The Reading (Mat. 4.1-11) teaches us that we will be tempted to rebel against God by the hidden voice of Satan. This is in addition to the voice of our own ego and our human cravings for love, wealth and power. Many people in North America have been deceived by false teachings on the Bible and do not believe in Satan. I was probably one of those people until I had a personal experience of Satan’s voice. I was standing on a busy sidewalk in Calgary beside the woman I had just fallen in love with. There were four lanes of traffic and we were waiting at traffic light for the signal to cross. A thought came into my head “if you just push her a little she will fall into the traffic and be killed”. I was stunned! Where was this coming from! Then another voice helped me understand – I had experienced spiritual evil. The Bible stories of Satan are not exaggerated!
Let us consider the question of why we should examine our spiritual life before going on to the practical questions of how to do this and prepare for weekly Confession and Absolution.
1. Why should I examine my spiritual life?Regular self-examination is at the heart of developing a spiritual life. . This is the work of examining your motives and actions to ensure you are cleaning out spiritual pollution and developing a closer love relationship with Jesus. This is the best way to identify and overcome our hidden temptations.
· We do it as a discipline because we do not think we really need to do it – the sin of spiritual pride – like testing God (if Jesus stepped off the Temple)
· Do it because we deceive ourselves about our actions and intentions – example of St. George’s Interim – pride
· Do it because we have a spiritual adversary – Satan that temps us, deceives us and then accuses us before God
· Do it because it helps us grow spiritually
2 How do I examine my life?First step is to develop the practice of having a regular quiet time. Most people do this by getting up a half hour earlier to read Scripture, pray and meditate. You need a special place, away from distractions. The goal is to identify some specific incidents in the past week where you have failed to love God, yourself or your neighbour. The goal is to invite the Holy Spirit to walk with you through a review of each day of the past week. The Holy Spirit will highlight some specific examples of ways in which you have failed to love. This requires focussed thinking. Begin by assuming you have probably broken all of the 10 Commandments, to some small extent. For example you have probably not murdered anyone – but you might have been angry with someone which could be ‘murder in the heart’. We have probably all spoken words about someone which when miss-interpreted and re-phrased by others will end up murdering the other persons reputation.
Ask the Holy Spirit to show you how you have I failed to love God by:
· Putting other ‘gods’ - hockey or movie stars before God?
· Bowing down to idols – money, power, sex, popularity?
· Using the name of God carelessly, without respect?
· Failing to obey the command to set a Sabbath day aside?
Ask to be shown how you have failed to love yourself by:
· Discontentment, complaining – wanting more, coveting?
· Failing to seek counselling and prayer for healing?
· Believing lies – Not wanted, Not clever, Spirit of Slavery
· Parents (not like), Spouse, Children, relatives?
· Co-workers, employers (stealing time)?
· Other drivers (stealing the road to park)?
· Murdering the reputation of others through gossip?
· Curses, lies, deception and angry words?
Lent is a time to examine our lives to identify sins, repent, confess, receive absolution and come closer to Jesus!