First Sunday in Lent

Our Great Deliverer Defeats Satan and Secures Our Salvation

These are the readings for the First Sunday in Lent.

God’s Word for This Week

Being “tempted” may make us think of the creamy alfredo sauce or rich chocolate cake which leads some to overindulge. In God’s view, temptation to sin is a far bigger problem. God says the one who tempts us, by our lack of self-control, is Satan himself (1 Corinthians 7:5). Temptation happens, God also says, when by our own evil desires we are dragged away and enticed (James 1:14). So? “Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.” No wonder Jesus tells his disciples, “Watch and pray so that you will not enter into temptation” (Luke 22:46).

Traditional First Lesson – Deuteronomy 26:5-10

Compare Israel’s deliverance from Egypt with our deliverance at Calvary’s cross?

Israel was delivered from slavery in Egypt. We were delivered from slavery to sin and Satan through our fear of death. Israel began their march to the Promised Land. At the cross we begin our march to the Promised Land of heaven.

What is the connection between remembering how the Lord delivered us and giving our first fruits?

There is joy when we receive a sudden windfall. Living in America, it’s hard for us to imagine what our joy would be if that sudden windfall were freedom after living in slavery for generations. If we feel generous and throw a little money around after a windfall, thinking about the windfall of spiritual and eternal freedom we have from the Lord causes rich generosity to well up in us. However, rather than throwing our riches around for trinkets, it is our privilege to be the Lord’s instruments in bringing many more to freedom. Praise God for his indescribable grace!

Supplemental First Lesson – Joshua 7:16-26

After the fall of Jericho, which Jewish man was tempted to steal?

Achan was tempted to steal.

What did he take from Jericho?

Achan took silver, gold, and a beautiful Babylonian robe from Jericho, even though all the plunder from Jericho was the Lord’s.

What do you think God wants us to conclude from his death by stoning and the huge pile of rocks that marked his grave?

God seems to want us to conclude that temptations to sin are not “small potatoes.” With us, as with Achan, temptations that may seem meager are terrible. They lead to death and permanent disgrace.

Traditional Second Lesson – Romans 10:8b-13

What might cause a person to doubt that God’s love is near?

Sometimes it may seem like God’s love isn’t near, because we are faced with a difficult and desperate situation, we prayed, but we haven’t seen any answers. Guilt is an even greater cause of such feelings. With our heads we know that Jesus died for us. Yet our hearts keep on condemning us.

How can we be sure God is near to us?

We can be sure only by continually holding to the gospel in Word and sacrament. Through the gospel, God’s love is near!

How does being sure that God is near to us help us to fight lapses into selfishness and indifference?

The gospel fills our hearts with amazement that in spite of our sins and in spite of our lack of faith, God is faithful to us. Our joy and amazement over that fact fills us with the desire to confess him to others and sours our desire for sin.

Supplemental Second Lesson – Hebrews 4:14-16

Since Jesus is God, were his temptations only illusions?

The temptations Jesus went through were not illusions. Jesus “was tempted in every way, just as we are, yet without sin.” As man, he was really tempted, though he could not have fallen, since he is God.

What, therefore, should we do with confidence?

Since Jesus was tempted just like us, but did not give in, we can approach God’s throne of grace with confidence to get the help we need.

Gospel – Luke 4:1-13

Compare Satan’s temptations of Eve (Genesis 3:1-5) in the Garden of Eden with his temptations of Christ.

Satan tempted Eve to doubt God’s love and Word, to make her own decisions about her care, and to think that created things could somehow satisfy her more than the Creator. Satan tempted Jesus in similar ways. Therefore we must watch out for the same tactics from the tempter.

What can we learn from Jesus’ method of defeating Satan’s temptations?

When we are tempted, we need God’s Word in our heart. (The more we have memorized, the more weapons we have to fight off the devil.) Just as Jesus used God’s Word from Deuteronomy to defeat the devil, in temptation we go to God and his Word. They will be the source for our answers to Satan. They will give us strength to stand firm. By the power of his Word, God created all things and raised his Son from the dead. The power of his Word is limitless. We must not rely on our own power at all. Trusting in God’s Word, we can overcome and win the victory, even in our final hours. (How furious Satan will be if we die trusting in Christ, not ourselves, and slip between his hideous fingers into our Father’s hands forever!)

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