1One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.”
2 He said to them, “When you pray, say:
“‘Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come.
3 Give us each day our daily bread.
4 Forgive us our sins,
for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.
And lead us not into temptation.’”
In our last sermon focusing on Jesus’ teaching His Disciples to pray, we saw the importance of forgiveness to maintain relationships. We are taught to ask for forgiveness of God and to dispense it freely to others. In today’s phrase, we see a different aspect of prayer: The aspect of prayer that Jesus brings to the attention of His Disciples is that of avoiding the issue of forgiveness altogether!
We won’t need to ask for forgiveness and deal with the difficult consequences of sin if we just don’t sin in the first place! And so Jesus teaches His followers to pray for protection from temptation. And in Matthew’s gospel, He adds, And deliver us from the evil one. (Which indicates a conspiracy)
Let’s begin this morning, by considering the issue of temptation:
- Temptation: Dragged down by desire
- God does not tempt anyone
There are important issues related to God and the way that He works in our lives relative to temptation.
For example, the COI in the wilderness are delivered from the Egyptians only to be faced with a crisis of food and water in the desert. God in Deuteronomy 8 says: “2 Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. 3 He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.
And then of course Jesus in Matthew 4:
Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.3 The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”
4 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
And in our own lives it may seem that God is not active in aiding us against temptation or that He has allowed undue pressure to sit on us. But that is not the Biblical perspective: James 1 is very helpful here:
12 Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.
13 When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone;
Does God tempt people? No. Why?
So then, how does temptation work?
14 but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.
There is a lot here: We are responsible for our temptations because they are rooted in our own hearts. We are temptable. God is not even temptable!
And the process works like this:
- We are tempted (dragged on by our evil desires)
- When we give in to the evil desire we sin.
- And then sin grows and matures, it acts like a cancer.
16 Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. 17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.
And then there is this verse: Every good gift is from God. If it is good, it is from God. And we end up tempted by good things. And this is hard. The fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was good. Everything in the Garden was created good. There are things that are gifts from God that are good and that you can’t be safe with. It’s easy to see with alcohol addiction. It’s easy to see with food addiction. It’s easy to see with hording. But it’s real for everyone. That’s why Jesus is out in the wilderness being tempted. Those good gifts of God, we don’t live by them alone. We live by being obedient to His Word. And it is our hearts that are the problem. So, how do we recognize and deal with these heart problems?
- God does test people
Example from daily bread: Man does not live by bread alone. We are tested to see what is in our hearts.
Deuteronomy 8: Be careful to follow every command I am giving you today, so that you may live and increase and may enter and possess the land the Lord promised on oath to your ancestors. 2 Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. 3 He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.
Jesus in the wilderness.
Paul with his “Thorn in the Flesh”
The real difference between a test and a temptation is in the intent of the deliverer. A temptation is meant to destroy and separate one from God. A test is meant to strengthen and bring one to God.
The circumstances are the same as far as I can tell.
- Temptation can taint good things
This is why we need to not throw the good things away, or call things that God has meant for our good to be seen as bad. We are not called to be ascetics. We are called to be free!
Success, things that taste and feel good, loving others, building something beautiful. Etc. Our hearts are corruptible.
Matt 6: 19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!
24 “No one can serve two masters. (By the way, this verse means exactly the same thing as I John 2 “Do not love the world or the things in the world) And the same as being double minded and unstable.
- God offers us help
I Cor 10: 13 No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. 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 endure it.
God will provide a way out. As near as I can tell, this will take the form of testing. Deut 8 Jesus in the Wilderness or
Hebrews 12: 4 In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 5 And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says,
“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline,
and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,
6 because the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.”[a]
7 Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? 8 If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all.
Ok, this is what I know about temptation, now, how to deal effectively with it…
- Fighting the Good Fight
- All temptation is rooted in a lie
Satan is a liar. Lies are intended to manipulate. You might do better if you got a little angry! (He preys on your weakness) He says:
If a some is good, a lot is better.
Life is not worth living apart from this.
It’s not a big deal. (Then why are you thinking about it? It’s at least a subject worth praying about.)
We will die unless we take care of ourselves.
“You will not truly die”
“Life is not found in obedience, but indulgence”
“God wants me to be happy”
Gen 3 temptation:
Saul and the Amalekites
David and Bathsheba
- We all have particular weaknesses
There will be things one person can do and another cannot. Or there will be things one person has to fight against and another does not. Examine yourself and fight your battles.
Different personality types will encounter different types of temptations. This is normal, and a result of God’s design. A little self- understanding can be really helpful. There is no reason to beat ourselves up because of our weaknesses, but ignorance is not helpful either.
- God can be trusted
And this ultimately becomes the issue. This is what you need to know and what every temptation seeks to undercut.
God is good: And your circumstances are working good in your life.
God is loving and loves you personally
God is wise
God is powerful
- Constantly renew your thinking
Do not fall into the trap of “instant sanctification”
Ephesians 4: 22-24
22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires;23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.