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Jesus Tempted In The Desert | Jesus Fasting 40 Days | Sin In The Bible And For Christians Today

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Temptation In The Desert | Jesus’ 40 Days In The Wilderness | Jesus Fasting

The event of Jesus facing temptation by the Devil in the desert, the wilderness, is recorded in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. According to the accounts, Jesus fasted 40 days and nights in the wilderness, where he was then tempted by the Devil. Significantly, Jesus’ 40 days in the wilderness follows immediately upon his baptism by John the Baptist, and the descent of the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove to acknowledge Jesus as God the Son. It is indeed the Holy Spirit who drives Jesus into the wilderness. There is an apparent necessity that Jesus be tempted by the Devil in this desert place. There is a sense of imminence in conflict and danger – the Devil’s work – which Jesus utterly transcends.

The first temptation faced by Jesus in the desert relates to hunger. Satan tempts Jesus saying: ‘If thou be the Son of God, command this stone that it be made bread.’ (Matthew 4:3) This temptation represents the desire to satisfy our physical needs and desires, even if it means disregarding God’s will.

The second temptation relates to power. Satan tempts Jesus by showing him all the kingdoms of the world and offering him their rule, saying: ‘All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.’ (Matthew 4:9. This temptation represents the desire for control and domination over others, rather than submission to God’s will.

The third temptation relates to wealth. Satan tempts Jesus by taking him to the pinnacle of the temple and challenging him to throw himself down, saying: ‘If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.’ (Matthew 4:6) This temptation represents the desire for material wealth and security, even if it means disregarding God’s protection and provision.

These three temptations faced by Jesus in the wilderness represent some of the most common forms of temptation that people face in their daily lives. They teach us that temptation often comes in the form of desires for physical comfort, power, and wealth, and that we must be mindful to resist these temptations and submit to God’s will instead.

The significance of Jesus’ 40 days in the wilderness is widely discussed among scholars and religious authorities through the ages. Saint Augustine of Hippo saw this event as a model of the struggle against sin and the flesh. He wrote: ‘The Lord, in fasting forty days, and being afterwards an hungered, did both teach us to moderate our use of food, and to overcome the temptation of the devil, who was suggesting to Him the perverted desires of the flesh.’

He wrote: ‘The devil’s first temptation of Jesus in the wilderness was to turn stones into bread, testing Jesus’ obedience to God’s will and trust in His provision. This temptation represents the sin of gluttony and self-sufficiency, which can lead us away from relying on God’s grace.’

Theologian and author C.S. Lewis also commented on the significance of Jesus’ temptation, writing: ‘The temptation of Christ in the wilderness is one of the most characteristic things about His life and work. It is the pattern of all temptation. It is a promise to a good man of all that the world can give him if he will fall.’

He wrote: ‘The devil’s second temptation of Jesus, offering Him the kingdoms of the world, tempts Him with the sin of pride and the desire for worldly power and glory. This temptation can teach us about the dangers of seeking worldly success at the expense of our spiritual well-being.’

St. Thomas Aquinas believed that the temptations faced by Jesus in the wilderness were a representation of the three main categories of temptation – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life (1 John 2:16). He also emphasized that these temptations were a demonstration of Jesus’ complete humanity, as he was able to resist the temptations and provide an example for all Christians to follow.

Martin Luther saw the wilderness temptations as a representation of the Devil’s attempt to turn Jesus away from his mission of redemption. He believed that Satan’s temptations were a representation of the various ways in which humans can be tempted to turn away from God, including through worldly desires and temptations of the flesh.

Pope Francis wrote: ‘The devil’s third temptation of Jesus, tempting Him to jump from the pinnacle of the temple, represents the sin of testing God and questioning His faithfulness. This temptation reminds us of the importance of maintaining a steadfast trust in God and relying on His providence, no matter the circumstances.’

Jesus’ Teachings On Sin In The Bible

Jesus’ teachings on sin are a cornerstone of Christian faith and serve as a guide for Christians today. Jesus emphasized the importance of living a life of love and compassion, while also warning against the dangers of sin and its effects on the soul.

