Matthew 6:13 is all about trusting the Lord in the greatest battle we will face in life. This is not the battle to put food on our tables or clothes on our backs. This is not the battle to approach God for forgiveness or even the battle to forgive those who have treated us wrongly. Rather, it is the battle we face every day as we fight the temptations of the flesh and the attacks of the devil.
Prayer is about relying. In the greatest battle of life, we need to learn to rely on God, for therein lies the secret of our victory!
I. THE PROBLEM OF TEMPTATION
The Lord Jesus tells us to pray, “Lead us not into temptation.” This simple request literally brims over with meaning.
A. This statement presupposes the leadership of the Lord in our lives. I think we would all agree that our heavenly Father is a sovereign God. Since this is true, does this also mean that God leads us into places where we are tempted to sin?
The answer to that question is a resounding “No!” This problem is addressed in James 1:13. When Adam was tempted and fell into sin in the Garden of Eden, he tried to lay the blame at the feet of the Lord (Gen. 3:12). But, the fault did not lie with the Lord. The fault was with Adam and Adam alone!
God never leads us into direct contact with sin, but as we travel the path of life, every crossroad brings with it the option to take a path which leads us away from the Lord’s will for our lives. Every trial we face comes with the potential to fail. We may sin, but when we do, the fault lies with us and not with God.
So, what is the Lord telling us to pray? Here is what I think this petition requests: “Lord, please do not lead us into a trial which will present a temptation stronger than our power to resist it.”
B. Since this is true, where does temptation come from? Again, James tells us very clearly that temptation arises from within the human heart (James 1:14, 15). You see, our human flesh is hopelessly flawed and given over to sin (Eph. 4:22; Mark 7:21, 22).
Temptation in and of itself is not a sin. But, when the instant temptation is embraced and pursued, sin is the result (2 Sam. 11). Just seeing Bathsheba on the rooftop bathing in the nude was not a sin. But, when David desired and pursued her, sin had been born, and the end of that sin was death and destruction!
The essence of temptation is a problem within man. You see, the heart of the problem is a problem in the heart (Matt. 15:17-20). We need help! We need a Helper who is greater than we are. We need Someone who can strengthen us in times of temptation (Heb. 2:18).
II. THE POWER OF TEMPTATION
Our need to pray for the Lord’s protection from temptation is so great because we are so prone to failure. We have already discovered that our drive for sin, our hunger for sin, and our capacity for sin dwells within our own hearts. Temptation is merely an outgrowth of who we are by nature, and that is why it is so often so hard for us to resist.
A. Temptation is a powerful opponent, but most Christians have no idea as to its real power. You’ve heard someone say, “The temptation was so powerful that I couldn’t resist.” But, in truth, the person who gives in to temptation’s allure knows nothing at all of its power! Only the person who stands against it and wins the victory over it can testify to the great power temptation can wield!
So it is with temptation and sin. When we yield to the attractions of the flesh and the world, it is easy to go wherever temptation takes us. But, when we stand our ground and refuse to yield to sin’s siren call, we discover just how much of a pull the flesh and sin have on our lives.
B. Thank God, the power of temptation has no more force in our lives than we allow it to have! If we wish to stand against it, we can! Our Lord has given us some precious promises that will strengthen us in the midst of our temptations and guarantee our victory over them, if we yield to His will and not to temptation! What are those promises? Read Isaiah 43:2; 1 Corinthians 10:13; and 2 Peter 2:9. What we need is a living revival of Romans 6:6-18!
III. THE PLEA IN TEMPTATION
This verse closes with the words “but deliver us from evil.” This verse is really saying, “Deliver us from the evil one.” As Christians, we all have an enemy who hates us and wants nothing more than to see us fall and fail. The ultimate goal of this enemy is to use us to bring disgrace and dishonor to the name of the Lord Jesus and God the Father. This enemy is the devil, and he desires to see us fail (Eph. 6:12)!
A. When we pray this prayer, we recognize that we are unable to fight this war on our own. Therefore, we call on the name of the Lord, employing His power to stand against the devil in the battle with temptation and sin. This was the tactic Jesus used during His time of temptation (Matt. 4:1-11). When Jesus was tempted, He turned to the spiritual resources of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God and made His victorious stand against evil.
B. We are to appropriate the resources we have been given in the Person of the Holy Spirit and in the power of the Word of God. We are to dress up in the “whole armor” of God and make our stand (Eph. 6:10-18). Incidentally, the phrase “having done all to stand” means to “fight to a standstill.”
Through prayer, victory is ours in the battle with temptation. We are challenged to pray about our needs in this battle, and we are to trust the Lord to deliver us in the hour of temptation. He will do His part.
Victory is available, but only those who are serious about waging war on the lust that dwells within them will experience the Lord’s victory.
Do you need help in the battle with temptation? If you need something from the Lord or if you just wish to seek His help in avoiding the pitfalls of sin, come before Him and look to Him for the strength you need. Prayer is about relying. May the Lord teach us that in the greatest battle of life, we need to learn to rely on Him, for therein lies the secret of our victory!
General Conference Ministerial Association