Introduction “Our Father Who Art In Heaven”

Introduction to “Our Father Who Art In Heaven”

Web Development Group

"Our Father Who Art In Heaven"

By Ron Christian

"This, then, is how you should pray:

"Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one."

Matthew 6:9-13 (NIV)

“Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread”

"Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread"

"OUR FATHER WHO ART IN HEAVEN"


CHAPTER 7 – OUTLINE

SUBJECT: Pray This Way – "Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread"

SCRIPTURE: Matthew 6:9-13

TEXT: "Give us today bread/or the coming day" (Matthew 6:12)

INTRODUCTION:

"In the Lord's Prayer, Jesus teaches us to bring the whole of life to the whole of God, and to bring the whole of God to the whole of life." (William Barclay)

PROPOSITION:

We will look at both the meaning and the application of this petition.

I. Meaning of the Petition.

II. Application of the Petition

A. Man Is Dependent Upon God

1. God provides for the Present.

2. God provides for the Future.

B. God Is Dependent Upon Man

1. Man must work for provisions.

2. Man must supply provisions.

CONCLUSION:

If all people are to be provided with the basic necessities of life, we must remember that man is not only dependent upon God, but that God is also dependent upon man.

58

Web Design GroupBack To Top

"OUR FATHER WHO ART IN HEAVEN"


CHAPTER 7

SUBJECT: Pray This Way – "Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread"

SCRIPTURE: Matthew 6:9-13

TEXT: "Give us today bread for the coming day" (Matthew 6:12)

INTRODUCTION:

Thus far we have studied that part of the Lord's Prayer which focuses attention upon God. The first three petitions of the Lord's Prayer are:

"Our Father in heaven let your name be held holy: 
Let your Kingdom Come; 
Let your will be done, as in heaven, so upon earth."

These three petitions all contain something about God: (1) God's love, (2) God's family, (3) God's power, (4) God's holiness, (5) God's Kingdom, and (6) God's will.

The last three petitions of the Lord's Prayer are:

"Give us today bread for the coming day; 
Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors; 
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the Evil One."

Says Barclay about the second part of the prayer: "The second part of the prayer, the part of it which deals with our needs and our necessities, is a marvelously wrought unity. It deals with the three essential needs of man, and the three spheres of time within which man moves. First, it asks for bread, thereby asking for that which is necessary for the maintenance of life, and thereby bringing the needs of the present to the throne of God. Second, it asks for forgiveness, thereby bringing the past into the presence of God, and of God's forgiving grace. Third, it asks for help in temptation, there by committing all the future into the hands of God. In these three brief petitions, we are taught to lay the present, the past, and the future, all before the footstool of the grace of God … But not only is this carefully wrought prayer a prayer which lays the whole of life in the presence of God; it is also a prayer which brings the whole of God to our lives. When we ask for bread to sustain our earthly lives, that request immediately directs our thoughts to God the Father, the Creator and the Sustainer of all life. When we ask for forgiveness, that request immediately directs our thoughts to God the Son, Jesus Christ our Saviour and Redeemer. When we ask for help for future temptation, that request immediately directs our thoughts to God the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, the Strengthener, the Illuminator, the Guide and the Guardian of our way … ln the Lord's Prayer Jesus teaches us to bring the whole of life to the whole of God, and to bring the whole of God to the whole of life." (Barclay's Matthew vol. 1; p. 199)

59

Web Design GroupBack To Top

"OUR FATHER WHO ART IN HEAVEN"


PROPOSITION:

It is the first petition of the second half of The Lord's Prayer which we will look at and study today: "Give us today bread for the coming day." Let us first note the real meaning of the petition, and secondly, let us see what is necessary in order for this prayer to be answered. We will look at both the meaning and the application of this petition.

I. Meaning of the Petition

In Barclay's commentary on this passage, he has noted several explanations that have been given for this petition. "(1) The bread has been identified with the bread of the Lord's Supper. (2) The bread has been identified with the spiritual food of the Word of God. (3) The bread has been taken to stand for Jesus Himself." (Barclay's Matthew; p.21S) All of these explanations have their point of truth. However, it is not a spiritual explanation which is the best explanation for the meaning of this passage.

