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  • Temptation is like getting hooked by a fishing lure

    John Ortberg said that temptation is like getting hooked by a fishing lure. To illustrate, he told this story: Recently my wife and I went fly-fishing for the first time. Our guides told us that "to catch a fish you have to think like a fish." They said that to a fish life is about the maximum gratification of appetite at the minimum expenditure of energy. To a fish, life is "see a fly, want a fly, eat a fly." A rainbow trout never really reflects on where his life is headed. A girl carp rarely says to a boy carp, I don't feel you're as committed to our relationship as I am. I wonder, do you love me for me or just for my body? The fish are just a collection of appetites. A fish is a stomach, a mouth, and a pair of eyes. While we were on the water, I was struck by how dumb the fish are. Hey, swallow this. It's not the real thing; it's just a lure. You'll think it will feed you, but it won't. It'll trap you. If you were to look closely, fish, you would see the hook. You'd know once you were hooked that it's just a matter of time before the enemy reels you in. You'd think fish would wise up and notice the hook or see the line. You'd think fish would look around at all their fish friends who go for a lure and fly off into space and never return. But they don't. It is ironic. We say fish swim together in a school, but they never learn.
    Aren't you glad we're smarter?
    Satan like to use the smallest of things to lure us away from God. It’s the seemingly small, harmless, pleasurable things just ripe for the taking that can hook us turn our hearts toward God, and effectively turn them toward Satan and his evil purposes.
    However, the Good News - The Gospel for us this morning and the Big Idea of this sermon is this: The Holy Spirit living in us enables us to overcome temptation.
    The Holy Spirit has a catch and release policy. Whenever we are caught in temptation, the Holy Spirit wants to and will release us from temptation.
    Let us pray together the prayer our Lord taught us to pray. Let these words, lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one sink deep in our souls.
    corporate prayer: The Lord’s Prayer on screens

    Why do we pray "lead us not into temptation"?

    What is temptation?

    Temptation as: a trial or testing - God tests individuals, his people to show the content of their heart
    Genesis 22:1–2 NIV
    Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!” “Here I am,” he replied. Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.”
    Deuteronomy 8:2 NIV
    Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands.
    John 6:5–6 NIV
    When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.
    1 Peter 4:12 NIV
    Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.
    Temptation as an internal desire for moral evil.
    Temptation as an internal desire for moral evil is the pursuit of physical, material, emotional, intellectual, or spiritual self-gratification that promises personal benefit, but which can ultimately only bring harm to myself and others and whose pursuit and outcome(s) grieve the heart of God.
    James 1:14 NIV
    but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed.
    Proverbs 19:3 NIV
    A person’s own folly leads to their ruin, yet their heart rages against the Lord.
    Temptations as Apostasy
    Matthew 24:9–10 NIV
    “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other,
    The remainder of chapters 24 and 25 are an extend exhortation and warning to remain alert, vigilant, and faithful until Jesus returns.
    In Chapter 26, there is the institution of the Lord’s supper which a means of grace designed to ensure our perseverance until Christ returns. Then Jesus predicts that Peter will deny Him and that all of them will fall away, because of Him that very night.
    With all this in mind, we can hear Jesus instruction to his disciples in the garden to
    Matthew 26:41 NIV
    “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
    It seems clear that the temptation Jesus had in mind was the temptation to fall away for Him.
    It seems that the temptation Jesus refers to in the Lord’s prayer probably refers to temptation as the desire for moral evil and temptation as apostasy. For any turning toward moral evil is turning toward falling away from the Lord. Before we sin, we must necessarily harden our heart toward the Lord so that we may pursue that which we know is forbidden.
    John Calvin makes the case that Jesus is not referring to the God’s trials and tests designed to reveal the condition of our heart. This is what Calvin wrote,
    We are tempted both by adversity and prosperity; because each of them is an occasion of bring to light feelings which were formerly concealed . . . . It would be foolish to ask, that God would keep us free from everything which makes trial of our faith.[1]
    In what sense does God lead us into temptation
    God turns people over to their lust - as a means of judgment
    Romans 1:18 NIV
    The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness,
    Romans 1:24 NIV
    Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another.
    God leads people into temptation in the sense that he turns those who harden their heart toward him, over to have what they have chosen as their heart’s desire their heart’s desire until they repent or until they destroy themselves eternally. God does not send anyone to hell; God allows us to make that choice. We choose our own hell on earth and our own hell in eternity.
    God initiates trials (Abraham, Israel, Jesus)
    Matthew 4:1 NIV
    Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.
    God allows moral testing for our wellbeing via Satan and his forces with limits
    Job 1:7–12 NIV
    The Lord said to Satan, “Where have you come from?” Satan answered the Lord, “From roaming throughout the earth, going back and forth on it.” Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.” “Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied. “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. But now stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.” The Lord said to Satan, “Very well, then, everything he has is in your power, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.” Then Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.
    This fits with sense of the Greek word translated “temptation” in the Lord’s prayer,
    According to the Logos Bible Sense Lexicon
    temptation n. — an examination with the express purpose of producing (or proving) a fault in the examinee.
    Satan came to God to accuse Job and request permission to surface Job’s hidden disloyalty to God.
    What Satan did to Job is what he wants to do to us. He wants to bring to us various kinds of temptations that will prove our hidden disloyalty to God. If our hearts truly belong to God; Satan’s designs evil designs must fail. As they failed for Job, because so Job’s heart belonged to God; so Satan’s designs for us will ultimately fail for . . .
    Heidelberg Catechism: Lord’s Day 1
    We are not our own, but belong—body and soul, in life and in death—to our faithful Savior, Jesus Christ. He has fully paid for all our sins with his precious blood, and has set us free from the tyranny of the devil.
    If it is the case they we have been freed from the tyranny of the devil, then . . .

