a garish death that must be purchased a the price of the soul. Beneath its gaudy allurements He saw corruption and decay. He knew its bright promises were all lies.
All this Jesus knew; and satan for all his wisdom did not know that He knew it. The devil is an assiduous student of the Bible, but still he did not know or he would not have attempted the impossible, and that to his own confusion and permanent loss of face.
The delusive quality of all human glory is taught throughout the Bible, and with bold emphasis in the New Testament. It has been taught also with great clarity by the saints and faithful brethren since the days of the apostles. We sing it in our hymns and repeat it in our prayers, and no Christian but would admit the truth of it.
With the Bible open before us and a long tradition of truth behind us, there would seem to be no reason for our present tragic failure to recognize the world's deceptive appeal and to stay clear of it. For there must not be any denial of the facts: the church has been captured by the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them. In spite of the prophetic voices that are raised here and there among us, present-day believers are drawn to the world with irresistible force.
That world which our Saviour once refused to buy at any price of disobedience to God is now wooing His professed followers with every sly, deceptive artifice. The glory which our Lord once rejected with cold scorn is now being admired and sought after by multitudes who make a loud profession of accepting the gospel. The old trick which our Lord saw through so easily is charming His present-day followers into smiling acquiescence. The devil did not know Christ, but apparently he knows Christians.
A century ago satan launched a drive to destroy evangelical religion by a direct attack upon the Scriptures. He misjudged the strength of Christian orthodoxy and was thrown back with heavy losses. Today "Modernism" is a word without much meaning, and many liberals now admit that they have lost the beating heart out of their religion. But the evangelical creed is a vigorous as ever, and even in learned circles it is now considered intellectually respectable to believe Christian truth.
No, satan's effort to destroy Christianity on the doctrinal front has not been a success; there are probably more Bible believers now than at any time in world history. Still the true religion of the Cross is in great and serious peril on another front and, strangely enough, many of the very warriors who fought so valiantly when the veracity of the Bible was attacked have failed to recognize the enemy when he has approached from a new direction.
The peril today arises from within the fold of orthodox believers. It consists of an acceptance of the world's values, a belief that the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them are valid prizes to be pursued by believing men and women. Blind leaders of blind souls are admitting that there is something to be said in favor of the world-glory after all; they insist that Christians should not cut themselves off from the pleasures of the world, except, of course, from those that are too degraded for respectable society. Everything else goes, and the very values that Christ scorned are now being used to attract people to the gospel.
Christ now stands in need of a patron, a celebrity who will sponsor Him before the world. He looks weakly about for some well-known figure upon whose inside popularity He can ride forth as He once rode into Jerusalem on the back of an ass' colt. His ability to draw men unto Him is frankly doubted, so He is provided with a gimmick to do the trick for Him. The cheap and tawdry glory which He once rejected is placed around His head as a crown. The crown they give Him is studded with paste imitations, all borrowed from the world: middle-class prosperity, success, fame, publicity, money, crowds, social acceptance, pomp, display, earthly honor. The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life have all been Christianized (not by the liberal, mind you, but by the evangelicals) and are now offered along with Christ to everyone who will "believe."
And on top of this we still pray for revival, with no awareness of our dark betrayal and no intention to repent. All such prayers are vain. We need only humble ourselves to obey the truth and the true revival has already started. An emotional revival superimposed upon an evangelical religion hopelessly sold out to the glory of the world would but increase the confusion and confirm the deception.
"O Lord, save Thy people from such a snare!" Amen
~A. W. Tozer~