1. Hello, listening friends.
2. We are coming to a very important part of the Lord's Prayer.
3. The question that has been debated for a long time is this:
4. does God lead us into temptation?
5. If not, then, why did Jesus teach His Disciples to pray, “Lead us not into temptation?”
6. This question has plagued theologians and genuine scholars for 2,000 years.
7. In fact, this is the most controversial sentence in the entire Lord's Prayer.
8. As we have been going through the Lord's Prayer, we began by seeing, "Our Father."
9. What a privilege!
10. “In Heaven.”
11. What a place!
12. “Hallowed by Your name.”
13. What a joyful thing to do!
14. “Your Kingdom come”
15. is the longing desire.
16. “Your will be done”
17. is a cry of surrender.
18. “Give us this day our daily bread”
19. is a total dependence upon our God.
20. “Forgive us our sins as we forgive others”
21. is a challenge of imitating God;
22. but “Lead us not into temptation?”
23. It leaves us a little bit perplexed;
24. and that perplexity becomes even more pertinent when we compare verses 2 and 3 with verses 13 and 14 of James, Chapter 1.
25. Let’s look at verses 2 and 3.
26. “Count it all joy, my brethren, when you meet various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.”
27. Verses 13 and 14,
28. “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted by God,’ for God cannot be tempted by evil and He Himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.”
29. In the original language, the word used in "testing" and "tempting" is the same.
30. To understand "lead us not into temptation," we must understand the word that is used here.
31. The Greek word "peirasmos" is a neutral word.
32. It can be used to mean "testing,"
33. or, it can be used to mean ‘"enticing" or "tempting."
34. It can be used positively, or, it can be used negatively.
35. The word can be used to mean "seduction to evil,"
36. or, it can mean "revealing one’s moral qualities."
37. It can be used to deceive, or, it can be used to undeceive.
38. One aims to lead into sin and the other aims to bring good out of bad.
39. Satan tempts us, but God permits us to be tested.
40. Satan’s intention is to discourage us,
41. but God’s intention is to lift us above discouragement.
42. Satan’s intention is to entice us to do our thing,
43. but God’s intention is to have us conform to the image of His Son.
44. My listening friend, please listen carefully.
45. The test, at that point, becomes a very clear demonstration as to who has the upper hand in a given area of your life;
46. and that is why the Apostle Paul writes emphatically to the Galatians, saying,
47. Let me ask you this:
48. who has the upper hand in every area of your life--
49. you or God?
50. If the answer is that you have the upper hand in some of these areas, then praying, "lead us not into temptation" will not help you one bit.
51. Not only that,
52. but, when you are in control of whatever area of your life, you might as well hand Satan the key in that area.
53. Whether it is fear,
54. or worry,
55. or anger,
56. or un-forgiveness,
57. or lust,
58. or lying,
59. or addiction,
60. or greed,
61. or unfaithfulness to God,
62. whatever it may be, if it is under your control, you might as well hand the key to Satan.
63. Now, why do I say that?
64. Because, if it is under your control, then, it is a golden, engraved invitation for Satan to take over in that area,
65. because you are not a match for him.
66. If God is not in control, Satan will literally grab that key from your hand.
67. Only those who daily place all areas of their lives under the control of the Captain of the Host of the Lord can say with confidence, "Lead us not into temptation."
68. Let me give you the steps that the devil takes to lead us into temptation.
69. These are the same steps that he used to lure Adam and Eve.
70. Because Satan is not very creative, he uses the same strategy to lure you and me.
71. First, he will confuse your will with the will of God.
72. He will make you doubt the authority of the Word of God.
73. He will muddy the clarity of the Word of God.
74. When he came to Adam and Eve, he did not just come and say, "Hello, I am Satan and I want you to disobey God."
75. No, Satan said, "Are you really sure that is what God really meant?"
76. Then, when he comes to tempt people, he will say, "I think you are narrowly interpreting the Word of God..."
77. then, he goes into the second step.
78. Satan will appeal to your natural desires, your passions, your covetousness and your curiosity,
79. like a fisherman who presents the bait and hides the hook.
80. Someone said that Satan is not such a fool as to fish without bait.
81. He will show you the glamorous side of the wrong-doing and hide the latter guilt and shame and hurt that you’ll feel;
82. and that’s what he did with Adam and Eve.
83. He presented them with a picture of them becoming like God,
84. and that had a tremendous appeal.
85. If the fruit had a worm in it,
86. they could see a part of the worm wiggling;
87. then, Eve would have seen that horrible-looking worm with her own eyes,
88. and she would not have fallen for the trap;
89. but Satan told them all about the self-fulfillment that they were going to get.