This petition is a simple petition that God will provide food for the coming day. The practical, obvious meaning is the best meaning. As Charles Allen once said "Why try to spiritualize this petition? After all, even a saint must eat. Even our very prayers would die on our lips if we did not have food to sustain our bodies. Jesus preached to the people, He healed the sick, He forgave their sins, and He also used his marvelous power to feed them real bread. Study our Lord's life. You will see He knew something about the everyday struggle to make ends' meet. He knew the meaning of the widow's two mites, what a disaster the loss a coin might be, wearing clothes which were patched. He knew about shopping in the grocery store to try to stretch a budget to feed the family. He talks about the housewife who must buy two birds which sold for a penny … In the gray dawn of the morning we see Him on the seashore, His disciples had been fishing all night. Now they were coming in, and the Lord was prepared for them. What did He prepare? A prayer meeting. They needed prayer. A majestic and overwhelming revelation of Himself? They had lost faith in Him. No, He prepared breakfast." (God's Psychiatry; p. 111)

To us affluent Americans, it might be harder for us to understand the urgency in this petition. We have so much but some have so little. It is probably only the man who has really been hungry who can truly understand this petition. Kagawa was such a man. A Japanese Christian man who had a great love for Japanese people, could sympathize with their hunger for he himself experienced hunger pangs. Writes one about Kagawa: "When Kagawa moved into the slums of Kobo he learned that hungry, cold and sick persons need religion in action as well as religion in words. As he shared his meager food allowance with three indigent friends he knew hunger. He, like the others, could not work nor think of much else than the gnawing pangs of hunger. Later, he said that it was then that he began to understand the Lord's Prayer, 'Give us this day our daily bread.' If you have food and know no hunger you can never understand the Lord's

60

Web Design GroupBack To Top

"OUR FATHER WHO ART IN HEAVEN"


prayer." (Kagawa, Japanese Prophet; by J.M. Trout; pgs. 18, 19) Kagawa testifies to this when he writes: "The wolf of poverty unceasingly pursues me – I who am harassed by the devil of disease. All too well do I know the terribleness of the tug of this wolf's tusk. Hence I am over fleeing at breakneck speed. I cannot tell how far I will make good my escape, but, having somehow succeeded until now, it seems probable that in the future, too, flight will be possible. Come on, 0 Wolf of Poverty! Come on! I will keep just one step ahead in this furious flight … If God but grants me strength to keep just one step ahead in the flight, I shall continue my present course. When one is on one's mettle it is possible to keep very near to God. And since nearness to God is for me the greatest of all blessings, despite the frightfulness of this wolf, I will flee until I fall. As regards the far future, that is in God's hand. Here, blind as I am, though driven to bay by the wolf, with faith in God's guidance I will run through the dark to the uttermost of my strength. As long as I can make good my escape, my life will be victory-crowned." (Ibid; p. 23, 24)

Hunger is a very present reality everyday to many people in many countries. The traditional Chinese greeting is, "Have you eaten today?" Writes one person about the adverse conditions in Haiti: "In 90 percent of the houses the people suffer from some kind of disease, the most prevalent being tetanus and tuberculosis (also malaria). About 60 percent of the children die at an early age due to malnutrition. It is heartbreaking to see so many people thin, hungry, and dying of malnutrition, especially children going to bed crying with empty stomachs, without hope for the next day." Conditions in India are also very bad. Says Thomas Rayner, "I can hardly take a morsel of food without thinking, 'How can I eat my bread alone'? I know that 30 percent of India goes to bed every single night of the year without one grain of rice or other food in their stomachs."

When we consider the vast starvation in the world, it is tragic to know that in the United States it is now possible to buy low calorie diets for overweight dogs! How lacking in compassion we Americans are! As Franklin Field says, "Hardening of the heart ages people more quickly than hardening of the arteries." It may be that it is hard for us to understand the relevancy of this petition in the Lord's Prayer, simply because we are so fat with our affluence.

II. Application of the Petition.

What is necessary in order for this petition to be answered? When we pray 'Give us this day our daily bread', we should be reminded of two things: (a) Man is dependent upon God, (b) God is dependent upon man.

A. Man Is Dependent Upon God

61

Web Design GroupBack To Top

"OUR FATHER WHO ART IN HEAVEN"


It is hard for us to realize that man is very dependent upon God for present and future provisions. In appreciating how this petition – 'Give us this day our daily bread' – is answered, we must realize that man is dependent upon God.

1. God provides for the Present.

It is common acknowledgement that we would never have bread if man had to depend upon his own technological achievement and scientific research. It is God alone who gives life to the seed, fertility to the ground, water for the soil, and sunshine for the plant. Man can analyze life, but only God can give life. Man can harvest the crop, but only God can grow the crop. Man is dependent upon God for his basic necessities. This petition – 'Give us this day our daily bread' – has been answered for us, is being answered for us, and will be answered for us, simply because the God of all life cares and provides for man.

"Back of the loaf is the snowy flour, 
And back of the flour the mill, 
And back of the mill is the wheat and the shower, 
And the sun and the Father's will."

