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The Fifth Sermon

Matth. 4. Ver. 7. Iesus said vnto him, It is written againe: Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God[1].

Considering that Saint James says chap. 4. 5. The Scripture speaketh nothing in vaine[2]: & that as our Savior Christ saith John 10. 35, No scripture can be disappointed[3]; it may seem strange that the Devil coming armed with The sword of the spirite[4], (for so is the word of God termed, Ephes. 6. 17.) Christ gives not place, but opposes himself to answer[5]. We see that a message coming in the name of the Lord, this very name abashed Nehemiah(Neh. 6. 10) at the first hearing, till he perceived it was contrary to the law of God, and so came not from him[6]: which here we see to be the cause, why Christ does not yield by and by, upon the hearing of the Word, but sets himself to make answer: forsomuch as the word is not of force, Quia dicitur[7] onely, but Quia creditur, as Augustine notes[8]. If there bee not the mixture of faith with it, (whereof Paulspeakes, Heb. 4. 2.) it is nothing worth. And therefore, the bad spirit was nothing abashed or daunted, at the hearing of the bare names of Jesus and Paul, Act. 19. 15, but answered, I know them, but who are ye?[9] They did not believe, and therefore could do them no good, but were wounded themselves: glorious names would not serve the turn[10]. So was it here used without faith.[11]

When the Scripture is here urged against one, a man would think it were not to be answered by citing another place of Scripture; but by some tradition of the Elders, Mark 7. 1 or some gloss, or other shift[12]; but we see our Savior answers here no other way but by Scripture.

Because the wolf comes sometimes disguised in a sheep’s skin, it is no reason that therefore the very sheep should lay away their fleeces[13]: so here, because the Devil uses the Word, as the slaying letter, 2. Cor. 3. 6 or as the sword to kill men with[14]; it is no reason why Christ may not therefore use it in his own defense[15].

Why then (will some say) one of these two inconveniences will follow: [1] that hereby we shall think the Scripture is of the Devil’s side, as well as of Christ’s side, & so divided; as in like sort they make a division of Christ, when one holds with Paul, another of Apollos, 1 Cor. 1. 13[16]. No, it is not so, Christ alleges[17] not this Scripture in that sort, as one nail to drive out another: but by way of harmony and exposition, that the one may make plain the meaning of the other[18].

For albeit the Devil shows himself to be the Devil, in citing that text so, as might best serve for his purpose: in that, whereas the Psalm whereout he taketh it, has it thus, That he might keepe him in all his wayes; which words he leaves out[19]. For if he had cited that, he could not thereby have enforced any casting down: for the angels have no charge over a man, but in his ways; & from the top of the pinnacle there was no way, but down the stairs on his feet[20]. He was not (relying on the angels) to cast himself down with his head forward. But the Devil has a wrest, to make the string sound high or low, as he list[21]; or if that will not serve, he hath a rack to stretch them out, as some did Saint Paul’s Epistles, 2. Pet. 3. 16[22]. He can set them on the tenters, to prove, that down the stairs, or over the battlements, all is one, the angels shall safeguard him.

Though this (I say) be the Devil’s corruption, which the late writers have well spied: yet Christ (we see) is not willing to take advantage of that, but uses a wiser course[23]; for so are we to think, that he went the best way to work, that is, the conference of Scripture with Scripture, which Christ here practices, and commends unto us.

In every art, all propositions are not of a like certainty, but some be grounds and principles so certain, as that no exception is to be taken against them. From them are others derived, by a consequence called deduction, not so certain as the other: from these again to others, to the twentieth-hand[24]. So is it in Divinity [theology]. Christ here reduces the Devil’s argument & place, to a place most plain to be confessed. For the Jews valuing of the means, had to consider, that God fed them with Manna, which they knew not, to teach them, that Man liueth not by bread onely, Deut. 8.3[25] condemning the same: and in Deut. 6. 16  bad [said, exhorted] them they should not tempt their Lord their God, as in Massah, when they cried for bread.[26]

The Lord curses him, that makes flesh his arm, and withdraws his heart from God, Jer. 17. 5[27]. They sacrificed unto their yarn, because their portion was plentiful, Hab 1. 16[28]. Job condemns the making gold our hope, or the wedge of gold our confidence, chap. 31. ver. 24[29]. As then we[30] must not deify the means, attributing all sufficiency to them: so, we may not nullify them, & think too basely of them, but use them, that we tempt not God, according to his Word.

