‘Our pilgrim life on earth cannot be without temptation for it is through temptation that we make progress and it is only by being tempted that we come to know ourselves. We cannot win our crown unless we overcome, and we cannot overcome unless we enter the contest and there is no contest unless we have an enemy and the temptations he brings.
…When [Jesus] willed to be tempted by the devil, he figuratively transferred us into himself. We have just read in the gospel that our Lord Jesus Christ was tempted in the desert by the devil and this is exactly what happened. In Christ you were being tempted because Christ had his human flesh from you, just as he won salvation for you from himself. He received death from you, just as he gained life from himself for you. From you he received reproaches and from himself for you he gained glory and honour. In the same way he suffered the temptation for you and he won from himself the victory for you.
If we have been tempted in him, in him we conquer the devil. Do you notice that Christ has been tempted and fail to notice that he overcame the temptation? Recognise your own self, tempted in him and conquering also in him. He might have avoided the devil completely but, had he not been tempted, he would have failed to give you the lesson of conquering when you are tempted’.
from the Discourses on the Psalms by St Augustine of Hippo, 354-430
Fr Lee Kenyon