Luke 11:4- Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.
And lead us not into temptation. NKJV
Temptations come to us all! We are all targets of temptation, big and small, significant and insignificant. William Barclay describes temptation as any situation in which a person is tested. Not all temptations are sinful, but all temptations challenge the fidelity and integrity of an individual. A slice of chocolate cake may not interest one individual, but it can seriously challenge the willpower of another individual.
In the Lord’s model of prayer, He encourages us to pray that we are not led into temptation. Religion teaches us that we are being tested by God when temptations come at us, but Jesus said we can pray that we are not led into temptation. If God is behind temptation, then Jesus is breaking protocol with God. Or, in simpler terms, He defies what God has already willed. But we know that Jesus would never break protocol with God, for He always pleases the Father!
So Jesus said, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me. The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him.”John 8:28-29 NKJV
One of the most well-known verses in the Bible regarding temptation is found in 1 Corinthians 10:
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.1 Corinthians 10:13 NKJV
It’s such a well-known verse because it explains temptation in a way we can all understand. Paul tells us that no temptation has come knocking on our door that is only for us. We’re never the only ones to experience anything because there’s nothing new under the sun. If you are tempted with something, someone else has already been tempted with it and has come out victorious or defeated. That’s the gospel truth!
Paul then explains that God is faithful! How can God be faithful amid our temptations? First, He won’t allow us to be tempted beyond what we can bear. I know sometimes we feel that this is a lie. I know people who will argue this point to the bitter end. But if we face temptation in life, we can handle it! This verse is not talking about a trial but a temptation. If you are being tested, it’s a temptation. If you are being oppressed, attacked, or abused, it’s a trial! Two totally different things!
I recently went to my doctor, who told me I needed to cut back on the carbs. She said my carbs needed to be the smallest serving on my plate. Well, that wasn’t thrilling news because I enjoy eating carbs! Fries, bread, potatoes, pasta, and rice are welcome staples in my diet. However, something about the way she said it caused me to realize that I needed to make some changes.
So at this time, carbs are a huge temptation for me. But I’m not the only one with this issue, and the more I talk about it, the more I hear others admit to the same problem. Now, I have to watch my intake of carbs, so I think about them more. I think about them at every meal and in between meals. I even have to pray to ask God to help me be mindful of saying no or reducing the amount. It’s a temptation! And it isn’t more than I can bear because God is faithful!
Paul also wrote something else about God and temptation. He noted that when we are tempted, God provides a way of escape so that we can endure it. Handle it! Get over it! We just have to take the way that is provided. I can no longer say that I’ll have the fries. I now need to get the salad. Carbs can’t be the largest portion on my plate; it has to be the smallest if it is there at all. But I have to do it, and He makes a way!
What’s being tested in this scenario? My commitment to my health is being tested. My commitment to my word of abstaining from some carbs while reducing others is being tested. My self-discipline is being tested. And those are not necessarily bad things to be tested on.
Now I have used something simple when I know there are much greater temptations than avoiding that piece of cake! But the process remains the same, God is faithful, this is not too much for you, and He will provide a way of escape!
Jesus said, pray that you won’t be led into temptation. I think this might be the first avenue provided for us. Some things we can pray away if we understand that option is available. As a school teacher, I have had several good principals and a couple that was not so wonderful. One year, I had a principal that seemed to go out of her way to make my day challenging. One morning, I prayed on my way to work, “Lord, I just can’t deal with her today. If she says the wrong thing to me, I may be unable to control my words and walk in love. Can I just not see her today?” Lo and behold, we were both at work that day, but I didn’t see her once. Not even in passing! That temptation to tell her off was real, but I prayed I would be led away from it, and I was!
What was the testing in this situation? My obedience to the word about walking in love and submitting to authority was tested. But also, my patience and testimony were being tested. I passed the test! It took much prayer, but that’s the whole point! God is faithful and will provide a way to escape. If you are being tempted, ask Him to keep you from it!
But again, Jesus tells us that we can pray that we not be led into temptation. If Johnny is your temptation, you can pray that God moves Johnny out of the city! If lying is a temptation, you can ask God to help you, not to talk today! Whatever the temptation, Jesus said you can pray that you will not be led into it!
We need to stop giving in to everything that pulls on us! God is calling us to be people of discipline with integrity and strength. Many of our temptations go beyond a simple will to accomplish. They will take the power of God to overcome. The good news is that He is available to us and can help us! Next time temptation comes knocking at your door, tell it to hold up a minute because you need to pray! Wonderful Jesus!