Summary: It is not a sin to be tempted so don't let the devil accuse you; Jesus was tempted, but he did not give in; With the help of the Holy Spirit and God-centred common sense, we can resist the devil too.

Luke 4: 1-13 - 17th February 2013 -1st Sunday in Lent

Overcoming temptation

There are many ways in which we are different to Jesus.

For example - He was completely good.

He could perform miracles.

He did absolutely nothing for himself

but gave himself completely to helping others.

Another way in which Jesus was different from us

is in the area of temptation,

because as far as we know, the devil only tempted Jesus 3 times,

and on one particular day,

whereas he tempts us many times,

and every day of our lives.

The devil is not stupid, but on the other hand he has his limitations.

He is not omniscient, knowing everything, as only God is.

He is not omnipotent, having all power, as only God is.

He is not omnipresent, being everywhere at the same time, as only God is.

There is nothing that God cannot do,

but Satan's attempts to sidetrack Jesus and divert him from his course failed.

Satan tried to undermine Jesus, believing he actually could do that,

but he had to give up when he found he couldn't,

but the devil knows that we are different to Jesus;

much weaker, and without any of the divine attributes Jesus possessed,

so he will not give up on us so easily.

Until our dying day the devil will exploit our weaknesses, our prejudices,

our guilt, our doubts,

our assurance of forgiveness, and our place in God's heart and family,

and God allows hi to do this,

but only for a time,

in order to strengthen our faith and dependence on Him,

but God will never permit the devil to lure us away from Him,

providing we cling to Him by faith.

The devil will only stop tempting, testing and tormenting us,

when he either knows we are completely holy and sanctified,

or when he knows he has us.

As the Bible seems to suggest that we will only be completely holy and sanctified

when we are dead and in the presence of the Lord,

that means we must either fight the devil every day,

or give in, as so many have done,

and while giving in,

taking the wide and easy road

rather than the straight and narrow one

will be easier in many ways,

we know that its consequences are terrible,

for if we give in to sin and never repent,

we will lose everything that Christ gained for us

by his suffering and death.

Adam and Eve were created with some amount of free will

because if they could NOT have decided to eat the forbidden fruit

then it would have been pointless for God to tell them not to east it,

and if they were DESTINED to eat it,

it would have been unfair for God to punish them for doing it,

and God should not have thrown them out of the Garden.

But the Bible says He did, and He can do no wrong,

so Adam and Eve, and every one of us must have free will

and therefore deserve reward when we do right

and punishment when we do wrong,

even though God, knowing everything, knows in advance what we will do.

Jesus was God incarnate through Mary.

He was wholly God and wholly man in one body.

In his divine nature, as a member of the Holy Trinity,

Jesus knew what the Father required of him,

but in his human nature, as the son of Mary,

he could have been disobedient,

which is why the devil tempted him.

Last Wednesday was Ash Wednesday,

so we are now in Lent, and in the run-up to Good Friday and Easter

we remember the testing and temptation of Jesus

immediately after he was baptised.

He was tempted at other times, but not directly by the devil.

For example, when he was transfigured along with Moses and Elijah,

when Peter offered to build tents for the 3 of them,

there must have been a temptation to stop there

and rest on his laurels in what people call 'a comfort zone',

but he did not.

And just before he was arrested,

he could have ran away and hid,

and lived to a ripe old age,

but he didn't.

Even fully aware of what would happen to him,

he was obedient to his Father,

prepared to suffer in many ways and even go to the cross for us.

Jesus had free will and he obeyed God,

and in Romans St Paul gives us the assurance

that nothing can separate us from the love of God,

neither death nor life, nor angels or demons,

neither height nor depth,

nor anything in creation,

providing we fight against temptation

and stay close to Him.

If God is for us, it does not matter who is against us.

We are more than conquerors,

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