‘I can resist anything apart from temptation.’ So, wrote Oscar Wilde. As we begin the time of year in the churches calendar known as Lent, many people will decide to do without something as a way of acknowledging the 40 days and nights Jesus spent in the wilderness. Some may miss a meal, others a treat, yet others will take something on to replace that which they are giving up; such as, less TV and more reading. I remember as a young teacher regularly relying on two double Kit Kats eaten in the morning break to help me survive until lunch. One day I felt a question come into my heart; what am I relying more on for support – God or chocolate? Convicted, I began some self-denial and more conversation with the Holy Spirit.
We all have times when we’re feeling tired, lonely and challenged … ‘wilderness moments’. When we reach this point we often become weak, vulnerable and open to making mistakes we may later regret. A look at the auto biographical account of Jesus in the wilderness can give us all some very clear guidelines on how to handle just such challenges. I call it the ‘Jesus Model’.
The first thing to recognise is that God never tempts. Challenge, yes; tempt, no. The purpose of temptation is to draw us into a situation where we will feel a failure and question our character. The only one who will ever want to undermine us like that is the enemy himself, so we must not allow him that satisfaction. Temptation is not a sin but how we respond to it may be. The devil tempted Jesus when he knew he was vulnerable to try and trap him and he was persistent. If Jesus faced temptation, then so will we so perhaps a brief look at how Jesus ‘faced him down’ would be helpful.
If we have placed our trust in Jesus Christ and believe in why he came to earth then:
Your sins have been forgiven – Colossians 1:v14,
You are free from condemnation- Romans 8:v1,
You cannot be separated from the love of God – Romans 8:v35,
You are a child of God – John 1:v12,
The evil one cannot harm you – 1 John 5:v18,
God is your shield and your rock – Psalm 18,
God is your provider – Psalm 23,
God is our help in times of trouble – Psalm 46,
God is in control – Psalm 97,
God watches over you – Psalm 121,
God is always with us – Psalm 139 and literally hundreds more!
Why not ‘fast to feast’ this Lent. Give something up to create time and space to focus on the promises of God in the Bible so you can fight temptation like Jesus did. Read, pray, play a worship CD, join us at Sycamore Hall, Bainbridge, on a Wednesday night in Lent at 7pm for a time with the Bible?
With God’s blessing
Rev Dave Clark
Vicar of the Benefice of Upper Wensleydale