Today we continue our sermon series in Luke 11 on the subject of Prayer. We have learned that prayer is communication with God and that it is an act of worship in which a person communicates with God the Father, through the access provided by God the Son, and by the prompting of God the Spirit.
In response to one of His disciples asking to be taught how to pray, Jesus replied:
When you pray, say: “Father, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread, and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.” (Luke 11:2-4)
In this morning’s passage Jesus tells His disciples to pray “And lead us not into temptation.” In this prayer Jesus teaches us about Prayers of Protection and the need to have God’s protection in the battle we all have with sin and evil. Let’s take a closer look at this prayer.
It has been well said that the church is not a cruise ship but a battleship. It is a battleship because there is a war raging all around us. In fact, when Jesus established the church He said, “I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matt 16:18). Jesus is preparing His followers for a war against the very gates of hell. Paul, in Ephesians 6:12-13, tells us who we are fighting and how we should prepare:
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil 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 firm.
Recognizing that we are in a war with spiritual forces of evil is important because it is the difference between living in this world as an “ineffective and unfruitful” (2 Peter 1:8) soldier and a soldier who is “more than a conqueror” (Rom 8:37).
The Enemy’s Strategy
There is a devil and he is at war with you. His strategy is subtle, deadly, but defeatable. Peter warns us to be watchful. He writes, “be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). John tells us that we cannot turn a blind eye to this war because “the whole world lies in the power of the evil one” (1 John 5:19).
While we are in this body on this earth we must be aware that we have an enemy and he is angry. Revelation 12:12 says, “woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!” In what little time he has left, the devil is using the things of this world to try to devour us. He has many tools in this spiritual war and they are all intended to have the same effect: to get you to surrender.
Subtle but Deadly Strategy
His strategy in the United States is very subtle. It is not obvious but is cleverly indirect. From television to movies, from magazines to newspapers, from the internet on your computer and your phone; the devil is subtly seeking to devour you. He is subtle because He wants you to drop your guard. Peter warned us to be watchful because when we stop being watchful we become prey.
For example, 1 Timothy 6:9 says, “those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.” In this instance, love of money, the devil tempts people to love money more than God and the result is ruin and destruction. It isn’t just the love of money that can tempt us. It can be sex, pride, achievement, or anything that sets itself up against God.
Have you fallen for this subtle, deadly strategy? What are you watching, reading, and listening to on a daily basis? Do you look at pornography? Do you listen to music that glorifies sex and violence against women? Do you watch television shows that glorify sinful lifestyles? Do you believe that as long as you have enough money in the bank everything will be okay? Do you think that sports are more important to the well-being of your children than church? The list could go on. If you say yes to any of these things you must know that the devil is using it to devour and ruin you. If you do not see a problem with these things then I am afraid you are “hardened by the deceitfulness of sin” (Heb 3:13).
I am glad to say that while this is a subtle and deadly strategy by the devil, it is a defeatable strategy. It is in the context of this war with spiritual forces of evil that we have our Lord Jesus Christ telling us to pray, “Lead us not into temptation.”
Temptation, from a Biblical perspective, means “to submit to a test to learn the true nature or character.” Temptation itself is not a sin, but if it is not defeated it will lead to sin. Temptation never originates with God (James 1:13) but from the spiritual forces of evil.
When we pray for God to not lead us into temptation, we appeal to God to not permit us to fall prey to a temptation that will bring us to ruin. We daily call upon our Heavenly Father for protection against the schemes of the devil (Eph 6:11; 2 Cor 2:11). It is the Father’s delight to protect his family and not let the foes of our souls catch us in their net.
Remember these very important facts:
- It is only through faith (putting on the whole armor of God) that you can resist the schemes of the devil (Eph 6:10-20).
- God allows temptation/trials to come to a Christian so that he may grow in spiritual maturity (James 1:2-4).
- God only allows endurable temptations to come to Christians and provides a means of escape (1 Corinthians 10:13).
God promises the crown of life to those who endure temptations/trials (James 1:12).