Scriptures: Matthew 6:13, Luke 22:40, 1 Timothy 6:9, 1 Corinthians 10:12, Matthew 6:13, James 1:13-14, Matthew 4:1-2, 1 Corinthians 10:12-13, Hebrews 4:15
Matthew 6:13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.'
Jesus said that proper prayer - perfect prayer - includes talking to Father about our temptations. Temptation is an unavoidable part of human existence. Each of us have issues that tempt us. Temptations come in unlimited forms. They are as an ageless smorgasbord laid out in endless array to satisfy everyone's every carnal hunger. The Bible says we all have them. Even Jesus was tempted. So, no one can pretend that today's lesson, and this part of the Lord's Prayer, does not concern them.
FALL INTO TEMPTATION: The Bible and the Lord Jesus express our succumbing to temptations as a fall. On the night that he needed his disciples to stand strong and not give into temptation, Jesus said,
Luke 22:40 On reaching the place, he said to them, "Pray that you will not fall into temptation."
If indulging in temptation is a fall, from what is it that we fall and into what do we fall? A picture of the fall is given in what happened to Adam and Eve. Their experience with temptation is called the fall of man. They fell into the trap of the serpent. The results were their loss of abundant life. Pain came with child bearing and child rearing. Weeds grew in the crops of their lives. Work and sweat was necessary to produce a living. They fell from the abundant life and into the trap of the evil one.
The Apostle Paul warned about the temptation of money. In so doing, he explained how the fall works.
1 Timothy 6:9 People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap [KJV - snare] and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction.
The fall is from the abundant life - an Eden. The fall is into the trap of the evil one that will eventually lead to ruin and destruction. Temptations are many foolish and harmful desires.
FORMS OF TEMPTATION:When we think of temptation, we normally think of some lustful and dark sin. That is not always accurate. Eve's fall was food. I know it was more than that, but food is a temptation of many. Adam fell to Eve's temptation - his wife. A spouse can be a temptation that will remove the abundant life. Noah fell to the temptation of wine - addiction. Addiction will make a person fall into destruction and ruin. Moses fell to the temptation of anger. Anger will consume a person and make one fall. Miriam's temptation was criticism. She criticized Moses and lost her health. Do we criticize? If so, we will fall. Eli's temptations were his children. Eli, a judge of Israel, fell to the wishes and desires of his children. He refused to properly discipline them and literally fell to his death. This is a major temptation and fall today. It doesn't matter to people if their children are flesh-hooking everyone in the nation, they refuse to properly discipline their children. Sampson's temptation was women and he fell to that temptation by Delilah. Women were nothing more than a game and a riddle to him. David's temptation was another man's wife - Bathsheba. Solomon's temptations were numbers of women. How many is enough - a thousand? Judas Iscariot fell to money - thirty pieces of silver, a few thousand dollars. What will a few thousand dollars cause you or I do? Peter's temptation was fear of the waves and winds of life. The temptation of the woman at the well was a thirst for security. Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, fell to the temptation of lying and greed. Demetrius fell to idolatry of Diana. Idols defile many and stop their Sunday worship? Demas, an assistant of Paul's, fell to this present world.
Temptation that will take our abundant life - our Eden - is not always some dark sin. It can be as simple as food. What are your temptations? Jesus said we need to talk to Father about them.
We all have horror stories about someone's fall from Eden to destruction. I am thinking about a man who was raised in a godly home. He was outwardly a perfect picture and example of a Christ follower as a young person and he remained that way as he matured into adulthood. He went to Bible college. He married a beautiful and wonderful Christian woman. He had one of the most beautiful families imaginable. He became wealthy and had all the trimmings of success - a big house, bank account, automobiles, etc. He was a leader at his church, but he fell. He fell a great distance. He fell to great destruction and ruin. In a relatively short time, he lost everything to his temptation. His wife, his children, his home, money, church, and everything were gone.
BEWARE WHEN YOU THINK YOU STAND:Temptation is powerful. It's because of its power that the Bible warns us to be especially cautious when we think we are in a place where temptation will not get us.
1 Corinthians 10:12 So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall!
It can be at times when we think we are the strongest that we are actually slipping into temptation. A person on a cliff believes that he or she is secure until they suddenly slip. Often, it will be at the times we appear to have our feet on solid ground that everything can slip away because of temptation. The enemy will take advantage of those times.
DOES FATHER LEAD US INTO TEMPTATION?Jesus said to pray,
Matthew 6:13 And lead us not into temptation . . .
Does Father lead us into temptation? Many say he doesn't and they use what James wrote in James 1:13 for the argument that Father does not/cannot lead us into temptation. James wrote,
James 1:13 When tempted, no one should say, "God is tempting me." For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone;
James 1:14 but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed.
No one argues with what James said. We all know that our own evil desires drag us away into sin. However, that verse does not actually answer the question. The question is, 'Does Father LEAD us into temptation?' The question was not does Father tempt us with evil. There is a vast difference between leading and tempting with evil. Does Father lead us, or allow us to be led, to the place of our temptation? Jesus seemed to think Father does, but perhaps Jesus was confused.
Perhaps we can get some insight from the meaning of the word temptation in Matthew 6:13. The Greek word translatedtemptation is peirasmos (Strong's # 3986) and is pronounced pi-ras-mos'. It means an experiment, trial, proving. It means a test. Let's ask the question this way. Will Father allow us to be tested?
Matthew 4:1 Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil.
