In our series Lord Teach us to Pray, this week we look at the next section of the “Disciple’s Prayer” in Matthew 6. Lead us not into temptation. We look at God as our guide and leader and how we respond deal with temptation in our lives. We use this opportunity to draw closer to Him and learn how what temptation is and what God has given us to guide us through it.
Lead us not into Temptation
9 “This, then, is how you should pray:
“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come,
your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.’
for yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.
Well today we continue in our series of on prayer and we look at the Phrase … Lead us not into temptation.
So far we we have looked at the first 5 petitions and we have seen many ways that we look at God our Father. We have seem him as Holy, as King, as Sovereign, as Provider and as Forgiver. In every part of this prayer we are continually told to seek God and ask Him to use us, change us, and fulfill for us the deepest needs of our lives. We have seen that as a Father who loves us we are to request help for our physical needs and our emotional needs. Well today we will see that God desires to provide fro our spiritual needs as well. We are to request guidance and direction. But not just that we are also told to seek His protection.
Lead us not into temptation. This is a very unique request. Do you see why? This is the only request that we are to give that is a negative request. In other words this request asks for God not to do something instead of to give us something. That seems strange doesn’t it. I think this is purposeful to draw attention to the fact that this seems like such an odd request.
All along this prayer we have looked and seen the goodness of God. We have focused on How much He loves us and that He desires to provide for us. So, when we see this request it seems out of character doesn’t it? Would our heavenly Father do something like that? Would He lead us into temptation?
In fact, in James 1:13
– When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone
; doesn’t that contradict this idea?
Today we will try and unpack these issues and hopefully learn what we do with temptation and how to defeat it in our lives.
Many people think this is asking God for no problems in life, or some kind of immunity to temptation. But Peter tells us in 1 Peter 4:12-14
– Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when His glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.
We are not to be surprised or even look at God with an attitude of “Why me God?”
Notice He does not say lead us not to sin. Temptation is not sin. It is the precursor to sin.
But what does temptation look like? in order to see that we need only to turn back 2 chapters and see Matthew chapter 4.
Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3 The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”
4 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. 6 “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:
“‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”
7 Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”
8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 9 “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”
10 Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’”
11 Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.
Notice in vs 1-2 that temptation is something we desire. It is something pleasurable. If we didn’t want it then it wouldn’t be a temptation. (Me and Cigarettes) This reveals the truth that we often want to play with temptation. It is fun. It keeps life interesting and challenging. Temptation can be deceiving it doesn’t seem too bad. But It is just the first step.
This is important Satan has an MO. When he tempts us he always uses the same tactic. He comes at us in three simple ways.
- Lust of the Flesh
- Lust of the Eyes
- Pride of Life
15 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. 16 For everything in the world – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life – comes not from the Father but from the world. 17 The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.
This is the same thing he used in the Garden with Eve
Gen 3:6 When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.
Temptation always come to attack 3 areas of our lives. The Lust of the Flesh. (v2-3) This can encompass many things. It can be anything we need to sustain our lives, or anything we think we need to sustain our lives. Notice when Jesus was attacked on this level, it was a real need. He was hungry. He hadn’t eaten for 40 days. I’m sorry but if I don’t eat after several hours I get “Hangry” you know what I mean? I am hungry and a bit irritable. Jesus understood this. That is why the request He tells us to make on our behalf is “Give us today our daily bread”. When we are attacked in the area of the lust of the flesh. We must remember that God is our provider. But the lust of the flesh says I will take things into my own hands. I will provide for myself. I “need” this and I need this RIGHT NOW. You see the truth of the matter is the lust of the flesh is a temporary short term temptation. It is all about delayed gratification.
Probably in todays American society the most common one we struggle with is money. Many of us will pursue things and jobs that provide for the needs of our lives. But often it is to pursue temporary needs and we take upon ourselves to get what we “need” in life. And that job or those things rob us of the really important things in life. Time with God doing what he calls us to. Time with family. Now I know what you are going to say… But pastor I need a job. I can’t live without money. Your right! You can’t but you have to ask yourself. What rules your life? What do you “need” and what have you taken upon yourself that has now made you a slave? Francis Chan in his book Crazy Love talks about this and relates that in order to follow God sometimes we have to downsize. There is a story of a man called the rich young ruler who asked Christ what he need to do. Jesus said sell everything you have and give it to the poor than come follow me. Wow. That’s drastic. I mean couldn’t he just support Jesus’ ministry? He could provide shelter and food and clothing for the disciples. That would be good right? Jesus had just challenged his temptation of the flesh.
Jesus reminds us just a few verses later after this prayer, God will provide for your needs. don’t fall to that temptation.
31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
The second area he attacks is the lust of the eyes. (Vs 8-9) This is one is attacks our desires, not just our needs. What is it that you desire? What is is that you might just cut a corner to get? Oh pastor I would never do anything like that! Remember temptation is not the sin. it is the precursor to it. Simply put, the lust of the eyes is the desire to possess what we see or to have those things which have appeal. This coveting of money, possessions, or other physical things is not from God, but from the world around us.
What is it that you want? This is found in many areas of our society. Sex, porn, luxury, success, even debt! The world is full of “eye candy,” glamor, and gaudiness. Materialism beckons with its promise of happiness and fulfillment. A media-saturated society bombards us with advertising campaigns that might as well say, “Covet this!”
Story of the Freezer. (story of cutting a corner)
Finally, The last temptation is the pride of Life. This in my opinion is the most subtle of the three. The pride of life can be defined as anything that is “of the world,” meaning anything that leads to arrogance, ostentation, pride in self, presumption, and boasting. John makes it clear that anything that produces the pride of life comes from a love of the world and “if anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15
It is anything that tempts us to elevate ourselves to the place of God. Anything that exalts us above our station and offers the illusion of God-like qualities, wherein we boast in arrogance and worldly wisdom.
Where in your life do you think you know better than God? In what area of your life do you know that God has said this is what you should do but you are doing what you want to do? Either because you want to or because you can’t trust God?
Now when I was growing up I heard the way to defeat temptation was to quote scripture… after all that is what Jesus did right? While that is good, the problem is that it requires us to stay strong in our own power and might. I suggest that the reason Christ was able to defeat the enemy, (and the way we are taught to defeat temptation) is to be LED by the Spirit.
I think this is one of the reasons why we see this strange wording used in this prayer. I mean Jesus could have said “help us not to succumb to temptation” that would mean the same thing right? But God in His wisdom reminds us that HE is to be the LEADER of everything in our lives. We are to surrender every moment of our lives to His leading. So Jesus uses this strange negative command to remind us that if we are His disciples, then He is the one who is leading our every step, so “Lead us not into temptation…. but lead us by Your Spirit”.
John 16:13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.
Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6 The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. 7 The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8 Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.
9 You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. 10 But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. 11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.
12 Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. 13 For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.
14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.
23 For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
For more on this series check out the rest of the series here