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Lead Us Not Into Temptation February 7, 2010

Posted by roberttalley in Contentment, Honesty, Materialism, Prayer, Proverbs, Religion, Sermons, Temptation.
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Proverbs 30:5-9

In Sunday School, our five year olds are learning what is known as the Lord’s Prayer or the Model Prayer. They are not yet to this part but eventually they will learn, “lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.” The prayer we are looking at today is similar. It is a prayer for protection against temptation.

I do not know if you pray for God to deliver you from temptation but you probably should. If you do, however, pray for protection from temptation, you should know more about this type of praying.

A. Our prayers for protection from temptation should be motivated by our faith in God (verses 5-7). Seneca, the Roman philosopher, said, “All my life I have been seeking to climb out of the pit of my besetting sins and I cannot do it and I never will unless a hand is let down to draw me up.” He understood that he needed help against sin. Now certainly it is good when someone can help us out of the pit but would it not be better to have someone protect us from falling in the pit in the first place?

Agur recognizes in verse 5 of our text that God is a shield for those who put their trust in Him. Now if God can protect us from death and hell, from sickness and Satan, why should we not trust Him to protect us from temptation?

a. Our prayer of faith for protection from temptation is dependent on God’s goodness and wisdom (verses 5b, 8b). Agur requests in verse 8b, “Feed me with the food allotted to me.” He is saying, I do not want any special treatment, nor do I want to go through trials. Just give me what I need and that will be enough. Agur believed that God was good and wise. In his prayer He is dependent on God’s goodness and wisdom to give him exactly what he needs.

b. Now why would Agur want to pray that way? – Because the prayer of faith for protection from temptation desires a lifestyle of truth (verse 6-8). Truth is a rare quality and always has been. Since Satan lied to Eve in the garden, mankind has been serving the Father of lies and has been busy deceiving and being deceived. (Proverbs 12:17-22 describe for us the difference between the lifestyle of truth and the lifestyle of destruction.) You see, Agur, wanted the Lord to delight in him and he knew that a life of honesty was necessary to gain the Lord’s delight.

Often, when people are struggling with sin, they pray for protection from temptation. I know that I have. The difference, often, is in the motive. Most of us pray to be protected from temptation because we do not want to suffer the consequences of the sin which we keep committing. There is nothing wrong with fearing the consequences of sin. Agur went beyond that. He wanted to please God and He knew that only a life of honesty could please the Lord.

c. Our prayer for protection from temptation recognizes our inner weaknesses (verses 8-9). He recognized how difficult it is to be honest. Most of us make a habit of being honest except when it appears that honesty just does not pay. The one who prays for protection from temptation recognizes his or her weakness and remembers that the final pain will erase the temporary pleasure.

Paul Harvey told a story (It has been repeated in print several times; I got it from a Charles Swindoll book) that illustrates what happens when you fail to recognize your inner weakness. When an Eskimo wants to kill a wolf, he coats his knife blade with animal blood and allows it to freeze. The he adds another lay and another until the blade is completely concealed by frozen blood.

Then the hunter fixes his knife in the ground with the blade up. When a wolf follows his sensitive nose to the source and discovers the bait he licks it, tasting the fresh-frozen blood. He licks faster, lapping the blade until the keen edge is bare. Still, he licks the blade harder and harder not noticing the sharp sting of the blade on his tongue. The animal does not recognize that his appetite is being satisfied by his own blood. His inner weakness just craves more until it is too late.

Agur recognized the danger of his own inner weakness and prayed for God to protect Agur from Agur.

B. We can flee the temptations of this world through prayer (verses 8-9). There are a number of things that we can and should do but developing a prayer life that is serious about combating temptation is a vital and essential tool in our arsenal against sin.

When I was growing up, there were certain temptations that were constantly pulling me into the pit. With maturity, looking back, I can see that one of the weapons against sin that I neglected was prayer. I memorized Scripture and confessed my sin often but I did not enlist someone to help me to pray in my struggles against sin. There was also a lack of seriousness in my own prayer life. I only prayed about my sinfulness when I felt guilty. There was not a real recognition of what my inner weakness was.

Agur, however, recognized his inner weaknesses. He knew that honesty had to be put at the top of his priority list. He also knew that his economic condition would make him susceptible to certain sins. Not every disease prospers in the same climate. Tropical diseases are not a big problem in Alaska. The reason we have flu season is because certain conditions are conducive to catching the flu. Sin acts in much the same way.

a. The rich are tempted by sins of self-sufficiency and arrogance (verse 9a). Unfortunately, money and the tangible things that money can buy as well as the security and significance that we feel money can provide are the things by which we evaluate our self-worth. It is how we determine whether our lives are worth living. It is no wonder that those with wealth are susceptible to the sins of self-sufficiency and arrogance.

Patrick Morley relates the following example of this truth. In 1976 the “I Found It” Campaign…saturated communities nationwide…The “I Found It!” bumper stickers were everywhere! People who asked what had been found learned the answer: “New life in Jesus Christ.” Sandy, the local director (in a wealthy Florida coastal town), found a correlation between interest in the Gospel message and the distance people lived from the ocean. In other words, the closer people lived to the water, the less interested. The farther from the water they went, the greater the interest. The wealthy people lived in the condominiums closest to the water, while the service help, who worked in the hotels along the coast, lived in the mobile home parks farthest from the water.”

In other words, they do not feel they need new life in Jesus Christ. They have their best life now!

b. The poor are tempted by sins of desperation and hopelessness (verse 9b). Certainly, the truly poor are not susceptible to self-sufficiency. They need help.

If we have learned anything from the crisis in Haiti, it is that desperation will cause people to do the unimaginable. I was listening to NPR radio this week about a mother in Haiti who had born four or five children. A couple of years ago, she gave two of her children away and believes they were taken overseas because she is desperate for a better life for her children.

Agur prays, do not let me be so poor that I steal and profane your name. It is interesting that he does not say, do not let me be poor, I do not want to suffer, I could not stand the shame of poverty. No, his prayer is focused on God.

Believer, do you pray for protection from temptation? Why? Because you want to glorify God? How seriously do you take your inner weakness? Would you be willing for God to give you a different lifestyle if that would make you less susceptible to sin and more honoring to God? As believers we will never be condemned to hell for our sin but that does not mean there are no consequences. Are you like a moth drawn to the light of sin? Get into the Word, memorize Scripture, get you an accountability partner but do not neglect daily pleading to God for help and strength against the weaknesses of your flesh.

If you have never trusted Christ, you need to know that Jesus Christ died for your sin. You can be forgiven. You do not have to be condemned. Turn to Jesus for salvation and forgiveness today. Come to me after the service and I or one of our people will take you to a quiet place where you can ask questions and understand from God’s Word how to be saved from your sin. Would you do that today?

With heads bowed and eyes closed, I am going to ask you a question and I want you to think about it. Are you going to take temptation seriously? What are you going to do about it? You need a plan. You need a partner, a believer to help you in your fight against temptation. You need a prayer plan. You need a Scripture memory plan. We can help you with all of those things. We can pray for you and with you. Just let us know.

Next Week: Proverbs 30:10-17 “Evaluating a Generation”

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