Luke 4:1 Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the desert,
Luke 4:2 where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry.
We don't like to think about Father allowing us to be tempted and tested, but he does. The Spirit of God will lead us to a place, a desert place if necessary, to be tempted by the devil. This will happen even if we are full of the Holy Spirit.
Apostle Paul taught that we will be tempted with things that are common to us. In other words, the devil can't come at us with something that we cannot handle. It's common to us. It's familiar to us. We know how to handle it. Often it is too familiar. We know what it is and we make the decision to fall or stand. Let's read the verse.
1 Corinthians 10:12 So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall!
1 Corinthians 10:13 No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.
Father will "let you be tempted." We are also given a way of escape to handle the temptation. It is like we are faced with two doors. One door is our temptation. The other door is our escape. A Christ follower does not have to give into temptation. We yield to it. Father knows we can handle it. We know we can handle it, but will we handle it? That's the test.
WHY DOES FATHER LEAD US INTO TEMPTATION? Rather than seeing our being led into temptation as something bad, let's attempt to see being led into temptation as something good. Let's see it as a test meant to reveal areas of our lives that will one day cause us tremendous problems if they go unchecked.
Years ago, I worked in textiles. One of the many jobs I did early on was work in the laboratory of a towel manufacturing plant. We would daily test the strength of the yarn that made the towels. We would reel the yarn on a wheel that measured out a specific amount. Next we transferred the yarn to a machine that would stretch the yarn until it broke. We knew the yarn would break. The test was not to find the strongest point of the yarn, but to find the weakest. The test was to find the breaking point of the yarn. The strong points of the yarn would never cause problems. The weak points caused constant problems throughout production and in the quality of the finished product. When (not if) weak yarn was discovered, a great amount of attention went to correcting the problem. Often, the machine producing the weak yarn was shut down until the problem was corrected. If the problem was not corrected, the yarn would become weaker and weaker. Every process that followed suffered and the finished product would be second quality or even a useless rag.
Father will lead us into temptations to allow us to see our weaknesses. Tests are not to reveal our strengths. The test is to reveal our weaknesses. We are put on the wheel of life and then stretched. Can I say that the purpose of the test is to break us? The test will reveal exactly how much pressure we can take at our weak points. That way we know from what we must escape. Once the area is known, it must be shut down until it is repaired. If not, it has the potential to cause every process of life tremendous problems. Life's productivity is affected. Instead of a first quality abundant life, we have a second quality life, third quality life, or even a life that is nothing more than a rag. We all know people who have failed at life because they will not shut down that part of their life and escape the temptation. That is why the Lord leads us into temptation and allows test. He wants us to know our breaking points. He wants us to know what to escape.
IF TEMPTATIONS/TEST ARE GOOD, WHY PRAY 'LEAD US NOT INTO TEMPTATION'? Here is what Charles Spurgeon said concerning this.
"First, remember your own heart. A man who carries gunpowder about with him, may well ask that he may not be led where the sparks are flying. If I have a heart like a bomb-shell, ready to explode at every moment, I may well pray God that I may be kept from the fire, lest my heart destroy me. Perhaps you have angry tempers . . . such should pray every day, that they may not be tempted by any jeering words, that they may be kept calm and quiet, and not be led into irritation. We have each besetting sins of some sort or shape or another . . . We may have temptations, however, of another kind, and just there we should put up our prayer with great earnestness and intense passionateness of soul, exclaiming, 'Lord, lead me not into that temptation.' There is a weak point in every one of us . . . Every engineer will tell you that the strength of a ship should always be estimated, not according to her strongest but her weakest part, for if the strain shall come on her weakest part, and that be broken, no matter how strong the rest may be, the whole ship goeth down. Now, I say there is a weak point in every man; indeed . . . Therefore, because of weakness and inclination to sin, let each man pray, and pray constantly, "Lead us not into temptation." (1)
Here is my deal on praying "Lead us not into temptation . . ." Obviously praying this will work. Jesus would not have said to pray it if it did not work. One of the main virtues for me as I work my way through the Lord's Prayer, is that it forces me to think about the things that Father desire I think. It forces me to think about the kingdom and its advancement. It forces me to think about God's will for me and my ge (earth). It forces me to think about what I need today to bring his kingdom and his will. It forces me to think about and forgive people that I need to forgive. And it FORCES me to think about my temptations and to talk to Father about my temptations.
When I get to this part of the prayer, I pray, "Lord, lead me from my temptations." Remember that this is closet prayer, or shut door prayer (Mat 6:6). So, I can get extremely plain with Father concerning my temptations. I don't have to worry about anyone overhearing me. By my doing this, I am made very aware of my temptations. That awareness alone is a deterrent. If I make myself aware of my weaknesses on a regular basis, I remain much stronger and I avoid temptation. I escape through the correct door.
WILL I NEVER BE TEMPTED?Jesus said to pray And lead us not into temptation. Does that mean that if I properly pray that prayer that I will never be tempted? No, we will be tempted and tested as was Jesus who obviously prayed this prayer. The book of Hebrews says,
Hebrews 4:15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are - yet was without sin.
Then it is safe to say Jesus did not mean that we would never be tempted or ever be immune to temptation.
So, how about you? What type of life are you manufacturing? Is it a first quality abundant life? Most likely, the only thing that will cause you not to have a first quality life is your temptations. How about speaking to Father about them? He will help us and lead us not into temptation.
1. Charles Spurgeon, Spurgeon's Sermons, Biblesoft Electronic Database