Matthew 6:7-13
I Peter 5:8-11

If you were only 8 years old and saw a commercial advertising a delicious Big Mac how far would you go to get your hands on one of those famous cheeseburgers? A boy from East Palestine, Ohio was not going to be deterred from getting one. While his parents slept, he tuned into YouTube on how to drive a car, grabbed his 4 year old sissy to ride shotgun and took off for the mile and half journey to the nearest McDonalds. When he pulled up to the drive-through window to get his hands on that burger, the attendant thought it best to call the law, who allowed them to satisfy their cravings while waiting to be picked up by their grandparents. Local police later discovered from cameras and eye-witnesses that the boy did a great job of driving through four lighted intersections where he stopped and waited till one red light turned green and then yielded to on-coming traffic to make the left into McD’s. 1

For that 8 year old, it was a Big Mac.

What is it that tempts us beyond our capacity to resist? For to be sure, each one of us have certain temptations that are particularly troubling to us. And the world, the flesh and the devil work well together at finding our weakest points and seducing us with them.

Before we take the next step in this journey that will focus on overcoming temptation, it would behoove us to consider some ways that will help us avoid temptation in the first place. And all are rooted in the phrase, “Lead us not into temptation” (Matthew 6:13).

This is one of the verses we looked at last week where we saw that at first glance it looks as though Jesus is laying the blame for temptation at the feet of His Father.

But we very clearly saw that the rest of the New Testament is clear that God is not the one who tempts us. James 1:13 is representative: “And remember, when you are being tempted, do not say, “God is tempting me.” God is never tempted to do wrong, and He never tempts anyone else.”

So what does, “Lead us not into temptation mean?”

Bible scholar, William Hendricksen, gives us another way of saying the same thing: “If it be Thy will, do not permit us, weak as we are by nature and prone to sin, to enter into situations which in the natural course of events would expose us to temptation and fall.” 2

Based upon Hendricksen’s interpretation, what should we pray? Two things; both of which have to do with knowing ourselves. If we are to avoid temptation, doesn’t it make sense that we know ourselves?

So first, recognizing that one aspect of prayer is agreeing with God about who we are, we should agree with God that we have weaknesses and that if we are not careful, they will make us trip, stumble and fall. I’m talking about admitting to God what He already knows about us. ‘Lord, You already know that when it comes to doing Your will, my will has a way of rearing its ugly head and getting in Your way.’

Now we can get more specific than that, can’t we? ‘Lord, You know I am easily led astray with regard to (you fill in the blank).’

Taking this a step further, if necessary, we should ask God to reveal to us where we are weak and prone to fall. For sometimes we spend so much of our time trying to hide who we really are, from others and from God, that we have developed blinders that keep us from seeing ourselves the way we really are, the way God sees us.

David, in Psalm 139:23-24 prays, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends You, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.”

And so it is appropriate and needful to pray, “God, show me who I am really am.” And if you have enough guts to pray that prayer, then be quiet before the Lord, and give Him a chance to answer. And if you do, He will.

Once we know ourselves, “Lord, I confess to You that I have trouble in this regard, and I am asking you to help not go there.” And then don’t go there; literally, don’t go there.

One of the most practical ways to avoid temptation is to avoid circumstances and places where we know we are headed for trouble.

On the TV show Hee Haw, Doc Campbell is confronted by a patient who says he broke his arm in two places. The doc replies, “Well then, stay out of them places!”

When faced with the problem of temptation, we need to take the good doctor’s advice and “stay out of them places.”

David Martyn Lloyd Jones, in his widely respected commentary writes, this petition, “means that we may request of Him that, if it be in accordance with His holy will, He should not lead us into positions where we can be so easily tempted, and where we are liable to fall. It means that we should request Him to preserve us from this, and not lead us in this way. This is what our Lord meant when He said to His disciples, ‘Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation.’ There are situations that will be dangerous to you; watch and pray, always be on guard lest you fall into temptation.” 3

It’s hard to pick forbidden fruit if you are a hundred yards away, but if you are at an arm’s length, you better watch out.

But so many times we are our own worst enemy.

