Let’s face one basic fact, our days are filled with opportunities to sin. The world around us is constantly placing enticements in our path. The devil is quick to whisper in our ear that we deserve it. Our body and soul scream to be satisfied. The list of possibilities is long but can be boiled down to one reality, all temptation seeks to satisfy self rather than God. In other words, all temptation holds out the promise being like God and ends with us worshiping a god of our own making instead of the one true God.
We may feel that God is like the mom who gave their toddler a chocolate chip cookie before supper and then punished them for not finishing their peas and carrots. Or that God enjoys playing the gotcha game with us, dangling things in front of our noses only to punish us when we take the bait. A surface reading of Jesus’ prayer, “‘And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’” (Matthew 6:13, NASB95) may seem to confirm those views. But James tell us, “Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust.” (James 1:13–14, NASB95) God doesn’t need to tempt us to sin, we do pretty well on our own.
We also may think that the Devil’s got it in for us. That he takes special delight in making us fall and plans unique temptations just for us. Paul notes instead, “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13, NASB95) The temptations you face are nothing new or unique. The good news is that there are limits to what God allows us to encounter and that He always provides the way out or strength to endure.
Dealing with temptation is also one of our trail mix prayers – on the go conversations with God as our day unfolds. Anytime the world, the flesh and the devil come knocking at our door we should pray first and ask questions later. There are three essential trail mix prayers dealing with temptations. The first is simply a thank you that God will not allow us to be tempted beyond our ability along with expressing a desire that God would open our eyes to the danger but close our eyes to the enticement. The second prayer is one for strength and wisdom when temptation is right in front of us. The third prayer is that we would see the way of escape when we’ve allowed things to go too far. In a way Adam and Eve made three mistakes when they first chose sin. They didn’t take the serpent’s claims to God. They thought they could handle the decision and the ramifications on their own. They tried to hide the truth from God and blamed others instead of facing the truth of their choices. Notice the “I” theme in their choices? We don’t defeat sin through the power of our own wills but by running to God. James says, “But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” (James 4:6–7, NASB95) And Proverbs reminds us that “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous runs into it and is safe.” (Proverbs 18:10, NASB95)
So the next time that sin knocks on your door, when the world entices, Satan whispers, when body and soul cries out to be satisfied – PRAY!