(God's Psychiatry; p. 113)

If God can clothe the flowers of the field in garments of unparalleled beauty, and if He cares for the animals of all creation, how much more does he care for man, the crown of His Creation. God cares for the present needs of the animals; how much more does he care for and provide for the present needs of man. God has provided for the present needs of the world. As one said, "The problem of the world is not that there is not enough to go round; there is enough and to spare." (Barclay's Matthew; p. 220)

2. God provides for the Future.

When Jesus teaches us to pray for our 'daily' bread, He is teaching us to trust Him for the future. We are meant to live one day at a time and not to worry about the future. Said Jesus, "I tell you, therefore, do not worry about your life, about what you are to eat, or what you are to drink; and do not worry about your body, about what you are to wear … So, then, do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will worry about itself. Its own troubles are quite enough for the day." (Barclay's Matthew 6:25, Matthew 6:34) Says Barclay in comment to Jesus' teachings, "Jesus is not advocating a shiftless, thriftless, reckless, thoughtless,

62

Web Design GroupBack To Top

"OUR FATHER WHO ART IN HEAVEN"


improvident, attitude to life; He is forbidding a care-worn, worried fear, which takes all the joy out of life." (Barclay's Matthew; p. 258)

God will provide for the future. We can rest assured in that. Many of our worries concerning the future are useless and needless. The story is told of a London doctor who "was paralyzed and bed-ridden, but almost outrageously cheerful, and his smile so brave and radiant that everyone forgot to be sorry for him. His children adored him, and when one of his boys was leaving the nest and starting forth upon life's adventure, Dr. Greatheart gave him good advice:" 'Johnny,' he said, 'the thing to do my lad, is to hold your own end up, and to do it like a gentleman, and please remember the biggest troubles you have got to face are those that never come.'" (Barclay's Matthew; p. 262)

We are to face the future by facing each day as it comes. God will provide for the day's needs. God gave Israel manna, one day at a time. The secret to facing the future is to trust God one day at a time.

If God cares for the animals of the field and air and supplies their daily needs, how much more will God supply the needs of our future. One Jewish Rabbi said, "I have never seen a stag as a dryer of figs, or a lion as a porter, or a fox as a merchant, yet they are all nourished without worry. If they, who are created to serve me, are nourished without worry, 'how much more ought I, who am created to serve my Maker, to be nourished without worry." (Barclay's Matthew; p. 260)

When we pray 'Give us this day our daily bread,' we are acknowledging our dependence upon God who provides for our present needs and also our future needs. However, in fully appreciating how this petition is answered, we must also realize that God is dependent upon man.

B. God Is Dependent Upon Man

1. Man must work for provisions.

It would be foolish to think that this prayer will be answered by man folding his arms and waiting for God to answer it. Prayer without human co-operation and work is useless and futile. God does not answer our prayers 'for' us, but God answers our prayers 'with' us. Divine power and human initiative join together to achieve results. God gives life to a seed, but it takes a man to plant the seed. God gives growth to the crop, but it takes a man to cultivate, irrigate, and to harvest the crop. Barclay cites a story to illustrate this. "There was a man who had an

63

Web Design GroupBack To Top

"OUR FATHER WHO ART IN HEAVEN"


allotment; he had with great toil reclaimed a piece of ground, clearing away the stones, eradicating the rank growth of weeds enriching and feeding the ground, until it produced the loveliest flowers and vegetables. One evening he was showing a pious friend around his allotment. The pious friend said, 'It's wonderful what God can do with a bit of ground like this, isn't it?' 'Yes,' said the man who had put in such toil, 'but you should have seen this bit of ground when God had it to Himself!' God's bounty and man's toil must combine." (Barclay's Matthew, vol. 1; p. 220)

2. Man must supply provisions.

God has provided enough food for all of the world's inhabitants, but it takes men to distribute the food to the people of the world. Before this prayer can be answered for all people, there is need for more human cooperation. There is enough food for the whole world, but instead of it being distributed, much of it is being wasted. Says Barclay about this: "In America granaries overflow with corn; in Brazil they fire locomotives with blocks of surplus coffee. The problem is not the supply of life's essentials; it is the distribution of them. This prayer teaches us never to be selfish in our prayers. It is a prayer which we can help God to answer by giving to others who are less fortunate than we are. This prayer is not only a prayer that we may receive our daily bread; it is also a prayer that we may share our daily bread with others." (Barclay's Matthew; p. 220)

"If I have eaten my morsel alone" - 
The patriarch spoke in scorn; 
What would he think of the church, 
Were he shown Heathendom, hugh, forlorn, 
Godless, Christless, with soul unfed, 
While the Church's ailment is fullness of bread, 
Eating her morel alone?...

Ever of them who have largest dower 
Shall Heaven require the more; 
Ours is affluence, knowledge, power, 
Ocean from shore to shore; 
And East and West in our oars have said, 
"Give us; give us your living Bread"; 
Yet we eat our morsel alone.