  • Lust as a form of adultery: In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus teaches that even if one looks at a woman with lustful intentions, it is equivalent to committing adultery in one’s heart (Matthew 5:28). This teaches Christians of the dangers of lust and how it can lead to sin. According to scholar and author Timothy Keller: ‘Jesus teaches that lust is not just a harmless fantasy, but a powerful force that can drive us to sin and destroy our relationships and our own souls.’
  • Love covers a multitude of sin: In the book of 1 Peter, the Apostle writes that love covers a multitude of sin (1 Peter 4:8). This means that – conversely – true love, which is God’s love, has the power to heal and forgive sins.
  • Forgive and you will be forgiven: Jesus teaches Christians to forgive others if we want to be forgiven by God (Matthew 6:14). This shows teaches that our forgiveness is crucial to our relationship with God.
  • He without sin cast the first stone: In the story of the woman caught in adultery, Jesus teaches that those without sin should be the ones to cast the first stone (John 8:7). This teaches the importance of humility and self-reflection when it comes to sin.
  • The unforgivable sin: Jesus warns us about the unforgivable sin, which is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit (Matthew 12:31). Such would be a rejection of God in shaping our values and decisions, especially in reference to our establishing a rival good to God’s.
  • Love your enemies: Jesus teaches us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us (Matthew 5:44). We are called through Jesus to revolutionary faith in which God’s love is for all.
  • On the sin of pride: ‘For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.’ (Luke 14:11) C.S. Lewis wrote: ‘Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man.’ Jesus teaches that pride can lead to an excessive focus on oneself and a disregard for others.
  • On the sin of greed: ‘For the love of money is the root of all evil.’ (1 Timothy 6:10 KJV) Max Lucado wrote: ‘Greed is not simply the desire for more, but the lack of contentment with what we have.’ Jesus teaches that our desire for material possessions should be as nothing in relation to our desire for God.

Augustine of Hippo emphasized the importance of Jesus’ teachings in helping us understand the nature of sin and its effects on the soul. Martin Luther also emphasized the importance of Jesus’ teachings, stating that they provide guidance for Christians in avoiding sin and living a life of love and compassion. Similarly, John Calvin emphasized the role of Jesus’ teachings in shaping the lives of Christians and helping them to avoid sin.

Temptations Christians Face Today

Many temptations for Christians are akin to those faced by Jesus in the desert, including the desire for wealth, power, and pleasure. Additionally, Christians face temptations such as addiction, lust, pride, and anger.

  • Addiction: The temptation to rely on drugs, alcohol, or other harmful substances can have severe consequences for a person’s health, relationships, and overall well-being. Addiction is also to socially acceptable things which are bad for us – and which we know are so.
  • Lust: The desire for sexual pleasure can lead to infidelity and sexual immorality, causing harm to one’s relationships and damaging one’s spiritual life. Lust relates also to material possessions.
  • Pride: Excessive pride can lead to arrogance, judgment of others, and a lack of humility and self-reflection. None of us is better than another person.
  • Anger: The temptation to lash out in anger can lead to broken relationships and hurtful actions. Anger can be viewed as a failure in our relationship with God.

Concupiscence And Original Sin In Christianity

The idea of original sin and concupiscence is a central tenet of Christianity, highlighting the universal susceptibility of humans to sin and the need for forgiveness and redemption through Jesus Christ.

In Christianity, the concept of concupiscence refers to the natural inclination or tendency of human beings to sin. It is often associated with the idea of original sin, which is the belief that all humans are born with a natural inclination to sin due to the sin of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. This idea is expressed in the Bible verse: ‘For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.’ (Romans 3:23)

Many religious leaders and scholars have interpreted original sin as a universal human condition that requires divine intervention for salvation. The concept also serves as a reminder of the need for constant vigilance against temptation and sin in one’s life.

Jesus says to those who would stone a woman: ‘He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.’ (John 8:7) This verse acknowledges that all humans are prone to sin; we are subject to the law of original sin and concupiscence. Additionally these verses of the Bible affirm the truth of conscience, to the which Jesus recalls us. Jesus interrupts the group’s crowd and rather animal instinct to destroy and kill, and enables each individual to recall himself to a proper perspective, understanding himself truly as a sinner in relation to God.

‘For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.’ (Romans 3:23, KJV) All are concupiscent.

Original Sin And Venial Sin

The Catholic Church teaches that original sin refers to the state of sinfulness into which humans are born, while venial sin refers to minor sins that are not in themselves alone deadly. Venial sins are blots upon the soul and can accumulate. They do require frequent confession, contrition and penance. There is the risk of neglect such that the veniality aggregates and overwhelms the individual Christian, inclining him ever more to an occlusion of spiritual consciousness. A helpful remedy for this is daily prayer. Mortal sins in themselves separate a soul from God. Where one is conscious of mortality – mortal sin – an intervention is necessary. For the Catholic, this takes the form of the sacrament of reconciliation – confession. Other Christian groups may have their own distinctive cultures and practices in terms of the approach to the washing clean of sin.

Sin Of Commission And Sin Of Omission

The idea of sin can be divided into two categories: sin of commission and sin of omission. Sin of commission refers to actions that are sinful, such as theft or lying, while sin of omission refers to actions that are not taken, such as failing to care for the poor. Both forms of sin are included in the concept of concupiscence.

