“Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the desert, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil.” Luke 4:1
Recently an American public school was forced by a threatened law suit brought by atheists to remove or greatly alter a monument to a beloved teacher of over 26 years who had been killed in a tragic car accident. This teacher was a devoted evangelical Christian who had just left a Bible Study when the deadly accident occurred which ushered her into the courts of heaven. The atheists objected to several crosses and etched depictions of angels which were a part of the memorial on school grounds. Interestingly the atheists were not the least concerned that the mascot of the school is Red Devils. If Christians do not appear to take Satan seriously, neither do their detractors, which suits Satan just fine.
Lent has a lot more to do with Satan than the observers of Lent appear to mention or appreciate as they carry out their idea of Lenten observation. But consider the origination of this season of the Christian Year. Lent specifically observes the 40 days prior to the crucifixion of the Lord and His glorious Resurrection very soon after. The 40 days are taken from the 40 days of fasting and testing of the Lord by his chief protagonist, Satan. Lent, beginning with Ash Wednesday, focuses in most practices upon personal sin and repentance; certainly, a spiritually necessary and healthy exercise for all of us redeemed sinners. Little attention is given to the one whom our Lord battled in those 40 days and nights and the main reason He was there. Of course, Jesus is sinless, and we are so the opposite. So what was Jesus’ purpose in these 40 days in the wilderness? Namely, to expose for our benefit His and our great enemy, and his universally applied schemes. Those schemes change clothes but never character. They are the same, and we continue to be perennially deceived by them. Apart from Christ we lose. His battle secured a victory for the taking.
Lent should provide a personal reassessment time to consider how well you deflect the darts of the evil one. How aware are you of Satan’s schemes personally tailored to you? What is his win-lost record in your daily life? How are you applying the Lord’s prescription in your battle? Right now in current political life, many Americans are upset with the President and his administration for not naming America’s enemy accurately. Are you guilty of the same thing in the most important battle in your own life? Do you recognize your true enemy, name him, and command him in the name of Christ to get lost? Is he so real in your world that you might imitate Martin Luther and throw something at him? If you claim his real and threatening existence do you endeavor to put on the Christian armor provided by God piece by piece for your necessary protection? Paul didn’t think that cheesy. It was as essential as breathing.
It would be well for all who claim Christ to get real about what you are about. Church year observer or not ( you observe Christmas and Easter do you not?) try taking some time leading up to Good Friday and Easter to review your world-view as it relates to the Arch-Enemy of Jesus and you. If Jesus personally authenticated his very real existence and purpose, do you think it very wise to “blow off” his presence around you? Satan is not a person to trivialize or ignore. To paraphrase C.S Lewis you needn’t be paralyzed by abject fear, but you trivialize him to your peril. After all, Lewis wrote a whole book about his shrewd strategies.
Review how Satan tempts you with relative success in getting in your head. And heart. Where are you most susceptible in interaction with others, the world around you, and the disciplines of the Christian life. How does “stuff” impact your walk with Christ? How fearful are you of your security, health, and well being? Notice that these concerns relate to Satan’s tempting of the Lord in Matthew and Luke 4. See the nature of those categories in your own life and how you are responding to them. You can be sure your enemy is shooting those same arrows at you. All the more reason to cling to the Victor for His strength to fight and win. Remember His promises to the overcomers in His letters to “the seven” in Revelation 2-3.
This is a worthy use of your thought life and devotions leading up to Holy Week and the celebration of His past and your future resurrection. Jesus pulled him out in the open and exposed him for your sake. Don’t put him back where he is ignored. Crush him in the strength of the Lord.
“And though this world with Devils filled, should threaten to undo us, we will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us. The prince of darkness grim, we tremble not for him; his rage we can endure, for lo! His doom is sure; one little word shall fell him.”
(3rd verse of Martin Luther’s hymn, “A Mighty Fortress is our God”, 1529)
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