Theologians describe temptation as the desire to engage in short-term urges for enjoyment that threatens long-term goals. It can be a distraction that prevents us from doing what is right. We can be tempted to buy things, eat things, write something on social media, say things to family or friends and so on, things that feel good at the time, but later we regret what occurred. Temptation turns our hearts away from God’s truth and towards a self-serving, self-centred attitude.
Since humanity’s arrival on the earth, Satan has sought to distract us from God’s plan. He attacks our belief system and even uses God’s word to trick us. He tempts us to think because God loves everyone, we are all going to heaven. He will tempt us to reason that if we do good things and behave as good people, we can earn God’s invitation to eternity. He will draw us into ignoring God by aiding us to make excuses for why we don’t read our bibles, why we can’t pray or even why we can skip or even avoid going to church. He will distract us from reflecting on Easter’s significance and God’s salvation plan.
Over the past few weeks, our churches have shared much about Jesus’ earthly ministry leading to His final days on this earth. We need to hear these stories to remind us that God has a plan involving us that started in the Garden, got messed up, and has been corrected by Jesus. We must remember that Jesus is the key to humanity being with God for all eternity. We need to hear that God’s plan for us requires us to believe and trust Him.
Our pre-easter stories remind us that Jesus allowed Himself to be taken prisoner, abused, crucified, and murdered as the final human ceremonial blood sacrifice. We need reminding that Jesus rose after the third day, ascended to heaven, and that, as He promised, He will return to bring all His followers to eternity with the Father. We need to remember that scripture says we are sinners, and we need to repent of those sins. We need to hear Jesus say, “our sins have been forgiven, and that belief in Him is the only way to a future with Him.”
God brought his creation into a garden He prepared for us. He offered us everything we needed, including daily interaction with Him, and He asked us to be obedient. Satan tempted Adam and Eve to believe they could have more than God offered, resulting in their expulsion from paradise. We must be retold how we bear the scar of a flawed human nature which suggests we don’t need God. God tells us that belief in Jesus is the start of our reconnection to Him. We need to hear that God allowed Jesus to be the final sacrifice and that there are no actions we can personally do to earn us heaven.
Whether you understand or accept it, we are being tempted constantly to lose our self-control: to give into everything; to have no opinion or belief of our own, to let the world tell you what is right; to see Easter as another holiday, and to ignore God’s plan of salvation. We will never avoid temptation, but God has told us: “No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; He’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; He’ll always be there to help you come through it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13
You must and can resist with the power of the Holy Spirit and get your mind back to what is true. Take time to read Jesus’ stories to see what is true. Turn your eyes towards heaven and seek the truth. See Easter for what it is; victory, freedom from the evil one, and a fulfilling future.