Just Say "No!"
The Christian practice of Lent is borrowed from Jesus' 40 days of fasting after he was baptized. The Scriptures tell us that right after his baptism, the Holy Spirit led him into the desert, where he fasted for forty days and forty nights. After this fast, he was hungry and that's where the Tempter stepped in and began to tempt Jesus!
In Jesus' hour of weakness, vulnerability and human frailty, the Tempter sought to break Jesus' allegiance with God by asking Jesus to act in ways that were contrary to God's design and desire for humanity.
This was not the first time the Tempter had done this. It was the second time. The first time was with the first man and first woman in the Garden of Eden. The progenitors of humanity were put to the test and they fell.
Now, again, he came to the second man, who was woman and man personified. If he could cause this one to 'sway' from God's directives, all hope would be lost for humanity.
Thank God, he failed! But it wasn't easy.
The Bible described the Tempter as the 'most cunning of all of God's creatures' and his skill is deeply lodged in how he 'twists,' 'bends' and 'shades' God's word to suit his own purposes.
He even tried to twist the Word Incarnate himself!
Thankfully, the Word himself is Wisdom personified and thus has a correct understanding of God's Word, to counteract the false interpretation that was based upon the true word (Satan is sneaky! He knows that if he changes the word, he will be easily detected. So he doesn't change the word, he only misinterprets it and asks us to act based upon that misinterpretation!).
But the Tempter doesn't only tempt with God's Word.
In Jesus' betrayal, we saw that one of his closest disciples, the one who betrayed him, was motivated by greed - a desire that welled from deep inside of him. James 1:14 says,
"...each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed."
But Jesus also taught us that the Devil asks permission of God to tempt us!
This is clearly demonstrated in the case of Job, where the LORD permits Satan to tempt Job!
We also see that temptation takes many different forms and approaches to include:
- offering to improve our statuses if we act contrary to God's Word (appeals to our pride)
- offering to satisfy our need, greed, lust and thirst for 'more' (appeals to our lack of restraint)
- robbing and depriving us of our rights (attempts to turn us against God and others)
- Because Jesus was satisfied being whatever God had made him to be. He had no desire for further elevated status, because he knew he already possessed the greatest status of all - he was the image and likeness of God! Same as we, and it doesn't get any better than that! He IS already somebody, ain't no offer can make Him better!
- Because Jesus would not use his need to justify activity God says is wrong
- Because Jesus knew God hated and therefore, corrected when people's rights are contravened. Thus, he did not (need to) turn against God or hate others.
Only God can give us a hope beyond the damage to our earthly comforts and securities that the enemy threatens, jeopardizes and attacks.
Only God can bring healing where the Evil One has damaged or compromised our spiritual, physical, financial, mental and emotional health.
Hence, Jesus taught us to pray and deliberately ask God not to give the Tempter permission to tempt us.
Jesus even went further to show us that he, God, prays for us so that we do not succumb when tempted.
But the most beautiful part of God's is that He actually also presents a way out of every temptation for us, so that our only option isn't to do as we are tempted to do.
In this Lenten period,
- may we remember to ask the LORD to not allow us be tempted...
- may we remember and take comfort in the knowledge He prays for us in our hour of temptation
- may we remember He provides help and way out when we are tempted
Prayer: LORD, we thank you that no temptation has ever befallen man that You do not have a way out for. Help us to always remember that You are the God Who loved us enough to die for us, and that nothing could ever separate us from Your love. Give us a good understanding of Your Word and a steadfast trust in You, that plays out in a devotion and love for You and our neighbors. We pray these things, in Jesus name!