90. He told them about how happy they would be;
91. and, oh, surely, God wants you to be happy!
92. It was so good to dream about all that power, and all that control, and all of that authority, that their ego was blown up like a balloon;
93. then, there was a third step:
94. that step of persuasion.
95. When he gets you to toy with the idea,
96. when he gets you to entertain the idea,
97. when he gets you to play with the idea in your mind,
98. then, he knows that he is halfway there.
99. When Eve got to that point, the natural thing to do was to try it out;
100. but what happened, once the first bite was taken?
101. He will convince you that one bite is not enough.
102. One sip of alcohol is not enough.
103. One lie is not enough.
104. One look is not enough.
105. One visit is not enough.
106. One try is not enough;
107. and, once you are in his clutches, Satan wants to keep you there.
108. Once you are in his camp, he wants to imprison you there.
109. Once you are in his service, he wants to hold you there.
110. Once he establishes a beachhead in your life, he wants to stay cozy and warm in your life.
111. Even when you pray a million times a day, saying, "Lead us not into temptation," it will not help you.
112. At that point, your prayer is faint.
113. It is half-hearted and it is not serious.
114. You see, after that point, resisting the temptation is difficult,
115. not because God cannot deliver you,
116. but because you do not want to be completely delivered from the temptation.
117. Millions of people pray this prayer out of habit—"Lead us not into temptation"—and they are leading themselves into temptation all the time.
118. That is why this is a prayer for those who have put all areas of their lives under the Lordship of Jesus Christ;
119. then, comes Satan’s final step.
120. Once you are in the guilt and the shame and discouragement, he wants you to stay there.
121. He will tell you that you cannot get out of it.
122. He will tell you, now that you have put yourself in this messy situation, God cannot forgive you.
123. Satan will do all within his power to stop you from repenting and turning to the Lord.
124. Satan will do all within his power to keep you from taking this area and decisively offering it to the Lord for cleansing and for bringing it under His control.
125. The way he gets you to do that is by getting you to hide your defeat,
126. by getting you to excuse your sin,
127. by getting you to conceal the deception in your life from others and from God.
128. At that point, you will feel, deep down, a separation from your heavenly Father.
129. You will put on your public Christian mask, but, deep down, you have given up on deliverance and victory;
130. and that is what Satan did with Adam and Eve.
131. They were cut off from open, frank, honest conversation with God.
133. Because they were hiding something.
134. When God came to meet with them, they were in despair and thought that they could hide from God Himself.
135. God called out, “Where are you?”
136. Not that God did not know where they were.
137. He did.
138. What God was asking was this:
139. "Adam, do you know where you are?"
140. My friend, I want to ask you this question.
141. Do you know where you are, when you are defeated?
142. God is calling you this very day and He’s calling you by name.
143. Do you know where you are defeated?
144. Come back, because God wants to give you His victory.
145. Listening friends, you must understand what I’m going to tell you.
146. Temptation, in itself, is not necessarily an evil experience.
147. It is part and parcel of our Father’s plan to produce people of strong character.
148. It is God’s plan to producing the Christ-like qualities.
149. When He created us as free-will beings, He knew we would be confronted with choices;
150. but our character, as children of the living God, is a sum total of our choices.
151. Temptation, from God’s standpoint, is our great testing ground.
152. It can help us grow up into godliness under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, Who dwells in us.
153. I want you to imagine a forty-year-old who had never been able to walk since childhood.
154. You say, "There must be something physically wrong."
156. his parents did not want him to hurt himself, so they never taught him to walk.
157. You probably say, "This is terrible..."
158. and I agree;
159. yet, there are many Christians who began crawling and, ten years later, they are still crawling.
161. Because they were never given the opportunity to walk as a baby, and then run, and finally jump.
162. Things that test your faith produce in you the quality of endurance;
163. but let the process go on until that endurance is fully developed,
164. for, only then, will you find that you have become a man or a woman of mature character with the right sort of independence;
165. and that is why it is absolutely proper and perfectly legitimate for a dedicated Christian to ask his heavenly Father, "Father, I am committing everything to you. Lead me not into temptation;"
166. but, even so, His promise for us is that, even in the time of temptation, He will give us a way of escape.
167. Even in the time of testing, He will open a door of deliverance.
168. Even in the times of trials, He will open an escape hatch, for He never tests us with more than He knows that we can bear.
169. Can you say, today, "Lord, lead me not into temptation because I’ve committed all things to You?"
170. Let this be your prayer today.
171. Until next time, I wish you God’s richest blessing.