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Temptation and Deliverence


Temptation is one of those things that we are both very familiar with and at the same time, we end up using it in bizarre ways. It is insidious in its workings. Depending on the type of temptation, we can convince ourselves that giving in to the temptation is actually a good thing. This is the goal of commercials that use the idea, and even the language, of temptation in order to sell their product. There are restaurants and food brands with temptation in the name, all with the inherent idea that giving into temptation is a good thing. We have gotten to the point that temptation is really only viewed as a negative thing with regard to sexual temptation. And even that is not really seen as a negative thing culturally. We know that it is wrong because of the natural law, or moral law, that is written on the hearts of all mankind, but at the same time, because it is a source of guilt, we have a deep desire to suppress any feeling of wrong associated with temptation. Part of how we are taught to pray in the Lord's prayer is the request to be not led into temptation, but if we are going to understand what we are asking, we need to understand what temptation is.


Question # 127


The catechism, when dealing with the question of temptation, answers;

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. That is, in ourselves, we are so weak that we cannot stand even for a moment.[1] Moreover, our sworn enemies-- the devil,[2] the world,[3] and our own flesh[4]-- do not cease to attack us. Wilt Thou, therefore, uphold and strengthen us by the power of Thy Holy Spirit, so that in this spiritual war[5] we may not go down to defeat, but always firmly resist our enemies until we finally obtain the complete victory.[6]

One aspect of the catechism answer is particularly important. It mentions that our sworn enemies, as Christians, are the devil, the world, and our own flesh. Many tend to think of temptation as purely an external thing. When going through something difficult, I have heard many people say it is the devil that is tempting me. This is, to some degree, reinforced by the language of the prayer that lists temptation alongside delivering us from the evil one. But the idea goes beyond an evil one. This is why various translations, such as ESV, KJV, and the NASB, do not add the word one but translate it as simply evil. This is because of passages such as James 1:13-15, which point out that temptations come from our own evil desires. That is not to say that there are no external temptations, but external temptations are only effective when they coincide with our own internal desires.


Deliverance


When we pray for deliverance from temptation, we are essentially asking for the Lord to change our hearts. We are recognizing our own weakness and asking for the Holy Spirit to continue to work in us to overcome that weakness. We have to understand that apart from the work of God in our hearts, we cannot resist temptation. We are constantly confronted by all kinds of temptations. Temptations to be offended is a popular one today. The temptation to react to things without testing our actions and thoughts with scripture. We face more temptations each day than we can really quantify. From wasting time to allowing someone else to do what we know we should be doing. In all these things, we need the Lord to act within us. We need the Holy Spirit to change our hearts. To grow us in patience and love for the people around us. At the same time, we have a responsibility to stay away from things that we know are sources of temptation for us. If we struggle with alcoholism, then going to places that serve alcohol is not a good idea. If we struggle with lust and pornography, then most modern media should be avoided.


Summary

Like with the rest of the prayer, we are acknowledging our need for and dependence upon the Lord for all things. He is the sovereign Lord of all creation, and we depend on him for everything. He does whatever he pleases in the heavens above and in the earth below. When we pray, we acknowledge that and ask for the Lord for him to work in our lives. Temptation is something we will continue to face throughout our lives, but in Christ, we are able to overcome it, not because of us but because of Christ in us. We are new creations in Christ Jesus. We are his children, and he who has started a good work in us will bring it to completion. We need to be diligent in praying for the Lord to keep us from temptation and that he would reveal to us the temptations we struggle with. When we recognize those temptations, we must take them back to the Lord, knowing that only he can help us to overcome them.


Soli Deo Gloria


[1] Ps. 103:14-16; John 15:1-5. [2] II Cor. 11:14; Eph. 6:10-13; I Pet. 5:8. [3] John 15:18-21. [4] Rom. 7:23; Gal. 5:17. [5] Matt. 10:19, 20; 26:41; Mark 13:33; Rom. 5:3-5. [6] I Cor. 10:13; I Thess. 3:13; 5:23.



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