    Why do we pray "But deliver us from the evil one"?

    Stanley Hauerwas in his commentary on this petition points out that only Jesus is capable of going head to head and toe to toe with Satan and defeat him, which Jesus when he was tempted in the wilderness and on the cross. We survive the trials and temptations that come to us, only because Jesus has already defeated Satan.[2] Our victory over Satan mirrors and reinforces Satan’s defeat by Jesus. This is because we do not defeat Satan in our own power, but only through the Resurrection power of Jesus flowing through us from the Holy Spirit who lives in us.
    The Apostle Paul puts it this way in Romans 8
    Romans 8:11–14 NIV
    And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you. Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live. For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.
    It is by the Holy Spirit living in us that we put to death the misdeed of the body. In other words,
    The Holy Spirit living in us enables us to overcome temptation
    Saint Augustine proposed that a better translation to more accurately capture the meaning of this petition would be as follows:
    That we may not be led into temptation, deliver us from evil.
    You will see this petition translated “deliver us from evil” or “deliver us from the evil one”. This because it can legitimately be translated either why. However, their are grammatical and theological reasons why “evil one” may be preferable. I’ll skip the grammar and go straight to theology, namely it is the evil one (Satan) who puts us in danger from every form of evil. Therefore, to be delivered from evil in a particular case, requires deliverance from Satan - the evil one - who is the evil power behind it all. [3]
    Jesus taught us to pray, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil” because we need to be constantly aware of our weakness and assured failure when we attempt to defeat temptation in our own power. Instead, we must constantly draw on the the Resurrection power of Jesus to defeat all of Satan’s temptations. This Resurrection power is only available to us because the Holy Spirit lives in us.

    How does the Lord's Prayer practically help us when we are tempted

    We will avoid the temptations that can be avoided, because God answers this prayer
    James 4:7 NIV
    Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
    We cry out, “Father protect me from . . .”
    We are spiritually prepared for those test God deems necessary for our wellbeing
    Matthew 26:41 NIV
    “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
    We cry our Father, “Keep me strong in you, keep me faithful, don’t let me be deceived into sin.”
    We will stand the test
    1 Corinthians 10:13 NIV
    No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.
    We cry out, “Father, so me the way out of this temptation and cause me to take it!”
    [1] Calvin, J., & Pringle, W. (2010). Commentary on a Harmony of the Evangelists Matthew, Mark, and Luke (Vol. 1, p. 328). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.
    [2] Hauerwas, S. (2006). Matthew (pp. 79–80). Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press.
    [3] Wilkins, M. J. (2004). Matthew (pp. 279–280). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.
      • Genesis 22:1–2ESV

      • Deuteronomy 8:2ESV

      • John 6:5–6ESV

      • 1 Peter 4:12ESV

      • James 1:14ESV

      • Proverbs 19:3ESV

      • Matthew 24:9–10ESV

      • Matthew 26:41ESV

      • James 1:13ESV

      • Romans 1:18ESV

      • Romans 1:24ESV

      • Matthew 4:1ESV

      • Job 1:7–12ESV

      • Romans 8:11–14ESV

      • James 4:7ESV

      • Matthew 26:41ESV

      • 1 Corinthians 10:13ESV

  • Jesus, Tempted in the Desert
  • Praise God, from Whom All Blessings Flow!

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