lead me not into temptation

Computer viruses are almost like human viruses. Computer viruses have memories, can be caught anytime or anywhere, they can even be lethal to your computers health by sabotaging your files, programs, security system, and causing your hard drive to crash. Computer viruses have cause a lot of damage, cost lot’s money, and caused a lot of frustration from lost information [Solution = Buy a Mac. I just had to throw that in there!].

Temptations are a lot like computer viruses. As followers of Christ, you have incredible foolproof anti-virus software. 1 Corinthians 10:13 says, ”No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation He will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” Before we look at how to handle temptations, let’s look at the sources of our temptations.

What is the Source of My Temptation?

The Tempter. Satan in the Scripture is called, the tempter [Matthew 4:3; 1 Thessalonians 3:5]. He is sneaky and sly little serpent. He is like a computer hacker that seeks to cause havoc in your life. He knows when your security system is the weakest. He doesn’t know your wiring quite like God because he is not omniscient. However, he has been around humans for a long time. Therefore, he knows your heart tendencies.[1]

People tend to give into Satan’s lucrative temptations. It is too easy to blame your sin on the serpent. Therefore, when people sin, you will often hear the excuse, “The devil made me do it.” Does the devil really make you do it? Does that devil really cause you to sin? No, you decide to sin. You do not have to choose to sin no matter how enticing it is. “Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” [James 4:7]

The Heart. The Bible describes the heart as your inner man—the real you—where your beliefs affect your behavior. Your heart is your control center. The Bible says there is something seriously wrong with your heart. Your control center has a glitch in its main frame, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” [Jeremiah 17:9] Your heart is sick and contaminated with a spiritual virus inherited from birth by your first parents in the Garden of Eden.

The World. Your world is warped by sin and temptation. Love for the world begins in the heart. The Bible warns, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in Him.” [1 John 2:15] Worldliness is exalting yourself and excluding God, for the next verse says, “For all that is in the world—the lust of his flesh, the lust of his eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world.” [1 John 2:16].

The world knows you crave love and affection, fame and fortune, comfort and peace. The world makes it so appetizing you got to have it. And the devil is the world’s best promoter and commercial advertiser because he is the “god of this world.” [2 Corinthians 4:4]. He has corrupted the system by placing a lie in your mind that you are the center of the universe and God is subservient to all your wants and wishes. James 4:4 says contrary, “Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself and enemy of God.”

Do you believe Common Lies Concerning your Sin and Temptations?

It is common to believe lies about the temptations you face. 1 Corinthians 10:13, clears up many lies you will have about daily temptations you come across.

LIE #1: “No one else is going through what I’m going through.” Whatever temptation you face is not unique to you. Someone in human history has faced it too. Your temptation is not a “special case.” Satan would love to convince you that it is special so that you do not seek help because no one will understand. Although, a member of your church might not have walked in the shoes of your temptations more than likely they have walked through similar temptations since “no temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man.” Seek accountability through temptation for a single string by itself is weak, but strings woven together into a cord are strong [1 Corinthians 12].

LIE #2: “God must not care about me, since He caused this temptation.” God is never the cause of temptation [James 1:13-14]. God does not tempt because He is not evil. He allows temptation [Job 1-2] within certain parameters. The Bible is clear; you are tempted by your own desires [James 1]. On the flip side, “God is faithful.” He will help you through temptations, giving you the strength to overcome, and restoring those who fall seeking Him for repentance. Sinners are never beyond God’s ability to restore.

LIE #3: “My temptations are too strong for me to resist.” Temptations do become stronger the more you give in. However, you will never have a temptation too strong you can’t get out because God “will not let you be tempted beyond your ability.” This is a precious promise from God.

