Lead us not into temptation

Jesus taught His followers to pray: “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil” (Matthew 6:13 KJV).

What is temptation?

Temptation is an allurement or enticement to do wrong to obtain pleasure, ease or advantage.

What is the source of temptation?

Satan is the tempter. Paul was concerned about the Thessalonians: “For this reason, when I could no longer endure it, I sent to know your faith, lest by some means the tempter had tempted you, and our labor might be in vain” (1 Thessalonians 3:5).

Satan tries to manipulate us by appealing to our desires: “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death” (James 1:13-15).

Notice that temptation itself is not sin. Sin occurs only when we give in to temptation.

Everyone is tempted. Jesus was tempted by Satan for forty days in the wilderness (Mark 1:13), yet He was without sin (Hebrews 4:15).

The Scriptures show various reactions to temptation.

Having believed the devil’s lies, when Eve “saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate” (Genesis 3:6).

In anger, Cain murdered his brother even after being warned by God that sin was “crouching at the door” (Genesis 4:4-8).

Many examples are given of people who yielded to temptation.

Joseph was a commendable exception. When his master’s wife “cast longing eyes on Joseph” and said, “Lie with me,” he replied “How can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” Later, when she tried to grab him, he fled from the house (Genesis 39:7-12).

Prayer is essential to resist temptation.

Jesus tells us to pray for God’s help. He told Peter, James and John in the garden: “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41). Instead of praying, they fell asleep. They wanted to do what was right, but later that night all the disciples except John fled and Peter denied Christ.

Jesus had warned Peter, “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren” (Luke 22:31, 32). But Peter was overconfident. He declared, “Even if all are made to stumble because of You, I will never be made to stumble” (Matthew 26:33).

It is dangerous to be overconfident and underestimate temptations. To the extent possible, we ought to avoid situations and activities that involve a high level of temptation.

“Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:12, 13). This is a great promise. God limits temptation and provides a way of escape. “The Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations” (2 Peter 2:9).

God helps us, but we must be on guard. “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world” (1 Peter 5:8, 9). “Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7).

We must be spiritually minded to resist temptation.

We must understand that eternal spiritual values are more important than temporary earthly pleasure or gain. Moses chose “rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin” (Hebrews 11:25).

“And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows” (1 Timothy 6:8-10). Notice that the promise of satisfaction in worldly riches is a false promise. They who love money get sorrow.

The promises of temptation - the enticing promises of pleasure or gain - are always deceitful promises. True pleasure and true gain come only from doing what is right.

Jesus shows us how to resist temptations.

Each time Jesus was tempted in the wilderness, He responded with ‘It is written’. If we know, understand and apply the Scriptures we are armed to resist temptation.

“Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry. Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, ‘If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.’ But He answered and said, ‘It is written, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.”’” (Matthew 4:1-4).

“Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, ‘If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written: “He shall give His angels charge concerning you,” and, “In their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone”’ Jesus said to him, ‘It is written again, “You shall not tempt the Lord your God.”’” (Matthew 4:5-7).

In this second temptation, the devil quoted Scripture, misapplying it of course. Jesus replied by saying ‘It is also written’! We must know the Scriptures well to resist temptation. We need to know all the Bible says about something to avoid being deceived by a Scripture-quoting devil.

“Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to Him, ‘All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.’ Then Jesus said to him, ‘Away with you, Satan! For it is written, “You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve.”’ Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him” (Matthew 4:8-11).

The temptations in the wilderness illustrate the meaning of the word ‘temptation’. The devil enticed Jesus to do wrong by promising Him things that sounded inviting: bread when He was hungry, God’s providential care, and rulership over the whole world. Notice that none of these goals were wrong for Jesus. He needed food like we do. God had promised to care for Him. And He came to earth to be King of kings and Lord of lords. But the devil was enticing Him to seek these goals by doing things that would be wrong.

Jesus will help us resist temptation.

He was tempted like we are. He understands what it is like to be tempted. “In all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted” (Hebrews 2:17, 18). “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but [one who] was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:15, 16).

Jesus forgave Peter after he yielded to temptation and denied Him. He is also willing to forgive us when we, like Peter, are sorry for our sins.

“Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been proved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him” (James 1:12). Amen.

Roy Davison

The Scripture quotations in this article are from
The New King James Version. ©1979,1980,1982,
Thomas Nelson Inc., Publishers unless indicated otherwise.
Permission for reference use has been granted.

Published in The Old Paths Archive