Deliver Us From Evil

Deliver Us From Evil

(Westminster Shorter Catechism Question 106b)
by Bob Burridge ©2012

In our information age it would be hard to ignore the fact that there is real evil in our world. It surrounds us in the news that comes to us by television, radio, newspapers, conversations, magazines, internet, cell phones, and tablets. Evil did not just arrive. It is not isolated in terror camps, inner-cities, or Hollywood film studios. It has been here from the beginning of human history, and it is everywhere.

People lie, covet, and neglect their responsibilities. They show disrespect, use God’s name in vain, break the Sabbath, and worship gods who are products of the imagination. Some commit crimes and try to get their way by using violence.

There are those who want to justify all these things as if there is nothing really wrong with them. They excuse those who do them as if they are just exercising their individuality, or are the products of a cruel society. Those who believe that these things are absolutely sinful are dismissed as bigots or intolerant.

That does not change the fact that what violates God’s ways is simply evil. Many live in open rebellion against God. Others violate his ways by suppressing the moral truth embedded in their hearts. It is not just Satan and his army of fallen spirit beings who do these things. The whole human race fell into the grip of evil in Eden.

In the Lord’s Prayer, there are three levels of dealing with our continuing struggle with sin. We are to ask to be forgiven of our debts against God, not to be led into temptation, and to be delivered from evil.

The answer to Westminster Shorter Catechism Question 106 is, “In the sixth petition, which is, And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, we pray that God would either keep us from being tempted to sin, or support and deliver us when we are tempted.”

The word “evil” is used various ways in our Bibles. That English word was sometimes used to translate the Hebrew word ra (רע). In the Old Testament that word was used when God brought disasters or calamities into the lives of nations and individuals. The word does not mean moral wickedness. It was used for such things as natural disasters, deserved judgments, sicknesses, or even personal injuries. These things are unpleasant, but they are not morally wicked acts. The newer translations usually use English words like “calamity” or “disaster”.

Certainly none of us enjoy calamities. It is obviously right to pray for safety from them. However, we pray in subjection to God’s will. He knows that sometimes we must go through them. This is not the kind of “evil” we are to be delivered from when we pray the Lord’s Prayer. The word “evil” is used here for something wicked and morally wrong.

Moral evil can’t exist on its own.

Moral evil is not a disembodied force or entity that just floats around looking for someone to infect. It always has to do with an evil person.

The Old King James translates it, “Deliver us from evil.” Many more recent translations say, “Deliver us from the evil one” or something to that effect. The New King James Version translates Matthew 6:13, “And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one.”

Technically, both are grammatically possible. In the original Greek text there is a definite article like our word “the”. That means that it is not speaking of evil in a general qualitative sense. It is not the quality of evilness. The article makes it a specific place where evil resides. It can only exist in a person. So we are most accurate say “the evil.” Ursinus, author of the Heidelberg Catechism, says that here it, “comprehending all evils … yea, and the devil himself.”

The influence of evil in our own fallen natures, or in other humans around us, or in Satan can work to damage our walk with Christ. Twice Matthew uses this exact same word to describe Satan in Matthew 13. Here “the evil one” is in the singular, so it probably is a reference to Satan in particular. We need to pray that God will deliver us from evil, from those who shelter it in their hearts.

Our struggle is hard enough, then Satan does his best to complicate it for us. He is the ultimate evil one. He orchestrates evil to damage the display of God’s glory in the world. Since showing God’s work is our job, Satan does all he can to hinder Christians. Peter tells us that the Devil prowls like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. He is a real spirit being who hates God and anybody who promotes his glory. Satan is not passive. He is out to get you.

If you belong to Christ, he wants to make you ineffective. It is amazing that he keeps on promoting evil even though he has been defeated and is doomed. Maybe he just does not believe it. Or maybe he just does not care.

Way back in Eden, God said he would lose his battle to destroy God’s plan. He was soundly defeated by the work of Jesus Christ on the cross. He was bound by the work of Christ so that he can no longer deceive the Gentiles in this era. Yet he keeps on fighting and deceiving whoever falls for his lies.

