HOW TO OVERCOME TEMPTATIONS REFLECTION FOR THE FIRST SUNDAY OF LENT (YEAR B) Rev. Fr. Bonnie Nkem Anusiem Ph.D.

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There is no human being on earth that is beyond temptation. Of course, your past experiences in life could attest to the reality of various forms and shapes of temptations. Temptation is not sinning; it only goes wrong when you yield or get consumed. Mark’s Gospel (1:12-15) tells us how our Lord Jesus Christ was tempted by Satan while on forty days retreat in the desert after his baptism.

The narrative of the temptation of our Lord Jesus Christ leaves us with so many lessons that would help us to understand how to overcome all the temptations that come our way. Though we know the recurrent instruction to resist temptation, few people know how to build the resistance against temptation, which is the project of this reflection.

Understand the Devices of the Tempter

St. Paul advised (2 Cor. 2:11) that we should not be ignorant of Satan’s devices so that he would not have an advantage over us. In order words, St. Paul is saying that the devil has operational devices, and if we do not know them, we fall by them.

We could recall that when the tempter approached Eve (Genesis 3: 1f), the first question was, “did God say that you should not eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden?” Eve recalls that they could eat any of the fruit but not the one in the middle of the garden and that they would die any day they touch or eat of it. Responding, the devil says, “you shall not die, but your eyes will open, and you will be like God, knowing evil and good.”

Two devices of Satan are clear from that encounter, and they are lies or deceptions and arguments. Our Lord Jesus Christ tells us in the Gospel of John (8:44) that the devil is a liar and father of lies. In the Second Letter to the Corinthians (2 Cor.10:4-5), St. Paul remarked that the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but are powerful in pulling down strongholds and refuting arguments and obstacles that raise themselves against the knowledge of God.

So, we learn that behind most temptations that come against us, there could be a Satanic deception (lie) or argument that negotiate for our failure into sin.

Monitor your Mind!

The mind is an important component of the human person. We need our minds to function both in the physical and the spiritual realms. The truth is that the mind is the battleground of temptation. Eve’s temptation was happening in her mind because Adam was with her all through the episode (Genesis 3:6). The temptation of Jesus Christ could also have been a battle happening in his mind.

We win or lose the battle against temptation in our minds which is the foreground of the negotiations to do good or evil. When St. James (4:7) says that we should submit to God and resist the devil, he refers to an activity in our minds.  

Monitor your Emotions

Every temptation would always come through something that has an emotional connection with you. Your emotional connectors include people, things, events, and places that have intense appeal to the soft part of you. For instance, you may experience more temptations with family and friends more than with strangers.

The tempter would always play on your vulnerabilities and weaknesses, so be vigilant as St. Peter would advise (1 Peter 5:8). And as St. Paul would instruct, do not give him a chance   (Eph.4:27).   

Forget the Things of the Past

Our past mistakes and sins could frustrate our present life and even the future if we keep going back to them. You cannot do anything to make your past better. God would even tell us in the Prophecy of Isaiah (43:18) to forget the past things and not even call them to mind.

The bad thing is that devil would accuse you of your past, especially when you miss them have not repented from them. But the good news is that God is ready to blot out your transgressions, and He would remember your sins no more if you come to Him in repentance (Isaiah 43:25). Allow the past to go and embrace the present to have a better future.

Focus on God!

God is our sure refuge and strength in any situation that may confront us. God has promised to be with us in the difficult moments of our lives. So, we have a sure help when the wind of temptation blows. In fact, for every temptation that comes our way, there is a sufficient divine grace as God would tell St. Paul in his letter to the Corinthians (2 Cor.9:12).

Temptations are sure to come, but there would always be a victory for those who equip themselves properly. Know the enemy’s devices, work to renew your mind, watch your emotions, discard the unproductive past, and always keep God before you all things. May I add this, you may need to get a spiritual help from someone you can trust; two is better than one when there is a problem. May God’s sufficient grace aid you still in the battle against temptations.

God bless you.

Fr. Bonnie.    

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