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Worship Series: Lord’s Prayer
Worship Theme: Lead Us Not into Temptation
- Show Us Christ
- Change My Heart, Oh God
- Senior Choir: Shepherd of My Heart
- Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)
- Jesus, Strong and Kind
- CW 379: Amazing Grace
- CW 293: God’s Word Is Our Great Heritage
Message: Lead Us Not into Temptation
Pastor Jon Brohn
We’re winding down our series on the Lord’s Prayer. We have learned that we can ask God our Father for anything because we are his children, and he loves us more than anything. His name is holy, and we ask him to help us keep it holy in everything we think, and do, and say. God rules the universe, and wants to rule in people’s hearts, so we pray that his kingdom would come to us and many others. As we looked at God’s will, Pastor Jake’s illustration of eating moldy cake was memorable! We might want to eat it, but mom and dad know better. So, we pray that God’s will be done, not ours. We prayed for daily bread, and had a minute to write down all the blessings God has given us. What a great reminder! Two weeks ago, we heard King David’s laundry list of sins, and how God forgave every last one of them. Last week, we explored the idea of revenge. Remember the catch phrase, “Hurt people hurt people”? We learned that “Forgiven people forgive people!”
Today we pray, “Lead us not into temptation.” Lots of things are tempting. Chocolate cake is tempting. Ice cream is tempting. We saw in the children’s message that candy is tempting. April Poor lives in Dewitt, Arkansas. She was active in her community and loved to sing in the church choir. The last thing anyone expected was that she would be tempted by anything. April worked for the Marvell-Elaine School district as a bookkeeper. Over a period of four years she embezzled $471,665. She hid the payments in the district's accounting system by making false entries indicating she used them to pay utilities, and altering bank statements. Last year a judge sentenced her to four years in federal prison. How could that happen? Temptation. April, like every one of us, was tempted to do something wrong. She stole money, and short term pleasure that led to long term pain and regret.
God doesn’t tempt anyone. In fact, in the verses right before our text for today, the author wrote, “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account” (Hebrews 4:12–13 NIV). God gives us his Word so we know and see the truth. No, the author of every temptation is the one who has been lying from the very beginning—Satan. He tempted Eve to disobey God’s command and take the fruit God had forbidden. Ever since then, Satan has been busy tempting people to sin. He uses the same kind of tactics a fisherman uses. A fisherman pulls out a fat, juicy nightcrawler and threads it onto a hook. As the worm sinks in the water, a fish sees the delicious treat. If the worm doesn’t get the fish to bite, he might try a shiny lure, or a small minnow. He might cast the bait out and try reeling it in at different speeds to get the fish interested. A fisherman never gives up. “Just one more cast!” he says at least 30 or 40 times before he’ll quit.
Satan is a good fisherman. He has a massive tackle box, and he’s not afraid to try different, tempting baits. What bait works best on you? If Satan tosses a wad of cash toward you, does that catch your eye? Is that what makes your heart start pounding and your hands start reaching? It worked on April Poor—does it work on you?
If it’s not cash, maybe it’s power. Moses wrote, “You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.”” (Deuteronomy 8:17 NIV). Is that what gets your attention? The ability to control situations, people, things to your advantage? Satan tosses power out there and twitches it around, trying to get you to bite for a moment of pleasure.
Is his bait your love of the human body? Satan tosses out the picture of a bodybuilder with toned muscles. “That could be you,” the picture says. Or does the physical desire for someone else’s body entice you—the beautiful model, the handsome sports figure, or even the picture of the person without any clothes? Will those things get you to bite for a moment of pleasure?
Satan knows how to fish for believers. He especially likes to target people who gather together like we do here at Salem. What kind of bait do you think he’s going to use in the weeks and months ahead? He’ll use every lure in his tackle box, if that’s what it takes to drag you away from Jesus. He’ll toss out apathy—we haven’t been to church for the past year and a half with COVID. We’ve been just fine worshiping at home. We don’t need in-person worship anymore. He’ll cast wobbly doubt in front of you to see if you’ll bite: “Will we ever get a new pastor? How will we know he’s the right one for the job? I’m tired of waiting for this to happen!” He will drop a tiny jig with the teensiest bit of unhappiness on it and try to get you to bite. “I feel unhappy with church, with my spouse, with my kids.” He’ll use that feeling to distract you from what is real, from what is true. He wants you to focus on a moment of pleasure or satisfaction, and ignore the long term pain and regret that can follow!
The worst part about Satan’s fishing is that hidden behind every single bait is a hook. It’s sharp. It’s menacing. It’s intended to kill. Satan’s not an old retired guy sitting in a boat hoping to catch a few fish. He’s the pro with all the expensive gear, fish finders in the front and back of the boat, the best poles, fresh line, and every single lure he has ever invented is in the tackle box. His goal is simple: he wants to lead us into that moment of pleasure that leads to a lifetime of pain and regret, and even worse, an eternity of pain and separation from God.
