“Lead Us Not into Temptation”
The title is a familiar quotation from the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:13. Someone tacked this phrase to the quote: “Lord, lead us not into temptation, we have enough trouble finding it ourselves.” While the statement sounds flippant, it is true.
James 1:15 makes this cautionary statement: “But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.” A man is tempted “by his own desire.” One man’s desire may be different than another’s who is different than someone else’s. But, whatever the desire, God expects people to control their lusts. Then, James tacks on this loud warning in verse 16:“Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers.” No one should ever say, “I am in complete control.” James says, “No, think about that.”
Paul makes the same admonition in 1 Corinthians 10. He sets Israel’s journeying in the wilderness as an example for Christians today. In verses 1-4 he says that everyone who left Egypt was in good standing with God. But, from verse 6 to 11, he details all the times they sinned against Jehovah and the punishment He meted out to them. Paul’s conclusion to the history lesson is: “Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.” When a person begins to think within himself that he’s immune from sin, Paul says to look to the Israelites in the wilderness and know for certain that if they weren’t immune from sin, then no one is.
Paul says of himself: “But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.” In Romans 7, Paul personifies his constant conflict with his mind that wants to do the will of God and his flesh that wants to do whatever it pleases. If Paul, a hero of the New Testament, had to fight that battle, how much more anyone else?
Here’s the conclusion: “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions.” (Rom 6:12) If sin is not to have dominion over the body, then the passions, desires, or lusts of the body must not rule over the body. Always know your weaknesses and stay in control.
None of this is popular in today’s hedonistic society. In this age, everyone, with few exceptions, is encouraged to do their own thing. People rail against anyone who would dare proclaim his or her lifestyle “evil” or “perverted.” No one wants to hear the Scriptures that pronounce condemnation of their sins; after all, they need to be updated to fit today’s culture. But man is no different today than he was in 740 BC when God said
“Woe to those who call evil good
and good evil,
who put darkness for light
and light for darkness,
who put bitter for sweet
and sweet for bitter!