The Springs Church
135 N. Grant St., Cedar Springs
In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus taught us to pray, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one” (Matthew 6:13 NIV). Many times we wait until we get into tempting situations and then we pray, “Lord, lead me out of temptation.” But Jesus taught us to pray in a different way—“Lead me not into temptation.”
How can we avoid being lead into temptation in the first place? Here’s what works for me: I must identify what makes me vulnerable.
Notice I didn’t say identify what tempts you. You already know what tempts you. What you may have never thought through is what makes you vulnerable to that temptation? What makes you weak? What makes you susceptible?
Jesus said in Matthew 26:41, “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation” (NIV).
Notice you can’t just pray; you have to watch. So when Jesus says you are to pray, “Lead us not into temptation,” he’s saying that’s not even enough. Besides praying you also have to do some watching.
You have a pattern of vulnerability. You have certain people, places and things that make you more vulnerable to giving in to temptation, that make you more likely to be led into temptation. To “watch” means to identify what makes you vulnerable. You need to identify your pattern.
Let me give you five questions you need to ask yourself:
First ask yourself, “When am I most tempted?” You’re going to find you’re more tempted on certain days of the week than others. Maybe a certain time of the day. Maybe you’re tempted when everybody else is in bed. You need to figure out when are you most tempted.
Next ask, “Where am I most tempted?” It could be at work, at your neighbor’s house, in the kitchen. Do you get tempted at a convenience store? At a sports bar? At the beach? A lot of you get tempted in front of a computer. You need to know your area of vulnerability.
Three, “Who is with me when I’m most tempted?” Am I most tempted when I’m alone? Or when I’m with friends who lead me in the wrong direction? Am I most tempted when I’m with my co-workers? Or when I’m with a crowd of strangers and I think nobody would know me? Am I tempted with my family? Identify who makes you vulnerable.
Four, “What temporary benefit do I get if I give in to the temptation?” Let’s just admit it—sin is fun. If it were miserable nobody would do it. The Bible even says there is pleasure in sin for a season. In other words, it doesn’t last. So what is the temporary benefit I get when I give in to temptation? Do I get comfort? Excitement? Joy? Pleasure? A false sense of confidence? You need to know what’s the benefit when I do this.
The fifth thing you need to ask is, “How do I feel right before I’m tempted?” You need to know what your emotional triggers are. Is it frustration? Stress? Is it when you’re bored? Lonely? When you can’t sleep at night? You need to know what feelings make you vulnerable.
Figure out what your pattern of vulnerability is. Ask yourself who, what, when and where you get tempted. Then watch out for those situations. Avoid those situations. Don’t allow yourself to be led into those situations and you will find freedom from the traps that so easily ensnare.