Winston Churchill once said, “Difficulties mastered are opportunities won.” It would be beneficial to remember that saying when experiencing terrible loss and trouble. Though effectively disguised at the time, there may be a blessing to follow.
We can be assured that any temptation we may face, it is not God Who tempts us but the enemy of souls, Satan, who, disguised as an angel of light, even tried to tempt Jesus while He was in the wilderness after His baptism.
The devil lays snares for people to walk into. Most of the time they do not even realize that they are ensnared until it is too late. The apostle Paul mentions this in many different places in his writings. “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles [something involving trickery] of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” Ephesians 6:10–13.
Then Paul goes on in verses 14–18 about the necessity of prayer and study and an understanding of the truths of the Bible so that the snares or temptations of the devil will not deceive you. Writing to the Corinthian church he said, “… such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.” II Corinthians 11:13–15.
Notice that the devil comes as an angel from heaven and deceives people into thinking that they are having a wonderful experience and gaining knowledge, as he did with Eve in the Garden of Eden. The devil told her that if she ate the fruit she had been commanded by God to leave alone, she would become like God and know good and evil. It was never God’s intention for the human family to know anything about evil. Unfortunately for the human race, our first parents did learn about evil through disobedience, and since then we have all seen the results of evil. It involves disappointment, pain, suffering, sickness, strife, war and eventually, death. The human race would never have known any of these things if we had always been obedient and never partaken of the forbidden fruit.
However, people criticize Adam and Eve and wonder why they disobeyed. Yet people today continue to do the same thing, to partake of the knowledge of good and evil, which is actually a mixture of good and evil. To partake of those things that God has forbidden can only get us in trouble. Jesus said that we should pray for protection that we would not be led and tempted to engage in any forbidden behavior. Too often in our prayer life we are tempted to pray in a selfish manner, just for our own needs or that of our own family, but the Lord’s Prayer is not a selfish prayer.
Jesus said, “… lead us not into temptation …” (Matthew 6:13). [Emphasis added.] This is a prayer from an unselfish heart that includes our fellow mortals who are also in need of divine assistance and guidance on their way to the heavenly kingdom. In the Bible we are told that we should do good to all men. Notice what it says in Galatians 6:10: “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.”
In the letter written by the apostle James, he says, “Confess your faults one to another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” James 5:16 literal translation. Our prayers are to include the needs of others.
Temptation affects the entire human family. None of us can escape it. Only those who seek help from God will escape the ruin of walking on dangerous ground, because there is no place where you can go in this world, no earthly shrine or fortress, where you will be free from temptation.
Satan regards not the sanctity of place. He enters the Garden of Eden and he stands on the pinnacle of the temple. He is not deterred by the influence of holy companionship. He tempts Achan in the camp of Israel, Judas among the disciples of Christ, Ananias and Sapphira among the first Christians in Jerusalem. He is not afraid to attack the most favored saints, David, the man after God’s own heart, Peter, the first of the apostles and the three disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane. He tempted even Jesus, the Lord of glory. He is not moved to pity by the helplessness and innocence of childhood. He will not relinquish hope, even when the aged pilgrim is on his deathbed. Everywhere and always he tempts.
Temptation is all around us and we cannot avoid it, but while there is no place where we can go where we are exempt from it, there is a refuge where we are safe from its defeat. “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.” Proverbs 18:10.
The “name” mentioned here is referring to God’s character. If Christ abides in us and we abide in Him, then we are safely enclosed by an impregnable fortress. We cannot be saved from being tempted, but we can be saved from yielding to its power. It is true that the devil is the conqueror of humanity, but it is also true that Jesus Christ, called in the Scriptures our elder brother, came to this world in human flesh and conquered the devil in His humanity.
The devil trembles and flees before the weakest saint who finds a refuge in the all-conquering name of Jesus, our strong tower that affords us safety when we run into it.
There is not a person alive who doesn’t want to be safe, and Christ is the fortress of His people. The person who has fully yielded himself to Jesus Christ is barricaded, protected, and surrounded with infinite power. Even in this world, the person who is thus possessed by the Captain of the Lord’s host is impregnable to the assaults of the evil one. In fact, the only way you can escape succumbing to temptation in this world is if you find the one safe and true Refuge.