Don’t let his lies steal your victory! Reject his lies in favor of the promise of God.

God tells what to do along with
your prayer to be delivered from evil.

God generally answers our prayers by means of things he prescribes for us to be doing. 1 Peter 5:8-9 gives this advice for your battle against the evil one, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.”

First, he says you should be sober. The word translated as “sober” is naepho (νηφω). It is not the usual word used in ancient Greek for being literally sober. For someone not under the influence of alcohol a different word was used.

The word Peter uses here means having a sober attitude, being “well balanced”, “self-controlled”, and “free from excesses.” In classical Greek it was often used of athletes to describe their disciplined life-style to stay fit. It is used 6 times in the New Testament and 3 times here in 1 Peter.

In your fight against evil you need to maintain a disciplined daily walk with Christ. There should be a balance in your life so you can keep up with what God recommends.

There should be a daily and consistent use of the means of Grace in your life. There should be some time every day to read God’s word. It keeps you informed about what is right and true. God works by it to comfort and strengthen you.

You should talk to God in prayer every day and throughout every day. This is your source of power in your battle with evil. Keep in touch with him to thank and honor him for his good promises and comfort. Bring you needs to him, and ask him for strength and ability to do things well. Pray often for others whenever God brings them into your mind.

You need to be regularly involved in the work of Christ’s Church. The evil one does not like it when you respect the spiritual leaders in your church, when you are faithful in attending worship, and in partaking of the sacraments. Your family members in your local church are here to encourage and help one another. When you stand together like that, you resist the attacks of evil. Hebrews 10:24 says, “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works.”

Satan will try to cut you off from these means of spiritual victory. He tries to get you to neglect God’s word, prayer, and the work of Christ’s church. As you pray to be delivered from the evil one, keep these good things in balance, be sober.

Peter also tells you to be alert. The Greek word here is graegoreo (γρηγορεω) , which means be watchful, vigilant, alert. It is used 23 times in the New Testament. In resisting the evil one you need to watch out! Keep your eyes open for his attacks and stay on the alert.

I injured my right leg awhile ago. Every night before bed I go out to our garage to empty a bucket that catches water that drips from the overflow pan in our air conditioner’s air handler. I had the bucket in one hand while I pushed the door open with the other. I step out onto the little cement slab to secure the door before I dump the bucket. But this time my foot came down on something else — there was an armadillo sitting there, taking a break from tearing up my back lawn. My bare foot came down right on that little creatures back. I’m sure we were both pretty shocked. He took off into the darkness and I twisted and turned trying not to fall or dump the bucket all over me. I guess my leg tensed in such a way that I tore some of the muscles in my right thigh. It healed well, but now I never step out that door without looking at what’s there first.

We have to be on the alert for the unexpected in the spiritual battle too. The evil one looks for moments when you are off guard or vulnerable. Then he strikes. It is important that you know the Bible well so that you do not underestimate your enemy. Satan is not a comic book demon with a red suit, horns, and a pointy tail. He does not prod you with a pitchfork. He is a spiritual being that God says is wise, calculating, and crafty. His goal is to damage God’s glory, and to get his people to disobey God’s ways.

Stay alert. Don’t step on those armadillos that lay in wait where you least expect them. Most importantly, keep your eyes on God’s promises and his work of grace and love. Remind yourself all through the day that you are here for a very specific reason. You are here to glorify God and to obediently enjoy all that he gives you. In James 4:7-8 resisting the devil is closely connected with drawing near to God.

When King David was fleeing for his life from the armies of Absalom, he wrote Psalm 3, “Lord, how they have increased who trouble me! Many are they who rise up against me. Many are they who say of me, ‘There is no help for him in God.’ Selah. But You, O Lord, are a shield for me, My glory and the One who lifts up my head.”

Satan would like you to look enviously at the enticements of sin, and the fake satisfaction it promises. In those weak moments, he hopes to catch you with your protection down. He wants you to give in.

