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Lead Us Not Into Temptation



During this period of Lent, many of us might be trying to avoid temptation of one form or another.


We may be fasting from a particular food, past-time or behaviour – not always an easy option!


Jesus taught us to pray that we might not be led into temptation, and yet Matthew 4 says that Jesus himself ‘was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil.’


The desert is not an easy option either.


The dictionary describes a desert as ‘a waterless, desolate area of land with little or no vegetation, typically one covered with sand.’ Those 40 days and nights Jesus spent out there cannot have been comfortable – even before the Devil started the temptation – but it seems they were necessary.


Sometimes we all need to get away from the distractions of daily life. We might just need a break from it all, a time to rest and refocus. We might feel the urge to lie down in a darkened room, or take a long hike…or possibly even engage in more harmful activities in a desire to regain our composure or restore our sanity.


But Jesus was ‘led by the Spirit’.


He wasn’t heading out into the desert for a holiday from his life, but rather to get ready for what was to come.



Remember, this period in the desert came right after Jesus’ baptism.


The Spirit had descended upon him in the form of a dove, God had marked him out as ‘beloved’ for all the world to see – but Jesus was not yet ready to begin his ministry. This time in the desert was an opportunity to strengthen his relationship with God, to face temptation in order to prepare for what was yet to come.


The Devil tested Jesus to turn stones into bread, to test God’s love for him, and to seek wealth, power and fame above obedience to God. The way the Bible presents these tests may seem extreme and unrelated to our own lives, but in many ways we are not so different.


It can be difficult not to indulge our physical needs.


We might well expect God to protect us when we act irresponsibly, or to find our faith tested when we or those we love are sick or in danger.

Our society encourages us to pursue celebrity, wealth and status.


So, perhaps we also need to pray to be led (by the Spirit) into temptation at times?


For some, religious retreats can provide an opportunity to step away from daily life and put God first. Others may regularly find time to observe a practice which allows them to faithfully face temptation.


Lent itself is an ideal excuse to let go of some of the distractions of life, focus on deepening your relationship with God, and furthering the impact of God’s call on your life.


Temptation itself is not the problem, we just need to consider our response.


Gill McCleave

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