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Temptation And Sin

We want to look at the Model Prayer of our Lord as recorded in Matthew 6: 9 - 13. Look carefully at a statement made by our Lord in verse thirteen when He said, "Lead us not into temptation." As there are many lessons we need to learn and understand the one before us is very important for it affects us all. Our Lord said to ask that God not lead us into temptation. What does He mean by that statement? We know that He does not mean that God will "entice" us to commit sin. How can we be sure of that? Well the Bible tells us so in James 1:13, when God says, "Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:" It is clear that the kind of temptation under consideration is to entice to sin. If God did that, then He would be opposing Himself. Jesus said that would be true of satan if he were cast out by himself. He said, "And if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how shall then his kingdom stand?" (Matthew 12:26). There are times when God does "test" us to try our faith as in Genesis 22:1 when God did tempt Abraham. The word there means to be tried, it did not mean that God wanted him to sin, only to try his faith so that he (Abraham) would know his strength in the Lord. We are told in Hebrews 11:17 that Abraham was "tried." God did not want him to kill his son; He even sent an angel to stop him. It seems clear to me that this trying of our faith is embraced in the words of our Lord Jesus in the Model Prayer. It may well be that this is the "fiery trial" of which Peter spoke in 1 Peter 4:12. At any rate we are to pray that we not be led into such times. It is true that some of the greatest blessings may come as the result of such trials, but unless we are able to endure them, they would bring great difficulty. Therefore we are wise to pray for God not to lead us into these paths.

Though God will not lead us into the paths of sin, there is one who certainly will. Even when we pray the above prayer, and as we pray it, satan will be looking for ways to tempt us and allure us into sinful paths. Satan is our adversary according to 1 Peter 5:8. God said, "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:" He wants to destroy us, not only in eternity but also in time. He would like for us to be separated forever from the glorious fellowship of God. If God by His grace, through the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ, has prevented that from happening to the elect, then satan will try to draw us into sin and disrupt our fellowship with God as we live in the world. His method of getting us to sin is called temptation. Because God in us is greater than satan in the world, (1 John 4:4) satan cannot make us sin. If we sin it is because two things have happened. (1.) Satan has tempted us to sin and (2.) we have yielded to his temptation and engaged in the act. We need to understand that "temptation" is not sin, for Jesus was tempted according to Hebrews 2:18. The Bible says, "For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted." Not only did He not sin, but also He is able to help us resist sin. It is not in the temptation that wrong occurs, but in yielding to the temptation.

Two great examples help us to understand that temptation can and should be resisted and refused. In the Old Testament Joseph was blessed of God to be overseer in the home of Potipher, the Egyptian. Potipher's wife tried to seduce Joseph but he resisted because he would not displease his God. Genesis 39:9 says "There is none greater in this house than I; neither hath he kept back any thing from me but thee, because thou art his wife: how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?" Joseph is often considered to be a "type" of the Lord Jesus. In the resisting of sin, he certainly did hold true to the pattern. In the wilderness temptation, Jesus was tempted by satan three times, but each time He refused the temptation (Matthew 4:1-11). None of God's children can ever say that we could not help but sin, unless we deny the power of God. When we are tempted and call upon Him in prayer, He is able to strengthen us to be able to resist. It is when we do not resist, that we commit the act of sin. In such times we have transgressed the law of God and that is sin. 1 John 3:4 says, "Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law."

Why do we sin? The answer is really very simple, we refuse the strength God gives and give in to the weakness of the flesh. We are tempted when we have lust and give in to it. James 1:14-15 says, "But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death." Satan is no dummy, he knows the weaknesses of everyone of us. No, he is not omniscient as God is, but he is a hard worker and he does have a good memory. When he tempts us and finds it does not create lust, he will not use that temptation again. But when he tempts us and finds those things that cause lust, he will use them again and again. He will reshape them, paint them a different color (so to speak) and try one more time. Three common temptations are (1.) lust of the flesh, (2.) lust of the eyes and (3.) pride of life according to 1 John 2: 16. They have worked on so many people that satan tried these "favorite three" on our Lord; but they fell flat when it came to Christ. One reason they failed is simple, because He has no lust or pride. I am sure that satan was surprised when they did not work on Jesus; after all they had worked on Eve, and they have continued to work on humanity at large ever since.

We might say that the common denominator for all temptation is that it works on the "forbidden" principle. If you are not supposed to do it , then you may want to do it all the more. Remember that the first sin came through the "forbidden fruit." God said to Adam, "But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die." (Genesis 2:17). So satan uses the forbidden (1.) appetite, (2.) money, (3.) ambition, and (4.) sex. These are not always forbidden, for when they are used in ways that please God and are in keeping with His will for us, there is no forbidden climate. God gave appetite and that makes food taste better, and that is alright most of the time. But when people who have an appetite for alcohol become drunk, or they take drugs to alter the mind, and they eat foods that are harmful to them; it is sin. Money will pay our lawful debts, and they should be paid. It will also help support the church and honor God. Part of our money belongs to Him for His purposes. But when a person loves money to the point he will steal and lie and kill to get it, that is sin. Ambition can also be good if we try to pull ourselves up and do better. It is also good when we try to become a better person. But when we will sell our souls and give up our principles and forfeit our integrity in order to gain positions, power or riches, we have sinned. The last one mentioned is sex and it is ordained by God to be enjoyed between and husband and wife in the institution of marriage and in love for God and each other. However, when men and women have sex before marriage or outside of marriage, or two men or two women together, it is sin. Many today give in to their lust for the forbidden and when satan tempts them, they gladly yield and sin, and sin, and sin!

