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Sooner resisted easier overcome

Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil... Ephesians 5. 15-16

The mediaeval classic Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis advises us to resist temptation at the earliest opportunity. This reflects the Lord's own strategy, when he is confronted by Satan (literally "the tempter") on the threshold of his earthly ministry and following his 40-day fast in the wilderness. We often assume that Satan "ambushed" Jesus at his weakest in order to throw him off course. Though Jesus would indeed have been emaciated and exhausted physically, it is also the case that one's mental acuity is sharpened through abstinence. So my own view is that Jesus "brings on" the temptations which might undermine his ministry, in order to clear the path for his faithful fulfilment of his mission to redeem the world through personal suffering and sacrifice.

How much damage and grief we would save - ourselves and others - if we followed Jesus's example and the teaching of Thomas à Kempis. It would involve both drawing out our weaknesses, calling out the temptations most likely to assail us and then rejecting them - through scripture, prayer and the power of the Holy Spirit. Fasting helps but you can ask God for help immediately if you need to.



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