A man was trying to lose weight and decided that it was best if he not drive past his favorite bakery on the way to work each day. This worked well for some time, until one day he absentmindedly took his old route to work. When he realized what he was doing, he thought, ‘Maybe this is sign from the Lord,’ maybe He wants to reward me for doing so good.’ So he kept driving that way. And he decided, ‘I’ll drive past, and if there’s a parking spot, I’ll for sure take it as a sign from the Lord that He wants me to buy some donuts.’ And the funny thing was, on the eighth time around…

None of us would not jump into the Niagara River above the falls, and then expect that by some miracle God would keep you from being swept over, would we? And yet there are rational men and women, who have turned away from evil and given their allegiance to Christ, who then jump in the river and seem to expect that they will be delivered.

There was a recent story in the news shaded with Biblical overtones about a man and woman who discovered a serpent in their garden that awakened them to their own mortality and their lives were changed forever. But that’s where the similarities end because, in this story, the man grabbed a shovel to decapitate the snake; a 4-foot-long Western diamondback rattlesnake. However, just when he thought it was safe to go back in the water when he went to pick up the severed head, it sank its fangs into his flesh and released a deadly dose of venom. About two miles into the drive to the hospital, her husband began having seizures, lost his vision, and, unknown to them, began bleeding internally. When they got to the hospital, a helicopter flew this 40-year-old snake killer to a big-city hospital where they were barely able to save his life, as his organs had already been shutting down. Harry Greene, a biology professor at Cornell commenting on this story said, “Even a severed viper head can still deliver a deadly dose of venom.” 4

Moral of the story: When you encounter a rattlesnake whether it’s alive or dead; FLEE, RUN FOR YOUR LIFE!

If you know certain situations will cause you to be tempted why put yourself in those situations? Why pick up the rattlesnake?

If you are tempted to drink and know it will bite you and you will end up and in trouble, don’t put yourself in that position. If you know you are going to be tempted beyond your capacity to resist by turning on your computer, don’t turn it on! If you know that hanging with certain people is likely going to get you in trouble, don’t hang out with them. This isn’t rocket science. It’s just practical sense.

Don’t pick up the snake, even of you think it is dead!

I love what Martin Luther once said, “Don’t sit near the fire, if your head is made of butter.”

We need God’s help to fight temptation and His help will come when we pray with insight, “Lead us not into temptation.”

‘Lead us not into temptation’ assures us we do not face temptation alone.

Pastor and author, Earl Palmer, writes: “The most important thing for us to recognize; and this part of the Our Father Prayer affirms it to us, is that we don’t face temptation alone.” 5

And I would add, we dare not face temptation alone! For apart from God, we have no hope of resisting temptation. This is why humble prayer must be our constant companion.

Some years ago, on a hot summer day in south Florida, a little boy decided to go for a swim in the old swimming hole behind his house despite the fact that his dad warned him never to swim alone. He flew into the water, not realizing that as he swam toward the middle of the lake, an alligator was swimming toward the shore. His father came out of the house and when he saw what was happening he yelled as loudly as he could. The boy heard his dad and made a u-turn to swim toward his father. The father grabbed his little boy by the arms just as the alligator snatched his legs. An incredible tug-of-war ensued. The alligator was much stronger than the father, but his father was much too passionate to let go. Meanwhile, a neighbor heard his screams, took aim and shot the alligator. Although the boy survived, his legs were extremely scarred by the alligator and on his arms were deep scratches where his father’s fingernails dug into his flesh in his effort to hang on to the son he so loved. A newspaper reporter asked if he would show him the scars on his legs. But the boy, with obvious pride, said, “Look at the scars on my arms. I have them because my father wouldn’t let go.”

The swimming hole of life is filled with peril and we sometimes forget the “enemy is prowling about looking for someone to devour” (I Peter 5:8).

We all have scars on our legs from a painful past. But anyone in Christ also has marks on the arms because He loves us and will never let us go.

“So then, since we have a Great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for He faced all of the same testings we do, yet He did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive His mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most” (Hebrews 4:14-16).


2 Hendricksen, William. New Testament Commentary; The Gospel of Matthew. [Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, © 1973] Pages 336-337.

3 Lloyd Jones, D. Martyn. Studies on the Sermon on the Mount, Vol. II. [Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. R. Eerdmans Publishing Company, © 1959-1960]. Page 76.

4 Vanessa Romo, “Man Kills Snake; Snake Tries To Kill Him Back,” NPR (6-7-18); submitted by Van Morris, Mt. Washington, Kentucky

5 Palmer, Earl. The Enormous Exception; Meeting Christ in the Sermon on the Mount. [Waco, Texas: Word Books, © 1986]. Pages 92-93.

6 Andy Greene, “The Last Word,” Rolling Stone (September 2016); submitted by Van Morris, Mt. Washington, Kentucky