What happens when that occurs can be devastating. Many of the problems people have and much of the troubles which plague our society can be traced to sin and linked inseparably to this yielding to temptation. Let me list some of the perils to sin. I am not going to mention the obvious such as imprisonment for crimes or disease and death from sexually transmitted diseases. Yet there are some results that our society has not recognized and our attention needs to be called to them. (1.) We may fall from our own steadfastness and lower ourselves before God and man, by yielding to temptation (2 Peter 3:17). (2.) We make our bodies or its members to become instruments of unrighteousness, tools of wrongdoing and sin (Romans 6:13). (3.) From a personal standpoint, we may have to live with guilt haunting us everyday, for our tomorrows are linked to our past (Psalm 51:3). (4.) Most of all we are sinning against the God Who created us in His image and if we are saved, we were saved by His Son, Jesus Christ (Psalm 51:4).

Whether the temptation comes from within or without, it displeases God when it becomes sin in our lives. The rampant sin must be an awesome burden for humanity to carry, since we must all pay the price in some measure. What affects one of us, in some measure affects us all. When Adam sinned, humanity was plunged into sin, and all who have lived on this planet earth have been touched by it. Perhaps we will never, this side of heaven, be able to understand how deeply touched God is by all that is happening. Yet sin continues, repeated again and again throughout the ages. The paths of temptation are always crowded with people. The results do not have to be sin and thank God not everyone who is tempted does sin. Millions of temptations will be resisted today. Some lovers of God will find the strength to do right. Many will stand up and be counted on the side of righteousness. Paul reminds us that God has given us spiritual armour that can successfully defend us against satan and his cunning temptations (Ephesians 6: 10-17). But let me share with you some additional defences against temptation.

First, we must recognize the importance of using the holy scriptures in resisting temptation. It is perhaps one of the most effective ways. I know that because it is the way our Lord resisted the temptations of satan in the wilderness. Each time satan tempted Him, He used the scriptures according to Matthew 4:4, 7, 10. Three times He was tempted, three times He used the scriptures and three times He resisted the temptation. How can we argue with such a success rate as that? When you and I are tempted, let us remember what the scriptures command and, if necessary, tell satan what they say. He does not like it when we have a thus saith the Lord and act in obedience to the word of God. May we have the courage to adhere to the teaching of the Bible and when temptations come, say "NO thank you, satan."

Second, we must remember that yielding to temptation is sin and sin will damage or destroy our good name and reputation. It is important to have a good name according to Proverbs 22:1. It will do more for you than wealth and fame, yet many times it is destroyed by yielding to temptation and sinning. So many times a lifetime of good living has been destroyed by a careless and unguarded moment. After one act of indiscretion the sin is soon widely known and people's lives are damaged. The damage can be irreparable as others may never see that person the same way again. Is it worth enjoying the pleasures of sin for a moment, and pay the price for the rest of your life? Most people would answer the question with an emphatic NO! So when temptation comes, no matter how beautiful and enticing its form may be, just remember that it took a lifetime to get your good name and it could all be lost in a very few minutes.

Third, keep in mind that you will not be the only one affected. The consequences would be most severe if you had to pay the price alone, but others who love you and whom you care about will also have to pay the price. Satan never cares how many are hurt. It matters not to him how many suffer with you. If anything, the more who suffer, the more he likes it. When we yield to temptation and sin, then others who know and love us, will probably be hurt. If we care for them, we must prevent this widespread pain. Remember when Achan sinned, he thought no one would find out and no one else would be affected (Joshua 7:20). But when he was stoned to death by the people, his family was also stoned. Every sin we commit affects our blessings in life and therefore affects those whose lives are bound to ours. Think about your loved ones the next time you are tempted to sin.

Fourth, we need to remember also that our sin robs us of the sweet fellowship of our blessed Lord. He will not walk in close fellowship when our path is one of sin. In the beginning, it was sin that caused Adam and Eve to lose the fellowship of God in the cool of the day as declared in Genesis 3: 8 & 24. They were eventually driven from the comforts and blessings of the garden itself. God would have no part of their sins and though Christ died for our sins, He will not partake with us in committing them. Not only do we lose fellowship with Him, but also we bring shame on His name because we profess it. We bring a black mark against His bride the church. Instead of yielding to temptation, let us resist it and live a life that will glorify and honor God, one in which we will walk close to Him and our hearts will be warmed by His sweet fellowship.

Let me close by saying that your temptation are really no different from any other person's. Yours come through your lust, theirs by their lust. Let us remember this important scripture found in 1 Corinthians 10:13, and consider these revealing words: "There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it." Pray for God to lead you not into temptation and also pray that when satan does, you will have grace and strength to say no! Do it because you love God and the Lord Jesus Christ and want to live as a devoted servant of God. Do it because you know deep down it is the right thing to do. Do it to make the world just a little better place. And do it because God has already provided you with an escape hatch that you may slip quietly away from satan and into the arms of our loving Saviour. He said we may show our love for Him by obeying His commandments. His exact words are, "If ye love me, keep my commandments." (John 14:15) I want to do that, don't you? Let us praise Him in our hearts and with our lives.

Do not let satan use your past sins to discourage and defeat you. One reason we are called sinners is because we have all yielded to temptation and sin. We should repent to God for the past sins and rise up with renewed commitment to Him, to resist temptation, to walk in the will of God, and to glorify Him with holy living.

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This page last updated on June 17, 2014