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Ephesians 6:10-20

 
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak. (ESV)

The Medium of Death and Life

Friday of Easter

1 April 2016

Temptation must come, but we needn't succumb to it. The devil would love for us to believe that temptation is irresistible. We have a figure of speech that leads in this direction, when presented with a luscious diet-busting dessert that we ought to avoid we intone these fatalistic words of self-permission, "I just couldn't resist it." It is as though Darth Vader was right, "Resistance is futile (heavy breathing)." The only thing that is inevitable is the presence of temptation, not its ultimate triumph. Martin Luther once said: "You cannot prevent the birds from flying over your head. But let them only fly and do not let them build nests in the hair of your head." Temptation may not be permitted to find a nest within out hearts. For if it does then we shall fall into it, and it will become our god. For where our heart is there shall our treasure be (Mt 6:21).
 
We Christians live surrounded by a stream of temptations, whether these are proffered by the devil, the world, or our sinful flesh. There is no escaping the presence of temptation. This is why the Christian is always praying, "Lead us not into temptation." We must not be discouraged when we feel temptations flying all around our head, but bat them away with the Word of God and prayer.
 
We pray this way that we might not fall from the ship of the church to be drowned in the swirling waters of temptation in which the church floats. She is the ark of life which rides on the swelling flood of death around us. In such a rightly baptized ark we shall be saved from temptation through water with Noah and his family, eight souls in all (1Pt 3:20). Temptation remains, like the water, and through it (not in it!) we shall still be saved. Ironically the water is both the medium of life and the medium of death. Through it the church floats, but in it souls bent on death are drowned.

 

Martin Luther

"'Lead us not into temptation' refers to times when God gives us power and strength to resist temptation (1Co 10:13). However, the temptation is not taken away or removed. While we live in the flesh and have the devil around us, no one can escape his temptation and enticement. It can only mean that we must endure trials-indeed, be engulfed in them (2Ti 2:3). But we say this prayer so that we may not fall and be drowned in them.
 
"To feel temptation is, therefore, a far different thing from consenting or yielding to it. We must all feel it, although not all in the same way. Some feel it in a greater degree and more severely than others. For example, the young suffer especially from the flesh. Afterward, when they reach middle life and old age, they feel it from the world. But others who are occupied in spiritual matters, that is, strong Christians, feel it from the devil. Such feeling, as long as it is against our will and we would rather be rid of it, can harm no one. For if we did not feel it, it could not be called a temptation. But we consent to it when we give it the reins and do not resist or pray against it.
 
"Therefore, we Christians must be armed (Eph 6:10-18) and daily expect to be constantly attacked. No one may go on in security and carelessly, as though the devil were far from us. At all times we must expect and block his blows. Though I am now chaste, patient, kind, and in firm faith, the devil will this very hour send such an arrow into my heart that I can scarcely stand. For he is an enemy that never stops or becomes tired. So when one temptation stops there always arise others and fresh ones.
 
"So there is no help or comfort except to run here, take hold of the Lord's Prayer, and speak to God from the heart like this: 'Dear Father, You have asked me to pray. Don't let me fall because of temptations.' Then you will see that the temptations must stop and finally confess themselves conquered. If you try to help yourself by your own thoughts and counsel, you will make the matter worse and give the devil more space. For he has a serpent's head (Rev 12:9). If it finds an opening into which it can slip the whole body will follow without stopping. But prayer can prevent him and drive him back." 

Martin Luther, Large Catechism, 3.106-110
 
Prayer
Dear heavenly Father, You tempt no one, but we pray that You would guard and keep us, so that the devil, the world, and our flesh would not deceive us nor seduce us into false belief, despair, and other great shame and vice. Though we are assailed by these things, we pray that we may finally overcome them and gain the victory. Amen.
 
For the Ladies' Retreat of Memorial Lutheran Church that meets this weekend, that all would be safe in their travels and find great joy in instruction under the word of God
 
For those who have suffered loss of loved ones, that God the Lord would comfort them and set their hearts on imperishable treasure
 
For Pastor Sagar Pilli of the MLC Telugu Ministry, that God would grant His grace and Spirit to the words of his mouth
Art: RUBENS, Peter Paul  The Resurrection of Christ (1611-12)

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