Jesus is called a “Refuge from the storm” (Isaiah 25:4). The Bible records many instances of people who were terribly, terribly tried. One example is the patriarch Job, who is described as “blameless and upright” (Job 1:1). Yet notice the terrible experience that Job went through: “Now there was a day when his sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house; and a messenger came to Job and said, ‘The oxen were plowing and the donkeys feeding beside them, when the Sabeans raided them and took them away—indeed they have killed the servants with the edge of the sword; and I alone have escaped to tell you!’
“While he was still speaking, another also came and said, ‘The fire of God fell from heaven and burned up the sheep and the servants, and consumed them; and I alone have escaped to tell you!’ While he was still speaking, another also came and said, ‘The Chaldeans formed three bands, raided the camels and took them away, yes, and killed the servants with the edge of the sword; and I alone have escaped to tell you!’ While he was still speaking, another also came and said, ‘Your sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house, and suddenly a great wind came from across the wilderness and struck the four corners of the house, and it fell on the young people, and they are dead; and I alone have escaped to tell you!’
“Then Job arose and tore his robe, and shaved his head; and he fell to the ground and worshiped. And he said: ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.’ In all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong.” Job 1:13–22.
Job was tempted to accuse God. He lost all of his property and then his ten children in what we would call today a hurricane or a tornado. His whole family was gone, yet he did not blame God for it or sin against Him because of his terrible losses. Losing his property and his children was just the first part of his trial.
We read that God allowed the devil to also touch his person but not take his life. “So Satan answered the Lord and said, ‘Skin for skin! Yes, all that a man has he will give for his life. But stretch out Your hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will surely curse You to Your face!’ And the Lord said to Satan, ‘Behold, he is in your hand, but spare his life.’ So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord, and struck Job with painful boils from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. And he took for himself a potsherd with which to scrape himself while he sat in the midst of the ashes. Then his wife said to him, ‘Do you still hold fast to your integrity? Curse God and die!’ But he said to her, ‘You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?’ In all this Job did not sin with his lips.” Job 2:4–10.
Job’s trial is recorded in the 42 chapters of the book of Job. These attacks of the enemy were designed to bring about his defeat and ruin, but what happened? Through his submission to God these attacks resulted in the devil being defeated to the glory of God.
Satan’s attempt to ruin Job resulted in revealing himself as the liar and evil intelligence that he is. The devil’s sole intent is to tempt the inhabitants of this world into sin, so that they will curse God, ignore Him, and blame Him for their troubles. The book of Job is an integral part of the Bible that enlightens the seeker after truth who it is, in fact, that is the source and manufacturer of all our trials and tribulations.
The very weapons that Satan designed to weaken Job and cause him to curse God were used by the Lord to reveal to Job his unknown weaknesses so that he could become strong where he had been weak. The apostle Paul had a very similar experience. Paul met the Lord on the Damascus road. The Bible says the light around the Lord shone brighter than the sun (Matthew 17:12). After that encounter, the apostle Paul had trouble with his eyesight, describing it this way: “And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” II Corinthians 12:7–10.
God has not promised that we will have freedom from trials and temptations in this world. But He has promised us something far better. He has promised that when in trouble we have a fortress (Psalm 91:2). His strength is made perfect in our weakness and His grace will be given and is sufficient for all of our needs (II Corinthians 12:9). In every age God’s people have met various trials, some even to be called to martyrdom; but as history has proven, God’s grace is always sufficient to meet any trial.
God uses the trials that come along to develop character in His people. God brings beauty out of ashes. Although God turns into blessings all of Satan’s attempt to destroy, we should do everything in our power not to walk rashly into temptation. We must be careful to keep off the enemy’s ground. One of the great temptations of youth is the temptation of sexual lust. In violation of the Ten Commandments, Satan tempts the youth to indulge in sexual activity before making a commitment in marriage. Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, gave the following advice to young people: “My son, pay attention to my wisdom; lend your ear to my understanding, that you may preserve discretion, and your lips may keep knowledge. For the lips of an immoral woman drip honey, and her mouth is smoother than oil; but in the end she is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword. Her feet go down to death, her steps lay hold of hell [the grave]. Lest you ponder her path of life—her ways are unstable; you do not know them.
