By David Faust
Temptation threatens our commitment to maintain our bodies as “temples of the Holy Spirit” (6:19).
It threatens our attitudes when we toy with “hollow and deceptive philosophy” and fail to set our minds “on things above” (Colossians 2:8, 3:2).
It threatens our hearts when we flirt with forbidden relationships and allow our emotions to override our common sense. Billy Sunday said, “Temptation is the devil looking through the keyhole. Yielding is opening the door and inviting him in.”
Temptation threatens our souls in seasons of distress and doubt when we feel like abandoning our faith altogether.
Our Defense Against Temptation
God doesn’t leave us defenseless. He gives us tools we can use to resist temptation, including his written Word to guide us, his indwelling Spirit to strengthen us, and his people to encourage us and hold us accountable.
In the battle against temptation, prayer isn’t our only weapon, but it’s an essential one. Stop praying, and you cut off a vital supply line God uses to nourish your soul. Stop praying, and the world becomes a dark wilderness where spiritual danger lurks behind every rock and tree. Stop praying, and you are less likely to protect yourself with the “full armor of God” (Ephesians 6:13-18).
On the night before his crucifixion, Jesus led his followers to the Mount of Olives and told them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation” (Luke 22:40). In the midst of his own stress, Jesus showed unselfish concern for the disciples. Foreseeing the pain and humiliation he faced in the hours ahead, Jesus fell on his knees and pleaded, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” So great was his anguish that “his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground” (vv. 41-44). Yet when he rose from prayer and found his exhausted disciples sleeping, he again expressed concern, not for himself, but for them. He told them a second time, “Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation” (vv. 45, 46).
The prayer that withstands temptation is consistent, bold, honest, and forthright. It’s the prayer that says, “God, have mercy on me, a sinner” (Luke 18:13). It says, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24). It says, “Lord, help me to ‘take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ’ (2 Corinthians 10:5), and to control my body ‘in a way that is holy and honorable’” (1 Thessalonians 4:4).
Our Strongest Prayer Partner
Before heading to Gethsemane, Jesus told Peter, “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers” (Luke 22:31, 32).
Peter’s faith wavered. He denied Jesus three times that night, but ultimately his faith did not fail. He went on to preach the gospel, lead the church, and write two books of the New Testament to “strengthen his brothers.” Jesus’ prayers for him were answered.
Today that same Lord Jesus “always lives to intercede for us” at the right hand of God (Hebrews 7:25; Romans 8:34). In the battle against temptation, what better prayer partner could we want to support us than Jesus himself?
1. What temptations have you wrestled with recently?
2. Have you prayed and asked the Lord to help you overcome them?
David Faust is president of Cincinnati Christian University, Cincinnati, Ohio, and past Executive Editor of The Lookout.
The Lookout’s Bible Reading Plan for September 15, 2013
Use this guide to read through the Bible in 12 months. Follow David Faust’s comments on the highlighted text in every issue of The Lookout.
Isaiah 27, 28
Isaiah 29, 30