Lent is here again and it’s a different feeling from Christmas and Epiphany. The mood is now somber but we still have a lot to think about. For most people, Lent involves denying oneself from our favourite food, chocolates, drinks etc. So we begin this first Sunday in Lent, by having an inside look and consider again how Jesus overcame three temptations with God’s word. Contained in this week’s Gospel reading is also the secret to overcoming the various temptations we face daily either through the media, or through friends or even in our own thoughts. But before we can understand and look again at the temptations of Jesus as we have done year by year, I would like to bring our attention to the passage in the book of Romans. The book of Romans tells us that we as believers are under a new management. Formerly when we disobeyed God, we all ran at a loss, loss of God’s blessings, our debts of sin mounted, and we stared death and hell in the face. But Jesus came to rescue us, overcoming temptation himself and through his death has brought us under his new management where we can trust him and be safe from the devil’s grip.
Once we were slaves under God’s wrath but now because of his Son, Jesus, God now calls us sons and daughters and has adopted us into the world-wide family and because of Jesus, we bear his name and share in all that concerns him. So being children of God under this new management implies three things.
Firstly: Obedience. As sons and daughters , we are meant to obey our father and say when tempted, “get thee behind me Satan”, so that through each victory we experience we can become more like him our father. Paul tells us that by the help of the Holy Spirit we are able to obey and to say no to the urges that arise from our fallen nature, no to sin. We are able to say yes to the things that please God our Father. Everyone of us must deal daily with issues of right and wrong/good and evil. When struggling with these issues there is a tendency to rationalize behaviour and compromise God’s standard. But only by obedience can we get the blessings we pray for.
Secondly: there is a privilege. We have gained the privilege of being adopted into God’s family and so we learn the language of that family and through the Holy Spirit we are able to pray Abba, Father, using the same words that Jesus himself did. Can we imagine having such a privilege of an adopted child? Like the song says, “Father God I wonder how I managed to exist without the knowledge of your parenthood and your loving care, but not I am your child and I am adopted in your family and I can never be alone cause Father God you’re there beside me and I CAN NEVER BE ALONE cause Father God you’re there beside me…..” That’s our privilege.
Third: we have an inheritance. Every child expects to inherit their parent’s property or gifts, and so in like manner, with us being children of God, we hope for that inheritance that will be ours someday in heaven. The Bible calls us heirs of the kingdom/co=heirs with Christ. So when we consider these three points, our obedience to his Word, the privilege we and the inheritance we have in Christ, then we can begin to understand why Satan tempted Jesus and still tempts us too. He knew who Jesus was and that’s why he said, “if you are the Son of God…” and his technique hasn’t changed, he will try to confuse us by dressing up disobedience to God in subtle, attractive ways. He might say to us for example, you are special to God so don’t hesitate to enjoy yourself because God’s gifts are given to you.
The Bible calls his the deceiver of the brethren and so we must be watchful in prayer always. If Satan the supreme personification of evil, referred variously as the devil or the tempter, or Satan angel tossed out from heaven could tempt Jesus the creator of the world, God’s own son, then he’ll tempt us too. He will use different approaches, but if we rely on the word of God and have a daily desire to follow and obey God each step of the way, we too will be victorious. As believers we will be tempted every day that’s why the Bible tells us in Ephesians 6 from verse 11, to “put on the whole armour of God that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.”
Knowing our identity as sons and daughters of God, we can trust in God for all we need and rely on his word as assurance. As we look today at the temptations we see Jesus’ response to every temptation was not only in his ability to resist but in his allegiance to God, through the Holy Spirit. Jesus responded to each of the devil’s temptations by quoting a passage from Scripture, specifically the Book of Deuteronomy, thereby showing that Jesus relied upon and obeyed the Word of God.
Luke adds in verse 13 that the devil, knowing he had been defeated, waited “until an opportune time” implying that the devil returned later in the story, which he indeed did, not only entering into Judas and testing Peter, but also testing Jesus once again at Gethsemane.
For us brothers and sisters, let us remember that because we are under God’s new management, Paul assures us like he did the Christians in Corinth, that God will faithfully stand by us throughout our trials: “No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13). So let us rest assured in him and be watchful with his Word as a guard over our mouths so that when the devil comes with whatever schemes, we will be able to say “away with you Satan, you defeated foe.” Amen