Refuse to get your attention fixed on things like that. Identify them, pray, repent from any sin regarding them, then — turn away. When the enemy attacks, minds filled with God’s promises will be delivered from evil. Psalm 5:11, “But let all those rejoice who put their trust in You Let them ever shout for joy, because You defend them; Let those also who love Your name Be joyful in You.”

The Bible says we are more than conquerors in Christ. It also tells us to be sober and alert. The enemy attacks when we are least prepared, and often in ways we least suspect.

When you pray to be delivered from evil,
you call upon God for spiritual victories.

The victories are those he has promised in Christ, and secured by the his work on the Cross.

We pray that God will not let evil overcome us, that evil will not take us captive, but that we will be delivered from its deception. We pray that the Creator will restrain every effort of evil against us.

Look to Jesus. Keep your eyes off the discouragements and enticements of sin. Fix your heart upon the things of God which set you free by the power of the Cross. Pray that God will turn your encounters with evil into times of growth and victory.

Pray that God will one day fully and perfectly deliver you totally from evil in the life to come. That is the assurance you have in Christ, a final and complete deliverance from evil forever. All that opposes God will be cast away eternally into the lake of fire.

Until then, watch and pray, trust and obey. As the hymn says, “there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus.”

(The Bible quotations in this lesson are from the New King James Version of the Bible unless otherwise noted.)

Index of Lessons in the Westminster Shorter Catechism

Lead Us Not Into Temptation

Lead Us Not Into Temptation

(Westminster Shorter Catechism Question 106a)
by Bob Burridge ©2012

From the way advertisers promote things you would think that temptation is not such a bad thing. You would wonder why Jesus told us to pray not to be led into it.

They put the word “Temptation” in the name of colognes, popular perfumes, singing groups, and songs. The Temptation restaurant at the Atlantis Casino on St. Maarten in the Caribbean advertises itself as “sophisticated, elegant, romantic: awaken your senses.” Temptation was also a popular game show in Australia where contestants are tempted by trips to Hawaii, Jewelry, cars and other expensive luxuries. Temptation Island was a reality TV show where couples tempt one another on purpose to see how strong or weak the already immoral relationships are.

We live on the battle field of an often ignored spiritual cosmic war. We should expect the coordinator of the war against God’s ways to do exactly what we see happening. An open attack would be too obvious. It would be seen for what it is. So he trivializes or even glorifies things that openly offend and dishonor God. He makes them seem unimportant, sometimes even appealing. The tragic thing is that even Christians become desensitized to sin and excuse it as normal and accepted behavior.

Jesus explained that this is not the way God’s creation ought to be. In Matthew 6:13 he taught us to pray,

“And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one.”

We will deal with the second part of this sixth petition in the next lesson.

The answer to Westminster Shorter Catechism Question 106 is, “In the sixth petition (of the Lord’s Prayer), which is, And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, we pray that God would either keep us from being tempted to sin, or support and deliver us when we are tempted.”

Jesus had just told us to pray that God would forgive us of our sins. So this next request follows very logically. If you are sincere about wanting to be forgiven for your sins, then you should also want to be delivered from actually sinning again. If it was possible, you would be happy and willing to have your opportunities for sinning taken away.

First we need to rule out
what we are not asking God to do.

The original word for “temptation” in this verse is peirasmon (πειρασμον). The root idea is simply “to test”, or “to prove something by testing”. We give tests to see how well something has been learned or done. We give math tests to see how well students have learned some particular concept, and how effectively they can put it to use in practical situations. It is not given with any wicked desire to make a student fail. It is simply a test. We test stress points on buildings and bridges to see if they can hold up safely. Sometimes it exposes a weak point that needs to be fixed.

Often the testing is about something moral. In our fallen estate the occasion offering the opportunity to sin becomes an inward desire which pulls us to do something God forbids, or to neglect something he commands.

