In a Moment of Time

Satan tempted Jesus three times in the
wilderness. The gospels are clear that he
came to Jesus when Jesus was physically at
his weakest. When Satan approached, Jesus
had had no nourishment in 40 days. He was
tired. He was weak. He was hungry. He was
vulnerable. He was fully exposed. Exposed
for manipulation. This was a moment in time
where Jesus could be influenced. Thus,
Satan saw this as the perfect occasion to
strike, and he struck with all his might. That is
what Satan does. Everywhere, and to
Naturally, Satan strives to catch us at
moments in life when we are most susceptible
to his wiles. He looks for the barely-opened
door. He lies in wait for times when we let
down our guard. He gains purchase at the
instant in which we think no one else is
looking. He trades deceitfully upon our
feelings—our desires, our innermost
passions, our needs, our angst. He is patient
to wait for a flicker of doubt—doubt about our
own Spirit-given abilities, doubt about truth,
doubt about our commitment to others, doubt
about our connection to the community of
believers, doubt about our faith in God. When
our uncertainty catches his eye, he pounces.
He springs into action, attacking in his
demonically treacherous way the most
defenseless parts of our hearts.

In the process of tempting Jesus, Satan
wasn’t suggesting that Jesus do anything
beyond His power. That would be asinine,
since Satan understood better than most
that nothing was beyond the power of the
Son of God. Rather, Satan was
encouraging Jesus to act within the powers
that he knew Jesus already had. Satan
was challenging Jesus, yet Jesus
Temptation is not an enticement to
become something we are not. Instead,
temptation incites us to live out what we
naturally are. Temptation does not say,
“You can’t, but you should be able to!”
Rather, it says, “You can, and you should.”
Temptation does not say, “Take your time
and think about it.” Rather, it says, “Go
ahead. No reason to waste time deciding.
You deserve this.” Temptation does not
say, “Hey, make sure this is right for you.”
Rather, it says, “I know that this is exactly
what you want and what you need. So go
for it.” Temptation does not focus on the
cost, or on the value, or on the results of
decisions. Rather, temptation focuses on
the brief, fleeting moment. It draws us into
transitory pleasure. A feeling of power. A
momentary reprieve. An escape from
whatever we feel we must avoid.
Temptation beckons its victims to come
and enjoy the present, with no thought for
the future, or even for the past. Temptation
cares nothing for our history, or for our
potential. It simply promises a quick fix.
Temptation only addresses the present—
and when we take the bait and the present
passes and we see that what temptation
offers has no real answers, it returns with
eloquent urgency, ultimately offering again
the same tired solutions. With temptation,
there is no tomorrow. There is only right
now. There is only what seems right, what
feels good, what gets us through today,
what quenches our current desires, what
makes the present bearable, enjoyable,
survivable. Temptation is very real, but
what it “guarantees” is fake. –Ricky

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