The Lie of Temptation
Jesus was tempted! It is important to know or be reminded of this as we immerse ourselves in the deep penitential purple of Lent. Satan, the diabolical one, tempted Jesus our Lord in the desert after fasting for 40 days (Matthew 4: 1-11). As we strive to overcome self, world and Satan through spiritual strength drawn from prayer, fasting and sacrificial giving, we must refer back to the tempted Jesus whose victory over the lie of temptation becomes a source of encouragement for us in our struggle against the temptation to sin. We are always tempted, we shall be tempted even more as we engage in spiritual warfare during the season of Lent but we must be wary of the lure and the lie of temptation-it always looks attractive and seems appropriate as the tempter was able to confuse and deceived Eve and Adam to admit (Gen 3:1-7). We pray to our Father in heaven not to allow us to be lead into temptation, not to fall for the lure and false appearance of it because it is a lie that leads to death. But if we fall, if we disobey the Lord, we are so blessed because “through the obedience of the one (Jesus), the many will be made righteous” (Romans 5:19).
The Catechism of the Catholic Church is very helpful in conveying the message on the temptation to sin, and how to distinguish between temptation and falling into temptation:
“The Holy Spirit makes us discern between trials, which are necessary for the growth of the inner man and the temptation which leads to sin and death. We must also discern between being tempted and consenting to temptation. Finally, discernment unmasks the lie of temptation whose object appears to be good, a 'delight to the eyes' and desirable, when in reality its fruit is death” (2847).
Let's always make that distinction. Jesus was tempted but did not sin. We are tempted to draw out the best in us and give glory to God. We do fall into temptation because it is deceitfully appealing. The good news is that the grace is giving to us to choose not to fall for the lie of temptation just like Jesus did. This Lent is a time to develop the will to say no to temptation. The grace abounds if we follow the lead of Jesus by living a life of prayer, penance, and charity. Let us always remember that if we sin, God forgives us and renew us. He restores us to life in the sacrament of reconciliation.
What are the sources of your temptation? How do you intend to attack those sources this Lent?
In Christ, the Victor over sin,
Fr. Bernard Oniwe, OP