Today’s devotion builds on the thoughts from Sunday’s Sermon – Week 6 of the Lord’s Prayer Series “Temptation & Evil” (LISTEN HERE).
“It does not matter how small the sins are provided that their cumulative effect is to edge the man away from the Light and out into the Nothing. Murder is no better than cards if cards can do the trick. Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one–the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.”― C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters
C.S. Lewis’ Screwtape Letters is a fascinating insight into the mind of Satan and his tactics to lead a person away from the Lord and into eternal fires of hell. C.S. Lewis awakens his readers to the reality that Satan and his demons are constantly working to lead a person away from “The Enemy” (God) to the camp of Satan. Screwtape is the seasoned demon who is training his nephew Wormwood how to be a good demon and find success.
As with all of the petitions of the Lord’s Prayer, the short pithy phrase that Jesus taught us has incredible depth and importance for the life of the Christian. “Lead us not into temptation” is no different.
Martin Luther explained it this way:
What does this mean? God tempts no one. We pray in this petition that God would guard and keep us so that the devil, the world, and our sinful nature may not deceive us or mislead us into false belief, despair, and other great shame and vice. Although we are attacked by these things, we pray that we may finally overcome them and win the victory.
We pray for God’s protection as well as his deliverance. The success to winning any battle, is to know your enemy. What are his tactics? Where does he like to attack? What does winning look like for them, i.e. what is his objectives?
Some of these tactics are general, but he is good at customizing his attack for you personally. He knows your weaknesses. He can leverage your vulnerabilities.
As with all aspects of the Christian faith, Jesus is our Savior and example. He took on Satan in the desert. In fact, the Spirit led him into the desert to be tempted by the devil.
Matthew 4:1-11 Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. 2 After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3 The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”
4 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. 6 “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:
“ ‘He will command his angels concerning you,
and they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”
7 Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”
8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 9 “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”
10 Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’”
11 Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.
Here’s three observations to consider as you begin your week:
- God does allow us to be in a place of testing. His goal is always the strengthening of our faith and stronger reliance on him. Jesus passed this test, as well as no sinning.
- Satan works on our vulnerabilities, even giving us “spiritual” reasons to justify sinful behavior. We must be aware of our weaknesses and armed with the truth of God’s Word.
- The defeat of Satan and his temptations is always with the power of God’s truth. His lies will never stand up to God’s truth.
Apply: Where are your weaknesses? I.e., where does Satan find success in leading you to sin? What truth of Scripture can you memorize to defeat Satan and overcome the temptation?
Prayer: Father, continue to strengthen us in our faith and reliance on you so that at all times we overcome the temptation to sin and walk faithfully with you. AMEN.