Out of these two grounds, may every question be resolved: for every proposition must be proved out of the ground.[31] So that, as we may not think the arm of God to be so shortened, that he cannot help without means: so are we not to think basely of God, for ordaining means[32].

Secondly, we heard, that the Devil’s allegation was taken out of the Psalm, and one of the most comfortable places of all the Psalms[33]. Christ by not standing in disputation about the words and meaning of the text, commends to us the safest and wisest way to make answer in such like cases. Our Savior would warn us, that the Psalm 91 is not fit matter for us to study on, when we are on the top of the pinnacle: he therefore chooses a place of a contrary kind, to counterpoise himself, standing in that tickle place[34].

The Law (we know) is a great cooler to presumption. If one tamper much with the Psalms, being in the case of confidence, he may make the fire too big[35]. Faith is the fire which Christ came to put on the earth[36], and it is seated between two extremes, Distrust, and Presumption. Distrust is as water to it, which if it be powered on in abundance, it will make it to be smoking flax, or utterly quench it[37]: Presumption (on the other side) is a gunpowder to it, which being thrown into it, it will blow it up, and make it fly all about the house[38]. Christ was to take heed of over-heating his faith. Luther [writing] upon the Galatians saith, the 91[st] Psalm is no meet study for many  men’s humors in our days: they had more need of a corrosive, to eat out the soar of the root and bottom[39].


In this section, Andrews provides instruction on how to understand and make use of Scripture. The first proposition is that Scripture is not a magic recitation. He gives the example of the exorcists who heard of Paul exorcising demons in the name of Jesus. These men, who did not have faith in Jesus, who did not belong to him, thought that merely using the name would give them power. It was not so. It is not the saying of the words, but the believing reception of the words which is efficacious. An unbeliever handling the Scripture will not profit them.

The Devil is the ultimate unbeliever and hence his quotation of the Scripture was not to his profit.

Second proposition: One would have supposed that Jesus would have contested the Devil’s presentation by arguing over the meaning of the passage (indeed, the Devil takes the passage out of context, as Andrews will argue later in this section). But Jesus rebuts the Devil by showing that Scripture is to be read as a harmonious whole. Yes, the Scripture here in this way, but it also provides further clarity on our relationship to God in another place. We must consider both passages to understand either.

All our understanding of the Scripture must be as harmonious. If we come to an understanding which results in conflicts where either one or the other passage must be right (where one nail drives out another), our understanding is incorrect.

The Devil misuses the Scripture in a way to cause a conflict with other passages, and a conflict even with the immediate Psalm.

This leads Andrews to make a comment on the question of God’s use of ordinary means to perform ends. The common way to come down from a pinnacle is by the stairs, not to leap and let the angels catch you before you hit the ground. God is not bound by the means. He most commonly provides us by breach by cause the grain to grow from the ground. But God is not bound by means. He can provide bread in the wilderness without apparent means.

He provides a final observation on the use of the Scripture. There are passages which give us much comfort and hope such as the 91st Psalm. Taken by itself, without reference to the rest of Scripture, could easily lead one to presumption:

Psalm 91:1–13 (ESV)

91 He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High

will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.

                      I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress,

my God, in whom I trust.”

                      For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler

and from the deadly pestilence.

                      He will cover you with his pinions,

and under his wings you will find refuge;

his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.

                      You will not fear the terror of the night,

nor the arrow that flies by day,

                      nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness,

nor the destruction that wastes at noonday.

                      A thousand may fall at your side,

ten thousand at your right hand,

but it will not come near you.

                      You will only look with your eyes

and see the recompense of the wicked.

