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Giving Up Sin for Lent

Giving up sin for Lent sounds like a great idea, but is it possible?

No.

Romans 3:23 tells why:

“For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”

All have sinned–or fallen short of the mark of what and who God created us to be in our lives.

Jesus and temptation to sin

Pastor James Beyer spoke on Matthew 4:1-11 this week at our church, describing how Jesus dealt with sin following his 40 days in the desert.

(This is the story of how Satan tempted Jesus when he returned from his retreat. Satan taunted Jesus–“if you’re so holy and hungry, turn these stones into bread,” was the first example.)

I was struck by Pastor Beyer’s observation about Satan’s temptation:

“Satan was not tempting Jesus to do something, but he was tempting Jesus to be something God didn’t design Jesus to be.”

Pastor Beyer went on:

“The temptation was to break Jesus’ relationship with God–to turn Him away from God.

“Satan wanted Jesus to demand His own desires and purpose over His life rather than accept God’s.”

That’s about as good a definition of sin as  I’ve heard in a long time.

sin

            A mosaic telling the story in St. Mark’s basilica in Venice (Wikipedia)

Me and temptation to sin

I think about my personal sin a lot–because I’m a sinner and in constant need of confession.

I’ve discussed before how important the PRAY system of prayer is to me–because it reminds me to praise God and repent before asking for something.

(And then yielding my expectations to God’s will).

Pastor Beyer pointed out “temptations often encourage us to be less than what God intended us to be,” and cited the Garden of Eden story as another example.

1 Corinthians 10:13 reports:

“No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.”

That tells me I should not be ashamed when I’m tempted, but ask God for help in dealing with the temptation.

Which brings me to Lent.

Dealing with Temptation

In the Matthew 4 passage, Jesus had just returned from 40 intense days with God.

sin

Jesus tempted by Satan (James Tissot)

Jesus had been praying in the desert, fasting from food and any other distraction that would keep Him from hearing what God wanted Him to know.

His public ministry was about to begin. Jesus needed to be strengthened and prepared.

He was on a spiritual “high” when Satan encountered him.

Pastor Beyer explained:

“Jesus was famished from hunger, but full of the Holy Spirit.

“Look how quickly He responded with Scripture [to Satan’s “suggestions”].

“He was more prepared than at any other moment because of that time with God.

“Jesus was His true self, and therefore it was ‘easy’ to deflect temptations.”

Like you, I have many temptations in my life, every day.

God doesn’t judge me because I’m tempted, He watches how I deal with the temptation.

When I spend time reading the Bible and praying, it’s easier to recognize the temptation and not fall into it.

Which is why I view Lent as an opportunity to deal with some of my besetting sins.

(Besetting sins to me = things I frequently fall into sin over).

One of those temptations is a food issue. So I give up that food product for Lent.

It helps me deal with the temptation that always comes–and reminds me who I trust with my life.

Pastor Beyer, like others, suggested that Lent should not simply be about giving up something.

His recommendation, out of this sermon, was clear:

“Instead of giving up something, take on something: the identity of Jesus to be like Him.”

I want to be the person God created me to be for His purposes.

I don’t want a besetting sin or a temptation to separate me from God–whether as a result of gluttony or something else.

Jesus’ example in Matthew 4 is a great place to begin.

Tweetables

How about giving up sin for Lent? Click to Tweet

Doing or being? Satan’s temptation to Jesus. Click to Tweet

Tempting Jesus to do something God didn’t intend him to be. Click to Tweet

 


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1 Comment

  1. Great essay, Michelle. A lot of food for thought, reflection, and prayere here.

    Reply

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