This experience of going through the Lord’s Prayer line by line has been so eye opening to me. There’s no telling how many times I’ve prayed this prayer…I remember my high school soccer team used to pray this prayer before every game, basically to the rhythm of a chant and for the purpose of good luck. Somehow, I think we missed the heart of what Jesus was trying to teach regarding prayer. This process of examining each phrase has caused me to reflect on my own life and realize how much I need to invite my Heavenly Father to do in my heart.
Jesus concludes this prayer in Matthew 6 by addressing temptation and evil…you know, very light-hearted topics. He transitions from praying about past sins (forgive us our debts) and then focuses on the potential of future sin (lead us not into temptation). Sin behind us, temptation before us. Ugh, that sounds exhausting.
As long as we are here on this earth, we will not be able to escape the prevalence of sin and temptation. Even still, God does not expect us to live defeated by sin or in a cycle of destruction. Jude 24 says that He is “able to keep you from falling.” You may feel stuck right now, but you can be victorious and free. As we read and reflect on what the Bible says about sin and temptation, pray for specific sins in your life that you want God to help you break through.
“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be Your name,
Your kingdom come,
Your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.”
No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. 1 Corinthians 10:13
Nod your head if you’ve ever been stuck in a cycle of sin and temptation that jerked you around like a dog clenching a tug-o’-war rope. I’ve seen people literally spin their airborne dog in circles because he refused to drop the rope. Can’t you just visualize yourself spinning through the air like that? Satan’s holding one end of the rope and, for whatever reason, you just can’t seem to let go. So you just get jerked ‘round and ‘round until you realize, “Hey, this kinda hurts. And I feel a little nauseous. And I think I might lose my teeth if I hang on much longer!” So, finally, (Praise God!) you come to your senses and drop the rope. The “fun” is no longer fun. Anyone else been there?
What started off as a game, something seemingly fun and enticing, left us with our heads spinning and our stomachs churning. Sin always looks good at the beginning, but we could all write an essay of how it left us beaten black and blue by the end.
When we pray, “Lead us not into temptation”, we are praying for supernatural protection of unnecessary temptations in our lives. We will all encounter temptation every day. It is part of the fallen world in which we live. But God, in His Sovereignty, can lead us to avoid circumstances and situations of which we are completely unaware.
Temptation itself is not a sin. Jesus Himself was tempted and yet lived a perfectly sinless life. Temptation is a test and God uses temptation to strengthen us. God doesn’t allow temptation in our lives to make us fall; He wants to develop in us a little backbone and some strength of character. Whenever there is the option to sin, there is also the option to do the right thing.
Praying for our Father to “lead us not into temptation” acknowledges our need for His help in our struggle against sin. Ken Hemphill says, “We can make no headway in holiness without God’s constant provision. Not only are we no match for our adversary the devil, but we cannot even trust ourselves for help in keeping our lives clean.” We need to stop trying to fight temptation on our own strength and ask God for His supernatural help.
There is no temptation in your life, no sin struggle that you are stuck in, that cannot be overcome. God promised us in 1 Corinthians 10:13 that He will always provide a way out. If we are stuck in a sin cycle, it’s because we have chosen not to take the way out that He provided.
Think about one of your recent sin struggles. Here’s a few to get your mind going… yelling at your kids, an inappropriate interaction with a man, eating something you knew you shouldn’t eat, speaking negatively about someone or something, deceiving someone… The options are endless. But whatever your source of struggle, think back to the moment in that temptation when God provided a way out. It was there, whether you took it or not. There was a moment that you thought to yourself, “I shouldn’t be doing this.” There was a chance to walk away, to say ‘no’, to somehow get out of the situation.
We are no victim to our sin. We may be the victim of someone else’s sin choices, but any sin that we’re wallowing around in is because we’ve made a choice to dive into that cesspool and we’ve NOT made a choice to get out.
Tomorrow we’ll talk more about the motivation we have to pursue holiness, but let’s end today with confidence that God has provided a path of victory for us. The path is probably a bit more strenuous than a casual stroll, but for those who truly want out, there is a path. As you consider whether or not to wash off the filth and start out on a new path that honors God, cling to these promises from 1 Corinthians 10:13:
- No temptation has overtaken you.
- You will not be tempted beyond what you can bear.
- There’s always a way out.
- And our God is faithful.
It’s your turn.
In what area of your life do you feel you need to make changes? What holds you back from admitting your weakness to God and asking for His help and strength to do what you need to do? Reply in the comments section.