Sunday, February 21, 2010

First Sunday of Lent

And the snake was clever, more than all the living things of the field which Yahweh God made. And he said to the woman, "Indeed, for has God said you will not eat from all trees of the garden?" And the woman said to the snake, "From fruits of trees of the garden we may eat, yet from fruits of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God said, ‘You will not eat from it and not touch upon it, otherwise you die.'" And the snake said to the woman, "You will not die death. For God knows that in the day you eat from it, and your eyes will be opened, and you will be as God–knowing good and evil." And the woman, seeing that the tree good in what is eaten, and that it was lovely to the eyes, and desirable to make one counseled in wisdom, and she took from its fruit and she ate, and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate. And the eyes of both were opened and they realized that they were both naked, and they sewed leaves of a fig, and made for themselves girdles. And Yahweh God called to Adam and said to him, "Where are you?" And he said, "The sound of you I heard in the garden and I feared, for I myself was naked, so I hid." And He said, "Who announced to you that you yourselves were naked? From the tree which I ordered you to not eat from it, have you eaten?" And Adam said, "The woman that You gave with me, she gave to me from the tree and I ate." And Yahweh God said to the woman, "What is this you did?" And the woman said, "The snake deceived me, and I ate."

You would think that having the opposing team's play-book would guarantee success, but it doesn't. In the first Super Bowl, Vince Lombardi's Packers ran the same sweep over and over but the Chiefs couldn't stop it, even though they knew it was coming. The same thing happens to you with the devil. He uses the same play, over and over, and you fail to stop it. His play-book is a simple one. He always starts as he did with Eve, "Did God really say..." You know it's coming, but you are fall for it anyway.

When tempted, you fall into sin because Satan knows your weaknesses. First of which is your eye trouble. You foolishly assume that what your eyes see is really good. It isn't. Eve looked and on the surface, the fruit looked ok. You look at things superficially, and think, "What harm is there in that." Then you lust, you gossip, you covet, you lie, and you end up hurting others to get what you want.

God gives you His Holy Spirit so that you may walk by faith, not by sight. You look with faith, not from your eye-balls, but from your heart which trusts Jesus as your Savior. For in Holy Baptism, the sinful desires of your old heart are now gone. Greed, selfish passions, and stubbornness are a thing of the past as your now-sin-free-heart sees the desires of God Himself for you and for others! Your sins now forgiven in Jesus at the cross, you are set free to ponder anew the good and gracious will of God.

You give into the devil's temptations because, like Eve, you don't always know what is good. There is a way that seems right to you, but it is far from it. An action *feels* good, or an opinion *seems* good, but the consequences lead to destruction in the end. You want to trust the words of your thoughts, but by doing so you end up doubting the clear Word of God, by wondering, "Did God really say..."

God really did say--in Jesus Christ the very Word of God! Jesus proves that He is God's Word by undoing what Eve and Adam botched up so terribly in the Garden. Notice how Jesus answers each temptation of Satan with God's clear word. The Word of Jesus is sufficient to shut the devil up, and it serves you well. For the Gospel of Jesus proclaims you forgiven, declaring you to be no longer a sinner in God's sight, but now a holy child of God cleansed from your unrighteousness by His Word.

That snake-in-the-grass successfully tempts you whenever you forget your place. Eve wanted to be the same as God. She forgot that she was a creation, not like the Creator. You too fall into temptation when you act as though you are God. You do this when you make plans for your family, your church, or yourself without consulting God's Word. But acting as if you are your own Lord gets you in trouble.

Thank God Jesus didn't forget His place! His job as Eve's Seed was to crush that snake for you. He won a decisive battle against Satan in the desert by not giving in to temptation. But Jesus knew His place to crush the devil once and for all at Calvary. There He gave His body in the death that poisonous serpent inflicted on Him through sin. He willingly shed His blood for you at the cross, so that you may eat His body and drink His blood in the Sacrament of the Altar for your forgiveness and salvation!

Did God really say? Yes He did, in the victorious Word incarnate, Christ Jesus, your Lord and Savior.


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