Testing itself does not have an evil element. This same word was used in Luke 4 to describe how Jesus was “tempted” by the Devil in the wilderness. While he was asked to do something evil, he was certainly not enticed inwardly to do evil. It was a “test” to demonstrate the authority of our Savior, and to be an example to us of how we should deal with moral tests as they come along.

Jesus is not telling you to pray that you would never be tested. Testing is a good and necessary thing in this earthly part of your life. It can prove how much you trust God. It can improve your patience and faithfulness. It can also expose areas of weakness that humble you and make you work harder to improve by the power of the risen Christ. James 1:3 says, “knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.”

In Genesis 22 the Lord tested Abraham asking him to sacrifice Isaac. The test was to designed prove his faith, not to make him sin. These tests are good for you. They can show you how strong the Lord is in your life, or where your weaknesses are. They make you call upon him for strength. They can also humble you and drive you to come to him for forgiveness and deliverance.

The word translated “lead” in most of our translations is a form of the Greek word eisphero (εἰσφέρω). It is a compound word where the prefix for “in/into” is attached to the ordinary word “to carry”. The word is used in the New Testament for bearing someone disabled on a stretcher (Luke 5:18,19), of bringing things into a situation (1 Timothy 6:7, Acts 17:20, Hebrews 13:11), and of being led into a location (Luke 12:11).

You should not ask to be exempted from all situations that test you. However, you do not want to be enticed to the point where you actually fall into sin. We should pray that we will not be taken in by the moral tests. We ask for God’s power that we will not be carried by situations into where we fail to honor God by our thoughts, words, or deeds.

God might put you in situations that test you, but the desire to respond in a sinful way comes from your own heart. James 1:13-14 says, “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed.”

James uses the same Greek root word as in Matthew 6:13. God certainly tests you at times, but he never causes you to be enticed to sin. He might send calamities, or permit Satan to test you (he did that with Job, Jesus and others), but God never causes you to sin.

He may bring tests to show an unbeliever his need for Christ. He might test a believer to show where he needs to depend more upon Christ, or to help him see where God has already strengthened him by grace. When a person gives in and sins, it is always his own fault, not God’s. Our evil desires do not come from Satan. He might urge you on, but if you do wrong, you cannot say “the devil made me do it.” It is your own fallen desires that entice you to sin.

Every moral choice is a test. It is an opportunity either to sin, or to do what is right. When God brings them, the tests are no more motivated to make you sin than a math test is motivated to make you fail. When those tests come along, you can only give one of two answers: either, “No, I will not give in to evil,” or, “Ok, I’ll give in and do the thing God forbids.” In every choice that comes along you either prevail or fail.

God tests his children for many reasons, but it is always to strengthen them. David was given opportunity to sin with Bathsheba and to kill her husband Uriah (2 Samuel 11). He failed horribly, and he grieved deeply for his choices. He bore pain that tormented him the rest of his life. There were, however, good results as we read in Psalm 52. David repented. He better understood his own unworthiness and the awesome grace of God. He learned to walk more closely with God.

Peter was tested three times about his readiness to stand for Jesus. He tragically denied the Savior each time that night his Lord was betrayed and arrested (Luke 22). Though he failed, there were good results. He was humbled to repentance and taught to depend more upon Christ as we see in his life after the resurrection of Jesus.

Our prayer then is this, “Lord, though you may test me, do not let me fall into the grip of temptation so that I sin. If I fall, forgive me by your grace, and deliver me from doing it again.”

All the natural human desires which God created in us
can be satisfied in morally good ways.

When you get hungry or thirsty, you have the sense of taste to enjoy satisfying those needs in moderate ways. If you eat foolishly or drink irresponsibly you give in to dangerous temptations. The consequences bring tragic results to your health.

You need friends to satisfy your need for companionship. It is not wise to surround yourself with people who have values that tempt you to do wrong things. Of course you need to be with unbelievers to influence them for Christ. To them, and to poorly taught believers, you need to be light and salt as Jesus taught us. However, that should not be where you look for your encouragement and regular fellowship. God calls you to take advantage of your times together with like-minded believers. Friends can either build you up or bring you down. Proverbs 13:20 says, “He who walks with wise men will be wise, But the companion of fools will be destroyed.” You need to be a friend for other believers, and make positive friendships for yourself.

