The first Sunday in Lent is always the account of Jesus being tempted in the wilderness by Satan. There is an aspect of this temptation that I did not cover when I preached on those verses. You may want to refresh your memory of these verses by reading Luke 4:1-13. I'll wait..........there, now we will continue. The Devil tempted Jesus by saying "If you are the Son of God....." The temptation was to forget who He was.
In Jesus' baptism, God The Father spoke from the clouds encouraging Jesus with these words "This is My Son, whom I love, with Him I am well pleased." God knew Jesus would be tempted to forget who He was and therefore would be more likely to stray from His task. I suggest to you that the Devil will try the same business with us. His greatest temptation is not to make think more of ourselves, but to think less of ourselves and believe we are incapable of promoting Kingdom growth and justice in this world.
In our Baptisms we are given a new identity. Not that we weren't already a child of God, but in our Baptisms we can go back and say for sure this event plugs me in to God's promise. We are blessed and highly favored! A child of God! An heir of the universe! If this doesn't get your blood pumping you don't understand. Knowing your identity, who you are and whose you are, is essential to your wholeness as God's Child and to your awareness of what God wants you to do with your life. So, the Devil's primary objective is to cause you to lose track of who you are, to lose your identity, to lose your sense of belonging to the Family of God!
The ways the Devil attempts to convince us that we do not deserve to be God's beloved are most often subtle, clever and deadly. And these temptations are far more insidious than any impulse to disobey the commandments. Consider this tricky question, "If you are a child of God, why don't you feel more like one?" It's deadly because sometimes we don't feel much like a beloved member of God's family. The implication is if maybe if you don't feel like one, you aren't one.
Or how about this terrible temptation, "If you are a child of God, then why don't you act like one?" I know there are times when I don't act like one. How about you? Why do I have the thoughts I sometimes have? Why do I do the things I sometimes do? And why can't I seem to master the things I struggle with? Sometimes I wonder how I can be a Christian when I don't always live the way I know I should. The Devil is filled with glee if he can get us to think that way and snatch away the joy of our salvation.
Even sneakier is the question, "Are you sure you are a real Christian?" As though there are Christians and then there are real Christians. Now we have moved from self examination to comparing ourselves to others and if we don't watch it we will find ourselves kicking Jesus off His judgment throne and putting ourselves there in His place, determining who is saved and who is not.
What do we do then? We do what Jesus did when He was being tempted in the wilderness. He went back to the Scriptures! He remembered who He was and what God had done for Him in the past. Jesus recalled the truths God had spoken to Him and His people. Our identity as Children of God rests on the fact that God's claim has been laid upon us! Jesus said, "You did not choose me but I chose you...." (John 15:16) Nowhere is it written that our acceptance by Jesus is dependent upon how we feel or upon anything we have done or not done!!!! None of that counts for Christ has claimed us!!
Do you believe that? Do you want it? Do you want Jesus as your Lord and Savior? Then you are a Christian! You may not always be a faithful one. You may not always be a very strong one. You may not always feel like one, but you are a child of God. You are a child of God because it pleases God to have that relationship with you. My prayer is we will never forget who we are. We will never let the Devil snatch away the joy of our salvation. We will always remember that we are blessed and highly favored!!!!!