I have only one real issue with Lent. First, here is a piece taken from catholic.org explaining the purpose of Lent:
"The goal is not just to abstain from sin for the duration of Lent but to root sin out of our lives forever. Conversion means leaving behind an old way of living and acting in order to embrace new life in Christ. For catechumens, Lent is a period intended to bring their initial conversion to completion."
OK, maybe I don't have just one issue with Lent.
My main question, however, is this: if the purpose of Lent "is not just to abstain from sin for the duration of Lent but to root sin out of our lives forever," then why even have Lent? It is written in 2 Corinthians:
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. (5:17)
Also, in the book of Matthew, it says,
Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it." (16:24-25)
So what are the principles laid out in the passages above? First, upon belief in Christ, people are made new creations. Things associated with the old self have faded away and everything is now new in God's family. Secondly, to follow Christ we must put our own desires away and seek Him. This is not a one-time decision at the moment of conversion; no, this is a daily battle. Every single day, each one of us is faced with choices. We can walk in the Word, following the Lord, or we can quench the Spirit and reach for our selfish ambitions. This idea was expressed well to the Israelites in the book of Deuteronomy:
“See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil, in that I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments, His statutes, and His judgments, that you may live and multiply; and the LORD your God will bless you in the land which you go to possess. But if your heart turns away so that you do not hear, and are drawn away, and worship other gods and serve them, I announce to you today that you shall surely perish; you shall not prolong your days in the land which you cross over the Jordan to go in and possess. I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; that you may love the LORD your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days; and that you may dwell in the land which the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them.” (30:15-20)
Our choices have consequences and we make choices every day of every year. We have to choose to be committed to Christ. These things we know for sure.
So how does this relate to Lent? Well, Lent is seemingly the lazy man's way to commit. Someone who gets really serious about God during Lent is kind of like that guy who never shows up to his basketball team's practices but laces up to play in the game.
What a man decides to sacrifice for God during a mere 40 days of one year is missing the big picture. In the same way only doing 9% of your homework won't allow you to pass a class, denying your sin for only 9% of the year won't allow you to truly confront a hindrance in your relationship with God.
Lent presents itself as a season, whereas the Christian walk is not a season, it is a lifestyle. We are new creations, we are not being created through certain observations of times each year, but we are made new from the start of our new life. We are to pick up our crosses to follow Christ, not at the beginning of Lent, but from the moment we place our faith in Him as our Savior. We are to deny ourselves daily, not only a select amount of days that precede Easter, but each day we rise from our beds. Our commitment to Christ is revealed through everyday actions. Lip service and good works do nothing to satisfy the wrath of God. It is only through real faith that righteousness is awarded to our account.
I have never practiced nor been educated by clergy about Lent, so I do not know if its main purpose is to root sin out of the participant's life for good or not. But in order for that to truly happen, believers must get out of their mindset that revolves around traditions.
Traditions never saved anybody.
If you have truly trusted in Christ, He is abiding in you and you in Him. He is actively at work in your heart and in your mind to change you from the lost sinner you were into a true follower of Him. God is conforming you to His image.
You do not have to wait to change.
God is at work in the lives of people right now the same way He was six months/years/decades ago. When Lent ends, He'll still be at work. From eternity past to eternity future, the Lord is active. If you have something in your life that needs to be addressed and ratified, please, look to Jesus now. Do not do it because everyone in your church is doing it. Do not seek God for your own personal gain. Look to Christ because you need to be saved from your sins. Only the Lord has the power to do such a work!
(Now we'll see who actually reads to the bottom of my posts-- I know that there are some believers who practice Lent and agree with what I just said about the lack of power in good works/traditions. However, I do not know if I have met any. If this person is you, please know that I am not necessarily talking to you when I call for a change in practice on this particular issue.)