The Kingdom of God is at hand in Christ Jesus, and His Baptism has become your Holy Baptism. Thus, you are a beloved son of God the Father, and you are well-pleasing to Him. He has bound Himself to you, and you to Him, by and with His own Name; and He has poured out His Holy Spirit upon you.
With all of that, you now find yourself living in the arena between God and the devil, and you are driven into personal conflict with the devil, the world and your own sinful flesh. Day by day, you are tempted by these enemies to doubt, deny and disobey the Word of God, your Father; while He would test you, and try your heart and mind, to live by faith in His Word and the promises of your Baptism. Thus are you daily being put to death and raised to a new life in Christ.
Life is a battlefield when the Kingdom of God invades the devil's stomping grounds. So, too, because Christ Jesus has been baptized to be your Champion and your Savior, He is immediately driven by the Spirit of God from the waters of His Baptism into the wilderness, there to be tempted by Satan and to engage that wicked foe in a strange and dreadful contest. Thus, the Son of David goes out to meet a bigger, badder Goliath than this world has ever dreamed of.
The wilderness is where Christ contends with Satan, because the wilderness is where you are tested and trained. The wilderness is where fallen sinners learn how to live in Paradise again. It is the long stretch between Egypt and Canaan. It is where you are taught to live in the Kingdom of God by faith. To that end, it is in the wilderness that you are called to repent and believe the Gospel, but it is especially at those two points that you are tempted by the devil.
The Lord your God tests you and tries you, in order to strengthen and clarify your faith and confession. The devil tempts you into evil, in order to rob you of life and bring you to death and condemnation. So it is that Satan entices you to sin against God's Word, but then he is the first in line to accuse you and bring charges against you.
At every point in your life, this battle is waged: in your successes, and in your suffering and failures; in what you have, and in what you lack or lose; in what God has promised, and in what you covet for yourself that God has not given you. Always the devil is tempting you to question and contradict, to ignore and despise what God has spoken, both the Law and the Gospel. But let God be true, and everything else a lie.
Trust the Lord, your God and Father in Christ Jesus. Cling to His Word, come hell or high water against you. Do not despair of His goodness, nor let go of His good gifts.
Do not be deceived or misled into evil, which has the appearance of "good," but leads only to death. Beware of the assaults and temptations of the enemy: the lies, the flattery, the questions, and the accusations of the devil; the enticements and attacks of the world; the lusts and desires of your own mortal flesh, which are the rotting cesspool out of which all sin and death proceed.
Sometimes crass, sometimes subtle, the devil is always crafty, and every sin to which he tempts you is dangerous and deadly.
But where will you live? In the Kingdom of God? Or with the devil in his prison house of death and despair? That is what it comes down to, finally, and you cannot have it both ways.
Repent. Now is the time. The Kingdom of God is at hand.
Remember your Baptism. Remember what God has said and done. Recall what you have confessed and sworn, by His grace: Renounce the devil, all his works and all his ways.
Do not suppose that you can live a double life, with one foot in the world and one in the Church. Sacrifice your idols, no matter how precious they may be. Obey the Word of the Lord, no matter how difficult it may be; no matter how ludicrous it may sound. Rely upon His promise, and call upon His Name, in the confidence that He will provide; that He will save you, rescue and raise you up, even from death and the grave.
See, here, you shall not starve. Your God feeds you. You shall not go naked. Your God clothes and shelters you. You shall not die alone. Your God is with you. Your God dies with you, and for you. That is your surety and your salvation.
He has set Himself as your great Champion, and He is faithful; He does what He has promised. There is no shifting or turning with Him. You are sheltered under the shadow of His wings.
The Kingdom of God does not rest upon your faithfulness, nor even upon your repentance and faith. The Kingdom of God is at hand in the Body of Christ. It is as sure and certain as His Nativity, His Baptism, His life, His death, and His Resurrection from the dead. Your repentance and faith, your life and salvation, are firmly established upon Him.
Consider the example of Christ Jesus, then, which is always more than an example; because everything He does, He does it for you, that you may live in Him. Amid the wild beasts and the wicked assaults of Satan, He receives the ministry of His Father's holy angels. So, too, does He minister unto you by His messengers, both angelic spirits and mortal preachers of the Gospel.
Here, then, be served by the angel of Christ. For you are His beloved, a son or daughter of His Father, by His grace. For His own sake, and by His victory on your behalf, He is well-pleased with you. Do not be afraid. He holds no sin against you. You are forgiven. Be clothed in the garments of your Baptism, which are ever cleansed and pristine by His own Blood. Be fed from His hand with His own Body. For by Himself He has sworn, that you are His, and He is yours forever. Heaven stands open to you, and the Kingdom of God is here for you. Amen, Amen, it is so.
In the Name + of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Homily at Evening Prayer (last night)
15 hours ago