Struggling Against Temptation

2019-03-10 – Year C – Lent 1 – The Rev. Christopher M. Klukas

Deuteronomy 26:5–11; Psalm 91:9–16; Romans 10:4–13; Luke 4:1–13

  • Jenny Lake hike – 7.5 miles, we thought it was 2 miles!
  • Imagine what it must have been like for the Israelites to have been wandering in the wilderness for 40 years! It was a long, hard journey, filled with many temptations to turn back or to worship other Gods.

The Struggle of Holiness

  • Sometimes being a Christian is a very hard thing. It might seem as though being a Christian is about adhering to a set of impossible demands set forth by a detached God who simply sits back and watches us struggle.
  • The temptation to sin is a very real part of our lives on a daily basis. And sometimes we don’t do a very good job of holding up in the face of temptations.
    • Lent can intensify this feeling, both because it makes us aware of our own sinfulness, and because of the added temptation to break our Lenten disciplines.
  • God does not delight in our struggles, he delights in our victories over those struggles, when he sees us choose him over the cheap comforts of sin.
    • He weeps when he sees us hurting and in pain, but he has a wide grin of pride on his face when he sees his children prevail in the face of those struggles. When they don’t turn away from him despite all odds!
    • Ezek 33:10b-11

Why Does God Call us to be Holy?

  • But why even have the boundaries of morality in the first place? If all they do is cause us to struggle, and fail, and feel guilty about ourselves, why not simply change the rules?
    • It seems easy for God to make these rules while he is sitting up there in heaven, but what if he were down here with us, what if he could experience just how hard it is to walk in the ways that he has set out for us.
  • To this, I have two responses.
    • The first is that he has experienced all of this first hand! Hebrews 4:14–16.
    • The second response is that he has set up these rules for our own good. They are not arbitrary. He created the world, and he knows how it operates. Because of this, he should have a pretty good sense of what works and what doesn’t!
      • N. T. Wright – “The real answer to temptation is not ‘God will be [angry] if I do that’, but ‘if I do that, I will miss the best that my Father has for me’.”
  • God has set up the boundaries of morality for our own good, and he himself has entered into this creation, to experience it all, and give us the assurance that these boundaries are practical, even if we don’t want to believe it.

How Can we Prevail Against Sin?

  • How are we to prevail in the face of temptation? How are we to forge ahead when everything seems bleak?
    • The lesson from Deuteronomy talks about what is to happen on the other side, after the Israelites have made it to the promised land. When they get there, God requires that they offer the first fruits of that land back to him as a sacrifice.
    • Deuteronomy 26:1-4
    • You can imagine how the Israelites would feel after arriving at that point. They had struggled in the wilderness for 40 years! And now God wanted them to give back some of their first crops!
    • God was asking them to remember that it was he who got them through the wilderness and saved them from the bondage of their slavery in Egypt.
  • Similarly, it was God the Father who brought his Son, Jesus Christ, through his temptation in the wilderness. All of it was done on God’s strength, and that is the same strength that we can draw on in the face of temptation.
    • You are not alone!
  • Jesus uses scripture and prayer as his two weapons. These must also be our weapons.
    • Temptation comes from the enemy who is the chief of all liars. “[Satan] said to him, “To you I will give all this authority and their glory, for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.”” (Luke 4:6–7, ESV)
    • This is exactly what he wants, he wants to break our trust in our loving Father and to turn our love away from God and towards him.
    • Scripture and prayer are both ways that we can hear the Father’s voice and remember his will for us. The best way to defeat a lie is through a reminder of the truth!
      • Luke 4:8 – Jesus answers Satan’s temptation with the truth of Scripture.
    • The cry of David in Psalm 86 is for God to give him the strength to face his enemies. When we face temptations or any other struggles, we can cry out to God with similar words. Psalm 86:16.
  • God is faithful, he will bring us through the struggles and the temptations of this life.
    • 1 Corinthians 10:13
    • And when we make it to the other side we can say “To him be the glory, now and forever!”

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