Key verse:
So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord.

Deuteronomy 8:3 NKJV

What to do to live the right way?

What do you live by? What do you cling too? What I ask you today is this: what is the creed by which you live? Creed: a set of beliefs or aims that guide someone’s actions. I am of the belief that everybody lives by some kind of creed (code). Everybody has a compass that steers them in their actions. Are you living the right way?

When we take a look at the key verse for today’s sermon, the saying towards the end should sound very familiar to you. “Man shall not live by bread alone,” is a saying that I think most people are familiar with. These are the same exact words that Jesus said to Satan when the devil was tempting Jesus in the wilderness (Luke 4:1-4). When Satan tempted Jesus at the end of His 40 day fast, Satan said to Jesus, “If You are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread (Luke 4:3).” Jesus’ response to Him was short but direct, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.’” This “saying” is a creed by which we, the believer, should take up and live by! Oh, how we would be living if we truly understood what is being said here in this statement.

This statement is one that the Israelites had to also understand as well – let’s take a look at why they had to learn this lesson. I have recently done a bible study on what led to the children of Israel wandering the wilderness which I feel you should also consider reading. In the wilderness, the children of Israel suffered from the failure of an entire generation. Their failure: not trusting in the Lord to enter into the Promised Land when they were at Kadesh. I often remind people that we should think of the Promised Land as a blessing because that’s exactly how the children of Israel should have thought of the land. The error was not trusting in the Lord and not accepting His gift (blessing).

This lack of faith led to the children of Israel having to wander in the wilderness for 40 years so that the failing generation would pass. God says (Deuteronomy 8:2) that this was done to humble the people. The people, instead of trusting in God, was trusting in their own thoughts on entering into the Promised Land. One of the things that we suffer from today is our own thought. What do I mean by this?

Often times, what we “think we know” gets in the way of us receiving our blessing from the Lord. God shows us a path to walk, but we look at that path and think to ourselves, “that path looks awfully dangerous. Let me go and see if I can find a ‘better’ way to go.” God looks for us to trust in His guidance, but too often we turn from His guidance to go with what we “think” is best. The lesson that the children of Israel had to learn is two-fold. First: you don’t know everything – especially not more than the Lord. Second: trust in the Lord over yourself or anybody else! God wanted the children of Israel to live the right way, according to Him (His way), and not by the way of anybody or anything else.

This fascinates me because trusting in the Lord’s way is something we always hear about and know about, but we struggle mightily with trusting in the way of God. For mankind, the idea of what is “right” is subjective – a matter of opinion. What may be right to my brother, may not exactly sound like it’s right to me. This is actually something we see play out all the time in our politics. What someone else may consider to be “right” may not be right to you. There are many who believe they know the right way to live, but to say this would mean that they know absolutely everything there is to know about living. Frankly, we have no idea what is right and what is wrong; we “think” we know.

God’s knowledge is far superior to mankind’s knowledge; it should be because He is Lord over all things! We fall into deep trouble when we start to believe that we are smarter than God! Israel fell into this trouble and so the Lord taught them a lesson through humbling them (bring them down). In wandering the wilderness for 40 years, the children of Israel were either going to learn to trust in the Lord or fail. We see that the younger generation learned the very important lesson in the next scripture – our key verse.

In Deuteronomy 8:3, we see that the children of Israel were humbled. They were made to hunger but I want you to notice that they did not go hungry – manna was provided for them to eat. So, the children of Israel learned to trust in the Lord’s guidance but to also trust in the Lord’s providence!  Like the Israelites, we must learn to trust in the Lord’s guidance and in His providence. After teaching the children of Israel this lesson, God says to them, “[now] you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord.” What does this mean for us?

I want to point out how the gospel of John opens – pay close attention:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

John 1:1 NKJV

The Word of God is spoken of as a person. John tells us that the Word was with God and was God. Now notice what John says about the Word in this next scripture:

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

John 1:14 NKJV

The Word was God and became flesh and dwelt among its people. The Word of God, I tell you, is the Son of God – the Messiah (or Christ). Jesus is the Word! The Lord tells us that we should not live by bread alone but by His word. Christ taught us the way that we should live and we should live by the way that He set! If you want to live the right way, I tell you that you should live by the Word of God.

Living by the bread and living wrongly

The apostle Peter thought that living by the sword was a good and right way to live, and so I want to talk about him for a brief moment. In Luke 22:35-38, Jesus teaches the disciples about having means of protection when they were out ministering. In this passage of scripture, the disciples notice two swords that they were able to get and Jesus says to them, “it is enough”. I find it interesting that Jesus considered that two swords were enough protection for the twelve disciples. Jesus’ thoughts on the swords, I feel, are better shown in something that would happen later with He and the disciples.

When the soldiers would arrive to arrest Jesus, prior to His crucifixion, Peter drew his sword and cut off the ear of Malchus. Jesus rebuked Peter, saying, “put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword.” There is a very valuable lesson that Peter had to learn here and there is one that we also must learn as well. We have to be wary of what it is we choose to cling too (live by). In this instance, Peter was living by the sword, and there are many of us who, today, live by their weapons. Others may live by their wealth or even their hunger, but we must be careful that we don’t put these things ahead of the Lord’s way and start living (clinging) to those things.

What Peter had to learn that day was something that we could especially use in our time now – living by a higher virtue. It is one thing to have the sword, but one must know how to control himself when he has that sword. You may say, “Preacher, Peter was simply protecting himself and Jesus from the soldiers.” Nothing sounds wrong about this at first, but let’s consider that the soldiers had not drawn their weapons on Jesus or the disciples. Peter was not defending himself at this moment but was actually going on the offensive to strike these men down. Peter was clinging to that sword as if his life was dependent on it; his life was actually not being threatened at that moment. Not only that but had he forgotten who Jesus was? Jesus stood in the midst of trouble calmly and at peace.

Peter, later in his life, would write that we should diligently add virtue to our faith (2 Peter 1:5). I believe virtue is something that is greatly missing in our country today. Virtue is missing from those of us who call ourselves Christians as well. If we are not living by the bread of the world and are living by every word of God, we should be virtuous people! Our walk should be virtuous. Our talk should be virtuous. So why are we not a virtuous people? Are we living the right way? What is your creed? What do you live by?

Virtue: morals; the standards by which one lives. When you hear about people who are considered “virtuous”, they are typically being praised for the way in which they carry themselves. When I say that we, the believers of Christ, ought to be a virtuous people, I say that in the hopes that all of us look to become better than what we currently are. I believe we should strive to improve ourselves each and every day. God asks us to live the right way, and you should know that the Lord considers all of His ways right. Everything opposite of the Lord’s way, though you may think it is good, is considered sin.

God’s standards are high; His way is high and righteous. Therefore, if you follow in His way you will live by a higher standard and be a virtuous person. You should be a role model to living the right way.  The Lord’s way includes having faith, yes, but also includes loving all people and being meek (lowly) and humble. To live as God would have us to live, we cannot live by the bread of the world. We must learn to live the right way. This will certainly not happen overnight, but if we don’t put forth the effort, it will not happen at all.  Again I ask, what is your creed?

Will you continue to live by the bread of the world or will you choose to live by every word of God?  See what good comes to you by choosing to live by His every word.  Watch how you will become a vessel of His, bear good fruit, and become an example of living the right way all because you live by His word.

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