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: Types of Temptation
In yesterday’s study, we concluded by saying that the word “temptation” can have two meanings. It can denote a tempting to sin—which is what we commonly understand by the word—or it can refer to the idea of a trial, ordeal, or testing.
We see this most clearly in the first chapter of the book of James. In the second and third verses of that chapter we read, “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.” These words are quite similar to Romans 5:3-4 where Paul writes, “And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also, knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience, and experience, hope.” It is obvious that in both cases the writer is referring to a kind of test that comes to Christians from God. This is the kind of testing that came to Abraham when God asked him to sacrifice his son, or that comes to us in persecution, sickness, discouragement, or abuse by our family or friends. By these things God strengthens the faith of the Christians, and we are to rejoice in such testing, counting it an honor so to suffer.
Later on in the same chapter, James speaks of another kind of tempting, however. This is not at all from God. In fact, James says of this temptation, “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God; for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man” (v. 13). This is a temptation to sin, of course, and James adds, “But every man is tempted when he is drawn away of his own lust and enticed” (v. 14). We are not to rejoice in this type of temptation. It comes from our own sinful natures, and we are urged to triumph over it. Finally, in James 4:7 he speaks of the assaults we receive from the devil. Only here he says, “Submit yourselves, therefore, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”
Now, the temptation referred to in the Lord’s Prayer is not the temptation that comes from God as a trial to strengthen our faith, nor primarily the temptation that comes from within from our own sinful lust. The temptation that Jesus meant was the temptation that comes to the believer from the devil (the “evil one”), and this temptation is to be met solely by seeking our deliverance from God.
The secret to resisting this type of temptation is found in the last verse quoted from James. We read elsewhere that the temptation that comes from the flesh is to be resisted by fleeing from it. For Paul writes, “Flee youthful lusts” (2 Tim. 2:22), and “Flee fornication” (1 Cor. 6:18). We are to resist the temptation that comes to us from the world by allowing God to transform us by the renewing of our minds, that we may prove His perfect will for us (Rom. 12:1-2). But when it comes to the devil, Scripture says, “Submit yourselves, therefore, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”
How do we see both types of temptation from the book of James?
What kind of temptation is Jesus talking about in the Lord’s Prayer?
Reflection: What examples of testing or trial have you experienced as a means to produce endurance, character, and hope?
For Further Study: Download and listen for free to James Boice’s message, “When Temptation Comes.” (Discount will be applied at checkout.)