Temptation

Read Matthew 5:13
“And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. [For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’]”

Wedged in between the verses on forgiveness (Matthew 12, 14-15) is the prayer many of us pray in our weakness:

Lord lead me not into temptation, but deliver me from evil.

Early in my Christian walk I would absolutely beat myself up over temptation. And my greatest temptation was alcohol. I hesitate to even write about alcohol because I know I’ll be labeled a legalist and this will automatically become controversial, so let me go on the record and say:

I have alcoholism flowing through my veins; it runs on both sides of my family. My relationship with alcohol was not, and is not healthy, and is not honoring to God. I am not referring to any and all drinking, I don’t think everyone needs to abstain from alcohol, and I make that disclaimer here: Am I a Legalist if I Don’t Drink?

I’m referring to the fact that I used alcohol for one reason only and that was to get absolutely drunk, which is why it was so tempting to me.

I would have physical cravings and desires to get drunk and I would feel absolutely awful that it consumed my thought life as much as it did. So much so, that my husband had to remind me that sin is not being tempted, it’s giving into temptation. In other words, my desire to drink or temptation to get drunk was different than going to the store and buying a bottle of tequila to drink that night at home, by myself.

Moving on . . .

I realized that part of my temptation was the fact that I was walking right into temptation and trying to white knuckle it. I would meet friends at bars and think I’d be fine to just withstand temptation, 2 hours later guess who’s taking shots and dancing on barstools?

I realized that Jesus doesn’t teach us to pray “Lord, make me strong during temptation”, he teaches us to pray “Lead me not into temptation.”

I didn’t accidentally end up in a bar, I willingly drove there. No one gave me 3 bottles of wine; I went to the store and bought them.

I had to realize that temptation starts with the first step. Either I’m pursuing a path of obedience or I’m pursuing the path of temptation. Instead of going to the bar, thinking I’d just say no to shots of tequila, I had to back up a bit and just say no to going to the bar. “Lead me not into temptation”, boom there, done. Surrendering my desire and stopping my feet from taking the next step is how I fight temptation and am delivered from evil.

“No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)

Temptation is like a lion. You don’t have to unlock the cage and willingly get in. You can just keep walking by. Once you’re in, you can call out for deliverance, sure! But isn’t it better to just keep out? Lead me not into the lion’s den, oh LORD.

While drinking isn’t a struggle like it once was, I can say this prayer for just about anything in my life. Lead me not into temptation. Let it stop before I’m delivered up.

I know that staying out of bars my whole life isn’t what removes temptation; it’s surrendering my life and my struggles to Jesus. Remembering that the Gospel that not only saves, but also gives me new life is the only way to surrender sin and be delivered from evil. Remembering what Christ has saved me from and what He saved me to is the way out. The Cross-and that alone is my way out.

1. How are sin and temptation different?

2. In what ways are you being tempted to sin right now?

3. Are there things you can do to keep from being led into temptation? Are there people in your life you can help you be accountable?

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