                      Because you have made the Lord your dwelling place—

the Most High, who is my refuge—

            10          no evil shall be allowed to befall you,

no plague come near your tent.

            11          For he will command his angels concerning you

to guard you in all your ways.

            12          On their hands they will bear you up,

lest you strike your foot against a stone.

            13          You will tread on the lion and the adder;

the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot.

This could lead one to think that no danger will ever befall me. But we must not read these promises as absolute and disregard the remainder of the Scripture. Consider the life of Christ, himself. He was arrested, falsely accused, beaten, then crucified. He himself promised we would have trouble in this world.  We have the book of Job and Ecclesiastes as well as the Psalms and Proverbs.

Our reading of the Scripture must be of the whole, not isolated parts. Read alone without reference to whole could lead to despair or presumption; the twin dangers which the Devil has sought to exploit in the first two temptations.

Christ’s defense to the Devil’s misuse of Scripture was more Scripture.

What this means for our application is that our knowledge of the Scripture must be more complete. I do not recall the precise reference, but I recall reading in Chrysostom an admonition to the congregation that they go out unarmed, because they do not know the Scripture.

[1] Matthew 4:7 (ESV) “Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’ ””

[2] James 4:5 (ESV)  “Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, ‘He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us’?” Andrews takes the proposition used in the particular in James, do you suppose this one particular statement is of “no purpose,”, i.e., vain and applies it generally. This is an appropriate use of the passage, because the specific application presumes the general. If the Scripture could speak in vain, then the particular instance could be vain. However if the Scripture always speaks to purpose, then all particular instances speak to purpose.

[3] John 10:35 (ESV) “If he called them gods to whom the word of God came—and Scripture cannot be broken—” I am not sure where Andrews got the word “disappointed.” It is possible conceptually to obtain “fail” as an idea related to the Greek verb used in this place: the verb means to untie, to loose, to set free, to destroy. So one could see a metaphorical use which would have the connotation of “disappoint.” But the word “broken” was used going back to Tyndale, and was used in the Geneva.

[4] The “sword of the Spirit”. Eph. 6:17.

[5] The argument runs thus, The Scripture cannot fail in its effect. The Devil quotes from the Bible and says to Jesus, “Do you really believe this promise that you will be hurt if you fall?” The Devil seems to have caught Jesus in a dilemma.

[6] The passage reads:  “For they all wanted to frighten us, thinking, “Their hands will drop from the work, and it will not be done.” But now, O God, strengthen my hands. 10 Now when I went into the house of Shemaiah the son of Delaiah, son of Mehetabel, who was confined to his home, he said, “Let us meet together in the house of God, within the temple. Let us close the doors of the temple, for they are coming to kill you. They are coming to kill you by night.” 11 But I said, “Should such a man as I run away? And what man such as I could go into the temple and live? I will not go in.” 12 And I understood and saw that God had not sent him, but he had pronounced the prophecy against me because Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him.” When Nehemiah first heard considered the words might come from God he was concerned. But upon understanding that this was not God’s word to him, he put it aside. By analogy: The Devil’s use of Scripture gives the appearance of being a word from God, but it was a misuse of the text.

[7] Latin, what is said.

