Lead me not into temptation
By Dr. Robert Owens
The title of this essay is a line from the model prayer Jesus taught us something the Apostle James also points out, "Let no one say when he is tempted, 'I am tempted by God;' for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed." Or, as it says in the Message, "Don't let anyone under pressure to give in to evil say, 'God is trying to trip me up.' God is impervious to evil and puts evil in no one's way. The temptation to give in to evil comes from us and only us. We have no one to blame but the leering, seducing flare-up of our own lust."
It's us and only us who choose to sin, to turn our backs on good and embrace evil. "Lust gets pregnant, and has a baby: sin! Sin grows up to adulthood and becomes a real killer."
Just like everyone else who's wandered this earth since the fall of man I struggle with temptation. It matters little that I know these struggles come from my own lust. I still have a battle on my hands. And just like everyone else I can stand strong against most temptations but I do have those sins which so easily ensnare me in their web of momentary pleasure and future guilt. These are the things I struggle with. Anyone who's honest with themselves will admit they have the same situation.
Recently after a service I had a man asked for counsel about this very thing. All I could do is all I can ever do; share my witness.
When I'm faced with the temptation to fall into my pet sins, which I face daily, I admit I'm not strong enough to resist the temptation. These sins have years, decades even of practice in enticing me to wander from God's path of obedience. My own lusts have their spiritual hands on all the right levers to pull me away. How can I resist? Who'll save me from myself?
Christ has come to set us free and when He sets us free we're free indeed. I know that's what the word says. But how do I get in on all this freedom when I've spent so much of my life as a willing slave to these sins?
The first step is to admit my inability to resist the sin. And to realize that these thorns in my flesh are there to protect me from pride and to shape me into what the Lord intends me to be. It's the act of surrender, of admitting my inability to resist that makes a way. You see when I get to the end of my rope if I give up my struggle and ask Jesus to use His strength to resist the temptation for me, I can walk unscathed through the fires of my lust. When I'm weak then I'm strong because Christ's strength is perfected in weakness.
We'll never be tempted by more than we can endure and in every temptation there's a way of escape. This is one of the many promises we can hold on to when we face our pet sins across the gulf of temptation. Think of how the Lord himself resisted temptation in the wilderness. He used the Word of God to rebuke Satan.
In the same way we need to have the Word of God in us if we want to have the strength to admit our weakness so we can find His strength.
Walking with God can sound and feel like walking backwards to anyone steeped in the wisdom of the world. For the wisdom of God is foolishness to the wise of this world. Just as the weakness of a sinner becomes the strength of the saint as hand in hand with the Man who stilled the sea we give it all to Jesus so He can give it back to us.
Those who seek to keep their lives lose them and those who give their lives away keep them for all eternity.
How do we resist temptation? We trust Jesus to do it for us since every sin was paid for at the cross. Accept Him as your Lord and Savior. Believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead. And you will be saved. That isn't pie in the sky. That isn't a hollow promise for the great by-an-by. That is a constant reality for the here and now.
When those pesky old sins reach up and try to drag us down remember we aren't out here all alone. Once we've given ourselves to God in and through Jesus it's no longer just us facing these struggles it's Christ within us the hope of Glory.