Have you ever noticed that when you are making great strides to be closer to the Lord, the more Satan attacks you and tempts you in your weakest areas? Satan does not want us to mature in our Christian walk. He does not want us to become like Christ and be holy.
I don’t believe he is too worried when we go to church once a week and maybe attend a Bible study every now and then and read a devotional and say a short prayer once a day. But when we begin to allow Christ to transform us and we start listening and obeying Christ and spending more time praying, reading Scripture and sharing Christ with others, Satan brings out all his arsenal against us and he knows exactly where we are the weakest.
The gospel scripture this coming Sunday, the first Sunday of Lent, is Luke 14:1-13 where Jesus is filled with the Holy Spirit and led by the Spirit into the desert for forty days and while there, tempted by Satan. Satan knows that Jesus is about to begin His ministry to save mankind from their sins, so he goes on the attack. 1 John 2:16 says that we are tempted in three ways – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and pride of life (boasting of what we have and do). Jesus also was tempted in all three of these areas. First, Satan tried to get him to turn the stones into bread (the lust of the flesh). Second, Satan showed Jesus all the kingdoms of the world and offered him power and glory (lust of the eyes). Last, Satan tried to convince Jesus to throw himself off the parapet of the temple because he is God, the son, and the angels would protect him (Pride).
In our own life, when the temptations come our way (and they will), we can at least rest in the knowledge that Jesus understands what we are going through. As Hebrew 4:15 says, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet was without sin.” I don’t know about you, but that comforts me. Even when we fail and give in to the temptation, Jesus understands our weakness and is ready and willing to forgive us.
When reading all the Scriptures that are for this coming Sunday (Deuteronomy 26:4-10, Psalm 91, Romans 10:8-13 and Luke 4:1-13), I like to find a common theme that ties them all together for our growth and enlightenment. In Deuteronomy, when the Israelites needed help in their affliction, they called out to God and God heard their cry. In Psalm 91, it says, “I will be with him in distress; I will deliver him and glorify Him.” But the whole Psalm is about the Lord being with us in times of trouble. In Romans 10:8-13, the words, “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” jumps out at me because when Jesus was tempted, he used Scripture to answer Satan. “IT IS WRITTEN”!
James 4:7-8 says, “Submit yourselves, then to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you.
Ephesians 6:14-18 says, “Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occassions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.
Finally we need to remember, 1 Corinthians 10:13, No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”
Temptations will be a part of our life until Jesus brings us out of this world and brings us into the Promised Land, our home in Heaven. We need to stay alert, keep our eyes and hearts on Jesus, and hide his Word (Scripture) in our heart. That means we need to memorize Scripture. I think it would be a great habit to start this Lent season and to continue throughout this year and years to come – to memorize one verse a week.
Thank you, Lord for all your love and mercies. Glory be, to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now and shall be, world without end. Amen.