Do you trust in the Protection of God?
Have you ever experienced the protection of God?
Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil one. — Matthew 6:14 (NIV)
“Lead us not into Temptation.” What? What in the world did Jesus mean when He prayed that?
Does God ever “lead His children into temptation”? This phrase seems to contradict everything that Jesus had been teaching His disciples about the nature of our heavenly Father. How could it be that God would even consider an action that might cause His children to be tempted in any way? Doesn’t this go against the very character of God?
Perhaps considering the real meaning of “temptation” in the original language of the Bible would help our understanding and clear up the confusion.
The Greek noun for temptation literally means “trial” or “test” and the Greek verb for to tempt similarly means “to try” or “to test.” When the word temptation is used today in the English language, it most often refers to negative or evil behavior. However, this same Greek word is actually a neutral action word; it simply refers to a test, or a performance. In the New Testament, it frequently focuses on testing the character or qualities of an individual, such as in Matthew 4:1, when we read that “Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil” (NIV, emphasis mine).
Jesus’ teachings about temptation were twofold. The first understanding He shared is that we must recognize that God has the ability to protect us from times of trials or testing. However, Jesus’ second point was that when temptations do come into our lives, God has the strength ready and available for us to overpower them.
Inner Temptation and the Protection of God
What causes sin to be generated from within ourselves? The fact is, sin is fueled by a temptation that, simply put, comes from a sinful heart. Many religions and cults do not believe in original sin. They argue that the idea that someone is born into the world already possessing a sinful nature could not possibly make sense, but anyone who has heard a toddler yell “no!” or “mine!” understands that original sin is all too real.
To avoid this reality, people try to define inner temptation in many other ways. But here are some basic facts about inner temptation:
- God will never invite us to sin.
- Satan cannot force us to sin.
- When we fall into temptation, we have chosen wrongly.
Many people feel that inner temptation cannot be overcome. Even the apostle Paul, as spiritually “strong” as he was, spoke of the allure of inner sins. He wrote these words to the church at Rome:
I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. — Romans 7:15–20 (NIV)
When dealing with inner temptations, Christians don’t have to rely on their own strength alone to help them overcome and succeed. Christians have the Holy Spirit and the power of God to call upon.
And according to Jesus, God’s plan is never to leave His children to deal with spiritual temptation on their own. When Jesus was talking to His disciples about the future, He told them,
“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with your forever…” (John 14:26 NIV).
As Christians, the Holy Spirit is continually working in our hearts to enable us, to encourage us, and to teach us how to choose wisely in every temptation we face.
Paul also believed that God would not allow any temptation to come our way that we could not endure. He wrote:
No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. — 1 Corinthians 10:13 (NIV)
Outer Temptation and the Protection of God
The story of Jesus’ temptation in Matthew 4:1–11 reveals the power of all three types of outer temptations. For forty days and nights, Jesus wandered through the wilderness to prepare Himself for His soon-to-be-launched public ministry. Jesus’ wilderness experience was to prepare Himself for what lay ahead.
During His time in the wilderness, however, the Bible says that Satan came to Jesus to present Him with three outer temptations. In the book of 1 John, Jesus’ closest disciple categorized outer temptation in three distinct ways.
For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. —1 John 2:16 (NIV)
Outer temptation came at Jesus in the first forty days of His ministry. After His baptism, three types of sin, “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life,” came at Him. Any outer temptation you face will also fall into one of these three categories.
The Lust of the Flesh and the Protection of God
One of the greatest struggles human beings face when being tempted is the need to meet a physical desire, whether it be related to the lust of gluttony or to the seduction of sexual satisfaction.
The “lust of the flesh” was the temptation with which Satan approached Jesus first. Christ had already been in the wilderness for weeks, fasting to prepare Himself for His ministry. The enemy approached Jesus with the thing from which He was suffering most: physical hunger. After forty days of fasting, Jesus was starving. The desire to satisfy the needs of His earthly body was the first attack of the enemy.
The Old Testament tells a similar story of temptation about King David, who allowed his attraction to Bathsheba, the wife of his faithful officer Uriah, to lead to an adulterous affair. She became pregnant, and to cover up his sin, David called Uriah home from the battlefield and tried to encourage him to spend time with his wife. But when Uriah slept outside the king’s palace instead, David had to create a new plan to cover his sin.
