Friday, June 2, 2017

Resisting Temptation and Choosing Not to Sin

I didn't expect to do a mini-series, but it seems a shame to move on without finishing the Lord's prayer. Today, we're looking at the last of the six "requests" in the model prayer. 

You probably remember that there are three God-centered requests (hallowed be Thy name, Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done) and three me-centered requests (daily bread, forgiveness, protection from temptation.)

When Jesus prayed, "Lead us not into temptation," He was not implying that God tempts us. The NLT is, I believe, more in line with His intent. It translates this verse as, "Don't let us yield to temptation."

The root from which the word translated as "lead" is derived comes from a word which means "to carry along." It might be used to describe being "carried along by the wind..." 

James, half-brother of Jesus, tells us that temptation is not from God. (James 1:13) He does, however, lead us to situations in which we will be tempted. One example of this is when the Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness, at which time He endured the temptation of the evil one. (Luke 4:1) 

The goal of allowing the temptation is always to refine us, strengthen us, and demonstrate the power of God in our lives. It's not to see us fail.

When Jesus prayed that we not be led into temptation, He was saying, (Leanna Paraphrase) "When you lead me to the place of temptation, either keep me strong or rescue me, but don't let me yield to it." 

I don't always pray like this. Usually, I save my "don't let me yield" prayers until the midst of temptation.

Jesus didn't wait until the last minute to pray for deliverance. He was intentional. When you decide before hand to be sinless for the duration of your life, you do what it takes to avoid yielding to the evil one, including praying in advance for help in standing firm. When the redemption of the world is depending on your sinlessness, you choose not to sin from the start.

It's the kind of prayer Jesus intended us to pray, as well, because He presumed we, too, would want to be sinless. 

Therein lies the rub. Do we want to be sinless or not?

Ponder that for a few moments if you dare.

If we want to be sinless, we'll do what it takes to get there and stay there. We'll beg God to help us in advance, to keep us strong, to protect us from yielding. We'll avoid situations that set us up from failure. 

Instead of staying home from the work God has assigned us, as David did, we'll continue about our Father's business. 

Instead of walking on the rooftop and gazing at a stunning temptation until we give in, we'll flee the temptation. 

Instead of inviting our temptation into our home, we'll run the other direction. 

Avoiding temptation can be done in the heat of the moment, when we are at our weakest, but it's best begun in advance. 

Do we entertain the idea of sin? Do we indulge the enticement? If so, resisting when temptation comes will be hard to do. 

Temptation is coming to us all. The choice to yield is up to us. If we want to avoid sin, let's make a choice now. Do we want help in resisting? Ask for it in advance.

We may not resist every time, but we'll come a lot closer if we pray for protection from yielding ahead of time.

"And don't let us yield to temptation, but deliver us from the evil one." Matthew 6:13 NLT
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In case you missed it, here's the link for yesterdays post: Praying for What We Should Instead of What We Want

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