It could have been me among that group of dosing disciples. There they were in the Garden of Gethsemane, having just been warned by Jesus to watch and pray as He moved off to pray alone. Coming back to them, Jesus was dismayed to find them all sleeping and asked, “Are you sleeping? Could you not keep watch for one hour? Watch and pray so that you won’t fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.” (Mark 14:38) Yes, it could have been me that Jesus found asleep. For how many times have I started to pray only to have my mind wander and become distracted after only a few minutes?
When a person fails to think through the implications of a “get rich quick scheme”, their decision to act is usually influenced by greed and recklessness, not common sense. For you hear it all the time – If it sounds too good to be true…it probably is. But that still doesn’t stop foolish people from being duped and cheated everyday. For it’s so easy to fall into the devil’s trap of running after riches… and instead ending up in ruin.
Whenever God is the agent of trials (temptations)…it’s for the purpose of testing, never for the purpose of causing us to fall. For God can’t be tempted by evil, nor does He tempt anyone. (James 1:13) And with each test, He will not only never tempt you beyond what you can bear, but He will also provide a way out. (I Corinthians 10:13) But we know our biggest adversary when it comes to temptation is the devil…the evil one. In this verse of the Lord’s Prayer, we are asking to be rescued from evil or the evil one. This statement is echoed in the Prayer of Jabez which says, “..Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me far from evil, that I may not cause pain.” ( I Chronicles 4:10) NKJV So anytime we ask God to keep us from the evil one…the devil must flee.
With each temptation, the devil offered Jesus a shortcut…a way to compromise and thus circumvent God’s plan. So anytime our own impatience tempts us to not wait but instead run ahead of God…we’re playing right into the same scheme. Now none of us like to wait…we all want immediate gratification, so when offered a shortcut, we usually take it. But within that shortcut can hide compromise, risk, and loss. I Corinthians 15:58 encourages us to, “Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” In God’s perfect plan there are no shortcuts, and even though we may feel impatient when waiting on the Lord…we are to stand firm, fully committed and trusting in Him.
At the end of all Believer’s lives we would hope to be able to echo Paul’s words here. Yes, I’ve struggled against temptation daily, but I’ve valiantly tried to remain honest and upright before the Lord. I’ve professed my faith to others…contending for the prize… the victor’s crown of eternal life. And in the end, like Paul, I wish to be able to say with confidence, that I have finished the race and completed the task- the ministry- that the Lord Jesus Christ has laid out before me. (Acts 20:24)
“If it’s not broke, why fix it.” Why should Satan have to change his tactics when it’s so easy to entice humans through their senses. Nowadays, we are constantly bombarded by a sensory overload that attempts to seduce us through what we see, hear, and feel emotionally. Temptation is so prevalent on TV, in movies, the Internet, and Social Media, that we can become apathetic and almost indifferent to that still small voice that whispers, “This is wrong.” For temptation will remain only a temptation…as long as you don’t act on it.
Here Paul was warning about idolatry and falling into temptation. Probably the most conceited thought a Christian can have is, “That couldn’t ever happen to me!” It’s when you think your “beyond” being tempted…that it’ll sneak up behind and bite you. I’m sorry, but no one is immune to temptation and smugly thinking you are above it is only setting yourself up to fail. We all need to be on guard and wary…for our enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. (I Peter 5:8)
Temptation in and of itself isn’t sin…but if acted upon, gives way to sin. And temptation acted upon, gives leave to a gateway or portal of evil into our very being. Evil now has a foothold…a threshold into our lives that we can’t even imagine. We’re all tempted on a daily basis, by endless means, all focused to cause us to fall into sin. But we don’t have to give in…and we don’t have to permit that entryway to be established in our lives. God is greater than any temptation that will befall you today. Look to Him for guidance.
The temptations of Satan attempt to entangle us in sin to show that good or evil…weakness or strength exists within. It is not a sin to be tempted…rather, it’s the decision we make with the temptation that matters. For it says in Hebrews 4:15, “Jesus was tempted in every way – yet was without sin.”
Temptation is temptation…it may have many different faces, and it may be something completely different for you as it is for me. But regardless, Satan uses enticement on everyone, everyday, hoping to cause us to fall. The Lord however, will not allow us to be entangled in sin beyond what we can handle…and in doing so, will also give us an “out”. This may be as simple as saying “No”, or walking away, or just standing there, doing nothing. God is faithful…He will always do His part…so the next time you’re lured in by sin, look for His “out.”