The Parish of Burchetts Green

God's word will guide you, as it did Jesus

Rev Keith advises how to approach Lent

Rev Keith

Coping with temptation

After his baptism in the River Jordan, when the Holy Spirit descended on him like a dove, Jesus was led by that Holy Spirit, not into some lovely, comfortable spiritual experience, basking in God's presence but into the lonely wilderness where he encounters temptation.

Spiritual highs are often followed by spiritual lows. And in the desert Jesus is tempted with three common ways in which our dark side can be manifested: Firstly 'Go and get what you want, and never mind God or anyone else,' secondly 'compromise with evil - look how much better off you will be,' and thirdly 'show off, make yourself look clever.'

In each case Jesus responds, not by gritting his teeth and resolving to do what he knows is right, but by a simple refutation of the lie behind the temptation, a refutation taken from the Bible.

Not just will-power

The answer to the problem of our dark side is not 'will-power' but God's word. An indispensable component of overcoming the urge to do what we know is not God's way for us is to become familiar with the 'Word of God that is near us.'

When God's truth is at hand then evil takes flight. We need to become so familiar with the Bible that it becomes engrained in our minds.

Looking forward to the new covenant initiated by Jesus, God says through the prophet Jeremiah, 'I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.' Jeremiah himself said: 'Lord, Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart.' I don't suppose Jeremiah literally ate God's words, but the image reflects the fact that desire for God's word had become as intense as any bodily desire, even hunger.

How to spend time in Lent

So my challenge this Lent is not simply give up watching junk TV or spending too many evenings surfing the internet or whatever it may be, but to liberate time and then spend the time we have liberated reading the New Testament so that it becomes imprinted in our heart too. Then, when the time of temptation comes, we may be able simply to dismiss it as Jesus did during his time in the wilderness.

May I wish you all a spiritually enriching and holy Lent.