ďLead Us Not Into TemptationĒ††††††††††††† Matthew 6:13†††††††††††††††† August 15, 2010

 

INTRO:Tim Keller tells the story of a man sent to prison for a hit and run death.

He was driving along a road at night, and when he realized

†† he had run over someone, he floored it and drove away.

He was eventually caught and what made the crime even worse

was that the medical investigation showed that if he had stopped right away

†† and called for help, then the personís life might have been saved.††

While he was in prison, a reporter interviewed and asked him why

†† he had done it, why he had run.

And the man said he had thought a lot about it and he had this explanation.

 

He said that when he was a boy, his father had a gold pocket watch that he kept

†† wrapped in a handkerchief in the top of his chest-of-drawers.

One day when his dad wasnít around, he got the watch out to look at it,

†† and he dropped it and broke it.So he wrapped it back up, put it in the drawer

†† and didnít say anything.Of course his dad discovered it one day, and called

†† all the children together and asked them who broke the watch.

But the boy still didnít say anything, and his dad never found out.

He got away with it.

 

He told the reporter that became the pattern of his life.

Whenever I did some little thing that was wrong or embarrassing,

†† I never admitted it, never owned up to it, always hid the truth.

†† Eventually that became my character.It became who I was.

So when the big test came, when honesty and facing up to what I had done

†† was literally a matter of life and death, I responded as I always had.

I failed the test, and it destroyed me.

 

The Lord Jesus knows that life is full of tests, big ones and little ones.

†† And the only way you are going to get though them is if you seek God.

†† If you regularly pray, Lord, deliver me from evil in the tests of life.

Iím going to come into these tests.Donít let them destroy me.Deliver me.

 

Weíve noted the past two weeks that in the second half of the Lordís Prayer,

†† Christ is teaching us the importance of praying for ourselves.

The first three petitions of the Lordís Prayer are about God.

†† Hallowed be your name.Your kingdom come.Your will be done.

 

The last three petitions of the Lordís Prayer are about us.

†† Give us our daily bread.Forgive us our debts.Lead us not into temptation.

This word ďtemptationĒ is a Greek word that has a number of related meanings.

†† Sometimes is translated ďtestĒ and sometimes ďtrap.Ē

And you can see how those things are related.

†† Because a test can also be a trap.It depends on how prepared you are.

 

Sometimes teachers will give a pop quiz.Whatís the purpose of a pop quiz?

†† Itís to find out if students are mastering the material as they are going along.

Teachers know that there are always students who are procrastinators.

†† And if they only time they are tested is on set dates that the know about

†† in advance, then they wonít keep up, theyíll just cram at the last minute.

So they give a pop quizóand that test reveals whatís inside the student.

†† If theyíve been studying all along, then the test is actually an encouragementó

†† but if they havenít, then that test becomes a trap.

 

And morally speaking, if youíre nurturing evil.

†† If youíre nurturing deception or cowardice or lust, when a test come along,

†† then it becomes a trap and reveals who you really are.

So Jesus is teaching us the importance praying:

†† Dear God, donít let my tests, the inevitable tests of life, become traps.

†† Deliver me from evil in the tests of life.

I know theyíll come, but donít let them devour me.

†† Donít let me be sucked in.Donít lead me into them.

 

How are you doing right now in the little tests of life?

†† If you are failing the little tests,

†† then you are setting yourself up for big failures in the future.

Tests are sure to come.What are they going to reveal?

†† How can you be delivered from evil in the tests of life?

 

The Lord Jesus tells us how in this petition of the Lordís Prayer.

†† Three very practical ways.Iíll give them to you as we go.

 

But before I say anything else, I want to give credit where credit is due.

†† Most of what Iím going to say comes from a wonderful sermon on passage

†† by Dr. Timothy Keller, pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church, NYC.


 

MP#1The first way to deal with the tests of life is to expect them.

Christians, of all people, shouldnít be surprised by the tests of life.

†† They shouldnít come as a total shock.

Jesus mentions them in the Lordís Prayer.

†† And since the Lordís Prayer is a model for how we are to pray every dayó

†† not the exact words, but the structure and themesó

†† Jesus is conditioning us to see tests and trials as an expected part of life.

