Genesis 2:15-17; 3: 1-7, Matthew 4:1-11
A Sermon Delivered by The Reverend Joseph C. Alsay
“THE LIE DETECTOR”
Lies, lies, lies. Think of all of the lies you’ve heard, the lies you’ve told, the lies and
deception that are part of your story. “Don’t lie. Tell the truth,” we were told as children.
“Liar, liar, liar, pants on fire,” we chanted on the playground. Maybe you have a good
internal lie detector and you can see a lie on someone’s face.
I wish I had a “Pinocchio meter” a detector these days that could help me sort through
the fake news which comes with a political spin, which is most of it. We don’t trust one
another. And everyone blames everyone else. In our postmodern lives, truth is whatever
I believe or feel. We are our own experts on everything and everyone. A lie detector
seems to be in the eyes of the beholder.
So, let’s go to the Garden of Eden, okay? Adam, Eve and the talking snake. “God’s not
telling the truth,” says the crafty serpent. “You will not die if you eat the forbidden fruit.
Come on, really. You can have it all. The possibilities are endless. Just do whatever you
want. It’ll be OK trust me-not the god-voice in your head.”
“You’ll be like God” says the devil. What’s the problem? Created in the image of God,
yes, but we are not God.
In essence, the serpent has invited the couple to distrust God.
It’s then that we tend to side with the great 20 th century theologian Flip Wilson who said,
“The devil made me do it.”
Is it an excuse?
Whether you believe in the devil or not, there are lies we tell ourselves--for our safety, or
for our security.
Look at our gospel text from Matthew. It tells us that Jesus fasted for forty days and
forty nights. And at the end of that time, when he was famished, exhausted in body and
soul, he confronted three things, three desires, that tried to draw him away from God,
away from his truest self.
The first was the urge to be self-reliant, to provide for himself rather than trusting in
God’s abundance and generosity to nourish him.
The second was his pride, and the desire to put God to the test, to prove the self-
important notion that God would not allow him to come to harm.
And finally, the desire for power and the glory associated with political leadership.
It’s a lie to believe that security is found in power and might.
It’s a lie to believe that our identity is bound to influence and affluence.
It’s a lie to believe that we can do whatever we want and not suffer the consequences.
There is always that deceiver, the Liar, the inner critic, the seducer, the serpent of old
who whispers in our ear that we are not rich enough, smart enough, good enough,
young enough, attractive enough.
Lent comes along as a lie detector. Exposing the truth about ourselves. Exposing a
different truth about the human condition.
The talking snake wants us to live in denial.
But, the invitation extended to all of us this Lenten season: to set aside the next days
and weeks as a time of reflection, a time to journey into the wilderness with Jesus and
take a long look at ourselves and our lives; to honestly consider what is it in our lives
that separates us from God.
What are the practices, the habits, the people who stand between where we are now
and where God is leading each of us? What are the changes, large or small, that we
can make that will allow us to more perfectly be who God created us to be?
During this season of repentance, we acknowledge our sins and ask for God’s
forgiveness not because God needs us to ask. God has already forgiven us completely
No, we repent because in doing so we are able to more fully experience God’s grace,
love and forgiveness and we are able to ask for God’s help in making changes in our
In Nomine Jesu - Fr. Joseph Alsay
Various Clergy and members of St. Augustine contribute to authoring the blog on a variety of topics.