Satan is shrewd. He knows that his victories come mostly by wearing us down. It is at these times that the temptation in our minds will be so severe that unless God does provide the way of escape, and we take it, then we will have entered into temptation.
9 “Pray, then, in this way:
‘Our Father who is in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
10 Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.
[For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’]
Matthew 6:9-13 (LSB)
In this post we will look at the danger of “entering temptation.” There is no doubt that most believers walk in defeat in this battle much of the time. On top of the guilt and self-abhorrence that are natural products of Christians sinning, there is also the battle fatigue that comes upon them which results in more guilt simply for being “tempted” in the first place. Of course, much of this can be blamed on faulty theology and an extreme drought in the area of teaching the Biblical truth about sin and temptation from our pulpits and Bible studies. To understand the danger of “entering temptation” we must first understand what it is and what it is not.
First, to our great relief, it is not merely to be tempted. Temptation will be our lot as long as we live in this age. It is impossible that Christians can be insulated from it that they would never be tempted. Satan is the god of this age. Within his power, the world is consumed with lust. Therefore, as long as we live in these bodies in this age, we will be tempted. Even our Lord Jesus Christ was tempted in every way that we are while in His earthly body. This made Him one like us except without sin. As hard as it is to grasp at times, the temptation we go through in this life is designed to conform us unto Christ’s likeness. In Luke 22:28 our Saviour called His ministry a time of trials or temptation. The Word of God in no place gives us a promise of absolute freedom from temptation. The best we have is found in the Lord’s Prayer that I placed at the top of this post. He commanded that we should pray for God to, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” Instead of praying not to be tempted we are commanded to pray that we not “enter into temptation.”
Entering into temptation is something more than the ordinary work of Satan combined with our own lusts. We deal with this every day of our lives. No, entering into temptation is something out of the ordinary that is not in our every day walks before the Lord. It is something that comes upon us characteristically of being seduced unto sin, on one account or other, by the way of allurement or fear. I suppose those few sentences caused your spiritual ears and eyes to go wide open for this is not what we usually hear about the nature of this battle is it?
Entering into temptation is more than merely being conquered by a temptation or to commit sin. We may “enter into temptation” and yet not fall under temptation. Our great God can make a way of escape for us, when we are in it. He can break the snare as he makes Satan flee. He can build up our hearts to be more than conquerors even though we have entered into temptation. Our Lord Jesus Christ entered temptation, but was not in the least defeated by it. So what is the “danger of entering temptation? The danger comes when we are in it and become entangled.
9 But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction.
1 Timothy 6:9 (LSB)
When we are “entering temptation” to the point of compromising our walk so as to get what we desire it as a man falling into a pit where there are traps and snares that entangle him. Think of an insect that is allured into a Pitcher Plant. The deeper it goes into the flower the more danger it is in. At some point it will reach a point of no return where the angle of the tube of the flower is too steep. It will then tumble into bottom of the plant where there is accumulated rain water where it will drown and be digested. It becomes entangled. In our case, when we fall into the pit full of traps and snares in trying to feed our desire we are not quickly killed or destroyed, but we will soon find that we are entangled and can no longer free. We will be clueless as to how to become free from what is holding us. We have become enslaved to our own flesh.
13 No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man, but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.
1 Corinthians 10:13 (LSB)
What a comfort this statement is! Even though we have become entangled and cannot find a way out in our own abilities, God knows how to deliver us. When we allow a temptation to enter us then we have entered into it. When it is alluring us we are still free from it. All temptations begin small. They may even appear benign, but are full of poison. When we partake of the allurement then the bargaining begins to go deeper. It may even continue small, just a small compromise, not a big deal…yet.