I once saw a bumper sticker that said, “Lead me not into temptation. I can find it myself.” Jesus knew that we are easily tempted, so He taught us to pray, “Do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one . . . “ (Matthew 6:13).
Now what does this actually mean? Is this implying that God would indeed lead us into a situation in which we would be tempted? Or worse yet, that God himself would tempt us? Certainly not. God does not tempt us. As the Bible says, Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death. (James 1:13–15)
We sin because we are drawn away by our own evil desires. We must become more like Christ and allow Him to impute righteousness to us as we study His word and pray so the evil desires of our heart are erased.
Temptation is not sin. Giving into it is. That doesn’t mean you can play around with it. James goes on to say that full-grown sin brings forth death. Sin always brings destruction, so we must flee from it.
In the petition from the Lord’s Prayer, we are asking God to guide us so we will not get out of His will and place ourselves in the way of temptation. We are essentially praying, “Lord, don’t let me be tempted above my capacity to resist. Lord, give me common sense. Help me to see the pitfalls. Help me to see the traps. Help me to see the areas in which I can be vulnerable and help me, Lord, to avoid them.” When we pray like this, God will be faithful to help us escape temptation.
Another verse that helps when dealing with temptation is Matthew 26:41. “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” It is hard to fall into sin when we are in God’s Word and praying.
If we could see our own temptation as clearly as we see that of others, it wouldn’t be all that hard to identify and avoid. Yet with ourselves, we are somehow able to rationalize our giving in to temptation. We say things like, “everybody does it” or “what’s the big deal?”. Sometimes we compare our “little” sins with the “big” ones of others. We must deal with temptation by daily growth in Christ.
Let me give you a couple of little principles to apply—a litmus test, if you will, to help you know if you are being enticed to evil. You can apply these two principles when you wonder, Is this a temptation? Is this wrong?
First, pray about it and bring it into the clear presence of God. When you are about to do something that you’re unsure about, pray, “Lord, can I ask Your blessing on this? Lord, is this out of Your will?” If you can’t pray about it with a good conscience, then it probably isn’t the will of God. You are probably putting yourself unnecessarily in the way of temptation.
Second, ask yourself the question, How would this look if some other Christian gave in to it? If you saw one of your Christian friends doing the thing you are presently doing, would you think it was odd or peculiar? Would you conclude that it doesn’t look right? If it doesn’t seem like the right thing for your friends to do, then you are probably doing the wrong thing as well.
And finally, what does the Word say about it? Does it violate a certain scripture or principle from His Word? Does it appear to be evil? If so, stay away from it.
Stop and think, watch what you are doing, and stop and pray. You will save yourself from giving in to temptation. If you are presently involved in sin, repent from it, run from it and commit your ways to the Lord.