Lent Week 1 Readings: Deuteronomy 26:1-11, Psalm 91:1-2, 9-16, Romans 10:8b-13, Luke 4:1-13
1 John 2:15-17 sums up well the temptations the world offers: “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life”. John is blunt, we cannot love these cravings and say we love God. Theologian Dallas Willard notes temptation becomes sin when we inwardly decide to do the deed, even though we may not actually do it. We are not to live this way. Instead we are to choose to do the will of God (v17).
It is not useful nor honest to think we are above temptation. We are not. In fact, it is worse than that, we have tasted the desires of the world, and we love it. Given our weakness, it is with wonder we read of Jesus’ strength when he faces temptation (Luke 4:1-13). Fatigued by hunger from 40 days of fasting, encountering the face of evil itself, the Devil, Jesus is tempted and triumphs. He chooses the will of God.
We might seek tips and techniques to form our own strategies. Do we use scripture like Jesus to defeat temptation? Yet the Devil uses scripture to tempt. The Bible alone is not enough. We might tell ourselves Jesus defeats temptation because he was divine. We are probably wrong in the sense we mean. Jesus, we are told, surrenders “godlike” powers (Phil 2). Yet we are close to the truth. Jesus defeats temptation because he lives by the power and presence of God. Our text begins (Luke 4:1) “Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness.” We need more than our will, tips, techniques and even the bible itself to defeat temptation. Like Jesus we need the power and presence of the Spirit of God.
During Lent we experience testing by saying no to something we love. At a human level this builds discipline and self-control. But that is not the intent of Lent. Lent offers the opportunity to learn to live like Jesus, led by the Spirit. Whether you are on a Lent fast or not, if we hunger for more victory and power in our lives, this is how we triumph.