The world has become very open about wrong ways to satisfy sexual desires. God made men and women to be attractive to one another so they would enjoyably build families and have children. When sexual desires are sought to be satisfied outside of marriage, the imagery God intended by it is confused and distorted. The family was designed by our Creator to teach us about his relationship with his church. It is no wonder that as marriage is trivialized we also see a decline in churches. There can be no real satisfaction to the whole person in the confusion of immoral sexual relationships. God provides for what we really need in that area of our lives. It is found only in marriage as he defines it in his word.

Natural desires themselves are not wicked. It is the wrong ways of trying to satisfy them that are evil. Wrong remedies for our desires are no real remedies at all. They only make people less content, and alienate them from God’s ways which alone give true pleasure. What is even worse is that these things offend God. They are truly evil because God forbids them.

When we ask not to be led into temptation, we should not be expecting that God would take away our normal and good desires, but that he will strengthen us to resist trying to satisfy them in wrong ways.

As we would expect, God’s enemies urge
deceptive ways of dealing with temptation.

One strategy of evil is to tangle us up in ways bound to fail. Our fallen nature is very willing to be taken in by remedies that appear to remove the problem. In reality they do nothing to help us avoid being carried off into sin.

Some try to resist temptation by turning against their natural desires. These ascetics make the mistake of thinking that by avoiding all pleasure they can avoid sin. The writings of the monks in the monasteries show that though they denied themselves pleasures, temptation followed them into their cubicles, into their retreats, and into the deepest thoughts of their hearts.

It is not necessary to retreat into a monastery to be an ascetic. Some make lists of common pleasures from which they choose to abstain in their quest of a more pure life. They might even consider the things on their list to be sin. They retreat from the culture in which God calls them to minister. They create isolated sub-cultures hiding their light under a basket when it ought to be on a lampstand shining God’s truth out to the lost world. Such people live with a crippling fear that they might enjoy something.

Wrongly satisfying our normal urges come from our fallen souls. It does not come from our natural needs themselves, or from the good things God made. Avoiding enjoyment will not keep you from lusting or coveting. Denying basic human desires denies what God made humans to be.

Avoiding the pleasures of God’s creation is no answer. There is no victory when the armies run from the battle. That is only giving in to another kind of temptation, the kind that is quick to condemn everyone else, and lay blame upon innocent things God has made. It excuses the person for neglecting his duties as God’s representative on earth.

We are to bring the Gospel of Redemption in Christ to those around us while we enjoy and work to subdue the earth and its inhabitants for God’s glory. Psalm 24:1 tells us, “The earth is the Lord’s, and all its fullness, The world and those who dwell therein.”

The other extreme, quite the opposite of the ascetic, finds ways to embrace things God calls sin. Evil can brilliantly use of the minds God created in us to come up with irrational alternatives to the obvious.

Some openly reject God’s moral commandments respectfully dismissing them imagining that they no longer apply. Placing an expiration date on eternal moral principles is the strange logic used in many churches today. It appeals to the immature Christian if you tell him he doesn’t need to worry about obedience since he is “saved,” and that he can safely ignore what God revealed about himself before the time of Jesus Christ.

Some try to down-play the seriousness of sin. Like the serpent in Eden, they offer lies like, “God is all loving. He understands how hard it is for us, so he is not very upset about our sins.” Or they say, “God will not judge us just for trying to satisfy our natural desires, even if we do not always satisfy them in exactly the right way.” They reason that, “Everybody sins, certainly our common sins cannot make us as evil as real criminals.”

That is exactly the opposite of what God tells us in his word. Any sin demands an infinitely horrible price. It was so serious that Jesus had to die and to suffer that infinite disgrace to redeem us. Jesus wept when he saw the unfaithful hearts of those who said they were God’s people.

