Sunday, August 01, 2021

Led into temptation?

Sermon for the ninth Sunday after Trinity

Sometimes familiar words trip off our tongues and we are unaware that we use then so frequently. If an atheist says, "goodbye" to you then he is actually praying "God be with you!" 

We, too, become ignorant of what we are saying with our familiar prayers. The Lord's Prayer is a case in point. How often do we rattle that off without thinking about it? Yet it contains things which ought to worry us. It tells us that the way our trespasses are forgiven depends on how much we are prepared to forgive others their trespasses. It also mentions the fact that our Faith can be tested. We are all in danger of falling into temptation. The Christian is in no less danger of sinning than anyone else.


This is what St Paul is telling us. The Israelites have gone through the Exodus from Egypt. They have all seen the cloud of God's presence. They have all drunk from the water from the rock. This is how they have received Baptism and the Eucharist before Our Lord's life on Earth. And yet they have fallen into sin. The world around them has tested their faith and they have made idols and the have committed fornication, despite being God's chosen people. And, despite being God's chosen people, they did not see the Promised Land on account of their sin.

And St Paul warns us, the Church, that the same could happen to us. The wages of sin is death. If we sin, we end up losing the life that God wants for us. It doesn't matter if we've been baptised or confirmed or ordained, sin brings death. Being part of the Church doesn't excuse us - indeed it makes things worse!


We do face temptation daily and we do sin. This is why forgiveness is so important. Repentance brings us back in line with Christ and His Life-giving Death. Yet, the fact that, whenever we fall into temptation, God gives us a way out of temptation shows that we cannot be excused from sin by saying that we were tempted beyond our means. If we walk with God then we should see the way out when we are tempted. But St Paul is talking to the whole Church. We need to be looking after each other. If we admit our temptations to others, if we go to Confession, if we let people know that we are struggling with temptation then God gives us the Church itself as a sanctuary to help and encourage and support. In the Church there is forgiveness and compassion as well as a rejection of all sin. If you cannot find forgiveness, compassion and rejection of sin in your church, then that church must answer to God for that. The point is that we never go through temptation alone. 

This also means that we, too, must be ready to help and support anyone who is facing temptation in the same manner that we would want help and support. We are only forgiven as much as we are ready to forgive. We should not expect support inbour temptation unless we are willing to support someone in theirs with the same level of generosity and love and rejection of all sin.


Living out God's commandment of Love is hard work and we often face an uphill struggle against Sin, the World and the Devil. But God has given His Church victory over Sin, the World and the Devil. We stand fast, keep turning to the Lord and He will not lead us into temptation but deliver us from Evil.

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