Sunday, May 02, 2021

Presenting Temptation

Propers for the fourth Sunday after Easter

Sermon for the fourth Sunday after Easter

What does it mean to be tempted? How do you understand what Temptation is?


There is a gift for you, all wrapped up in shiny paper and string. It sits on your table looking full of promise. And there is the label, "Open Me!"

Do you?

Well, of course you do. It's a gift for you. It has your name on it. It contains precisely what you've ever wanted. But wait! Just before you start undoing the string, what do you need to do?


Who's the present from?

Does it say?

You know full well that someone who loves you will have given you something thoughtful. You know full well that someone who hates you will have given you a very nasty surprise. And there is someone who hates you. He hates you because he hates God.

That present could be something that looks perfectly fine, but only later will it reveal its curse.


Each thought we have is a present. If we want to open that present, if we want to let that thought into our hearts and minds, then we need to check who it's from first.

God is the Father of lights. He is the source of all being, of all that is. He does not change. He does not vary His opinions or change His mind. What is good stays good. What is evil stays evil. 

This is important. We cannot say with regard to good, "that was then but this is now." The whole point of temptation is that it tells us that what was evil is now good and what was good is now evil.

"Ah!" says the present, "what about slavery. Slavery used to be good and now it's evil!"

No. Read the Bible. Listen to God. See how servants, bondsmen and handmaidens had rights with God - they weren't slaves. See how they were given stability and care. See how they were released from any debt. See how Onesimus and Philemon were reconciled as servants of each other.

Slavery has never been good. What changes are the meanings of words. The Devil uses words carefully to wrap up his lies and convince us that God has changed good and evil. It is with words that the Devil wraps up his presents for us.


When we pray, "lead us not into temptation" we can be sure that God will not tempt us to sin, but we have to recognise that we can be tempted and, further, tempted beyond our ability. Each one of us can fall. Each one of us can open that present even though we know we are not supposed to. When we pray, "lead us not into temptation" we pray that God would keep us away from those great temptations where we will fall away from Him.

The Cross of Christ is our protection. When we fall, we look to that Cross and we find forgiveness and truth. In the Cross of Christ our sins die and we emerge from the tomb at one with Christ.

The present that God gives comes wrapped in the truth, even when that truth hurts us deeply. It may not be an appealing present but it is much more wonderful than the cheap baubles with which the devil draws us to Hell.


As far as we can, we must check every thought that comes into our head and see if it comes from God. It requires practice and, when we fail, we can try again. The more we do, the more we resist the Devil and he will flee from us.

Have you opened that present yet?

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