Matthew 6:5-15 — The Conclusion of the Lord’s Prayer — Seeking God’s Shelter in the Sea of Temptations

Posted: October 20, 2015 in Gospel of Matthew, The Lord's Prayer

Do you remember the first time that your parents left you at home alone on the weekend? It was a major feat for us when we are growing. Finally, our parents trust us enough that they are willing to let us stay at home while they go have some parental romantic weekend (Ewwww!)! We revel in those moments as soon as the car gets out of sight. Take the old records off the shelf! Grab the music and play it loud on Dad’s precious sound system. Go to the fridge and pull out the whipped cream and spray it directly into your mouth as you are jamming to your favorite tunes blaring throughout the house. Driving your Dad’s sports car without him knowing! Calling your friends and saying the party’s on! The party was epic, of course. But at the same time, stuff got broken. The house is a mess after the party ends in the wee hours of the morning. Only your real friends are left and the house is a disaster. This was a test of the parental trust system. And you have failed. We’ve all been there. Temptation to rebel against our parent’s rules are almost too much to bare. It is similar when you go off to college for that first fall semester during your freshman year. The temptations to go wild are great and most of us fail at the temptations and often find it difficult until late in the semester to get our stuff together to keep from failing at least one course. We’ve all been there. Free will means that we can find ourselves in situations where we are tempted. That idea comes into play in the final phrase of the Lord’s prayer.

Today, we conclude our detailed look at the Lord’s Prayer. In this blueprint for how we should pray, Jesus concludes the model prayer with the phrase, “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” This reminds us of a saying that I have heard stated in various ways but the sentiment is the same, “Jesus never said not if but when we would face temptation…” When we ask God not to lead us into temptation and deliver us from the evil one, just what is it that we are asking God to do? There is something subtle to notice here. First, we are recognizing that God will never lead us into temptation. Second, temptations will come and it is apparent that they cannot be avoided. Finally, God has the power to deliver us from them.

The first thing that we will notice here is that Jesus says that we should be praying not to be lead into temptation. God will never lead us into temptation. James 1:13 tells us that God cannot be tempted by evil so He himself does not tempt anyone. Therefore, temptations come not from God. He is pure and holy and completely righteous. It is not in His nature to lead someone toward evil thoughts or evil actions or situations where we will be tempted to participate in evil thoughts or acts. He won’t. He can’t even take us to that neighborhood. Evil and God do not co-exist together. As a result, He cannot lead us astray. He can only lead us to goodness, truth, and life. God may allow us to be tested by temptation to see if we really are His children or just pretenders, but He himself will not tempt us. God allowed Job to be tested by temptation (but with restrictions). So, too, are there times when temptations are allowed just so as to see what we are really made of. Are we really Christ followers? Luke 16:10 tells us that God will see if we can be trusted in the little things then we can be trusted with much more. If we are faithful in the small things, then, we will be faithful in the bigger ones. Our parents often give us small bits of freedom like staying at home by ourselves as teenagers to see if they can trust us with bigger things. They may start out by leaving us at home for a couple of hours to see if we can be trusted to stay alone without killing ourselves or someone else over a whole weekend. They may see if we can be trusted over a weekend so that they can give us bigger and bigger responsibilities later on in the process of growing up. Have you ever noticed that your parents will start treating you more and more like an adult when you start acting like one? God allows temptations in our lives to see how we measure up. God allows temptations to mature us as well. We may find ourselves in subtle temptations and resist them. As we mature, we become more battle-tested and more easily see the difference between God’s way and the ways of Satan. As we trust in God’s way, we are able to see through the temptations for what they really are – Satan’s attempts to draw us away from God, and it is way to make us ineffective followers of Christ. Satan’s siren call can sound so sweet, but as we mature in Christ, we can see the rocks in the water that will rip us to shreds and we choose to steer away from the siren’s call. As we mature, we see that which is opposite of God’s Word as being a temptation. We see that which is opposite of God’s consistent truth as expressed in His Word as not being of God but rather as being of Satan. God would never lead us toward that which is in opposition to His Word. We must be mature enough to see the difference. However, even the most mature Christian is not above temptation and not above succumbing to it.

We will sin. We will give in to temptation on occasion. The key for the maturing Christian is recognition and repentance. Satan will place a big ol’ target on our back when we become a Christian and particularly when we become a gospel-bearing, fruit-bearing Christ follower. He will try to bring us low and small ways and sometimes in big ways. Being an effective Christ follower is not easy. Satan wants to destroy and devour us. He will tempt us. He will win many, many times. We are by the nature inherited from Adam sinful creatures. A Christian is still a sinner but He is covered by grace. A Christian is being changed by the Holy Spirit over time to become more and more like Christ but it is a lifetime job. There are still sins that are committed. The difference is that a maturing Christian will recognize his sins through the conviction of the Holy Spirit. We may battle for a while with the Holy Spirit trying to justify why our sin is OK this one time but the Holy Spirit will smack us around until we see the light. When we recognize our sin, it begins to revolt us. Just as an ex-smoker is often revolted by how a cigarette makes them feel after having been off them for a while. Our sins when we have the Holy Spirit living in us will revolt us at ourselves. Temptations are going to come my friend. Especially if you have accepted Christ as your Savior. Many think that accepting Jesus as their Savior is going to make their lives easier. They think that it is an arrival place. Once there, everything’s cool and no more trouble will come. Trouble will come. Temptations will come. We are not immune as Christ followers. Maybe in many cases we are more of a target for Satan’s temptations AFTER we become Christ followers. We must be aware of this. We must listen to the Holy Spirit’s guidance. We must not rationalize our failures to resist sin. We must admit our sins and repent of them. We must recognize sin as not a pleasure to had but as a road to trouble.

How do we realistically resist temptation in a world full of them? Temptations abound. They are everywhere. What do we do when we give in to them and we realize that we have screwed up? We must allow the Holy Spirit to speak to us and we need to listen. We must run to our Father when we realize that we have sinned and beg Him to help us make it right again and for Him to forgive us. We will run to our Abba Father and ask Him to deliver us from our sins. How do we resist temptation? Jesus knew Scripture. He used it as His weapon when Satan was tempting. We can use Scripture too! We must first know it though. We must study Scripture and bury it in our hearts so that when temptations come, we can do the file/retrieve function in our minds. Some of us will be able to quote exactly what Scripture says but if you study the Bible enough, you will at least remember the general tenor of an applicable passage. Satan fleed from Jesus when He used Scripture to resist Satan. He will flee from you and I too when we invoke Scripture in our mind when we are tempted. We then can make the mental choice to walk away from the temptation. In this way, God delivers us from evil. He will help us extract ourselves from evil when we get ensnared in it.

Gotquestions.com says it best on this question of temptation when it says, “If our minds are filled with the latest TV shows, music and all the rest the culture has to offer, we will be bombarded with messages and images that inevitably lead to sinful lusts. But if our minds are filled with the majesty and holiness of God, the love and compassion of Christ, and the brilliance of both reflected in His perfect Word, we will find that our interest in the lusts of the world diminish and disappear. But without the Word’s influence on our minds, we are open to anything Satan wants to throw at us.”
Father, help us to trust in your Word and help to be in it daily. Help to recognize temptations as the road to destruction and not to some personal fulfillment. Help us to resist temptation. Help us to admit our failings and repent of them. Help us to seek your shelter from the storms of temptation. Amen.

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