Not falling into temptation

CAC Ash Wednesday Service

Not falling into temptation
Rev Dr Niam Kai Huey preaching at the CAC Ash Wednesday service

Queenstown Chinese Methodist Church (QCMC), Ang Mo Kio Chinese Methodist Church and Toa Payoh Chinese Methodist Church came together to organise a combined Ash Wednesday Service on 22 February 2023. While the service was jointly organised by the District 4 churches in the Chinese Annual Conference (CAC), all CAC church members were welcomed to attend. Members from different churches filled the sanctuary pews of QCMC that evening.

Preaching on the topic of not falling into temptation, Rev Dr Niam Kai Huey began by stating how temptations are all around us and that the fight against temptation is a lifelong one. She recalled Jesus’ experience of being tempted in the wilderness for 40 days and how Jesus overcame each temptation with the Word of God.

With reference to the three sources of temptation singled out by theologian and philosopher Thomas Aquinas, namely, our Flesh, the World, and the Devil, Rev Niam delved into the importance of recognising where our temptations could come from so that we may better face, fight and overcome them.

Ashes prepared for the ritual of the imposition of ashes
Ashes prepared for the ritual of the imposition of ashes

But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

~ James 1:14-15

Rev Niam explained that not all temptations originate from external forces but come from our own Flesh. We were cautioned the more we allowed ourselves to be exposed to our fleshly desires, the more likely we would succumb to temptation. Thus, Rev Niam urged us to flee from them, avoid circumstances that would tempt us further, and to remember—as Jesus did—that we live not by meeting the needs of our flesh alone but “by every Word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matt 4:4).

The temptations of the World refer to its values, standards and ideologies that are in opposition to God’s design. Drawing from Romans 12:2, Rev Dr Niam reminded us of how we are “not (to) be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind”. In the spirit of Lent and in exhorting us to remain steadfast in worshipping and serving the Lord (Matt 4:10), she called on all to practise three disciplines: to pray, fast, and do good. These habits would help us look up and connect with God; to look within and overcome ourselves; and to look outwardly to offer help to those in need.

Worship after the imposition of ashes

Finally, we were prompted to be watchful amidst hardship for the Devil, who “prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Pet 5:8). Rev Dr Niam elaborated that the devil often attacks us with feelings of doubt, despair and hopelessness during our moments of suffering, tempting us to seek only our wants instead of the will of God. We were thus reminded to be alert and to draw strength in the name of our Lord to ward off the attacks of the Devil.

With the imposition of ashes, we remembered our sinful and broken nature, and our need for ongoing repentance.

For you are dust, and to dust you shall return.

~ Genesis 3:19b

May the Lord forgive us for our iniquity, create in us a clean heart, restore to us the joy of our salvation and sustain in us a willing spirit. May we follow God more closely, love Him more dearly and know Him more clearly this season of Lent and beyond. Glory be to the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

By CAC Communications Team / Photos courtesy of Queenstown Chinese Methodist Church