[8] Latin, What is believed. The source is quoted by Calvin in the Institutes: “At longe aliter de Verbo sacramentali docet Augustinus (hom. in Ioann. 13.): ‘Accedat, inquit, verbum ad ele mentum, et fiet sacramentum. Unde enim ista tanta virtus aquae ut corpus tangat, et cor abluat, nisi faciente verbo? non quia dicitur, sed quia creditur. Nam et in ipso verbo aliud est sonus transiens, aliud virtus manens. Hoc est verbum fidei quod praedicamus, inquit Apostolus (Rom. 10:8.). Unde in Actis Apostolorum, Fide mundans corda eorum (Act. 15:9.). Et Petrus Apostolus, Sic et nos Baptisma salvos facit, non depositio sordium carnis, sed conscientiae bonae interrogalio (1 Petr. 3:21.). Hoc est verbum fidei quod praedicamus: quo sine dubio, ut mundare possit, consecratur et Baptismus.’” John Calvin, Institutio Christianae Religionis, vol. 2 (Berolini: Gustavum Eichler, 1834), 352. “Far different is the teaching of Augustine concerning the sacramental word: ‘Let the word be added to the element and it will become a sacrament. For whence comes this great power of water, that in touching the body it should cleanse the heart, unless the word makes it? Not because it is said, but because it is believed. In the word itself the fleeting sound is one thing; the power remaining, another. ‘This is the word of faith which we proclaim,’ says the apostle [Rom. 10:8]. Accordingly, in The Acts of the Apostles: ‘Cleansing their hearts by faith’ [Acts 15:9]. And the apostle Peter: ‘Thus baptism … saves us, not as a removal of filth from the flesh, but as an appeal … for a good conscience …’ [1 Peter 3:21 p.]. ‘This is the word of faith which we proclaim’ [Rom. 10:8], by which doubtless baptism, that it may be able to cleanse, is also consecrated.’” John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion & 2, ed. John T. McNeill, trans. Ford Lewis Battles, vol. 1, The Library of Christian Classics (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2011), 1279.

[9] Acts 19:13–16 (ESV) “13 Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists undertook to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “I adjure you by the Jesus whom Paul proclaims.” 14 Seven sons of a Jewish high priest named Sceva were doing this. 15 But the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?” 16 And the man in whom was the evil spirit leaped on them, mastered all of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.”

[10] The name of Jesus was not a magic word, which merely saying commands evil spirits.

[11] The words of Scripture are not magic. They are used by the Spirit when received by faith.

[12] One would think that the response to be presented with a proposition from Scripture and being told, do you believe this? Would respond with, “You have misinterpreted the passage. It does not mean what you say it means.” The “tradition of elders” means an authoritative interpretation of the most respected teachers. A “gloss” means an explanatory paraphrase. A “shift” would be something else which would “shift” the basis of the proposition.

[13] The metaphor is based upon Jesus’ words in Matthew 7:15 that false prophets will come “in sheep’s clothing”, i.e., disguised as a sheep and thus a true follower. Andrews means, that just because a false prophet comes in sheep’s clothing is no reason to give up the flock. More particularly, just because you are defined by the Scripture, it does not mean that you should give up the Scripture when it is misused by someone. A present application of this proposition would be found in those who some proposition out of the Bible which appears to either contradict the rest of Scripture or which makes the Bible sound unfair or unjust. In response, rather than permitting the Bible to defend itself, we run to some other source of authority.

[14] 2 Corinthians 3:4–6 (ESV) “Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. 5 Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, 6 who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.”

[15] The Devil’s misuses the Scripture is no reason for Christ to abandon the Scripture.

[16] The Corinthian church had broken up into factions which each claimed they were followers of a particular teacher, such as Paul, or Apollos, or Peter. The letter addresses this ungodly fracturing.

[17] An “allegation” here does not mean an accusation in a legal document which has yet to be proved, but rather an assertion.

[18] Andrews here lays down a rule of interpretation. Scripture is not to be read in such a way that one text trumps another: like hammering a nail on a nail drives the bottom nail out of the wood. This can happen when one reads the Bible as if it were a series of separate books which have been cobbled together, the books with different ends and different authors. Rather, the Scripture is to be read as a consistent harmony. We cannot take Scripture out of context, and in the end, the context is the entire Bible. This principle was set forth in the Westminster Confession as follows: “VII. All things in scripture are not alike plain in themselves, nor alike clear unto all;p yet those things which are necessary to be known, believed, and observed, for salvation, are so clearly propounded and opened in some place of scripture or other, that not only the learned, but the unlearned, in a due use of the ordinary means, may attain unto a sufficient understanding of them.” Westminster Assembly, The Westminster Confession of Faith: Edinburgh Edition (Philadelphia: William S. Young, 1851), 19.

[19] Here the ESV reads:

Psalm 91:11–14 (ESV)

                  11               For he will command his angels concerning you

to guard you in all your ways.  The Geneva has “to kepe thee in all thy ways” as does the Matthew’s translation. The difference between Andrews and the Geneva or Matthews is “to keep him” and “to keep you.”

