What’s it like being a monk? Where every day you spend many hours in quietness praying to God – I wonder how you would cope with that? I think it would be quite difficult, because most of us are not used to silence for any length of time. Silence is not everyone’s idea of being happy or blissful, and I think it takes a certain type of person to take the vows associated with monastic orders. We hear about the monks taking the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.
Why those three vows poverty, chastity and obedience? Perhaps as we think about it, they represent the three areas of life where people are most easily tempted and to put it into modern day language, money, sex and power. So just think about it for a few moments. I’d like to think about this today and again tomorrow.
We all know something about temptation. When you become a Christian, there’s sometimes a war going on. Satan certainly doesn’t want you to go God’s way. And so we’re tempted. We’re tempted to do things that are wrong, and it happens each day in one form or another.
And as we read the Bible, particularly the New Testament, we know that Jesus was tempted in Hebrews 4:15. We read that we have a high priest who was tempted in every way that we are but did not sin. And at the very beginning of his public ministry, we read, Luke tells us that Jesus was led into the wilderness to be tempted for 40 days.
Actually, at that time, Luke says, he ate nothing. He was hungry and when it was all over the devil said to him, “If you are God’s son, order this stone to turn into bread” and Jesus answered, “the scripture says human beings cannot live on bread alone.” And then the devil took him up and showed him in a second, all the kingdoms of the world. “I will give you all this power and all this wealth.” The devil told him. “It has all been handed over to me and I can give it to anyone I choose. All this will be yours then if you worship me”
And Jesus answered in verse eight – “the scripture says, worship the Lord your God and serve only him.” Then the devil took him to Jerusalem and set him on the highest point of the temple and said to him, “If you are God’s son, throw yourself down from here. For the scripture says God will order his angels to take good care of you. It also says they will hold you up in their hands so that not even your feet will be hurt on a stone.”
And Jesus answered again. “The scripture says, do not put the Lord your God to the test.”
Money, Sex and Power
Now those three words money, sex and power. They’re not mentioned here, and nor are the words poverty, chastity or obedience. But then Satan is very clever. He doesn’t need words to do his damage to people, and Jesus was tempted by money, by relationships and power. And as we think about it this morning, they’re the same areas of life that you and I will be tempted in, probably to one degree or another. So let’s take a quick look at it.
So Jesus was out there in the desert. In fact, Luke says that he returned from the Jordan full of the Holy Spirit. And he was led by the spirit into the desert. So what was this all about? Was it some cruel trick or some hoax?
For the forty days Satan said to him, “If you are the son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” Sounds like a very weird sort of suggestion, doesn’t it? I mean, he was hungry, but it was a temptation to turn something of no value into something of real value. In fact, it was quite an intriguing temptation. Tell these stones to turn into bread. And after all, Jesus could have done it. He turned water into wine. And as we say today, Jesus could have laughed all the way to the bank. He certainly had the power to do anything he wanted to.
And we’ll take that a little bit further again tomorrow.
Well, Heavenly Father, we thank you that you give us the strength to follow you. You supply strength by your own hand and we want to take your hand and look to you, Lord, instead of the temptations and sometimes, Lord, the distractions that come our way. I pray that you will strengthen us. And I offer this prayer in the name of Jesus, our Lord and Saviour. Amen.