The Unforgivable Sin

In the Christian tradition, there is one sin that is considered unforgivable: blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. This refers to a rejection of the Holy Spirit’s work in one’s life, leading to a state of final impenitence – indeed the inability to repent: one has entered into a state of persistent, unrepentant sin, in which one has rejected the opportunity for redemption and forgiveness. We rely upon the Holy Spirit to enable our contrition and penitence.

It is clear that the idea of original sin and concupiscence serves as a reminder of the universality of human sin and the need for forgiveness and repentance. As the Bible states: ‘If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.’ (1 John 1:8) This verse serves as a call to humility and a recognition of the need for divine grace in overcoming our inclinations to sin.

How Shall We Resist Temptation?

Resisting temptations can be a difficult and ongoing challenge for Christians. However, several strategies can help overcome these temptations, including prayer and seeking the support of others. In addition, Christians can turn to the Bible and Jesus’ teachings for guidance and inspiration on how to resist temptation.

One Bible verse that can be helpful in resisting temptation is James 4:7, which states: ‘Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.’ This verse reminds us that relying on God’s strength and submitting to His will can help us resist the temptations of the world.

Religious leaders and scholars have also offered guidance on how Christians can resist temptations. For example, Saint Augustine wrote: ‘Pray as though everything depended on God. Work as though everything depended on you.’ This quote reminds us to trust in God’s power while also taking active steps to resist temptation.

Many modern writers and authorities on spirituality offer practical tips and advice on how to resist temptations. These may include mindfulness practices, self-reflection, and seeking support from a trusted community. By utilizing these tools and relying on the support of God and others, Christians can overcome the temptations they face in their daily lives.

Forgiveness And Repentance In Christianity

Forgiveness and repentance are central to the Christian faith and play a crucial role in personal growth and spiritual well-being. Forgiveness is the act of pardoning an offender and letting go of feelings of resentment or anger, while repentance refers to the process of acknowledging and confessing one’s wrongdoings and turning away from them towards a better path. These concepts are intertwined and play an important role in Christian theology, as they allow individuals to seek redemption, restoration and a closer relationship with God.

Forgiveness is central to the teachings of Jesus and is emphasized throughout the New Testament. Matthew 6:14-15 states: ‘For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.’

Luke 6:37 reads: ‘Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven.’

Repentance is also an important theme in the Bible and is seen as a necessary step towards forgiveness and redemption. Luke 13:3 says: ‘I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.’

Acts 17:30 states: ‘And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men everywhere to repent.’

Forgiveness and repentance are seen as crucial steps in the process of spiritual growth and renewal. Through forgiveness, individuals can release feelings of anger and bitterness and make peace with themselves and others. Repentance, on the other hand, allows individuals to acknowledge their wrongdoing and turn away from it, seeking God’s forgiveness and a better path.

In the words of St. Augustine: ‘The Lord says, “Return to me with your whole heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.” Let us return to him, not just in word, but in deed. Let us confess our sins and believe in his mercy.’

Similarly, Martin Luther King Jr. said: ‘Forgiveness is not an occasional act, it is a constant attitude.’

These concepts are relevant to Christians today as they provide guidance on how to live a life of grace, forgiveness, and peace. Through forgiveness and repentance, individuals can grow in their relationship with God and find peace and fulfilment in our lives.

Perspectives Of Religious Authorities On Temptation And Sin

From early Christian theologians to contemporary spiritual leaders, there has been guidance, interpretation and understanding of the nature of temptation and sin.

St. Augustine wrote about the nature of temptation and sin in his work Confessions. He wrote: ‘Grant me chastity and continence, but not yet.’ This quotation highlights the struggle between our base desires and the call to righteousness, and the need for divine grace to overcome temptation.

Martin Luther wrote about the idea of sin and temptation in his Small Catechism. He wrote: ‘We are all conceived and born in sin, that is, we are all full of evil lust and inclinations from our mothers’ womb.’ This perspective emphasizes the inherent and universal nature of sin, and the need for salvation through repentance.

In recent times, Pope Francis has spoken on the importance of recognizing and overcoming temptation. He said: ‘Temptation is not sin. But it is a call to battle, a call to listen to the voice of the Spirit and not to that of the flesh.’ This highlights the ongoing struggle between good and evil, and the importance of recognizing temptation as a call to action, rather than as a defeat.

Throughout history, religious authorities have offered a variety of perspectives and interpretations on the nature of temptation and sin. Some have emphasized the universality of sin and the need for salvation, while others have focused on the ongoing struggle between good and evil. The diversity of views highlights the complexity of the issues, and the ongoing relevance of these topics in the contemporary world.

Prayer For Forgiveness And Repentance

Perhaps the perfect example of a prayer for forgiveness and repentance – an expression of complete contrition and a beautiful confession – is psalm 51(/50) – Miserere: a plea for purification from sin and for a heart made whole. Here is an audio Bible KJV reading: Psalm 51 – Miserere