Then there are the open Hedonists who meet temptation with open arms. They indulge themselves with things God forbids and neglect what he commands. Usually these do not join with Bible believing churches so their threat is more to society than to believers.

This is the subtlety and deception of sin. It draws people either to despise the way God gave us to satisfy our needs the right way, or to despise God’s revealed ways so that sin can be freely embraced. Neither those who abstain from good things, nor those who indulge in forbidden things are ever truly satisfied.

There is a far better way.

Bible is filled with God’s help about
how you should deal with temptation.

Ephesians 6:14-18 tells about our spiritual armor in the battle against the enemies of God. It says, “Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.”

Before you can expect to overcome temptation, you need to be enabled by regeneration. The unredeemed only frustrate themselves because they cannot be victorious on their own.

To protect against the attacks of evil you need to have on that breastplate of righteousness. That is the righteousness Jesus earned for you by dying in your place. His work provides the helmet of salvation that protects your head, that vital part of your body, against attacks. If your sins are forgiven in Christ, there is no barrier between you and God’s care. The power to battle temptation rises to a new level in you.

Your weaponry in the battle against temptation is God’s word. The soldier’s belt holds his tunic in place, and holds the sheath for his sword. In our battle against temptation, that belt, the anchoring point, is God’s revealed truth. Truth is given to us in the Bible, the sword of the Spirit.

Jesus constantly quoted the Bible in his temptation in the wilderness. In Matthew 4:4 he did not allow Satan’s lie to stand. He corrected him from the Scriptures. He said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’ ”

Jesus was quoting from Moses in Deuteronomy 8:3. The manna God sent for Israel in the wilderness was not what really sustained them. It was God’s faithfulness to provide what they truly needed. He gave them his word of promise, his Covenant. His power is what made the manna fall. God promised and provided all they needed.

The Bible is a powerful weapon against evil and temptation. It teaches the right ways to satisfy our natural needs, the ways God designed, the ways that really work. Living outside the boundaries of what God approves will only stir up less satisfaction. We need to draw that sword of the Spirit and battle off temptation with the weapon of real truth. Psalm 119:11 says, “Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You.”

God’s word does more than just inform us about sin. It is a living word that actually keeps us from falling into sin. It is there to protect us from the enemy’s weapons that tempt us. We need to deploy the shield of faith, trust in the revealed words of God. Temptation can only be battled successfully by the power of the Holy Spirit. By trusting in that power we have a power that no worldly counselor can offer as help in guiding us to overcome what tempts us. In Matthew 26:41 Jesus said, “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

Call upon the Creator Himself for strength and guidance. This is why the last spiritual weapon in Ephesians 6 is prayer. Psalm 139 is a good model prayer to offer sincerely as each day begins. It says, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties; And see if there is any wicked way in me, And lead me in the way everlasting.”

When temptation comes along, we need to draw alongside the cross. Greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world. When he ministers to us by his Spirit, his living word takes on all enemies and defeats them.

When Ephesians 6 tells the spiritual soldier to sandal his feet with the gospel of peace, it means to be ready to go to others to represent God’s ways to them too. Together we can battle against temptation by practicing and promoting God’s ways.

Therefore, when you pray, “lead us not into temptation”, remember what 1 Corinthians 10:13 says, “No temptation has overtaken you except 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 also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.”

(The Bible quotations in this lesson are from the New King James Version of the Bible unless otherwise noted.)

Index of Lessons in the Westminster Shorter Catechism

How To Escape Temptation

How To Escape Temptation

by Bob Burridge ©2010

People love to watch illusionists who seem to escape from locks, chains and ropes. But since it’s just an illusion, they’re not really captives or in need of escape. It’s just entertainment.

There’s a real danger of being taken in by a temptation to where it holds you and hurts you. To escape these temptations, you need to follow God’s advice.

A classic passage is 1 Corinthians 10:13.

There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

We could also translate the word temptations as “tests by trial”. They give you a choice either to do right or to do wrong. In a sense everything that comes along is a test. We can respond in ways that either honor God, or in ways that put our own desires above his.

