Summary: Part 11 in a sermon series on the Lord Prayer from Luke 11 & Matthew 6. I gleaned a lot of material from John MacArthur commentary on Matthew.
Dealing With Temptation
Intro. – In the preceding petition “forgive us our debts,” the request was that sins already committed might be forgiven, but here we have a plea to be delivered from falling into new sins. The petition in the prayer is primarily for protection. It accepts the danger of temptation, acknowledges our deficiency in dealing with it, and asks for deliverance from it.
First, we need to establish what “lead us into temptation” means.
a. It cannot mean that God is the prime mover behind all temptations.
b. Nor can it mean that Christians can pray this prayer and be delivered from all temptation. God does not lead us into a life that is free from temptations. Rather, He teaches us how to look to Him for the necessary strength with which to deal with temptation appropriately.
c. The key to understanding what this phrase means is to understand that the word “temptation” has two meanings.
1. It can mean to tempt with the goal of causing one to sin, or
2. It can mean a test or trial to prove the validity of one’s faith.
Obviously God never tempts anyone with the goal of causing them to sin. James 1:13 tells us that, “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” (NKJV).
God never tempts any one to evil, but he does test us.
James had already explained earlier in the same passage “knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing” (James 1:3-4 - NKJV).
Others have already faced the same temptations we encounter. Paul explains, “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man;” (1 Cor. 10:13a).
Paul also explains that God places limits on the test that we face, “ … 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” (NKJV).
So what do we need to do from this point? There are three things that the Scripture brings to our attention:
I. We must realize the reality of Spiritual Warfare
A. We cannot be victorious over that which we do not understand. Being ignorant of the fact that there is a great spiritual battle being fought in our world does not erase that fact that it is true.
B. Spiritual warfare needs spiritual weapons. Temptation is not to be fought with human willpower. The way to resist temptation is to lean heavily upon God’s grace to strengthen and enable us to stand against the wiles of the Devil.
1. 2 Corinthians 10:3-4 read from Bible.
2. Ephesians 6:10-18 read from Bible.
C. The apostle John in 1 John 2:15-16 says that the world is a trap that is made up of three things.
1. There is the “lust of the flesh” - which means the desires of the flesh.
2. There is the “lust of the eyes” – desiring the things that are not ours.
3. There is the “pride of life” – involves putting self on the throne of our lives.
D. The Progression in temptation
1. False impression given by Satan that whatever wrong we are contemplating really is not that serious.
2. The temptation presents a picture of some action that in some way appeals to our inner needs. Satan makes us see something, or someone, or some situation which he is sure will appeal to our lives.
3. A desire is actively aroused (James 1:13-14).
4. We begin to toy with the idea. We play with it. We fantasize about it. At this point we have already begun to fall for Satan’s ruse.
5. We proceed to act on that what was presented to us. But the moment we give in we are dismayed and disgusted by our own defeat.
6. We try to hide our sin. We attempt to excuse or to conceal this matter from God and others. [principles drawn from W. Phillip Keller. A Layman Looks at the Lord’s Prayer. Chicago: Moody Press, 1976.) pp. 132-133.] And yet there is nowhere to hide or run.
II. We need to acknowledge our deficiency in dealing with temptation
A. We need to remember, everyone is vulnerable to temptation, no one is above falling. No matter how old we are or how mature in the faith we are. Although the strength of certain temptations may diminish somewhat with age, we are never free from temptation as long as we live in this world.
B. Illustration – There is a story that I believe perfectly illustrates this principle: “History records the fate of two men who were condemned to die at the stake in the days of Queen Mary. One of them boasted very loudly to his companions of his confidence that he would stand firm at the stake. He did not mind the suffering; he was so grounded in the gospel that he knew he would never deny it. He said that he longed for the fatal morning even as a bride for the wedding.