February 26, First Sunday of Lent
Genesis 2:7-9; 3:1-7; Romans 5:12-19; Matthew 4:1-11
There is a humorous saying that ‘the best way to overcome a temptation is to yield to it.’ But the truth is just the opposite. Temptations are meant as chances to prove ourselves worthy before God in order to merit the reward of eternal life.
At the beginnings of humanity and of creation, the first woman and man were tempted, despite being in the paradise, and tragically failed. At the start of the New humanity in Christ, Jesus was tempted and he came out victorious with the power of the Word of God.
In the case of both Eve and Jesus, Satan begins the temptation with an innocent conversation, like that of a seeker. It is cunningly aimed at creating doubt about the goodness of God and his commands and focusing on the prohibitions of God, deliberately hiding the goodness and grace of God. This generates an internal dialogue in the person about the utility and futility of God’s commands.
Next step is the trivialization of God’s command and exaggeration of the personal benefits in acting differently than the required conduct, which is a blatant lie (Gen. 3:5) told as a secret personalized revelation.
Temptations promise us pleasures and tell us only about the gains but make no mention of the consequences of any evil act. It may also state how it is not worth the trouble being a good person.
“When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it.” (Genesis 3: 6)
Humans can choose only good, pleasing, and desirable things. Then how does one happen to sin? Sin is choosing ‘apparent good,’ namely, that which appears to be good, pleasing, and desirable, but is not ultimately good or beneficial. For example, one who steals, or kills or tell lies, does it looking at a desirable ‘personal advantage’ over against the possible evil inherent in the act.
Eve ate the fruit to gain knowledge of the good and evil!
Jesus shows us how to overcome temptations?
Jesus engages the devil in conversation, but does not fall for his lies, instead, rebuts Satan’s arguments with the Word of God; Jesus does not doubt the goodness of God; Jesus refuses to accept immediate gratification and opts for long-term benefits with a strong conviction about his mission. He defeats the devil's designs and overcomes the three primordial human temptations for pleasure, pride and power.
Think about another popular quote, “Most people want to be delivered from temptation, but they would like it to keep in touch.”
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