[20] This is an interesting reading of the verse: the verse was not a promise that the angels would protect no matter the psalmist did (here referring to the Messiah). But the protection was afforded for him being where he was called to be.

[21] He compares the Devil’s speech to one tuning a stringed instrument: The Devil can twist the string however much he desires so that it will play the note he wishes to obtain, that is, he can make words sound however he wishes them to sound.

[22] 2 Peter 3:14–16 (ESV)  “14 Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace. 15 And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, 16 as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures.” The Devil can even twist Scripture to a bad end.

[23] Rather than demonstrate that the Devil has misapplied the Scripture in place here, Christ has chosen a different form of response by referencing other Scripture to show that Scripture as a whole must be read in harmony.

[24] Any area of knowledge consists of basic principles or axioms which are taken as certain. From those basic principles other propositions may be determined by means of deduction.

[25] Deuteronomy 8:1–3 (ESV) “The whole commandment that I command you today you shall be careful to do, that you may live and multiply, and go in and possess the land that the Lord swore to give to your fathers. And you shall remember the whole way that the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not. And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.”

[26] Deuteronomy 6:16 (ESV) “You shall not put the Lord your God to the test, as you tested him at Massah.”  Andrews is underscoring not merely that Jesus is reading the Bible as a harmony, but even the two verses he has quoted so far in response to the first two temptations are part of the same exhortation to the Israelites in the wilderness. First, God tested them so that they would learn they need to live upon God and not merely upon physical objects, like bread. God is the God of bread. Second, they should not “test” God by complaining that God is not meeting their immediate demands.

[27] Jeremiah 17:5 (ESV)

                                  Thus says the Lord:

                                    “Cursed is the man who trusts in man

and makes flesh his strength,

whose heart turns away from the Lord.”

[28] Habakkuk 1:16 (ESV)

                  16               Therefore he sacrifices to his net

and makes offerings to his dragnet;

                                    for by them he lives in luxury,

and his food is rich.

Their “yarn” would be the line they used to make their net.

[29] Job 31:24–28 (ESV)

                  24               “If I have made gold my trust

or called fine gold my confidence,

                  25               if I have rejoiced because my wealth was abundant

or because my hand had found much,

                  26               if I have looked at the sun when it shone,

or the moon moving in splendor,

                  27               and my heart has been secretly enticed,

and my mouth has kissed my hand,

                  28               this also would be an iniquity to be punished by the judges,

for I would have been false to God above.

[30] We must not understand the things in the world as having an efficacy in-and-of themselves. Food does not support our life because food has it in itself to support life, but because God has caused food to support our life. This is not to deny the reality or usefulness of food (for instance), but to understand that food is a creation and is subject to the Creator:  “God in his ordinary providence maketh use of means, yet is free to work without, above, and against them, at his pleasure.” Westminster Assembly, The Westminster Confession of Faith: Edinburgh Edition, Chapter 5.3 (Philadelphia: William S. Young, 1851), 35.

[31] There must be a proper basis for any conclusion.

[32] Two points: First, we must not think that God’s power is limited to the use of means. God can work without means. Second, we must not think God is weak because he uses means.

[33] The Devil chose his text to tempt Jesus by using one of the most comforting passages among all of the Psalms.

[34] When we are in such a “ticklish” place, dangerous place, Jesus gives the proper way to respond. It is not a time for arguing.

[35] It would be easy to take certain texts, such as those which speak of God’s love and mercy out of the context of the entire Bible. God is a God mercy, but equally a God of justice. We are given the Psalms for comfort and the Law for direction.

[36] Luke 12:49 (ESV) “I came to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindled!”

[37] If we find ourselves beset by distrust of God, it can act to quench faith, like water being poured on a fire.

[38] Presumption is a misuse of faith. Bringing presumption to faith is like bringing gunpowder to a fire.

[39] At this time, the greater problem is presuming upon the grace of God, rather than being fearful that God will hold anyone to account.