 

A test is a circumstance that draws out whatís in you.

Jesus is saying:I expect you to be constantly praying about them and seeing them.

†† Oftentimes we donít even see little tests, because we donít think of them as tests.

†† We think theyíre irritations.

Why is my boss making such unreasonable demands?

†† Why is my spouse going through this season that makes him hard to live with?

†† Why are we struggling to pay the bills this month.

 

But they arenít irritations, theyíre little tests.Jesus wants you to see them that way.

†† Opportunities to respond with patience, respond with compassion or courage.

†† Ways to move you along, ways to make you more mature, mastering material.

And what Jesus is teaching in this passage is that through prayer,

†† you are enabled to see the irritations of life as little tests of character.

 

But Christians are not only supposed to expect the little tests, also big tests.

In Ephesians 6, which we read earlier, the armor of God passage.

†† Paul says, put on the full armor of God, be alert to Devilís schemes so that what?

†† ďSo that when the day of evil comes you my be able to stand your ground.Ē

Heís saying that in every Christian life, there are going to be evil days.

†† Days when you are hit with big tests and temptations.

†† Expect them.Be ready for them.Donít be caught off guard.

 

The Apostle Peter says the same thing in chapter 4 of his first letter.

†† ďBeloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you

†† as though something strange were happening to you.Ē

Itís a command:Do not be surprised.Donít think itís strange.

A lot of your discouragement in the face of the troubles that come upon you

†† is surprise over the fact that you are having trouble.

How can this be happening to me?Why is this happening to me?

†† That surprise and the confusion it brings can be even worse than the trouble.

†† It can be 50% or even 90% of whatís casting you down.

But Christians shouldnít be surprised.Jesus said, pray about it and expect it.

One day in your work you might be faced with a major moral dilemma.

†† You know you have to stand against it or expose it, but you also know that it will

†† be in your best interests to sweep it under the rug.

And the thing that bothers you the most, is that you are inclined to keep quiet.

†† Youíre inclined to violate your conscience about something important.

 

Or you might help somebody financially, or give them a chance, at great cost

†† to yourself.And this person gives every indication they are going to make good.

But they end up violating your trust.And you wrestle with the angry thoughts.

†† You want to become cynical.Itís a painful trial.

 

Or maybe itís a loss you suffer.Youíve wanted to accomplish something,

†† but because of a relational loss or financial loss or illness that dream dies.

And you are shocked at the bitterness that wells up in your soul,

†† and how tempted you are to become critical and jealous.

 

Whatís happening?Evil days.Fiery trials.Christians have them.

†† And though you might be surprised and disappointed by your response to themó

†† you should never be surprised by the trials themselves.

The reason most people are surprised by trials is that they have a simplistic and

†† naive view of life.Good people have good lives.Bad people have bad lives.

†† And, of course, most people put themselves in the ďgood peopleĒ category.

Then real life happens.And good people have bad lives and bad people good lives.

†† And it throws them into confusion and the worst comes out.

 

But Christians see life in a completely different way.

†† We see it through the cross.We have a cross-centered view of life.

Jesus was the best man ever.He lived a perfectly good lifeóand what did he get?

†† He got the worst life.He was rejected and mocked and crucified.

†† He was subjected to terrible trials.But out came resurrection and eternal life.

 

Thatís the message of the cross.

The seed goes into the ground and dies before it sprouts and produces fruit.

†† Ore is ground up and put in the fire and out comes gold.

From death comes resurrection.From sacrifice comes redemption.

†† If youíre still shocked when bad things happened, you donít understand the cross.

Jesus said pray:Lead us not into temptationóexpect it, prepare for it.

†† He was the best and he got the worst and he saysófollow me.

MP#2The second way to deal with the tests of life is to know that the real enemy is not your pain, itís evil

The enemy is not the circumstances, itís not your pain and sufferingóitís evil.

 

If we only had the first part of this petition.

†† If it was only ďLead us not into temptation,Ē we could get the impression

†† that weíre just being taught to pray, God, get me out of this situation.

†† Donít ever let me be tested.Keep me out of trouble.

Thereís a hint of that in first part of this petition.

†† Lord, donít give me more than I can bear.Itís ok to pray that, certainly.