Often we interpret this verse to have reference to temptations that test our limits to the extreme. We make the verse say something that is not really there. We use it to create an illustration that the war against Satan and temptation is no problem at all. God, will not cause us to go up against something that we are not eminently qualified to face. And when life throws things at us that are overwhelming, we wonder why our experience doesn’t match our understanding of this verse. It is easy to lose heart. Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against powers and forces of darkness [Ephesians 6:12]. He allows us to go up against these enemies, and gives us the resources to engage them and endure through the struggle [Ephesians 6:14-18].

LIE #4: “There is no way out, therefore, I must give in.” God always gives you an escape hatch, “with the temptation He will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” If you do not know a way out, pray. As Jesus taught you to pray, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” [Matthew 6:13; cf. John 14:14; James 4:2] Often our only escape is to endure through it [cf. James 1:12; 1 Corinthians 6:7]. As A.B. Simpson wrote,

“Temptation exercises our faith and teaches us to pray. It is like a military drill and a taste of battle for a young soldier. It puts us under fire and compels us to exercise our weapons and prove their potency. It shows us the recourse of Christ and preciousness of the promises of God. Every victory gives us new confidence in our victorious leader and new courage for the next onslaught of the foe.”[2]

How Can I Overcome Sin, Temptation, and a Wicked Heart?

First, read, know, and rehearse the Word of God. When Jesus was in the wilderness being tempted by Satan, the devil undermined God’s Word, twisting it, and mixing enough truth to make it sound so tasty [Matthew 4:1-11]. Satan is crafty and cleaver with his use of Scripture. Be ready for the devil by reading the Word of God regularly and daily. Don’t just read it, know it, and memorize it. Filling your memory with God’s Word can help you detect tempting viruses. This is why David wrote, “Your Word I have hidden in my heart that I might not sin against You.” [Psalm 119:11] The Word of God is the sword of the Spirit [Ephesians 6:17]. It is a defensive weapon against the wiles of the devil. Wield it. Train to use it well [1 John 2:5]. Be ready to whip it out for action.

Second, run from sin, Satan, and temptation. There is no sense in sticking around to see if you are strong enough to fight sin on your own. You will lose. Guaranteed. Therefore, run like hell or else hell will have a handle on you. If you hop in a canoe and begin paddling down the Niagara River you will soon find the current moving faster and faster. It is easier to pull out far upstream than just before the falls. There comes a point of no return when you will not have strength in yourself to turn back and fight the current. It is best to not even get into the boat or go near the river. Run.[3]

Third, love your Lord Jesus Christ. When you love Jesus, things of this world and desires of your heart seem shallow compared to the depths of Christ’s riches. Think about the cross of Christ and His love for sinners [1 John 3:16]. James 1:12 says, “Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for he has been proved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.”

In conclusion, temptation is something every human faces. Temptation in and of itself is not sin, but it is the first stage towards sinning. Temptation comes at you like blazing arrows at from Satan, the world, and your wicked heart. Your only vaccination to combat the constant nagging attacks of temptation is using the Word of God and loving Jesus Christ. Jesus was tempted, but did not sin [Hebrews 4:15-16]. Therefore, He knows the full weight of temptation because He did not give into it.

Is there hope for me if I have given into temptation and sinned? Yes. Restoration through Christ is possible. You never can go to far from God not to be made right through Christ. Repent of your sin and restore your need of Christ for the strength to endure through temptation. Live victorious because Christ is your sin conquering King. He has crushed your foes upon the cross.

For further reading check out John Owen’s work, Overcoming Sin and Temptation.

[1] 10 Temptation Truths: 1. Satan is a real Enemy; 2. Satan will H.I.T. you (Hungry, Isolated, or Tired); 3. Jesus is your victorious Warrior-King; 4. The Holy Spirit is your power; 5. Biblical truth is your counterpunch; 6. Christ is your identity; 7. Escape is always possible; 8. Satan eventually taps out; 9. Repent whenever you tap out and fight another round; and 10. Life is a battle with many rounds.

[2] A.B. Simpson, Christ and the Bible: The Epistle of James. Christian Publications, Harrisburg, PA. 1886. 9.

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