If someone invites you to join them doing something wrong, the right answer is “No.” When you have a chance to do something good, the right answer is “Yes.”

Moral questions put your soul to the test. Your answer will either reveal your obedience to God’s work in you, or the lack of it.

You should be prepared and determined to say “No” when you’re tempted. It may be by some immoral behavior, or to take part in any improper forms of worship. Sometimes it could be to take what’s not rightfully yours, to covet what God gave to someone else, to show disrespect to those God made responsible for you, or to engage in the many other things God says offend him.

Instead, you should make preparations to say “Yes” to the good choices that come along. Don’t pass up a good opportunity to worship, to pray, to keep the Sabbath, to faithfully tithe, to encourage others, to be kind, patient, truthful, and to be a diligent witness for Christ to those who need to hear the gospel.

You can either decide to neglect what God calls you to do, or to obey him. That’s the test.

Thankfully the temptations you face are limited. The words “but such as is common to man” are originally three words: “if not human”. There are no temptations that are not human. They all come from our common fallen nature. The circumstances might differ, but the urges are the same as others have to deal with.

As fallen humans we are weak. If we don’t admit that weaknesses, we will surely fall under the weight of temptation.

God is faithful and provides a way to escape for each temptation that comes along. What we call the means of grace point out the path to overcoming temptation:

1. You need to know what’s right and true by studying Scripture regularly and diligently. His word not only points out what things you shouldn’t be tempted to do. It is also filled with directions that point the way to escape.

For example there are verses like Philippians 4:8 that give practical help.

“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

There’s a battle for your mind and affections. That verse tells us that what fills our thoughts shapes our lives and desires. If you think about and expose yourself to things contrary to God’s ways, you will take on those ways and values. If you think about things that honor God regularly, your values will develop properly and help you with self-control and spiritual growth.

The Bible warns that you can’t win the battle with a dead heart. Your efforts and methods will fail unless you have a spiritual birth by trusting in the completed provision made by Jesus Christ. By trusting him for your eternal hope and in nothing else, you become part of the ancient promise and are enabled with spiritual life.

2. You need to pray for God to deliver you from temptation’s grip. Pray whether you feel like it or not. Prayer isn’t just a pious pastime. It’s a means by which God directs his comfort and help into your life.

3. You need to worship faithfully and partake of the Lord’s Supper with expectant confidence. Our Lord established this ordinance promising strength when you rightly engage in it. Be regular in worship where you draw regularly from that source of power.

4. Be encouraged by other believers who share your values and hope in Christ. Have a good network of spiritually mature friends to be there for you when you need them most. When temptation comes along, don’t be among those who will encourage you to sin. Be with those fighting the battle with you to learn to do things God’s way.

By these means there is a sure and sound way of escape.

You need to make sure of these things now so they’re ready when temptations come. Plan just as you would prepare for hurricanes or other storms during threatening seasons. Don’t wait until you’re taken in by lies and dangerous offers. Make your salvation sure now, and start making plans to overcome temptation.

Don’t start looking to God’s word in the time of moral crisis. Start learning it now so you don’t have years of Bible education to squeeze in when a temptation grips you.

Don’t start prayer only when you’re already in deep trouble. Make it your regular habit all through every day to avoid the trouble. Be regular in payer so that your conversation with God doesn’t seem like talk with a stranger.

Don’t wait to go to worship like the hypocrite. They are content to gather with God’s people only when things get rough.

Don’t save making Christian friends for some future time of need. You need to be a brother or sister to them regularly, every day. They will be there for you, and you for them when they need you.

Have an escape plan ready. Have all you need to overcome temptations already active in your life. Have those godly thought habits well established, and good values already guiding you. Have something planned in advance to which you can immediately turn when specific temptations come along. Know exactly what you’ll do or where you’ll go the next time sin’s lure entices you.

If you do, God is faithful to help you to be able to bear up under it.

(Note: The Bible quotations in this article are from the King James Version unless otherwise noted.)