Today I want to start with the words of Jesus. This is from the story of when Jesus was tempted.
Jesus told him [Satan], “No! The Scriptures say, ‘People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” NLT Matthew 4:4
What in the world does that mean? Jesus was saying there is more to life than our appetites like hunger. There is something bigger going on. Inside each person, there is a soul. And just like our physical bodies crave food, our souls crave God. And for us to live, really live, we must understand that.
About a year ago, I was asked if I would meet a young man who was going to college. A drunk driver just killed his friend, and it deeply impacted him. We met and he talked about the fear that overwhelmed him. He was having a hard time sleeping. He was skipping classes. It just wrecked him. In that meeting, he gave his life to Christ. And that night, for the first time in a long time, he was able to sleep. Then last summer he was baptized. What happened? His soul was filled with fear, and he needed God. As silly as it sounds, I didn’t take him out to get a pizza. He had a soul issue, not a physical issue. He didn’t need food, his soul needed God.
Just recently he asked if I would meet one of his friends. His friend is having a really rough time. So, we met. Here is what was interesting. This young man grew up in a loving family. He grew up in church. He became a Christian at a young age and was baptized. This wasn’t someone who had never heard of God. It’s someone who grew up around God, the church, youth group, and all the Christian holidays. I listened to him talk about what was happening in his life.
He had so much going on in his life. He walked through a lot of pain and struggle. And in all of it, God wasn’t a part of his life. He grew up in church and youth group but God wasn’t real to him. My challenge to him was this. As a young man in college right now, you are figuring out how you are going to live life. And you are going to have to decide who God is in your life.
I told him, a lot of people who grow up in church learn information about God. However, as they grow up in their teenage years, God doesn’t become personal to them. God isn’t their Lord and Savior. There is no real relationship with God. They know about God, but God may not be real to them.
As they get older, maybe late teens and early 20s and older, they try to figure out how to live life. From friends, social media, and new experiences it can be a challenge. In those years, they have to decide who will impact them more, their culture or God. And for kids who grew up in church, they may view Jesus as a Savior but not as their Lord. In other words, Jesus is my Savior to save me from my sins so I can keep living the way I want with no changes. Jesus isn’t their Lord who they turn to and surrender their day-to-day life.
It’s the opposite of what Jesus said. Jesus said People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God. Jesus did not say, ‘I live on bread alone.’ In other words, I only think about my physical needs. I don’t have much interest in God. When we live only to care for our physical needs while ignoring our soul, the result of this can show up in mental health issues like discouragement, depression, anxiety, self-worth, and much more.
I said to this young man, only Jesus can give our souls what our souls need. And you are going to have to decide who Jesus is in your life.
Let’s talk about what Jesus said. Before being tempted, Jesus didn’t eat for 40 days making him extremely weak. He was close to the point of dying from starvation. His hunger represented our physical wants and desires. Satan’s temptation was to have Jesus take care of his physical wants and desires – now. Take control and fix your physical urge – not. Don’t trust God, do it yourself. Why? Because Satan knew if he could get Jesus to eat and satisfy his hunger, Jesus would grow physically stronger and not need to rely on God making him spiritually weaker.
And that is our challenge today. When we only focus on our physical needs, we take control and fix our urges – now, we don’t rely on God and that makes us spiritually weaker.
But instead, Jesus understood we are more than just the physical. Our souls are spiritual. Jesus was saying that there is more to life than just my physical desires, I chose to depend on God as my source of life. Jesus was saying, I live because God sustains me, not because of food.
What is interesting is that Jesus references Deuteronomy 8. What was happening in Deuteronomy 8? The Children of Israel were about to walk into the Promised Land. Before going into the Promised Land, God reminded them who He was and what He did. God reminds them, I rescued you from Egypt because I love you. No one could have done that but me. I provided and protected you in the desert for 40 years because I loved you. No one could have done that but me. I am about to bring you into the promised land because I love you. No one can do what I’m about to do for you. And when you take over the promised land and become safe, comfortable, and successful, don’t say yourself, ‘Look what I did.’ No, never forget who rescued you, protected you, gave you the promised land, and made you a success. It was me. You have always been 100% dependent on me.
Please read all of Deuteronomy 8 later but I want to read two verses.
2 Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. 3 He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. NIV Deuteronomy 8:2-3
Why did God walk them through the desert for 40 years? To show them their absolute dependence on God. In the desert, they learned that there is only one source of life, God. They learned it was God who provided for them. Food. Water. Health. They learned it was God who protected them from all the dangers in the desert like poisonous animals, and heat. They learned that they were dependent on God. They lived, they existed, because of every word that comes out of His mouth, not on bread alone. And this is what Jesus referenced when Jesus said, ‘People live by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’
What does that mean to us? We exist because of God. We are 100% dependent on God. We are more than our physical desires. And for us to live well, we need the very word of God as our life-giving source. Jesus is more than just our Savior. Jesus is our Lord and Savior. He is our source of life. So how do we move from ‘Jesus is my Savior’ to ‘Jesus is my Lord and Savior’? To do this, I want to share with you one principle.
