Relying on Truth                       Matthew 4:1-11

Lent 1A                                                 February 26, 2023,                 St. John, New Orleans, LA

What is truth? 

You may have somebody heard somebody once say, “you speak your truth and I'll speak mine.” 

People have confused truth with beliefs. 

In fact if you search truth on Microsoft Bing it has fallen into this trap as it says, 

“a fact or belief that is accepted as true.”

However, if you go to one of the dictionary websites it says, 

“the property of being in accord with fact or reality.” 

And other dictionary websites sometimes say “fact or principal,” but not belief. 

Consider these math facts 

2 + 2 = 4.  9 - 5 = 4.  16 ÷ 4 = 4. 

Surely there are many ways to get to 4 which are all true and based on facts and reality, not belief.

We place a lot of importance on truth yet universal truth seems to elude us at times. 

We punish lying under oath in court. 

We discipline our children for lying. 

We are fined if we misrepresent our income and expenses on our taxes. 

We take vows of faithfulness to our spouses which come with an assumption of truthfulness. 

Yet truth often eludes us.

Today's texts deal with problems relating to truth, specifically, Satan’s attempt to misuse truth to encourage sinning. 

The first account is with the fall of Adam and Eve 

and in the gospel, we hear about the temptation of Jesus Christ himself. 

In both cases Satan misuses the truth to tempt and lead someone to sin. 

He succeeded with Adam and Eve. 

He failed with Jesus. 

Which is the point of the epistle reading to day. 

Adam brought sin into the world, and Jesus cancelled sin. 

One couldn't tell the difference between truth and lies, 

the other could because he was the author of the truth. 

So let's see how it all happened so that we might be more confident in what is true.

Adam and Eve heard God's word directly from him. 

There were no texts or reference books, 

just memories of conversations they had with God 

as they walked with him and talked with him in the garden of Eden. 

Just their recollection and their relationship with God. 

And when Satan came to them in the garden, he sowed doubt on both 

He got them to doubt their relationship with God and their memory of their conversations with him. 

Satan divided Adam and Eve from God as he sought to conquer them.

In the end, Adam and Eve fell prey to doubt sowed by a talking snake 

instead of trusting the true relationship they had with their creator and provider,

and felt as they had to provide for their own way through life 

by taking in the fruit of Knowledge of good and evil

instead of trusting God to steer them toward good and away from evil.

With Jesus, Satan tempted Jesus to misuse his power for selfish reasons. 

Jesus's purpose in life was to save the whole world but himself. 

And the discomfort he was experiencing after fasting was nothing compared to what lie ahead for him on the cross. 

Moreover, he and the father have the perfect relationship and are at one with another within the Trinity.

So, how do we know, recognize, and remain faithful to the truth? 

In John 8, verses 31 and 32 Jesus said, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

Let's break this passage down a bit. 

“If you abide in my wordyou are truly my disciples,” 

Abide means to live or dwell or remain with.

Jesus knew the word, because he was the word. I

t makes me wonder, why did Satan think he could outsmart Jesus on this one? 

Jesus is saying We should do everything we can to dwell with the word. 

To abide in Jesus as the word and with his word. 

Next Jesus says “and you will know the truth,” 

Because his word is truth, God cannot and does not lie. 

Satan, on the other hand, is the deceiver. 

Knowledge is received through words, actions, and experiences pertaining to Jesus, the word made flesh. 

So everything Jesus says, does and commands, is true, and the truth.

And lastly, Jesus says, “and the truth will set you free.” 

Knowledge of Jesus his work and love and forgiveness frees us from the clutches of sin death and the devil.

When we are forgiven and loved all sorts of burdens are lifted from our heart and soul.

We are designed and created to live by relationships. 

From our mothers and fathers who raise us 

to our work and business associates

even our formative days in school, 

so much of our development and progress in life is dependent upon relationships. 

But there are also relationships which are bad for us. 

