Anticipating Temptation

In Articles, Bible Reflections, Faith / Life by Kirk GilesLeave a Comment

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Are you prepared to face temptations?  They will come – there is no question.  We do not always know when or where, but if you are human you will be tempted.  The consequences of not being prepared can be catastrophic.  Think about the person who is tempted to look at porn, or the anger building inside of you that could erupt at any moment.  Whether it is something small or large – we need to be anticipating temptation in our life.

Some people have grown to recognize their moments of vulnerability.  They have put up safe guards to protect them from temptation.  This is one of the reasons we have internet filtering.  But what if temptation doesn’t begin in the extraordinary moments?  Temptations will often begin in the routines of life.  Then they can build to be something quite extraordinary.

This is the scenario Jesus and His disciples find themselves in Luke 22:39-46.

The Usual Place

In this moment towards the end of Jesus’ life, He brings His disciples from the Upper Room and they made their way to the Mount of Olives.  The Bible uses an interesting phrase to describe this place – “He went out and made his way as usual…”

This was the normal practice for Jesus.  The Mount of Olives is where they often went.  In the usual place is where Jesus teaches His disciples to anticipate temptation.

Most people I know have a regular routine for their life.  When you are in your routine, you can reach a point where you are not really thinking – you are just repeating the same actions over and over again.  I have been driving the same route to work for over twenty years.  There are some days I wonder how I got there because I just go through the routine and don’t even think.  Sometimes, I sit and watch television just as a routine.  I may not even be paying much attention to what I am doing.

When we are caught in the mundane of our routines, we can lose sharpness, and this is where Satan can strike with temptation.  This may be what was happening for Jesus’ disciples.  They were just going back to the same place as usual.  But this time, Jesus tries to warn them that temptation may be coming, and they need to be ready.

Jesus’ Method to Prepare for Temptation

You may have all kinds of methods and strategies to help you deal with temptations.  Maybe you count to 10 when you feel the anger rising, have an internet filter, or even have accountability partners.  All of these things are good and helpful, but they are not what Jesus teaches His disciples here.

Jesus has one important strategy for His disciples – pray.  As they were in their usual place, He says “pray so you won’t fall into temptation”.

How Prayer Helps Us Prepare for Temptation

  1. Prayer helps us stay close to God.  Hearing his voice can help us see the temptation before it’s too late.
  2. Prayer helps us reflect on the goodness of God.  Seeing God’s character and blessings make temptations less attractive.  They pale in comparison to Him.
  3. Prayer reminds us we are vulnerable to temptation.  We need God’s help to protect us.
  4. Prayer reminds us we are not as strong as we think we are.  We need God’s help to say no to temptation.

John MacArthur puts it this way, “We must empty ourselves of all spiritual pride, of all overestimation of our strength, and pray for divine help.  Don’t get caught, when the temptation hits with its full force, not having prayed.  Help awaits the one who prays.”

Jesus Didn’t Sleep

The disciples of Jesus went to the usual place and fell asleep – even though Jesus told them to pray so they won’t fall into temptation.  Jesus sees them laying there and once again repeats His command for them to pray.

The devil is real.  He has a desire to destroy you and rob you.  But he is also sly and deceptive.  He will wait until you have your guard down.  There is a part of us that must always stay aware that temptation can come at any moment.

Thankfully, Jesus didn’t sleep that night.  He prayed – and He prayed hard!  These prayers prepared Him for the devastating betrayal and extreme abuse He was about to experience, along with the temptations to walk away from His identity and purpose.

Jesus prayed instead of sleeping.  Because He stayed close and faithful to His Father, we too have the opportunity to have victory over temptations.

Always Be Ready

Use the usual places of your life as an opportunity to pray.  Ask God to protect you and help you fight against temptations.  The devil doesn’t have to destroy you, rob from you, or defeat you.  Anticipate the temptations.  Pray – so you won’t fall into them.

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