Sermon: How to Defeat Temptation
Scripture: Matthew 6:13
In this week’s lessons, we learn what temptation is, where it comes from, and what we are to do in order to defeat it.
Theme: Deliverance from Temptation
At the very end of the sixteenth century, after the Protestant Reformation in Europe and the wars that had followed upon it, an anonymous Christian wrote some lines that aptly summarize much of what the Bible has to say about temptation. He wrote:
In all the strife of mortal life,
Our feet shall stand securely;
Temptation’s hour shall lose its power,
For Thou shalt guard us surely.
O God renew, with heavenly dew,
Our body, soul, and spirit,
Until we stand at Thy right hand,
Through Jesus’ saving merit.
These lines summarize many of the truths that the Word of God contains about temptation. To some extent they are, therefore, a commentary on the references to temptation in the Lord’s Prayer, in the verse to which we come now in our study.
In the Lord’s Prayer, we are encouraged to ask for God’s deliverance from the temptations that come to us from Satan. For the Prayer says, “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil” (or, as we should say, “the evil one”).
Now if we are to understand what the Lord Jesus Christ was talking about in this suggestion of how we should pray, we need to understand that several types of temptations are mentioned in the Bible—some from God and some from Satan—and that this is a prayer for deliverance from only one kind. It is sometimes hard to recognize a distinction like this in reading the Bible. For to us, the word “temptation” almost always means “tempt to do evil,” while in some biblical passages, by contrast, it actually means nothing of the kind. Words often have more than one meaning, and this is true of the word “temptation” as well as many other words and phrases in the English language.
For instance, I have often had to explain the double significance of the word “marry” to my daughter, particularly after I have performed a marriage ceremony and have spoken to her about it. My daughter loves weddings and loves to talk about them, and I inevitably say something about marrying the couple. This is very confusing to her, because she asks, “How can you marry them? You already have a wife. No man can have two wives. And besides, you can’t marry the man anyway; you have to marry a woman.” Well, I am glad to see that she has all of the important rules and relationships down right. But I have to explain that the word “marry” can be used in two senses. It can be used of a man and a woman pledging their love to each other and promising to live together as husband and wife; or it can also refer to what the minister does as he conducts the marriage ceremony. To understand about marriage you need to understand the word in either one or both of these senses.
Now it is the same with the word “temptation.” It can refer to a direct temptation to do evil, as I said above, or it can also refer to a trial, an ordeal, or a testing.
Reread the hymn stanza quoted at the beginning. Give some specific examples of the “strife of mortal life” that are sources of temptation. How does the Lord “guard us surely” so that we are able to “stand securely”? And when we do fall into temptation, what does the hymn tell us is the remedy?
What two meanings can the word “temptation” have?
Application: What can you do to avoid being in situations that create opportunities for temptation? Ask the Lord daily to strengthen you to withstand temptation when it comes.
For Further Study: Download and listen for free to James Boice’s message, “When Temptation Comes.” (Discount will be applied at checkout.)