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Don’t Bring Us into Temptation

We all face temptations in our daily life. From sweet treats to habits that can be a lot more destructive, choosing the right path can often be incredibly difficult. That’s why Jesus told His disciples to pray to God, “Do not lead us into temptation.” Our God shows us what is right and wrong, and He wants to help us through.

Jesus' teachings and His own battles with temptation provide us a roadmap for overcoming our daily struggles. Listen in to discover how Jesus offers the power of prayer, the strength of God's word, and the promise of eternal rest from our trials. You can learn to resist, overcome, and emerge stronger in your faith journey.

Children love sweet treats—fruits, candy, ice cream—they instantly brighten a child’s day. They can also be quite the motivator. 'Finish your dinner and you'll get dessert,' or 'Get good grades on the exams and we'll go for ice cream!'


It’s fascinating how something as delightful as a sweet treat can also become a snare. As a dad of three, I've seen firsthand one of the earliest encounters young children have with the temptation to deceive. It often revolves around something as simple as sugar. Have you ever heard, 'No, I didn’t eat the last cookie,' meanwhile their faces are smeared with chocolate? One of the earliest memories I have as a child is when my mother caught me stealing a pack of bubble gum from the grocery store.


So, is this lesson all about the dangers of candy? No, I’m afraid not. Because let’s face it, even as adults we all have some form of “candy” in our lives. It could be something small and relatively insignificant, such as overindulging during the holidays. Or it could be something much more significant and damaging. Such as deciding to cheat on a test, to cheat on a spouse, or even to retaliate against someone who has done us wrong. Every day, often many times a day, you face a difficult decision of some type. Do you decide to take the easy path? Or do you decide to take the right path? That’s a common human experience. And it’s called trials and temptations.


Over the past few lessons, we’ve been discussing Jesus’ model prayer in Luke chapter 11. His disciples asked Him how to pray. One of the things Jesus said to pray to God is this, “Do not lead us into temptation.” (Luke 11:4, NET). On another occasion, Jesus said it this way, “Do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” What does it mean to ask God to not lead us into temptation? Does it mean there's a chance God might lead us into trials and temptations? Most importantly for our daily lives, how can God help us navigate the difficult choices we make each day, and prevent us from going down the dangerous path of temptation?


Stay with us as we discuss the nature of temptation, understand our own responsibilities, and learn how to depend on God to guide us and deliver us through.


Podcast Intro

Hello everybody. This is the Relentlessly Knocking podcast. I’m Scott Ihle, and I’m the Executive Director of Logos Answers, and the missionary in residence at Woodstock church of Christ in Atlanta, GA. Jesus told His disciples that if they knock, the door would be opened for them. And on this podcast, we are knocking relentlessly and unapologetically as we try to discover the truth about God the Creator, the Anointed Son of God, Jesus, and their Spirit-inspired Word as found in the Bible.


What is temptation and testing?

What exactly are tests, trials, and temptations? In the Bible, these concepts often overlap because the original languages use the same word to describe them. Simply put, a test, trial, or temptation is a situation where we’re pressured to choose between right and wrong. From God's viewpoint, it’s about testing our faithfulness. From our perspective, or when someone wants us to fail, it's a temptation.


But in either case, this is a rich topic that runs throughout the pages of the Bible. Take Adam and Eve, for example. Only three chapters in, and we encounter the first temptation. In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, He created man and woman in His image, and he placed them in this amazing paradise to rule over all His creation. He only had one very simple prohibition. You may eat of all these trees, but you may not eat of this tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Easy, right? Not necessarily. Then, along comes a serpent, the shrewdest of all creatures, who twists God’s words and tempts Eve. The scene unfolds in Genesis 3:


“The serpent was the shrewdest of all the wild animals the LORD God had made. One day he asked the woman, “Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?” “Of course we may eat fruit from the trees in the garden,” the woman replied. “It’s only the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden that we are not allowed to eat. God said, ‘You must not eat it or even touch it; if you do, you will die.’ ” “You won’t die!” the serpent replied to the woman. “God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil.” The woman was convinced. She saw that the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her. So she took some of the fruit and ate it. Then she gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it, too” (Gen 3:1–6).


Let’s notice the dynamics in this first temptation. There are ultimately three parties involved. First, there's God, who set the entire scene. He created the forbidden tree, the serpent, and placed Adam and Eve within their reach. Despite what happened, God remained in complete control the entire time. He wasn’t deceived or surprised. He presented Adam and Eve with both a command and a choice. God makes it clear as to what the man and woman should do and not do through His words, through His instructions. However, He didn't create a temptation-free world, and He didn’t make humans mindless robots. Why? Perhaps it's because it's through facing evil and hate that we truly come to appreciate what is good, right, and loving. In these moments, we’re confronted with a clear choice: follow God's wholesome ways or give in to destructive behaviors. God shows us the good path, He sets the expectations, and then leaves us to choose.