†† Donít ever hesitate to ask God to change your circumstances and get you out.

 

But second part of the petition shows what youíre really after.

†† The second half of the petition restates and expands the firstó

†† Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

In other words, the way we pass the test and gain victory over temptation

†† is not just by getting out of a bad situation, itís by avoiding evil in the situation.

 

Another way of looking at this

†† is that the only thing that can really hurt you in the tests of life is sin.

Tons of suffering canít hurt your soul, but one ounce of sin can devastate you.

†† When coal goes under pressure, it turns into a diamond.

When tests come upon you, if you respond with honesty, compassion, faithfulness,

†† will just turn you into a diamond.Itís not the circumstances that are the trouble.

If you respond with impatience, dishonesty, unfaithfulness, bitterness, selfishnessó

†† it will ruin youóyou wonít be a diamond, youíll be crushed.

 

Itís not the circumstances that are the problem.

If youíre under stress, and you think the problem is your circumstances.

†† Youíre wrong.You need to pray.Lord, help me to obey.

†† And if you obey, then youíve won.

Eventually, in Godís good time, the pressure will come off, circumstances will ease,

†† but as long as the pressure is on, if you are obeying, youíre becoming stronger.

 

I had an Old Testament professor in seminary, Dr. Phil Long.

Once during a lecture he got off track for some reason and said:

†† Men, some of you are going to be in wealthy churches,

†† where many of your church members will be much better off than you are.

If God calls you to a church like that, you must be on guard against envy.

Be on guard against coveting and envying the lives of your wealthy parishioners.

You might think that wonít be a temptation for you, and it probably wonít

†† when you are you are young and idealistic, but when you hit middle age,

†† when you have some financial pressures, it will be a temptation.

If you fall into it, it will hurt you and your ministry.

†† Then, after that short rabbit trail, he was back to his lecture.

 

It was one of those things you could easily forget but the reason I remember it

†† is because I knew of Dr. Longís father.He was also Dr. Long, Dr. George Long.

And he was, for over 20 years, the pastor of a very wealthy churchó

†† Lookout Mountain Presbyterian Church, Lookout Mountain, Tennessee.

†† (Iíve heard that Lookout Mountain is the wealthiest community in Tennessee.

†† There is more money there, even than Brentwood.)

 

When Dr. Long the pastor came to Lookout Pres in the mid 1960s,

†† it was a spiritually stagnant country club church.

But after he had been there 10 years, in 1975, there was a true revival.

†† People still talk about itóthe Holy Spirit woke people up and saved people,

†† and that church is still today, decades later, a vibrant, Spirit-filled church.

When I was in college, I would sometimes go to Lookout Pres to hear Dr. Long.

 

So when Dr. Long, my professor, made that comment about the temptation of

†† ministers to envy rich church members, and I knew all that history,

†† I realized that it must have been something that his father had shared with him.

Dr. Long, the pastor, must have faced that temptation.

†† There must have been a season he struggled with it.

†† Probably some particular circumstances that brought on the temptation.

But he had a glimpse of how destructive it would be if he gave in to that sin,

†† so he prayed for protectionóand the Lord heard his prayer.

That was very interesting to me.It gave me an insight I didnít have into

one of the particular temptations of the ministry.

 

But my point is that the thing you ought to fear most of all, in whatever trial

†† you are facing, is that you will sin against God.Worry about that.

Make that the focus of your prayers.Lord, get me out of this situation.

†† But if you choose to keep me in it, please, deliver me from evil.

†† Donít let me fall, help me to be faithful.

If you are going through a test right now, what are the sins connected with it?

†† Self-pity?Bitterness?Immorality?Bring those to your Father in prayer

That brings us to the third point:

MP#3The third way to deal with the tests of life is to look at them through the love of your heavenly Father.

 

Weíve noted all along that we can break the Lordís Prayer up into parts for study,

†† but we also have to look at it as a whole.Every petition has

†† to be understood in terms of the opening words Jesus taught us to prayó

Our Father, lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.

 

But whenever you pray, you have to remember your adoption.

†† You have to remember you are a beloved son or daughter.

Even when you address God as Great and Sovereign King,

†† itís with the wonderful knowledge that you are a child of that King.

 

So how does the love of your heavenly Father and your sonship change

†† the way you look at and pray about the tests of life?

