“But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.”
The recent Circuit Breaker has greatly disrupted our lives. There are adjustments that we all have to make and some of us may be going through difficult struggles in these uncertain times.
One such struggle is to place our trust in physical things for our daily sustenance and survival.
In Matthew 4:4, we have the account of the devil tempting the Lord Jesus Christ in the wilderness. After the Lord Jesus Christ had fasted for forty days and forty nights, he was famished. Then Satan attacked the Lord Jesus Christ with three temptations. In the first temptation, Satan said to Jesus that if He was the Son of God, He should command the stones to be turned to bread. The devil wanted the Lord Jesus Christ to sin by abusing His power to satisfy His hunger.
The Lord Jesus Christ replied the tempter by quoting the Scriptures, “It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.”
There are at least three lessons we can learn from this reply of the Lord Jesus Christ.
1) Living by the Word of God
The portion of Scripture quoted by Christ is from Deuteronomy 8:3 which says, “And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live.”
Deuteronomy 8:3 describes the Lord’s miraculous provision of manna for the children of Israel during their wilderness wandering. The purpose of referring to this incident was to remind them that their true supply and sustenance came from God, and what God required of them was obedience to His commandments. Deuteronomy 8:1 provides us with the context – “All the commandments which I command thee this day shall ye observe to do, that ye may live, and multiply, and go in and possess the land which the LORD sware unto your fathers.”
We may wonder how it is possible to “live” by the Word of God. Israel was a spiritual nation. Notice that the first part of Matthew 4:4 says, “Man shall not live by bread alone.” The Lord Jesus Christ did not say that bread is not necessary at all. While physical bread is needful to feed and sustain the physical body, the more important aspect of Israel’s existence was spiritual. Just as the physical body is sustained by physical food, the spiritual body needs the Word of God to sustain its spirit. What is needful for us to truly live is the Word of God. If a person does not partake of the spiritual food of God’s Word, then he has no spiritual life and his spiritual witness for Christ dies.
As physical beings, we often think of the needs of the flesh. When we are so focused on the physical, we lose sight of the spiritual. As children of God we know that eternity awaits everyone. It is either eternity in hell or heaven! The ones who are without the Word of God will die in sin. The ones who are alive in Christ still need the Word of God to maintain a healthy spiritual witness for Christ. Does having a physiologically-functional body mean we are truly living? Alas, if we do not live in the purpose which only Christ can give, then we are not truly living.
2) The Word that Proceedeth Out of the Mouth of God
Why is it that the Word of God can be the sustenance and source of our lives? What makes the Word of God unique and different from all other books? The Word of God is different from the books of man because the Bible proceeded out of the mouth of God.
2 Timothy 3:16 tells us that, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God….” This means that all Scripture has been breathed out by God. This tells us the nature of God’s Word. Because the Word of God comes from the very mouth of God, the Word of God reflects the nature of God. So if you know who God is, you will be able to know the nature of God’s Word.
God is perfect. It follows that His Word is perfect and pure. It is inerrant and infallible – this means that it is without mistakes and it is incapable of having mistakes. All that the Bible is and all that the Bible reveals to us are true and without error because the Author does not make mistakes. We can trust all the precepts and promises in the Bible.
As God is wise, so God’s Word is wisdom indeed. This wisdom is not the wisdom of this world, but is from above which is heavenly and divine. In God’s Word we have wisdom to know how we ought to live unto Christ.
God is good and the commandments He has given to us are “for our good always”; the keeping and obeying of the Word of God is able to “preserve us alive” (Deut 6:24). It is the disobedience to God’s Word that has brought us so much hurt. But in the obedience to God’s Word, we will always be able to experience the goodness of God.
God is faithful. As we live by the Word of God, we are sustained by the promises of our God who means every single word. He never forgets what He has said, and He does not forget to take care of us who are of more value than many sparrows. We are absolutely safe and secure in God and His Word. This is always for our good.
3) Living by Every Word
The Lord Jesus Christ did not just point that we are to live by God’s Word; we are also to live by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. This emphasises the importance of every word that God has given to us. Every word is important because God has given these words to us. Each word is carefully ordained and selected. There is no statement or phrase in the Bible that is redundant or excessive. These words are all necessary for us.
We may wonder, “How are we able to live by every word which proceedeth out of the mouth of God?” Is it possible for any man on earth to know every single word of the Bible that we might be able to live by every word of the Bible? While it is impossible for any man to know and understand every single word of the Bible, what this truth teaches us is that we must have the desire to live by every word of the Bible. This speaks of the diligence in reading, studying and meditating upon God’s Word. We are not to pick and choose what is convenient from the Bible like we do from all the books of man. Every jot and tittle of God's Word is good for us, for everything proceeds from the mouth of God! His children should love every Word that is from their heavenly Father, and they should love God with all their heart, soul, strength and mind.
God’s Word is for every occasion in life; it is for every phase of life; it is for every age, for every struggle, for every need. What is needful for us is to diligently study and meditate upon the Word of God. Having done so, we must then live in light of the Word of God which we now understand.
Have you been living out every word that you have studied and understood? This is most needful especially during this very uncertain time. Have you been living in light of the promises and assurance of God?
Have you been reading God’s Word during this time? Do you hunger after God’s Word even more than your necessary food? Because the Word of God is so necessary to us, we must keep feasting upon it with delight.
Thy Word is like a garden, Lord,
with flowers bright and fair;
And everyone who seeks may pluck
a lovely cluster there.
Thy Word is like a deep, deep mine;
and jewels rich and rare
Are hidden in its mighty depths
for every searcher there.
Thy Word is like a starry host:
a thousand rays of light
Are seen to guide the traveler
and make his pathway bright.
Thy Word is like an armory,
where soldiers may repair;
And find, for life’s long battle day,
all needful weapons there.
Oh, may I love Thy precious Word,
may I explore the mine,
May I its fragrant flowers glean,
may light upon me shine!
Oh, may I find my armor there!
Thy Word my trusty sword,
I’ll learn to fight with every foe
the battle of the Lord.
- Edwin Hodder