Next, consider the serpent. This isn't just a talking animal from a fairy tale; from the outset, the Bible introduces us to adversarial spiritual forces that oppose God—and oppose us. These beings, created by God, are now in rebellion, and they want us to fail. The serpent's goal was to ensnare and deceive Eve, leading her to disobedience and death. It planted the seeds of temptation, which Eve then passed to Adam. This illustrates how temptation has been perpetuated through time and generations. While Bible passages like Ephesians 6:12 point out our struggle with these unseen forces, details about their direct influence in our lives are speculative. For the most part, we encounter temptation through other people who allure us — whether it be through parents teaching us poor habits, peer pressure from friends, or media and entertainment. It's often through these channels that ideas contrary to God's will are first introduced to us.


The third party involved was the woman and the man, themselves. Notice that the woman saw that the tree was good for food, a delight to the eyes, and desirable to make one wise. It was the woman’s own desire that caused her to be allured to the fruit of the tree and to disobeying God. The man and woman weren’t content with what God had given them. They wanted to be like God. Their own desire is ultimately what caused them to be tempted and to fail the test.


We learn from this first temptation that this is a common human experience. Every single person since the beginning of time faces a choice every day to do right or to do wrong. And unfortunately, the wrong path often looks more alluring and attractive than the right path does. And many times, it can be incredibly difficult for us to choose the correct path.


On top of that, becoming a Christian doesn’t necessarily make all temptations go away, at least not initially. In fact, when you become a Christian, and as you grow as a Christian, you’ll learn of even more ways to become tempted as you try to remove every ounce of impurity out of your heart and from your life. While this might sound daunting, it’s actually part of a journey that not only helps us avoid temptation but eventually leads us to overcome it.


There’s a possibility that God may allow us to be tempted.

It's clear that God intends for us to learn valuable lessons from our trials and temptations. The reason is not to harm us. Instead, we learn about trusting in God, and our perseverance through it makes us better people.


Take the example of the ancient Israelites who, after being delivered by the powerful hand of God from Egyptian slavery, were made to wander in the wilderness for 40 years. Their experience with temptation played an important role in their relationship with Yahweh. Led by Yahweh, the God of Armies, the Israelites arrived at the borders of the land of Canaan, the land promised to their ancestor Abraham. Yahweh directed them to send 12 spies to scout the land. When the spies returned 40 days later, they confirmed that the land was so fruitful that they said it flowed with milk and honey. However, 10 of the 12 spies started to sow doubt among the people with bad reports, and they caused many to even want to return to Egypt.


As a result, Yahweh sentenced that generation to wander the wilderness for 40 years, allowing only the faithful spies to survive and enter the new land. During those decades in the wilderness, the Israelites faced numerous trials and temptations. God still provided for them every day, and He guided them. Still, some repeatedly tested God’s patience, and they suffered more because of it. But over time, because of the difficulties, many of the people learned to trust and obey Yahweh.


After the 40 years were over, Moses reminds the people about the significance of this experience in Deuteronomy chapter 8,


“Remember how the LORD your God led you through the wilderness for these forty years, humbling you and testing you to prove your character, and to find out whether or not you would obey his commands. Yes, he humbled you by letting you go hungry and then feeding you with manna, a food previously unknown to you and your ancestors. He did it to teach you that people do not live by bread alone; rather, we live by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD. For all these forty years your clothes didn’t wear out, and your feet didn’t blister or swell. Think about it: Just as a parent disciplines a child, the LORD your God disciplines you for your own good. “So obey the commands of the LORD your God by walking in his ways and fearing him” (2–6).


Nonetheless, we are the ones responsible for our own desires.

So, God can lead His people into situations where they’re being tempted and tested. We also see that these difficult times can be times of fortification for us as we learn to trust in God and to deny evil. In fact, the Bible says in James chapter 1,


“My brothers and sisters, consider it nothing but joy when you fall into all sorts of trials, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance” (James 1:2–3).