Our parents warned us about hanging out with a, “bad crowd.” 

even as adults we have friends and acquaintances who can influence us in negative, even sinful, endeavors. 

And occasionally we get involved in a toxic relationship. 

whether that be in a marriage or with a family member or even an employer, 

that has to be ended before it destroys us or each other. 

But there is one relationship which has no risk; Your relationship with Jesus. 

He only has your best interest and your well-being at heart. 

He sacrificed everything to save you and he even sends his angels to protect you. 

Therefore, if we desire to live a life rooted in truth, we must rely on Jesus to be that truth.

Now, that might be a bit intimidating. You might ask, “how can I have a relationship with Jesus?”

When starting a new relationship, whether for business, friendship, or romance, our first instincts are to hold back and test the waters. 

We want to see if the other person is willing to reciprocate the relationship. 

We don't want to be made the fool when we realize they receive all the benefits while we only get hurt or experience loss. 

Whether you know it or not you already do have a relationship with Jesus.

he was invested in you the moment he came to earth 

because he was sent down from heaven to save you. 

So if there is anyone who is taking a risk in this relationship it is Jesus. 

Because he has already committed himself to you 

and the only uncertain part is whether you will remain committed to him. 

Therefore, a relationship with Jesus is totally risk free where truth and life is concerned. 

His motives are never masked and are always genuine. 

He will be honest and straightforward with every answer.

He will always put you in first priority as he has already proven. 

And he will never abandon you when the going gets tough.

And because you and Jesus know one another and you are his disciple, the going will be tough. 

First off, Satan will be jealous and try to sabotage your relationship. 

He'll try to sow doubt in your mind like he did with Adam and Eve. 

And he'll confuse you with facts you are not sure of, 

even twisting scripture out of context like he tried to do with Jesus. 

Next, the people around you will test your relationship with Jesus. 

Reminiscing about the “good old days,” when we you are not as close to Jesus, 

or challenging your faith as pointless or unnecessary. 

Sometimes even our families work against our relationship with Jesus. 

Perhaps not consciously, but effectively, just the same. 

By not supporting our worship and prayer life 

or even by showing signs of jealousy when your time with God and Jesus takes time away from them because they aren't part of that time.

And This is why our association with one another is so important. 

Just like your parents encouraged you to associate with, “good kids,” from families with similar values, 

we come together as friends of Jesus. 

Not only so that we can become close to him, 

but so that our circle of supporters and friends may grow as well, 

and so that we will not seem so alone and cut off from a world which is opposed to our relationship with Jesus.

Our association is not only to follow behind Jesus, cowering in his protective shadow from a mean and hostile world, 

but he sends us out with his blessing and power to change the world. 

So that through our agency his presence may be brought to bear in the world 

so that by his love and forgiveness it would become less mean and hostile.

Our 10 for 10 initiative this lent seeks to help us grow in those truth based relationships. 

With Jesus personally, but also with each other. 

Through consistency of presence we learn more about one another and we deepen our relationships.

 By praying consistently, we open our hearts to God's will for us and our needs. 

By consistently increasing our generosity, 

we surrender a part of us that is unwilling to trust God and others with a portion of our blessings.

And force us to learn the truth of God’s provision and protection in our lives.

Ultimately, every relationship is based upon the extent to which truth prevails among its members. 

If you can trust that Jesus is always truthful then that is the starting place for all good relationships. 

And if another person is in a relationship with Jesus, you know that Jesus is forming them to be like him. 

And if we are all starting to become more like Jesus, his church will increasingly look, act, and behave like Jesus as well. 

And that's a whole other conversation for another day. 

When we ask the question, “when the world looks at Saint John, does the world see Jesus?”

 or, when the world comes to Saint John to worship, does the world get to hear Jesus?

May your relationship with Jesus grow even stronger as you seek his truth in scripture. 

So that you may rest in him more fully, 

and so that you may take him to others who need the truth he brings, 

so that all for whom he died may share and his truth as well. 

In his name we pray. Amen.