Dealing with Temptation

There are some great quotes about temptation. Oscar Wilde said, “I can resist anything but temptation”. Mark Twain, with a bit more polish, said, “There is a charm about the forbidden that makes it unspeakably desirable.” You may have memes on a social media site like those before worship. Things like, “Give into temptation, it may never come your way again,” or the one based on our verse, “Lead me not into temptation… Oh, who am I kidding, follow me, I know a shortcut.” It is a fact that we will face temptation and we will succeed at times and fail at times. That is axiomatic, it is simply true. If we know that we will fail at times, why pray this petition?

Nature of Temptation

The reason is simple. For the most part, we don’t want to fail when we are tempted. The word used has two meanings. It involves “testing, trials, temptation, [and] enticement” (Newman). The proving of our faith through times of testing as if purifying gold through the application of heat and a lot of it.

There are parallels to the morning “to a standardized Jewish morning and evening prayer:

    Bring me not into the power of sin,                                                                                And not into the power of guilt,                                                                                    And not into the power of temptation,                                                                          And not into the power of anything shameful (Wilkins 279).

In the garden, Jesus tells his disciples, “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Mark 14:38).

This is not a prayer that we should avoid testing and temptation. The gospels show us that Jesus wasn’t spared testing or temptation. Satan and the powers that be sought to cause Him to give in to their demands. Jesus tells us, “24 A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant[f] above his master. 25 It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher and the servant like his master (10:24-5). Recognize that perhaps the best interpretation takes into the probable Aramaic background. As in the verse I read from Mark 14, “don’t let us succumb to temptation” or “don’t abandon us to temptation” (Blomberg 120).

The problem is, we do succumb to temptation. We fail the tests and trials God allows in our lives.

Deliver us from the Evil One

There is very little confusion over the meaning of this second half of the verse. The use of the direct object, 'the', before evil makes it very probable that Jesus meant Satan not just bad situations.

Jesus does not promise us freedom from Satan’s influence. There are times when we make ourselves vulnerable. There are situations in which we know we have choices to make and we fail to make choices which honor God.

Let me describe a situation for you. At the pastor’s conference we learned that the infant grandchild of our stated clerk, Jeff Jeremiah’s grandson died over in Beaverton as they had to perform an emergency C-section. It is a horrible situation for all involved, none more so than Walker’s parents, Michael and Emily. There is no satisfactory answer to those who have had their hearts jerked out of the hearts and dashed to the ground.

Do you see how such a ‘test’ could turn into a ‘temptation’ very easily? In Job 2:9 Joe’s wife confronted with the horrors on their life says to her husband, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die.” This couple, like so many others, are at a place where testing and temptation seem to merge.

Help when tempted

What do we do when we find ourselves in such situations. First, remember that there is no way we can, on our own power, beat every temptation and testing that comes against us. We are certainly no match for the devil who “prowls around like a roaring lion” Peter tells us (1 Peter 5:8).

The hope and help we have is Christ Himself. We are promised in Corinthians God will make THE way of escape when tested. Jesus’ success against Satan, in the wilderness, during his ministry, and even on the cross proves He is the perfecter of OUR faith. He was tested in every way yet without sin.

We cannot ‘gut it out’ but must rely on the holiness that is ours in Christ. We have no holiness of our own. Face these things alone, without Jesus, and we are powerless and despair and discouragement are swift to overcome.

Jesus, is our righteousness. 1 Corinthians 1:30 says, “And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption,” the word ‘sanctification’ can be translated ‘holiness’.

Jesus is also the one who won the battle against death and condemnation. We usually read Ephesians 4 in terms of the roles of church leaders, “And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ” vv 11-12. The first of this passage starts in verse 8.

Therefore it says,

“When he ascended on high he led a host of captives,                                                  and he gave gifts to men”.                                                                                            9 (In saying, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower regions, the earth? 10 He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.) (Eph. 4:8-10)

Jesus broke the power of Satan. He has delivered us from the Evil One, ultimately, even if the devil seems to gain a foothold here or there. The hardest thing to do is to look for God in the midst of those places in which we tend to ignore the temptations and trials or minimize those in our lives.

Stand firm and pray for the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. Let us pray.

Works Cited

Blomberg, Craig L. Matthew. Nashville, Tenn.: Broadman Press, 1992. Print.

Twain, Mark. "Mark Twain Quotations - Forbidden." Twainquotes.com. Web. 13 Oct. 2017.

"Why Did Jesus Instruct Us To Pray 'Lead Us Not Into Temptation' When God States That He Does Not Tempt Us?." GotQuestions.org. Web. 12 Oct. 2017.

Wilkins, Michael J. Matthew. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 2004. Print.

 

Bibliography

Blomberg, Craig L. Matthew. Nashville, Tenn.: Broadman Press, 1992. Print.

Louw, Johannes P., and Eugene Albert Nida. Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: based on semantic domains 1996 : 809. Print.

Newman, Barclay M., Jr. A Concise Greek-English Dictionary of the New Testament. 1993 : 138. Print.

Stanley, Charles. "Temptation." BrainyQuote. Web. 13 Oct. 2017.

Twain, Mark. "Mark Twain Quotations - Forbidden." Twainquotes.com. Web. 13 Oct. 2017.

"Why Did Jesus Instruct Us To Pray 'Lead Us Not Into Temptation' When God States That He Does Not Tempt Us?." GotQuestions.org. Web. 12 Oct. 2017.

Wilkins, Michael J. Matthew. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 2004. Print.