There are basically three ways that people react to fiery trials and evil days.

†† You will probably see yourself in one of these reactions.

 

Some people respond with angry despair

†† Iíve been a good person.Iíve worked hard, served God.I donít deserve this.

Some people respond with guilty despair.

†† Iím a terrible person.Itís all catching up with me.This was bound to happen.

Some people harden themselves, become indifferent and cynical.

†† Life stinks.I donít care any more.Thereís no use trying.

 

When suffering happens, and it will.When tests come, and they will.

†† You can choose from those three, angry despair, guilty despair, or cynicismó

†† or you can be a Christian.

A Christian is not someone who thinks he is earning Godís favor by being good.

†† A Christian is someone who knows that he is an adopted child of God,

†† because of what Jesus Christ has done for him.

 

Think of what adoption is.Adoption is a legal act by a father.

†† He makes the decision, he carries it out according to his own plan and will.

The father doesnít say:Iím adopting this child because he resembles me and

†† because he already displays the character and values of my family.

No.He says:Iím adopting this child to make him part of our family.

†† Iím adopting this child to instill in him the character and values of our family.

Adoption is all grace.

The parents declare legally that they will give this child all the rights and

†† affection that they would give their natural born children.

Thatís our salvation!Isnít that wonderful!

†† God the Father, who is also the Judge, has bound himself to you legally

†† and has declared that he loves you as much as his only begotten Son.

He loves you as much as he loves Jesus Christ.

 

When you look at the tests of life through your adoption, it changes everything.

If you tend to respond with angry despairóI donít deserve this!

†† You understand that what you really deserve is to die and go to hell.

†† Because you know you are a sinner and know the guilt of your sin.

That completely undermines your tendency to shake your fist at your Father

†† and sayóThis is not fair.

 

But on the other hand, if you tend to respond with guilty despair, you look at your

†† adoption and know God doesnít hate you.You are his beloved son or daughter.

So you know your suffering is not punishment for your guilt

†† If God was punishing you, you would be dead already.

†† Itís part of his good plan for you.

 

And adoption gets rid of your cynicism.Life doesnít stink.It isnít pointless.

†† All fathers hate to see their children suffer.

†† But sometimes they let them hurt for a time to accomplish things.

A good father has his reasons, and God is a good father.

†† Look how he treated his natural Son, Jesus Christ.

†† He let him go through fiery trials and dark places to accomplish redemption.

 

In fact, it was after Jesusí baptism, after the voice from heaven said:

†† ďThis is my beloved son in him I am well pleased.Ē

After that, the Spirit of God lead him into the wilderness where he was tempted.

†† And that temptation came roaring back three years later in Gethsemane.

†† God the Father allowed that for his beloved Son.

And Jesus passed the test for you.He went all the way to the cross, so that

†† you can be a beloved, adopted Son of God.

Thatís how you have to look at your suffering.

 

I have an aunt and uncle who have, for many years, been members of a church

†† in North Carolina that is the home church of the Billy Graham family.

This is the church that Ruth Graham and the Graham children were members ofó

†† Montreat Presbyterian Church.

A few years ago when Ruth Graham passed away, my aunt and uncle were at her

†† funeral.After the funeral there was a reception for the family and church

†† members.At the reception, Graham children began to tell stories about mother.

One story they told was that just a few months before, they were together

†† and their father, Billy Graham, started talking about his health problems,

†† and complaining about various aches and pains, and worries he had about

†† health concerns.

And finally Ruth Graham said, ďBilly, shut up and die like a Christian.Ē

 

Thatís the point Iím trying to make.I just donít have the guts to say it so bluntly.

You have your aches and painsóyour fiery trials and evil days.

†† Face them as a Christian.

That means you expect them.You arenít surprised.

†† You pray about them and look for them.

†† Jesus had them, and a servant is not greater than his master.

 

And remember that the enemy is not your pain, the enemy is evil.

†† Itís sinning against the love of your Father in the trial.

†† Pray for God to get you out, but mostly pray for strength to obey.

 

And look at everything you are going through in terms of your adoption

†† as a son and the love of God the Father.Adoption secured for you

†† by Christ, who was tempted for you, and passed the test.