Experiencing temptation is not the same as committing sin.
The former, experiencing temptation, is simply our daily spiritual reality as fallen creatures on the road to eternal life. Grace is always given, for the path is beset with temptation. The latter, committing sin, requires both rejecting God’s grace and the exercising of our will against it – and can occur even when there are no apparent temptations present!
Temptation is the common human struggle to NEVER accept or act on the ungodly desires that surface in our minds and hearts.
Lent is the time to attack temptation head on. We are invited to study and reflect on it – not generically but personally! We are challenged to better understand how we are being spiritually attacked, so we can “fight the good fight” like the Apostle Paul in this very real war for our souls.
Each year at this time, we are called to examine our own unique world of temptations – in a healthy and educative kind of manner – to see how the evil one has retooled and rearmed since the last Lenten season…
We are called to prepare and enact a post Lent battle plan, now – that takes into account what we presently know and what we will learn about how we are being tempted! Once our counter attack or anti-temptation plan is formulated, we must go forward living it out right now as part of our 2017 Lenten retooling for the year!
Over the years, there are many insights I have gained from this Lenten practice of prayerfully studying how I am tempted… …for instance, over time I began to notice how Satan often uses variations of the same tactic, method or ploy, which in my case, is over magnification, in tempting me to sin.
How and where does this over magnification usually manifest itself? Generally as an apparently ‘very strong’ mental argument or, what’s even worse, as a very strong, deep and heartfelt passion, and sometimes as both!!! That which is over magnified can vary also, from the nature of my specific sufferings and struggles to the importance of my very self or my specific gifts and talents!
Over magnification, if left uncheck in me, can easily lead to the kind of sinful arguments and passions that will result in me not just willfully, but also shamelessly rejoicing in breaking God’s laws (Ten Commandments, Beatitudes, Laws of Love)!
Thus, each Lent my temptation battle plan is prayerfully reviewed and tweaked in preparation for the coming post Lenten, Easter and Ordinary times of the year.
Please take advantage of our common Lenten opportunity to honestly explore the sinful patterns and choices challenging your life. Examine how they function to thwart your personal growth in holiness and how they hinder and thwart you from working more fully in and for God’s kingdom.
Please, do not be afraid to explore and learn about how Satan tempts you! This is very important spiritual knowledge that generally only you can discern through prayerful reflection and time.
Prayerful dialogue with your pastor, close spiritual friend, family members or a spiritual advisor can all be very helpful in exploring – in a respectful and healthy manner – your experience of temptation. As you become more aware of your temptations and how they act like chains, you will also receive the grace to begin learning how to retract and stop them from being pulled by Satan and others!
Sit, prayerfully and actively reflecting on the nature and scope of your specific temptations this Lent. As much as you can, do not focus on your history of falling into the temptation or the guilt and shame of the sin, but do focus on all the feelings, arguments and trigger points that ‘greases the path’ and makes it easier for you to give in to temptation. Look at your inner patterns and movements, recurring memories, fears or concerns and motivations underlying your choices to sin.
In these prayerful reflections, you will come to better understand the scope and breadth of your specific temptations as you journey towards the kingdom. May God’s Spirit guide you in constructing your personal battle plan against them!!!
Strugglin’ against and temptation is not the same as choosing to sin…
This Lent, let’s learn from the very temptation that causes us angst, arming ourselves with a more complete armor, grounded in Christ.