In the morning David wrote a letter to Joab [his commander in chief] and sent it with Uriah. In it he wrote, “Put Uriah out in front where the fighting is fiercest. Then withdraw from him so he will be struck down and die.” — 2 Samuel 11:14–15 (NIV)
The human body was created by God to experience various needs. Many of the pleasures we experience in life are derived from the godly fulfillment of these physical needs. However, when we allow these bodily needs to override our obedience to God, we fall into sin. The allure of the flesh is an outer temptation that can lead us away from the design and plan of God if we are not careful to avoid it. The lust of the flesh was what led David to commit adultery and to have one of his faithful generals killed on the battlefield. Our spiritual enemy, Satan, knows how to fuel the lust of the flesh, as he did with King David.
The Lust of the Eyes and the Protection of God
In the second outer temptation, Satan showed Jesus the kingdoms of the world. He told Him that He could own them for Himself if He would only bow down and worship Satan (see Matthew 4:8–9). The lust of the eyes, in this case, was the appeal of wealth and power.
The eye is just one tool that our soul has been given to produce either goodness or evil in our lives. In illustrating the type of use of the eye, Jesus told His disciples:
Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyes are healthy, your whole body also is full of light. But when they are unhealthy, your body also is full of darkness. See to it, then, that the light within you is not darkness. Therefore, if your whole body is full of light, and no part of it dark, it will be just as full of light as when a lamp shines its light on you. — Luke 11:34–36 (NIV)
The Pride of Life and the Protection of God
Satan tempted Jesus to show His importance by encouraging Him to test God. He took Jesus to a high pinnacle and told Him to throw himself down, but to call on God to save Him from the fall (Matthew 4:5–7). In this way, he reasoned, Jesus’ ministry would be validated by a miraculous divine intervention.
This challenge was a temptation actually meant to test the Father, and it would have had Jesus asserting His importance above that of the heavenly Father. It was a temptation of extreme pride.
The writer of Proverbs has some strong words to say about pride:
When pride comes, then comes disgrace. — Proverbs 11: 2 (NIV)
Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. — Proverbs 16:18 (NIV)
Pride is a strong tool in the hands of our spiritual enemy, and it can cause even devoted believers to fall into temptation. It can destroy the best of human beings, because it begins small but soon grows into massively destructive behavior that ruins entire lives.
These three tests of outer temptation (the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life) essentially cover all types of sins, and Jesus was able to overcome each one of them in the desert. In his famous book on Christian apologetics, Mere Christianity, author and theologian C.S. Lewis shares some valuable insights about temptation in the life of Jesus. He writes:
A silly idea is current that good people do not know what temptation means. This is an obvious lie. Only those who try to resist temptation know how strong it is. After all, you find out the strands of the German army by fighting against it, not by giving in. You find out the strength of a wind by trying to walk against it, not by lying down. A man who gives in to temptation after five minutes simply does not know what it would have been like an hour later. This is why bad people, in one sense, know very little about badness. They have lived a sheltered life but always giving in … Christ, because He was the only man who never yielded to temptation, is also the only man who knows to the full what temptation means.
Spiritual Trials and the Protection of God
God sometimes does allow trials to come our way. No one’s life is ever completely free from problems and difficulties. After all, these give us the opportunity to grow. But Satan attempts to take these trials and distort them by turning them into temptations to sin.
Paul teaches us that God can make us strong through our trials:
But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one. — 2 Thessalonians 3:3 (NIV)
Even the teachings of the Old Testament show how the Lord watches over His children during challenging times:
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. — Deuteronomy 31:6 (NIV)
And Isaiah resounds these words found in Deuteronomy:
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. — Isaiah 41:10 (NIV)
A King’s Words About the Protection of God
King David was a man who endured many tests and trials. From slaying the giant Goliath as a child to being held accountable for his sinful behavior with Bathsheba, he had been through many ups and downs. Trials and temptations were a basic part of the teaching shared in the psalms of David:
But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you. — Psalm 5:11 (NIV)
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. — Psalm 46:1 (NIV)
Deliver me from my enemies, O God; be my fortress against those who are attacking me. — Psalm 59:1 (NIV)
Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life. You stretch out your hand against the anger of my foes; with your right hand you save me. — Psalm 138:7 (NIV)
Keep me safe, Lord, from the hands of the wicked; protect me from the violent, who devise ways to trip my feet. — Psalm 140:4 (NIV)
The post How to Believe and Trust in the Protection of God appeared first on Like A Team.
This post first appeared on , please read the originial post: here