Luke 11:4-And forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us.
And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” NKJV
In my previous post, I took a lighter look at temptation. But today, I want to dive a little deeper into the more challenging side of temptation. Forgive my picture of pasta (still dealing with my personal temptation), but most photos of temptation are pornographic from what my quick perusal of images found.
A book can be written on the many aspects of temptation, but I want to look at the concept of whether or not God is responsible for the temptations that we often find ourselves dealing with. In the book of James, we see this statement of confidence:
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.James 1:13 NKJV
Rick Renner, a noted bible scholar, explained this verse at a conference I attended. He said that James was telling the church that if they were saying that they were being tempted by God, to stop saying it. Because God cannot be tempted by evil, neither does He tempt any man with evil. He explained that because they believed God was sovereign, they thought everything was from God, including sin. But since God is not evil, and evil is not in His nature, He doesn’t tempt us with evil.
Douglas Moo, in his commentary on James, wrote similar words. He said that having the wrong attitude about temptation leads to us failing to overcome them. How can you overcome a temptation successfully when you believe it was God Himself who led you into the temptation? Moo said that you can’t! Because that type of attitude, thinking that God is responsible for the temptation, will make it easier for you to give in to it.
Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”Matthew 26:41 NKJV
Again, the Savior tells us that we are to pray that we do not succumb to temptation. We are to be on the lookout for the traps of the enemy while praying that we don’t fall into them. Our spirit man is willing to obey God, but our flesh is often weak. This is not an excuse to give in to the flesh; it’s the reason we need to be praying that we don’t yield to temptation. James made this connection to the temptation that is something we all need to make a note of:
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 1:14 NKJV
James said that God is not our problem! We are the problem! When we are tempted with something, it is our desires at the root of the problem, not the sovereignty of God! Moo explained in his commentary that God cannot tempt us with evil because He is untouched by evil. Therefore, the blame lies solely at our door because of our desires.
In the New Testament, desires refer to selfish, fleshly, and unlawful things, typically of a sexual nature. But this verse refers to desires in a broader sense of the word. James seems to be describing that tendency we all have towards sin. Moo explained this desire as a hook with bait that lures the fish into captivity. God isn’t on the other side of that pole; Satan is! And even though he is our defeated foe, he is forever setting up traps to ensnare us again into bondage. That’s the power of temptation!
James said that when temptation can create a desire within us, that desire leads us into sin. Not God! Even though we have an adversary who is actively working against our walk in Christ, even he can’t make us sin. His temptations are strategic, and his suggestions are strong, but once again, our desires draw us into sin; and the wages of sin are death!
Well, you might be wondering at this point about the role of God in all of this. After all, He is sovereign and can stop anything He wants to stop. So, why doesn’t He stop the devil from tempting us? Good question! I hope I can correctly divide the word of truth for you about this! Let’s go back to 1 Corinthians 10:13
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 10:13 NKJV
When we are tempted by our desires, God is with us! His faithfulness knows no end! So right there amid the temptation is our time to realize that even though the temptation is present and difficult to overlook, God is with us! Also, God will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you can bear during this temptation. We have His word on this! He is faithful!
James refers to temptation as a type of examination. Not an exam from God, but from the enemy. When you are placed in a tempting situation, it is an examination. Not from God, but from the devil! Trust that God says, “I have the cheat sheet,” so you’ve got this! Whether the test is as simple as giving up your desire for sweets or as severe as giving up your appetite for illicit sex, God has the cheat sheet for the test.
When our daughter was in sixth grade, my husband wanted her to attend a high school that allowed seventh-grade students to participate in high school early. I was not enthused about this idea because the high school is on the other side of the city. For students in 7th and 8th grades, transportation was provided. But she would have to take the train when she became a ninth grader. So I was not thrilled. So I did what I tend to do when we are not in agreement; I prayed.
One night, before she took the entrance exam, I had a dream. In the dream, she was taking the exam. As she took the exam, the proctor kept walking over to her and giving her the answer or letting her know she had made the wrong choice. I know that was my confirmation that God wanted her to go to that particular high school. But as I was typing this blog and thinking of how God is with us during temptations, I remembered that dream! God is with us in the midst of every challenge we face in life, holding the cheat sheet! It’s our path to victory, the way of escape. However, it is up to us to trust this truth and to expect deliverance!
God didn’t send Jesus to die on the cross for a weak, bruised, and battered church. His greatest joy is to bring us to complete victory before the throne. He has made every effort to provide us with the goods to be overcomers of our flesh and the devil. So His investment in us is for productivity, not for loss.
Yes, He tested people in the Old Testament to see if they would be faithful and obey Him. Yes, sometimes they failed. But we are under a covenant with better promises and more effective weapons. God no longer visits periodically with mankind; He resides within us through the Person of the Holy Ghost!
There is no temptation the devil can throw at us that he hasn’t used before. Just as he may have our number, God has his number! God is an expert in thwarting the enemy’s plans so that His plans, God’s plans, may prevail in our lives. No weapon formed against us shall prosper! I want to encourage you to look at every temptation and trial with the attitude that God is for you, and the devil is against you! It’s just that simple! Wonderful Jesus!