The Blackbelt Principle. To become a blackbelt, you must be intentional.
That’s obvious, right? In general, it depends on the style of training, but it takes around 10 years to earn a blackbelt. In those 10 years, you are disciplined, you are training, working, exercising, being tested, and being observed to earn a blackbelt.
If you want to move from ‘Jesus is my Savior’ to ‘Jesus is my Lord and Savior’, you will need to take ownership of your spiritual condition and be intentional. It doesn’t automatically happen. And it takes time. Remember what Sam said last week? He said there isn’t anything more spiritual in your life than the choices you make. We make our choices and then our choices make us.
We must understand that we are spiritual beings with a soul. God is spiritual which makes us spiritual. It’s true that God created us with a physical body which means we need to eat food. It’s also true that God created us with a soul which means, like Jesus, we will need the words of God as our source of life for our soul. There is no irony in the fact that if we choose to distance ourselves from God, our souls will feel dry and empty, and we will walk through life in struggle.
Jesus talked about this.
I [Jesus] am the real vine, and my Father is the gardener. He breaks off every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and he prunes every branch that does bear fruit, so that it will be clean and bear more fruit. You have been made clean already by the teaching I have given you. Remain united to me, and I will remain united to you. A branch cannot bear fruit by itself; it can do so only if it remains in the vine. In the same way you cannot bear fruit unless you remain in me. GNT John 15:1-4
Jesus is saying, again, that there is more to this life than your physical needs. You have a soul and your soul craves God. Only in a relationship with Jesus can your soul find the source of life you are looking for. In fact, Jesus said, only I can produce fruit in your life. When Jesus said fruit, He meant the good things of God. Only Jesus can produce or reproduce the good things of God in our lives.
A survey was done by The Center of Bible Engagement. They call it the ‘Scientific Evidence for the Power of 4’. They polled 40,000 people and asked them what happened when they read the Bible. What they discovered was this.
When someone begins to read the Bible, day 1 or day 2, there wasn’t much difference. In fact, people who engaged the Bible one to two days a week indicate basically the same effect on their personal lives as those who did not engage at all. This led to something interesting.
The folks putting the survey together discovered people reading the Bible very little led them to feel good about their activities without any sustainable results. They think they’re being “good Christians,” but their lives are no different than people who aren’t Christians at all.
However, for those who engaged the Bible 4 times or more a week, there was a profound difference in their lives. Here is what happened. This is amazing.
Loneliness went down 30%.
Bitterness went down 43%.
Anger went down 32%.
Alcoholism drops 57%.
Sex outside of marriage drops 68%.
Feeling spiritually stagnant drops 60%.
Viewing pornography drops 61%.
Sharing your faith jumps 200%.
Discipling others jumps 230%.
Think about that survey. Doesn’t it make sense that when you engage the words that come from God, we call it the Bible, they would impact your soul? The words of God are the source of life for our souls. This is why
Jesus said, People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.
You need time with God for Him to refresh your soul. It’s very naïve, some would say delusional, to think that I can focus on my physical needs only, plow through life, and everything will be just fine. You need time with God to refresh your soul. In fact, your soul condition is more important than your physical needs. And of course, we are not talking about starving yourself.
The Blackbelt Principle. To become a blackbelt, you must be intentional. If you want to move from ‘Jesus is my Savior’ to ‘Jesus is my Lord and Savior’, you will need to take ownership of your spiritual condition and be intentional. Why? Because the only source of life for your soul, as Jesus said, are the words of God.
I want to close with this. I want you to make the connection. When we spend time with Jesus, He empowers our souls to live out what it means to be a Christian in this demonic world. Spending time with Jesus isn’t about Jesus making us a success. It’s not about us finding health, wealth, and comfort. It’s not about Jesus making sure everything works out the way we want. If we view spending time with Jesus as leveraging Jesus to get what we want, we are treating Jesus like a genie. When we view Jesus like a genie, we become religious. And it will be hard for us to spend time with Jesus. We will view spending time with Jesus as a task, a job, something we have to do but don’t want to do.
Please make the connection. When we spend time with Jesus, He empowers our souls to live out what it means to be a Christian in a demonic world. Jesus reminds us of who we are and God’s love for us because the world we live in will try to ruin us. Jesus empowers us to see others with love and empathy because the world we live in will try to get us to see others as objects to get something from. Jesus empowers us to think of others and serve them because the world we live in will try to get us to demand things from others. He gives us strength to absorb the hurt of others and give back love because the world we live in will try to get us to fight. Jesus empowers us to forgive because the world we live in will try to get us to take revenge. Jesus empowers us to see things, not from our point of view, but from His point of view because the world we live in will try to get us to only think about ourselves. And when we make the connection that Jesus empowers us to live out what it means to be a Christian in this demonic world, we won’t be able to get enough of Jesus because we need him desperately.
Please make the connection. When we spend time with Jesus, He empowers our souls to live out what it means to be a Christian in a demonic world. And this is something we cannot fake.
Jesus said, ‘People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’
What do you live on?