“Therefore hear me now, my children, and do not depart from the words of my mouth. Remove your way far from her, and do not go near the door of her house.” Proverbs 5:1–8.
Then Solomon goes on to explain why you should not deliberately walk into temptation: “Lest you give your honor to others, and your years to the cruel one.” Verse 9.
James also provides guidance on avoiding temptations. “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” James 4:7.
The thirteenth chapter of Genesis tells what Lot did after he separated from Abraham. It says that, “Lot dwelt in the cities of the plain and pitched his tent towards Sodom. But the men of Sodom were exceedingly wicked and sinful against the Lord.” Genesis 13:12, 13 literal translation. They were so wicked that eventually God sent fire from heaven and burned those wicked cities. Lot lost almost everybody in his family. In a sense, if you read the whole story, he did lose everybody for he beheld the wicked cities and his family got involved in sinful, sensual pleasure. It is dangerous to do what Lot did.
The Bible has a lot to say about avoiding even the appearance of evil. “Test all things; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil. Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” I Thessalonians 5:21–23.
We have an obligation as free moral agents to not walk into temptation. In fact, we should flee from those situations where we would be tempted and might be overcome. The apostle Paul wrote to Timothy about this very thing. He said, “Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” II Timothy 2:22.
To the Corinthians Paul wrote, “Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body.” 1 Corinthians 6:18. And again, “Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry …” I Corinthians 10:14. And to Timothy, “But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life.” I Timothy 6:11, 12.
God has created us all as free moral agents. We are responsible for what we look at, listen to, what we practice, and what we engage in. No one else is responsible for our actions. This earth is part of a moral universe, and one day, on the Day of Judgment, all will give an account of the life that we have chosen to live. The prophets and the apostles in both the Old and New Testaments taught this. So, do not pray not to be led into temptation and then directly walk into temptation’s way contrary to what you have just prayed.
Like the Bible itself, the Lord’s Prayer ends where it began. It starts with God and His perfection and it brings us back again after our contact with sin and victory over evil. “Forever” is a proper ending for the Lord’s Prayer. This exultant ascription of praise and honor to the God of heaven is not found only at the end of the Lord’s Prayer, but this is something that is common in recorded prayers in both the Old and the New Testament.
Praise is part of effectual prayer. The Bible says that praise is comely or beautiful for the upright (Psalm 33:1.) God said, “Whoever offers praise glorifies Me.” Psalm 50:23.
Many of the Psalms end in praise, even those that represent deep repentance and heart-rending anguish of sin-burdened souls crying out for pardon and cleansing. Humble and contrite souls praise God for His love, His grace, and His mercy. Fifteen of the Psalms end with the expression, “Praise ye the Lord.”
The ending in the Lord’s Prayer is a closing plea that the seven petitions of the prayer be granted. It all presents an argument as to the reasons why the prayer was offered because the person has expectation for an answer from One Who is able to answer every single one of these petitions. In fact, He is able to answer more than we can ask.
In Ephesians 3:20 literal translation, Paul says, “Now to Him Who is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end.”
So, we expect an answer when we pray, not based on something that we have or can do, not based on something that we can do to gain merit. We expect an answer because of God’s character and power, and that He is able to answer every single petition in this prayer. So as you pray the words, “Thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory” (Matthew 6:13), ask the Lord to fulfill each one of the petitions of the prayer of Jesus in your life so that you, one day, can be part of the kingdom of glory when it is set up.
May the Lord’s Prayer become a daily feature in each one’s life. It is one of request that the Lord will help us to live the way our Lord and Master lived, giving us an example and offering the power of the Holy Spirit to help us in our journey. He alone is able to keep us from falling (Jude 1:24).
(Unless appearing in quoted references or otherwise identified, Bible texts are from the New King James Version.)
Pastor John J. Grosboll is Director of Steps to Life and pastors the Prairie Meadows Church of Free Seventh-day Adventists in Wichita, Kansas. He may be contacted by email at: email@example.com, or by telephone at: 316-788-5559.