Matthew 6:13 (ESV)
“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”
According to today’s verse, what is one way we can avoid temptation?
Some friends of mine once shared that after their young son had a particularly rough day of bad choices, he said, “Stupid Satan. I wish Satan wasn’t real so that I wouldn’t do bad things.” My own sons have said similar things. It’s true, Satan can tempt us to sin. But he doesn’t make us do it. He may try to deceive us, but we are always responsible for our own actions.
It is actually good news that we can’t blame Satan for our sin because it means that he doesn’t have any power over us! Satan isn’t in control of us. He is not our master. We are free to make our own decisions and most of us want to make decisions that are obedient to the Lord. Consider what the Lord God said to Cain when he was angry that God had accepted Abel’s sacrifice and not his own. The Lord God said, “If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is contrary to you, but you must rule over it” (Genesis 4:7). God’s statement implies that there is a way to rule over sin instead of sin ruling us. But how do we keep from sinning when there is so much temptation all around us?
In today’s verse, Jesus gave us an answer in His exemplary prayer that we now call “The Lord’s Prayer.” Jesus’ answer to temptation was praying to be sheltered from it in the first place. Jesus requested that God would not lead us into temptation but that He would deliver us from evil. Other translations like the NIV and CSB say, “deliver us from the evil one.” In other words, Jesus prayed that God would guide us away from temptation and protect us from Satan.
One question that naturally follows is: does God lead us into temptation? Not exactly. We know from James 1:13-14 that “God himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.”
But God does allow us to be put in situations that test us. He sometimes allows Satan to tempt us. For example, God allowed Job to be exposed to Satan’s temptations. 1 Peter 1:6-7 gives us insight on why God allows testing: “In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” Testing reveals the sincerity and genuineness of our faith.
So how are we supposed to endure temptation and testing? First, Jesus modeled praying to avoid trials all together. We should pray to be led away from all evil, not towards it. In Psalm 25:5, David also modeled how to pray to be led away from temptation. He wrote, “Make me to know your ways, O LORD; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me….” Rather than being led into temptation, David prayed that God would lead Him according to His truth and His ways.
Another Psalm that teaches us how to resist temptation is Psalm 119:9-11: “How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word. With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” The psalmist’s key to keeping your life pure and free of evil was to obey God’s Word. But in order to obey Scripture, we have to know Scripture. So, the psalmist memorized Scripture and prayed for God’s help in obedience.
A few weeks ago, when we studied the account of Jesus being tempted by Satan, we saw that Jesus used this same strategy. Every time Satan tempted Jesus, He refuted Satan’s claims with Scripture.
Friends, sometimes we overestimate Satan’s abilities to tempt us and underestimate our own ability to overcome temptation by the power of the Holy Spirit. Satan is evil, he is a liar, he is seeking to devour us, he is our enemy. But he is not all-powerful. He is not all-present. He is not all-knowing. He is NOT God. When we go back to the Bible, when we store up God’s Word in our hearts, and ask God to keep us and protect us from temptation and evil, we can overcome temptation.
Lord, I still struggle with sin in my life but I want to make choices that honor and glorify You. Lead me in Your truth. Keep my feet on paths of righteousness instead of walking on tempting roads. Protect me from evil and Satan. Bring to my mind Your Word at just the right moment and strengthen me to resist evil. Amen.
~ Pastor Nat Crawford
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