ittle things can and do make a huge difference. Take a 9mm round. It’s the type of bullet Portland police use. It’s standard issue for the military handguns and for several automatic weapons as well. They can do some serious damage. Now multiply them. Imagine 16,000 armor-piercing rounds firing each second. The damage is overwhelming. That’s what “Metal Storm” does. Its automated system allows commanders literally to destroy entire convoys, serves as a point-defense system against enemy missiles and even put a huge volume of explosives, 250,000 40mm grenades per minute onto a target.
Yet even more disastrous is the force of a simple temptation when we don’t take it seriously. We joke at comments like “I can resist anything except temptation.” Or Samuel Levenson comment, “Lead us not into temptation. Just tell us where it is; we’ll find it.” Yet few of us take seriously the threat that temptation offers us. And fewer still have learned to deal effectively with it when it comes against us.
Temptation can destroy a life faster than any bullet. If you’ve seen a marriage destroyed you’ve seen a marriage struck by the onslaught of one or more temptations.
Ted Haggard’s problems, like everyone whose life is sucked dry by drugs, compulsions, stealing, greed, sexual sins, laziness, hatred, bigotry, or anything else began with a temptation. Give a temptation free rein in your life and you too can discover how quickly a career, finances, personal integrity and relationships can end up in the toilet. So when I say we treat temptation too lightly it’s only because I know of what I speak.
But it isn’t just temptation that is targeted in this prayer. Jesus takes great pain to link “lead us not into temptation” with a reference to the one who is the father of all lies, Satan. “But deliver us from the evil one” is a good translation. Especially in a world where evil has been downplayed and ignored by so many enlightened people.
The Nature of Temptation:
The word translated as “temptation” has two meanings. The classic negative one in which we’re tempted to do something that is “bad”. But another equally valid translation is to “test” us. As such it won’t be unusual to experience God using a temptation toward some sin as a way to test our faithfulness to the cause of Jesus.
There is lot to cover in this topic so let me hit lightly a couple of things that some people wonder about. God doesn’t tempt us to do evil. However, God does test us. The Holy Spirit was the instrument God the Father used to test Jesus when Matthew 4.
The book of Job shows the same sort of linkage between testing/temptation and Satan that our prayer does. And it seems to teach that Satan doesn’t’ have a free reign when it comes to besieging us. In Job, God allows Satan to test him.
Dealing with Temptations:
Memorize 1 Corinthians 10:13. It will go a long way in reminding you just what sort of help we have available to us when tempted. Our temptations are common. Everyone has them. We’re not tested beyond what we can endure. In other words, when we are tested it is entirely possible to survive it and not give into the test. God makes “the way of escape” when tempted. Unlike the NIV and other translations the Greek does include the as a reference to the way out or what we’d call our escape. The way out is simply relying on Jesus Christ as the boss and director of our lives. When we do that we don’t have to do it ourselves; be the hero; or stand on our own abilities.
We need to hear this loud and clear—God believes in us. God believes in our ability to remain true to him. God believes in our love for Him.
The second way we stand firm in the face of temptation is seen in Ephesians 6 and the “spiritual armor” that we are told to wear. Why does God have such a militaristic view of temptation? First, Paul has been chained to a Roman soldiers for the best part of three years. He knew the armor that was worn up close and personal. Secondly, because we are reminded we are in a spiritual battle against rulers, authorities, cosmic powers, this present darkness, and spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
The armor of God is:
· the belt of truth,
· the breastplate of righteousness,
· the shoes of the gospel of peace.
· the shield of faith,
· the helmet of salvation,
· the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,
You can find hundreds of different explanations for these various pieces and although they are important I want us to get a quick overview here. What God is telling us to do is to be completely ready for the battle at hand. Not the battle we should have fought six months ago or when we were twenty years old and not the battle that may or may not come next week or next decade. We are to be ready, armed, and in place even now. Dr. E.V. Hill who is now with the Lord preached on this passage at a Billy Graham School of Evangelism and his title summed up what I want to say pretty clearly. It was, Report for Duty; All Leaves are Canceled”.
Properly clothed we are able to survive the attacks of Satan. We are ready for the attack that zero in our heart and tries to get us to deny Jesus by our actions. We don’t fall for the old lies that Satan uses because we’re tied up and supported by truth. We don’t stray away from our post because the peace, that is the wholeness we have in Jesus, is so complete it keeps us rooted in Jesus. The claims that we’re not really saved fall on deaf ears because we’ve got God’s helmet on and it protects us. And when Satan directly stabs at us, toss accusations, tries to tell us that God has lied to us or that God’s word isn’t true we are ready with a reliance on God and a firm grasp on Scripture.
Notice verse 18 isn’t tied to any piece of armor. “Praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints”. I am coming to believe that it is prayer which enables us to not only remain armored when facing demonic attacks but that prayer is the offensive weapon we’ve been given.
Pray all the time. Pray in the Spirit. Pray for all the saints. This prayer isn’t the prayer most of us in the US are use too. I believe we’re talking about a powerful prayer that we’ve missed because so often our prayers are self-focused.
This is prayer for others. It’s prayer for sisters in brothers in Christ and for the power to preach the gospel with a loud voice (see verses 19-20). It is prayer that faces the battle with the expectation that Jesus will be honored. It is prayer that is directed by the Holy Spirit and focused on the will of God not our desires and agenda. It is the type of prayer that is having the affect in Egypt and elsewhere of seeing thousands of Muslims come to know Jesus without rallies and festivals.
When faced with temptation what is the trigger event? One trick used to stop smoking is to take a 3x5 card and each time you have a smoke you write down what had triggered the urge. Had they just finished eating, having a cup of coffee or arrived at work. It allows the person to get a glimpse at the unthinking habits that reaffirm the behavior.
When you fail at test what is that precedes it? Are you hungry, angry, lonely or tired? Have you just come back from some good event? Is there a certain person who seems to move you off center? Take note and remember. We may have to carry a 3x5 card around as well.
Turn it over to God in prayer. I hope you’ve seen the pattern that to learn about the Lord’s Prayer means we pray a lot more than the Lord’s Prayer. Let God have the situations you face and the fear you have about failing Him. Leave the temptation at His feet and thank God for His power, love and belief in you. Here’s an example:
Lord, You see us in every situation of life. You know what I face even today. Right now I am tested and tempted by ___________________. I do not want to fail You so I am giving this situation to You. I ask you to keep me from the darkness where I lose my way. I ask You, by the power of Your Holy Spirit to let me stay strong for You. Thank You for giving me Your promises. Thank You for believing in me when I’m not sure I believe in myself. And thank You for Your power to see me through this. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
 James 1:12-14; James 1:3; 1 Peter 1:7
 Ephesians 6:12