When you think of the word temptation, what are the first temptations that come to your mind? Generally, temptations are things we crave or lust after. Everyone has temptations and they are designed by Satan to rob from us. They attempt to rob us of walking upright with God including our integrity, moral fortitude and purity, honesty, and every other good thing in our life. Peter found that out at the time of Jesus greatest persecution.
Jesus had warned Peter about a temptation that was soon to come. He said, “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.” (Matthew 26:41 NIV) The temptation Peter crashed and failed at was to NOT admit he knew and followed Jesus when asked by those that hated Jesus. When Jesus warned Peter of this temptation to come, Peter had the opportunity to respond reverentially—to listen to Jesus and respond affirmatively and then pray for God to strengthen him. Instead, Peter responded flippantly like most of us would saying “Lord, even if everyone else betrays you, I never will.” Peter was confident in his own willpower and love for the Lord. That is the mistake every Christian learns the hard way. As passionate as we may seem in the moment, the strength of our own willpower will most often fail us. We cannot survive without praying for God’s grace to strengthen us!
Proverbs 14:26 NKJV says, “In the (reverential) fear of the Lord there is strong confidence…” Strong confidence in our own willpower is nothing but pride! Taking the Lord at His Word and putting faith in His directives more than confidence in your own willpower or ability, is the birthplace of real confidence. Therefore, when the Lord says to watch and pray so that we will not fall into temptation, He is saying that prayer is what will help us be spiritually sensitive enough to catch moments of temptation and pause to lean on the grace of God. As I’ve said many times before, grace is God’s supernatural help and strength to resist temptation and to help you do anything He’s asked you to do. His empowering grace is the source of strength to obey God. Once you fully comprehend that your spirit is willing but your flesh or own willpower is weak and flawed, then you begin to lean on the Lord’s grace and prayer.
Most temptations in life are not those huge lurking obvious ones that first come to mind. Most of those we face are seemingly small and inconsequential and easy to pass over and fall prey to. God may be dealing with you in a number of areas of your life. The devil may be tempting you in those same areas day after day to keep you in a place of small failures and disobedience to God. His goal is to lead you from God and His blessings!
The Holy Spirit tries to help us in these areas but too often we just blow by them. We do because we are not praying and therefore, not sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s alerting and trying to help us. We get cold to His voice and leading. We then easily yield to those simple temptations while making jokes and excuses about them to help us feel better in the moment. Sensitivity to the Holy Spirit is where it begins and prayer will get us there. That’s what Jesus wanted Peter to know. It’s there we’ll begin to find the strength to say yes to what we should and no to what we shouldn’t.
For the past 34 years I’ve been a part of discipleship group. In that group we talk about everything—including temptations we face. We encourage each other, pray together and draw strength from the transparency that in itself is a from of accountability. These are all tools of the grace of God. In those times where I am alone and temptation comes, I just pause, let the Lord remind me I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me, and then draw on His grace and resist what I should.
You gain strength and momentum when you practice resisting the devil and temptation and do things God’s way. And you feel so much better for doing so!
The grace of God, not my own willpower is the only place that I have strong confidence—confidence in His ability and strength working in me through prayer!
Hebrews 4:16 (NIV) “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”
In His Love,
Pastor Tim Burt
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