How do you fight temptation? The Gospel of Luke reports that Jesus, filled with the Holy Spirit, was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. (Luke 4:1-2)
If Jesus, who shared our humanity, needed the Holy Spirit to resist the temptations of the devil, how much more do we? Certainly, our fallen humanity makes us subject to all kinds of temptations. The list is lengthy. St. Paul says, “The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies and the like.” (Galatians 5:19-21)
Other sins are more subtle, such as checking our faith at the door of our workplace, not taking time to listen to someone who is hurting or failing to be kind and respectful in our relationships. These sins of omission can be just as destructive to others and us as the more obvious sins of commission.
There was a time in my life when I let my work and career take precedence over my wife and family, but fortunately I was invited by a priest and a group of nuns to be prayed with for the release of the power of the Holy Spirit. Experiencing the presence of the Holy Spirit in a more personal and real way opened my eyes to both the sins of omission and commission. The Spirit gave me an entirely new perspective in how God was calling me to love and serve him through my family, work and ministry.
Experiencing the fullness and presence of the Holy Spirit is absolutely essential to resisting the devil’s many temptations.
We all have different propensities to sin, but Jesus came to forgive and free us from our sins through the power of the Holy Spirit. I can personally testify that Jesus can set you free of a nagging, persistent sin. Ask Jesus with all your heart to take a sin from you, and he will do so!
Last week I received word that one of the nuns who had prayed with me years ago had died on Christmas Eve. Her name was Sister Pauline Cinquini of the Sisters of Charity, part of the St. Elizabeth Ann Seaton House of Prayer in Scarsdale, New York. She was truly a woman of God, using her gifts of love, teaching and music to bring the renewal of the Holy Spirit to countless people for more than forty years.
I will never forget her reassuring words of God’s love and forgiveness on an October evening years ago that, together with the power of the Holy Spirit, changed the course of my life forever. I know she is in the presence of the Father, and as Paul says in 1 Cor. 1:9, we have not heard, seen or conceived what God has prepared for her.
By Jesus’ example in the desert, let us fervently seek the Holy Spirit in order to resist the temptations of the devil.