Lead us not into temptation – Part II
Updated: Mar 22
It says in Matthew that after Jesus was baptized, "he was led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil" (4:1). What does it mean? Does this mean that we are asking God to remove hard things from us? No. What it means, in Matthew Henry's words, is that we might "be prepared to resist the tempter, and not to become tempters of others." But how can we resist temptation if we are so used to giving into our desires? If we have never built up the muscles of self-denial or tightened the sinews of temperance, then how can we expect to resist the tempter? In other words, if we have never formed habits where we say no to any desire that might wish to be gratified, then the likelihood that we will resist temptation when it comes is very, very low.
This is why it is important to consider the Lenten season as practice of the Christian virtue of self-denial, the cardinal virtue of moderation. Now, self-denial is not self-abnegation, akin to some Buddhist monk who contradicts existence itself. Self-denial is simply what it takes to be a follower of Christ: "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me" (Matthew 16:24). Why does Jesus say this? Because he realizes that saying "no" to some things is the sine qua non of success in other things. Remember C. S. Lewis' admonition: "The head rules the belly through the chest." Virtue of denying self and putting God (and others) is critical. Man does not live by bread alone. This why slowing down is actually the best way to live life in the fast lane.
Here is the Collect for the Second Sunday in Lent:
Almighty God, you know that we have no power in ourselves to help ourselves: Keep us both outwardly in our bodies and inwardly in our souls, that we may be defended from all adversities that may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts that may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
AGENDA FOR THE WEEK:
Prayer & Catechism
Continue the Biblical Study of "Satan"
Continue working through the Iliad Study Guide.
Be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect. Pray, that you may not stumble.
Study for the The Iliad Exam: see Study Guide for the Iliad
Iliad Exam next week (3/16)
Consider here the very Russian premodern depiction of Christ in the wilderness. Note the bare and unshod feet exposed, emphasizing to almost heretical point his humanness.