So, if that’s the case, why does Jesus say to pray to the Father, “Do not lead us into temptation?” To understand, let’s look at a pivotal moment in Jesus’ own life. The Bible says in Luke 4 that Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness for forty days to be tempted by the Devil. Over those 40 days, Jesus didn’t eat any bread, and while He was in His weakest possible moment, the Devil came and tempted Him three times with special temptations. Notice how history is repeating itself. This scenario mirrors the Israelites' forty-year test in the wilderness. However, unlike the Israelites who rebelled, Jesus remained obedient through suffering. The repetitive cycle of history has finally been broken!


So, what set Jesus apart? While He was fully divine, Jesus was also fully human. His success over temptation wasn’t due to any divine power over physical needs and desires. Instead, it was His deliberate choice to prioritize God’s word over His own pride and physical desires. Jesus' victory in the wilderness highlights an important truth: we have the power to choose right in the face of temptation.


Remember, the three parties involved in the temptation. God can allow us to go through a challenging situation. Someone or something else may tempt and allure us. But ultimately, we are in control of the situation if we are in control of our own desires. This leads us back to James’s teaching:


“Happy is the one who endures testing, because when he has proven to be genuine, he will receive the crown of life that God promised to those who love him. 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 one is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desires. Then when desire conceives, it gives birth to sin, and when sin is full grown, it gives birth to death” (James 1:12–15)


Jesus demonstrates that even in our weakest moments, there is a way through temptation. If we cling to God's word and deny our selfish desires, we can make the right choices. So, when we pray, 'Do not lead us into temptation,' we aren’t just asking to avoid difficult situations; but we're seeking God's guidance to navigate and overcome them. In essence, we're asking for the strength to pass the test, trusting that God will lead us… not just into but through the trials, in the process, helping us grow in faith and obedience.


The Christian has a future promise of living in a place of rest.

Thankfully, we're not trapped in an endless cycle of yielding to our desires and temptations. For starters, it’s wise to avoid placing ourselves in risky situations to begin with. We shouldn't test God or test ourselves unnecessarily. Yet, even when we find ourselves in challenging circumstances, we can be confident that God will provide Christians with the support they need. For example, the Bible says in 1 Corinthians 10,


“So let the one who thinks he is standing be careful that he does not fall. No trial has overtaken you that is not faced by others. And God is faithful: He will not let you be tried beyond what you are able to bear, but with the trial will also provide a way out so that you may be able to endure it” (12–13).


Sometimes, the 'way out' is simply avoiding certain situations. Other times, it might be the timely support of a Christian friend. Or the ‘way out’ might be the recalling of a bible passage that strengthens our resolve. Whatever form it takes, we can trust that God will not let us face more than we can handle and will always offer a way to escape.


Another significant form of support comes from Jesus Christ Himself. Hebrews 4 tells us:,


“Therefore since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession. For we do not have a high priest incapable of sympathizing with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in every way just as we are, yet without sin. Therefore, let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and find grace whenever we need help” (14–16).


Jesus is kind and patient. He doesn’t want us to fail. Instead, He wants to lead us through. And He can do so because He can relate to what we’re going through.


When the Israelites finally entered the Promised Land after 40 years of wandering, they found rest in a land flowing with milk and honey. Similarly, we are promised a place of eternal rest if we persevere through life's trials, looking to Jesus and viewing God’s word not as a temptation but as a powerful weapon against temptation. There is an ultimate rest from our temptations that we can look forward to. Hebrews 4 further encourages us by saying,


“For the one who enters God’s rest has also rested from his works, just as God did from his own works. Thus we must make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by following the same pattern of disobedience [as Israel]. For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any double-edged sword, piercing even to the point of dividing soul from spirit, and joints from marrow; it is able to judge the desires and thoughts of the heart” (10–12).


So, the encouragement for us is to not live in a life of slavery to endless temptation and desires. We can be free and overcome. We do so by properly understanding God’s teachings for us, by denying our own selfish desires in favor of God’s ways, by looking to Jesus as our ultimate example and our present help in heaven, by trusting in God to help us through difficult times, and by praying to God, “Do not lead us into temptation.”


Summary and Conclusion

How about you? Do trials and temptations seem to overwhelm your life? If so, make sure that you are looking to Jesus as the model for how to overcome temptation. Consider what Jesus said to His disciples during one of their toughest tests, “Stay awake and pray that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Overcoming takes great diligence and dependence on God, because it can be incredibly difficult to try and tackle on our own.


But we’re not without hope. We have God's promises to anchor us, promises that can refocus our minds and strengthen our resolve. Trust that God will not only lead you out of temptation but will also deliver you from evil. As you face the daily temptations of life, hold fast to this promise, be watchful, pray to God, and trust that you can resist, overcome, and emerge stronger on the other side.


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