O Lord, lead us not into temptation! Martin Luther said in his explanation to the sixth petition: “God surely tempts no one to sin, but we pray in this petition that God would guard and keep us, so that the devil, the world and our flesh may not deceive us or lead us into false belief, despair and other great and shameful sins; and though we are tempted by them, we pray that we may overcome and win the victory.” We pray that God would guard and keep us. How? We can turn to Jesus! “Therefore, since we have a great high priest, who has gone through the heavens, namely, Jesus the Son of God” (Hebrews 4:14 EHV).
Jesus is not just good. He is great! Jesus is “remarkable, out of the ordinary in degree, magnitude, and effect.” Jesus is out of the ordinary in degree. Every other high priest had to sacrifice for his own sins before entering the sanctuary. They sacrificed three times a day for the sins of the people. Not Jesus—he only had to sacrifice once. Jesus is out of the ordinary in magnitude. He is the Son of God. He fills the entire universe. He is seated at the right hand of God the Father, and will return to judge the living and the dead! Jesus is out of the ordinary in effect. When Jesus sacrificed himself on the cross he covered all sins of all people for all time. No other high priest could claim that kind of effect. He is great! Lord Jesus, you are the only one who can protect me from temptation. We need Jesus! I’m leaving Salem. Jesus never will. I may be a good pastor and a good friend and a good husband and a good father, but I’m not like Jesus. He’s great! Lord, help us to see you and your greatness for us!
How can someone like that understand someone like me? That’s the natural question, isn’t it? If Jesus is God, and he is “remarkable, out of the ordinary in degree, magnitude, and effect,” how could he possibly understand how difficult it is to deal with temptation? Listen to this! “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are, yet was without sin” (Hebrews 4:15 EHV). Satan tried all of his best lures on Jesus. After Jesus had been without food for 40 days and 40 nights, Satan tossed the bread bait. “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become bread” (Matthew 4:3 EHV). When Jesus didn’t bite, he tried a different lure—doubt. Satan encouraged Jesus to jump from the highest point of the temple. If he really was God’s Son, the Father would certainly rescue him from death! Jesus avoided the second temptation, so Satan gave it one more shot. He tossed out power and glory, promising Jesus could have it all if he would just bow down and worship Satan. Jesus has been tempted just like us, in every way. Notice that being tempted isn’t a sin. Falling for the temptation—that’s the sin. Jesus didn’t fall. Every time Satan tossed out the lure, Jesus responded with, “It is written!” (Matthew 4:4,7,10). He answered every temptation with his powerful Word! We can answer the same way. We have his Word. It works. Satan can’t stand against it—one little Word can fell him!
Jesus is able to sympathize with our weakness. And boy, are we frail! You and I can’t get away from the lures Satan tosses in front of us. It’s too easy for us to take the bait. We want pleasure with no concern for pain and regret until it’s too late. But Jesus has been there. He’s experienced every temptation we’ve confronted, and won. Who better to sympathize with us? If an active duty soldier who experienced the horrors of war comes to me for counseling, I can’t say, “I understand what you mean. I know what you’re saying.” The fact is, I don’t know. I haven’t been in battle. I can listen. I can offer reassurance from God’s Word. But only a fellow soldier who had that experience can relate and empathize. Jesus has been on the battlefield. He knows exactly what you’re going through. He knows the temptations you face on Sunday morning, as you sit in front of your computer or TV, when you go to school, to work, to the mall, to the grocery store or on a date. He says, “I know how you feel. I’ve been there, too.”
Jesus gives us confidence to pray, “Lead us not into temptation!” “So let us approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16 EHV). We can be confident that Jesus can and will help us with every one of our needs. We can be outspoken with our requests and boldly ask for anything, knowing that Jesus will hear and answer. We can joyfully ask, knowing that the help we are requesting will come at just the right time. That reminds me of one of the songs our Men’s Chorus has sung many times over the past 18 years. “I will sing of God's mercy Every day every hour He gives me power I will sing and give thanks To Thee for all the dangers Toils and snares That He has brought me out He is my God and I'll serve Him No matter what the test Trust and never doubt Jesus will surely bring you out He never failed me yet!”
Has Jesus failed you or me? Has he failed Salem? He never will! Just like he was there for Peter to catch him by the arm and pull him up out of the water, Jesus will surely bring you out. That’s the truth. It hasn’t changed during my time here at Salem. It’s not going to change when I walk out those doors, probably for the last time. So, because Jesus is who he says he is, and because he’s done exactly what he promised to do, “Let’s continue to hold on to our confession!” Let’s believe it, and let’s hold onto that faith, and let’s share it wherever we are and whatever we’re doing. Amen!
As Kay and I leave Salem, remember that it’s never, “Good bye,” but it’s only, “So long!” We’ll see you later, whether it’s here on earth or one day in heaven. God be with you ‘til we meet again!