Lent: Even Satan Can Quote Scripture

Satan tested Jesus in the wilderness. Satan is down 0 to 2.My wilderness was wet and cold.

Students passed by purposefully as I trudged to class feeling alone in the world. Head down, eyes fixed on the sidewalk, I forced one boot in front of the other. I had dragged myself out from under the covers and into clothes.

I was flunking.

Accusations pummeled my soul: You’re a worthless failure. You’ve ruined your life.

I was lost in my first wilderness experience of depression.

The accusations sounded like a wrathful God calling out my indulgent life of pleasure. This is the God I grew up with, the one I knew best. The enemy’s words landed and stuck: you’ve made your bed, now lie in it. But I didn’t know God’s voice well enough to realize He would never say that.

At the time, I believed God saw me as a wild, unworthy prodigal, not a beloved child. Sure, I’d heard about forgiveness, but my sin felt shamefully unforgivable.

The wise are cautious and turn away from evil, but the fool throws off restraint and is careless. Proverbs 14:16I didn’t have the truth of scripture to dispel the lies and seek forgiveness.

Fortunately, Jesus stands on scripture to reveal the devil’s wilderness lies.

The Holy Spirit sends Jesus into the wilderness to solidify his identity as God’s humble, obedient servant prior to beginning His public ministry. After a 40 day fast, Satan tests Jesus.

Satan fails in his first attempt to rattle Jesus’ trust in God’s steadfast love. The last post establishes that Jesus knows His circumstances do not reflect God’s love for Him.

So, Satan changes tactics and tries to sound like God, quoting from Psalm 91.

Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written: “‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’” Matthew 4:5-6 NRSV,  Psalm 91:11-12 NRSV

Jumping from 20 stories into the Kidron Valley means certain death. “Unless” the devil taunts, “you are who you think you are. If you’re the Son of God, guardian angels protect you from harm.” Again, Satan asks, “Are you certain you’re God’s Chosen One? Wouldn’t some proof increase your confidence? Let’s eliminate all doubt by employing your angels. There’s no harm in trying—they’ll catch you.”

Of course, Jesus recognizes God’s words in the devil’s mouth. But Jesus knows his actions must be focused on accomplishing the Father’s mission. This proof-test doesn’t qualify.

Jesus also knows God’s promised protection is not for those who willfully seek out danger, but for those who befall danger while serving within God’s will. The Psalm is addressed to those who live in the shelter of the Most High, who abide in the shadow of the Almighty (Psalm 91:1). He also knows remaining in God’s will involves suffering, even death.

Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”
Matthew 4:5-7 NRSV

Satan distorts scripture to deceive. He uses God’s words, but only the ones that serve his purpose. Pulling them out of context falsifies their meaning.

Like Satan tests Jesus in the wilderness, he tests us too. Satan plants seeds of doubt, plays on our fears, and questions our self-worth. He catches us during wilderness struggles when we’re potentially weak and vulnerable. I felt alone in my wilderness, but I wasn’t. I see God’s presence with me through my family who recognized my struggle and wrapped me in grace-filled support. I was not abandoned, but beloved.

When we’re secure in our identity as a beloved child of God with scripture to back it up, we have the advantage. We lose this advantage when we can’t combat falsehoods that sound like God’s Word. 

Consider these challenges to God’s steadfast love and click through to read scriptures to stand on:

  • If God really cares about you, why doesn’t He heal your pain? Reframe your pain as an opportunity to be strengthened by Him Don’t be tricked into believing God is indifferent. 2 Corinthians 12:7-10
  • Everyone except you has found their purpose in life. Oh, the comparison trick! Stand strong. You are part of the body of Christ, crucial for fulfilling God’s purpose. 1 Corinthians 12:12-26
  • Are you sure He forgives all sin, even that? Yes! The blood of Jesus washes every confessed sin white as snow. 1 John 1:9, Romans 8:1
  • You’ll never clean yourself up enough for God’s love. That’s the Good News! Come as-is and God will clean and restore you from the inside out. Romans 5:8, Titus 3:5
  • Are you sure you’re going to heaven? Be confident that all who believe have eternal life. Whoever has the Son, has life. John 6:47, 1 John 5:11-12
  • You have nothing to offer. God doesn’t love you. Wrong! You reflect the God of the universe. Your mere existence has inherent value. Ephesians 2:10

Does any of this sound familiar?
What other statements do you believe that contradict God’s Word?
Those are lies. Leave them behind.
If you’ve fought these battles, what scriptures did you stand on?

Root out the doubts, the guilt, the accusations. Bring them to the foot of the cross and let Jesus’ blood cover them. Expose lies to the light of God’s healing love and leave renewed.

#seedsofscripture #readthebiblebetter #biblestudy #lent #studytheword # #satanlies #psalm91 #inthewilderness #lentenjourney #lent2024


  1. Marilyn Nutter on February 22, 2024 at 6:46 AM

    Cathy, I think the first point about reframing pain as an opportunity is essential. When we do that, we can refocus on God and chi’s character and truths from scripture to guide, teach, and strengthen me.

    • CathyChung on February 27, 2024 at 12:04 PM

      Yes, changing our thinking about pain is key to getting us out of victim mode and seeing that God is still working and caring through our struggle. His truth, guidance and strength sustains us with hope.

  2. Dede McQuillan on February 22, 2024 at 8:17 AM

    Cathy, I don’t comment much if at all, but I would like to thank you for Sending Seeds of Scripture. I always read and take something meaningful away with me. It’s my way to stay in touch with the word! Thanks so much!!

    • CathyChung on February 27, 2024 at 12:07 PM

      Thank you Dede. You’re one of the originals. Thanks for being such a faithful reader. I’m glad these short studies meet your needs and inspire you to draw closer to God. Spread the word!

  3. J.D. Wininger on February 23, 2024 at 4:05 AM

    Oh, how many times will Satan tell me that, “I’m only fooling myself and that I have no impact for God’s kingdom because I’m not good enough; as a writer, husband, mentor, etc.” I’ve learned that my job can be boiled down to one word, “Obey.” If I obey His Word and obey His leading in my life, then I can humbly offer my meager gifts and He will use them as He sees fit. I can respond to Satan’s taunts, that “I’ve done my job. I tilled the soil and sowed the seed. What harvest God brings is God’s business, not mine. I obeyed.” Wonderful post Ms. Cathy. One I’ll squirrel away for future reference. God’s blessings ma’am.

  4. CathyChung on February 27, 2024 at 12:06 PM

    Have all of us doubted God’s call on our lives? I know I have. Did this really come from God? Do I have anything to say? Do I have what it takes? No, I don’t have what it takes but God does. He does the leading and the equipping. You and I do the obeying step by step. I may just edit my post to include this example. You add so much to my perspective.

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