“Lead Us Not into Temptation”Resist the devil’s enticements...
In June 2007, I went to Haltom City, Texas, a suburb of Fort Worth, as part of a Salvation Army disaster relief team. A river had overflowed and flooded part of the city. Several homes were washed away and many others badly damaged. In all, more than 100 homes were affected.
White Branch Creek was a narrow stream that for many years had not given local residents any cause for concern. Even that June, high–water emergencies in nearby towns did not alarm Haltom City authorities; no evacuation orders were issued. However, a combination of torrential rain and upstream flooding caused the creek to overflow. The rushing water hit hard, and many of the townspeople were living in mobile homes, which were not built to withstand that level of flooding. Most of those homes had no solid base, no foundation; typically, the structure rested on a few bricks or a flatbed trailer.
Many believers are like those mobile homes; their faith and obedience to God are swept away for lack of a firm foundation. Their resistance to temptation gives way in the storms of life. Jesus said:
“Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.”Matthew 7:24–27 NLT
Storms of temptation come into the life of every believer. The best “home insurance” we can have at such times is a life founded on God’s Word.
We are all tempted in different ways. Some of us have a tendency to be materialistic—to want things, whether we need them or not. Some of us are inclined to be proud or self–centered. Some are vulnerable to sexual sins. Others are quick to criticize or to be envious. The challenge for many is failing to tell the truth.
Analysis of just about any given temptation will show that it is related to one of three types of human impulses or motivations:
- Natural appetites—such as for food, drink, and sexual intimacy.
- A desire for things of this world, both material, such as a comfortable home and fashionable clothes; and social, such as the respect and admiration of others.
- A desire to feel good about ourselves and to be successful.
None of these is sinful in itself. God created us with physical appetites, an appreciation for beauty and comfort, a need for positive social connections, and the impetus to be and do our best. But each of them contains the potential for sin, mostly when carried to excess.
The Scriptures say that during His time on earth, Jesus was “tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin” (Hebrews 4:15). This should be a great encouragement to us. Because Jesus faced temptation, He understands what we’re going through when we face temptation—and He can help us resist it. (Hebrews 2:18) And the fact that Jesus didn’t sin when He was tempted tells us that it’s possible for us to resist temptation if we follow His example. In fact, the best way to learn how to resist temptation is by looking at how Jesus did it.