Living by the Word
In a previous study we learnt that the Lord allowed the children of Israel to suffer hunger so that they may know that man does not live by bread alone but by every word of God. When the Lord Jesus Christ was in the wilderness being tempted of the devil, He quoted Deuteronomy 8:3 when He was challenged to turn the stones into bread. Whenever you set out to do something in obedience to God the devil will always try to bring up your limitations and show you how inadequate you are. You see the devil took advantage of Jesus' condition and challenged Him to turn the stone into bread to prove His abilities. The Lord Jesus however refused to take the challenge for He knew that His sufficiency was not in Himself but in the Father. He answered,
Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.Matthew 4:4 (NKJV)
Everyday the Lord expects you to live by His word. He said that man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. The word live as used in this verse comes from the Greek word zao which means the maintenance of physical life. It's the same word used in 1 Cor 9:14 which says,"Even so the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel." So God expects every church going Christian who's benefiting from a ministry spiritually to give an offering. He also said in Galatians 6:6, "Let him who is taught the word share in all good things with him who teaches." So the Lord expects you to support the ministers of His word in your church, for He has ordained that they will be nourished from there. That was a side thought, lets get back to Matthew 4:4. The word bread as used in our text comes from the Greek word artos which means all the necessities that are needed to sustain life. This word is therefore inclusive of everything that man needs to live here on earth, be it food, clothing, shelter, good health, peace, and anything else that makes life sustainable.
If we shall not live by these things alone, what then are we going to live by? Jesus said, "by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God." Now the word "word" comes from the Greek word rhema, which means that which is spoken. This is every instruction from God. Then it means that man shall not maintain his physical life by the necessities for the sustenance of life alone but by every instruction from God. It also means that if man is to continue living he will have to continue hearing instructions from God. As we found out in our previous study, the Lord certainly doesn't expect us to live without food and all other things that are needed for this life. He actually sees to it that they are available when needed as long as we are following His instructions. Then in John 6:27 the Lord Jesus told the Jews not to labor for the food which perishes. They were instead to labor for the food which endures to everlasting life, which He would give them because God the Father set His seal on Him.
It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.John 6:63 (KJV)
The word quicken means to make alive, and Jesus said that it's the spirit that makes one alive not the flesh. Leviticus 17:11 says that the life of the flesh is in the blood. A body cannot live without blood. It's the blood that takes nutrients and oxygen to all the body organs and helps in cleaning the waste. Without most other organs the body can still function but it can't function at all without the blood. So then what makes the flesh/body alive is the blood. Without a good flow of it the body will die. But then Jesus said that the spirit is what makes one alive, not the flesh. Man must be more than flesh then. Man is not a living thing, he is a living being with a living thing called a body. The Apostle Paul said that he disciplined his body and put it under subjection. (1 Cor 9:27). Paul must not have been his body, otherwise he would have said "I discipline myself and put myself under subjection." He also talked of remaining in the flesh in Philippians 1:24, which means that he was not his flesh.
Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.1 Thessalonians 5:23 (NKJV)
Man is a spirit being, possessing a soul and living in a body. With the spirit man can interact with the spirit realm, with the soul one can express themselves in the intellectual and emotional realm and with the flesh one can interact with the material world. By the way the spirit and the soul are not one and the same for the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit…(Hebrews 4:12) If they can be divided then they must not be the same. However they exist together just like fire and heat or water and wetness. If you see fire somewhere you can be sure to expect heat and if you pour water somewhere you can be sure to expect wetness. The same is true with the spirit and the soul. Another word that is commonly used in the Bible to imply spirit is the heart and another word that is used for the soul is the mind.
So now the Lord Jesus Christ said that what really matters in a man is the spirit and the life of a man is contained in his spirit. Man does not get his life from his flesh but from his spirit and what gives life to the spirit is the word of God. The word of God is spiritual food and it is to be received in the spirit. For a Christian to imagine that they can live without the word is like trying to live without food in the physical. It simply cannot work. Since the life of a man is in the spirit, if the spirit is properly nourished it will affect the soul and the flesh. That's the way life ought to be, and that is Jesus said that man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God. It's also the reason why He told us not to labor for the food that perishes but for the food that endures to eternal life, and this food is His word.
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