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Archive for February 11th, 2016

 

Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert, to be tempted by the devil.

Then!  When?  After the Descent of the Holy Spirit, after the Voice  speaking from above had said:  This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well please (Matthew 3: 17).  And since he did everything in order to teach us, and suffered everything for the same reason, so here also He willed to be led by the Spirit into the desert, to meet the devil in combat, and so that no one should be shocked if, after receiving baptism, he suffers even severer temptations: as though something strange had happened; but that he may learn to stand firm and endure with fortitude what happens according to the ordinary rule of our life.

This is the reason you received arms; not to stand at ease, but to fight. And God will not prevent temptations from rushing against you.

  1. And this first that you may learn how stronger you are now than before.

  2. Then that you learn prudence; so as not to be overbold because of the greatness of the gifts you have received: for temptation will steady you.

  3. Thirdly, so that the evil demon, who is uncertain whether you have renounced him or not, may not be left in doubt, through this test of temptation, that you have abandoned him, and wholly renounced him.

  4. Fourthly, that you may become stronger, and more tempered than steel.

  5. And fifthly, that you may receive a kind of indication of how precious is the treasure you have been given. For the devil would not have attacked you had he not seen you now held in honor. It was because of this he attacked Adam, because he saw he was given great dignity. For this reason he attacked Job, because he saw him raised up and honored by the God of all. It was because of this He Himself says: Pray that ye enter not into temptation (Mt. xxvi.41)•

  6. For this reason the Evangelist speaks of Jesus as, not going, but as being led; and this was according to the design of our salvation: implying that we are not as it were to leap into temptation, but, if we are led there, to stand firm against it. And consider where it was the Spirit led Jesus. Not into a city, nor into the market place, but into the desert. For since He wished to attract the evil spirit, He gives him occasion, not alone from his hunger, but also from the place. For then especially will the devil attack us, when he sees us alone and separated from each other. It was in this way he attempted the woman in the beginning: approaching as she was alone, and her husband absent. For when he sees us in the company or others, and united, he does not dare attack us. For this special reason should we ‘come frequently together’ (cf. Hebrews 10:25): so that I it shall be more difficult for the  devil to attack us.

  7. And I add a seventh teaching the Lord imparts through temptation.  It is related to #6:  others have been there and been tempted.  You can seek out a friend in Christ to tell of your struggle. And you can help a brother or sister in Christ when they are tempted.  Temptation occurs more frequently when alone as St. John Chrysostom points out, but we are part of Christ’s Church.  We ask the brothers and sisters to pray, not only when sick, but when the evil one is doing his worse.  And in the midst of this communion of prayer, at the center is the Lord Himself, who has been here and been tempted, and so,
    For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

and

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.1Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
 
8.  And one more teaching:  the importance of the teaching of Holy Scripture.  When Jesus is tempted, three times He quotes the Bible and three times He said, “It is written…”.  Nowadays, He could be charged with being a fundamentalist and so be it.  Jesus, in the flesh, needed the sure Word of the Bible, and so do we.  We learn this in temptation as well, as Jesus taught, “Lead us not into temptation…”.

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