The Father’s Love (Lent #7)

How deep the Father’s love for us,
How vast beyond all measure—
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure.

Stuart Townsend

“A voice came from heaven, ‘You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.’” (Luke 3:22, ESV)

In the previous chapter we mentioned the elements of sonship, which show or prove sonship. But there is also the experience of sonship, and the experience of sonship is an experience of God’s love.

No matter how many children a parent has, each of them can claim all of their affection. Each of them is uniquely loved and specially chosen.

“See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God.” (1 John 3:1, ESV)

The word “beloved” is especially applied to Jesus as God’s “uniquely born” Son. He is the only sinless human, chosen as Messiah, and was co-eternal with the Father before the Earth existed. And yet God—because he is infinite—can love each of his children fully and totally without lessening his care for each of the others, or diminishing his holy attributes.

This approval and love from God are what steeled Jesus against the devil’s temptations. And they are the same things that the devil provoked him to doubt. Knowing God’s word helps us to recognize temptation, and knowing God’s character helps us to deny it.

Thomas Chalmers has a famous sermon about “The Expulsive Power of a New Affection.” When I first heard the title, I had no idea what he could be driving at, but I will do my best to summarize it: You cannot tell a child not to play with your computer cords, unless you give him a better toy to play with. We are by nature creatures of worship, and one obsession drives out another. It is only by fixing our gaze on Jesus that thoughts of temptation will not only lose their grip—they will go wholly unnoticed.

This is the whole secret of obedience: knowing God’s love. When we understand how much he loves us, and desires good for us, then temptation loses its enticement. The sin that we thought would be freedom, turns out to be a “weight that slows us down.” (Hebrews 12:1, NLT) The righteousness that we feared would be dull, turns out to be life and immortality brought to light.

There is no moral secret against temptation other than knowing God better, and there is no other way to get to know God than by taking in His word, and sublimating it into prayer, passion and action.

Father, show us how much you love us, so that when we face temptation, we can say with Jesus that it holds no power for us.

Amen.

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