(Throwing books at the door). If you saw me throwing books, what would you say? ‘He is getting mentally challenged!’
But this was an act of a sane man of God – Martin Luther.
It is said that he threw books at the devil as he felt the urge to fall into temptation.
This may seem extreme, but someone who knows the Lord, who knows what a joy it is to walk holy before him (this is no joke), but also for someone who knows how real sin and temptations are:
This is what Jesus is teaching here:
Jesus says that we should pray for protection against temptations, he says “Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.” which basically means shield / protect us from the tempter.
I would like to point out a few reasons you need to pray this prayer:
- In dealing with temptation, you need more than just resolve
Yes, there is a part I need to play: to fight against the tempter: I am not passive, I actively take the fight to the enemy.
So there is a resolve and efforts that are my role in my struggle against tempter
James 4:7 points this out, “Submit yourselves, then to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you”
When the devil continues to nag you to give into sin, keep on putting him off – keep on saying no – and James says that the devil will give up – Of course this is for while.
There is that role that I must play.
However, in dealing with temptation I need more than just resolve, hence the call by Jesus to pray.
This is a spiritual battle. You may remember Paul saying in Ephesians 6:10, “Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against principalities etc.”
It is not the obvious, it is the hidden one, it is the unseen, the spiritual forces at work in this world.
You need more than just human fight, you need a godly intervention in your life.
A spiritual intervention that doesn’t expose you to your lust and coveting and sinfulness.
A spiritual intervention that causes evil not to flourish against you – that restrains evil – that shuts doors to evil – that “shuts the mouths of the lions” as it were, lions on the verge of destroying you.
A supernatural intervention that shuts the devils as they try to cause you to stop believing in God – to stop you from serving Jesus – stop you from giving your life wholly to Jesus.”
A supernatural intervention that stops you from what I call “Job’s wife syndrome”. By that we mean, cursing God because life has thrown at you the most difficult of circumstances.
Hence Jesus says pray and say “Lead us not into temptation” for you and I need that spiritual intervention.
- In dealing with temptations, there is a real threat
We are not immune to the lures and attractions of evil – we are not immune to these matters:
The greatest of spirit-filled servants of God have fallen into the trap:
Job’s wife, though we know very little of her, but one would think that she was a fine woman, who when they gathered to praise God she would sing to the top of her voice.
When her husband offered sacrifices for her children’s sins – she agreed with a resounding amen.
Have you ever imagined the pain of that woman? I know we have looked at her husband.
Think for a moment – here was a man who, as far as she knew him, was as godly as they come: a man of great wealth, a man of great blessings, that man was her husband, a man with whom she had borne 10 children.
She had carried each of those children in her womb; put together she carried them in her womb for 90 months (7.5 years) – she had nurtured them from infants to adults, who would now invite each other to celebrate life.
Yet at this critical moment in her life, we read: Job 1:18-19 “Your sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house, and behold a great wind came across the wilderness and struck down the four corners of the house, and behold it fell upon the young people, and they are dead, and I alone have escaped to tell you.”
This woman holds her peace, no doubt shattered beyond any human pain, she hides her pain as she buries her children all at once.
But her problems are far from over, her only hope in life, her husband we are told in 2:7 “So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD and struck Job with loathsome sores from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head.”
Then she cracks and says to Job, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die.”
Talk about being tempted to the extreme!
Now friends, maybe we have not been tried as she was, however temptations to curse God are real.
Temptations to live the True One God are real, as the words of the song say:
Let that grace, Lord, like a fetter,
bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
prone to leave the God I love;
Take my heart, O take and seal it,
seal it for thy courts above.
It is real threat for us when we are going through difficult times – hence cry out “Lead us not into temptations”.
Let me give you another example; from what I call, “The Isaiah dichotomy” or “A Christian dichotomy” :-
Isaiah 6:4: “And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. And I said, Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.”
Isaiah feels that he is “ruined” – he has seen God and yet he is so aware of his own uncleanness.
He doesn’t talk much about his experience with God, but he is so aware of how far he falls short.
The sin he has been denouncing on others, is the very sin that is brought to the fore by his comprehension of God’s holiness.
I wonder if you can see here, it’s not degree of sin that comes to the fore to Isaiah as he stands before God, but it is his own unworthiness.
Now this was Paul’s cry in Romans 7: 21-25
And this dichotomy is our Christian experience.
Sin still lurking behind us, as if to catch us – all the more we need to pray, “lead us not into temptation but deliver us.
One last example, Psalm 73 (Asaph) Vs.1 “My feet had almost slipped when I envied the arrogant.”
Asaph was tempted through what can be called “an ungodly observation”.
This was more than just been spured on to work harder to improve his life – he began to look at his life in relation to God – and how those who do not fear seem to have life easy.
Envy was his problem, failing to realize that God is at work in his children – fortunes and misfortunes are not without his hand.
The tempter tempts us through others, through observing life in an ungodly fashion.
It’s not, as Jesus would say “Seek first the kingdom of God and all these things will be added unto you.”
It’s the attitude that says these people cannot have what they have, in fact if I can’t have that – it means God has failed – God is not good.
These are real temptations for us: hence Jesus says pray:
Father lead us not into temptation
We can be like Asaph, we can be like Job’s wife, we can through the Christian dichotomy experience and that can kill us.
In all this, commit yourself to God, trust in his mercy and grace, trust in his sovereign hand.
For you can clearly see, you and I need a supernatural intervention – for these things happen to people just like us.
Perhaps that is where somehow the tempter is winning, and today you need to turn to God and say, “Lord free me and deliver me from these temptations”.
Perhaps on the verge, irrespective of where you are: let us cry to God to shield us from the evil one. Amen