"Freely, as ye have received, so give." 
He bade, who hath given us all;

64

Web Design GroupBack To Top

"OUR FATHER WHO ART IN HEAVEN"


How shall the soul in us longer live, 
Deaf to their starving call, 
For Whom the Blood of the Lord was shed, 
And His Body broken to give them Bread, 
If we eat our morsel alone?"

(Alexander, Primate of Ireland; Compassion Quote; Taken)

Said A. J. Gordon, "I have long since ceased to pray, 'Lord Jesus, have compassion on a lost world'. I remember the day and hour when I seemed to hear the Lord rebuking me for making such a prayer. He seemed to say to me: 'I have had compassion upon a lost world. Now it is time for you to have compassion. I have given my heart. Now give your heart." Said Job, "If I have withheld the poor from their desire … or have eaten my morsel myself alone … lf I have seen any perish for want of clothing, or any poor without covering … then let mine arm fall from my shoulder blade, and mine arm be broken from the bone."

A humble Scottish woman had lived for many years on porridge that she might give to missions the cost of her comforts and luxuries. One day a friend gave her a coin to 'buy a chop,' he said. She looked at it awhile, and then said, 'I have got on very well on porridge so far, and I think I'll just stick to it.' And so the coin went for missions. The minister was telling this at a missionary breakfast, and a comfortable-looking woman got up and said, 'Well, I never have done without a chop for Christ's sake, and so I shall begin today to sacrifice by giving $1,000 to missions.' Others followed suit, and before that breakfast was over, $12,000 had been contributed to missions."

A noted philanthropist, John Howard, once said, "We must learn to give up our luxuries to supply the comforts of others, our comforts to supply their necessity, and even our necessities to supply their extremities."

God wants all people of every country to have bread and He has provided enough bread to feed all mouths in the world. It is up to us to distribute that bread. How can we distribute that bread? By giving money to missions.

CONCLUSION:

This petition – 'Give us this day our daily bread' – is a petition that must not be merely spiritualized. It is a simple request that God will provide the basic necessities of life.

65

Web Design GroupBack To Top

"OUR FATHER WHO ART IN HEAVEN"


If all people are to be provided with the basic necessities of life, we must remember that man is not only dependent upon God, but that God is also dependent upon man. This petition means that we are to distribute what we have received in order that the less fortunate will be provided with daily bread.

"Love is the bread that feeds the multitudes; 
Love is the healing of the hospitals; 
Love is the light that breaks through prison doors; 
Love knows not rich, nor poor, nor good nor bad..."

(George Edward Woodberry)

66

Web Design GroupBack To Top

“Deliver Us From The Evil One”

"Deliver Us from the Evil One"

"OUR FATHER WHO ART IN HEAVEN"


CHAPTER 9 – OUTLINE

SUBJECT: Pray This Way – "Deliver Us from the Evil One"

SCRIPTURE: Matthew 6:9-13

TEXT: "And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one." (Matthew 6:13)

INTRODUCTION:

The Christian commits not only the past with its sins to God; the Christian commits not only the present with its temporal needs to God; but the Christian also commits the future with its threats and temptations to God.

PROPOSITION:

It is important for us to realize what the nature and purpose of temptation is, and it is very important for us to know how we can have victory over temptation.

I. Purpose of Temptation.

II. Victory over Temptation

A. Satan's Attack

1. Self-preservation is an inherent instinct in man but it can be misused.

2. The desire for social approval is natural but it can be misused.

3. The desire for success is natural but it can be misused.

4. The desire for sexual fulfillment is wholesome but it can be misused.

B. Man's Reinforcement

1. Vigilance is important because of the subtle forms which temptation takes.

2. A voidance is important because of the possibility of sinful conformity.

3. Trust is important for God alone has the power to deliver one from Satan's snares.

CONCLUSION:

God permits us to be tested (tempted) in order that our characters may be refined, and in order that our loyalty to Him might be demonstrated. Temptation is not meant to make us weaker but is meant to make us stronger.

77

Web Design GroupBack To Top

"OUR FATHER WHO ART IN HEAVEN"


CHAPTER 9

SUBJECT: Pray This Way – "Deliver Us from the Evil One".

SCRIPTURE: Matthew 6:9-13

TEXT: "And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one." (Matthew 6:13)

INTRODUCTION:

The Christian commits not only the past with its sins to God; the Christian commits not only the present with its temporal needs to God; but the Christian also commits the future with its threats and temptations to God. Jesus taught us to pray for deliverance from the snares of the Evil One. Man by himself is unable to overcome the power of Satan and is unable to discern the subtle tactics of Satan. Therefore, man must pray for the help of God. "When we ask for help for future temptation, that request immediately directs our thoughts to God the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, the Strengthener, the Illuminator, the Guide and the Guardian of our way." (Barclay's Matthew; p. 199)

PROPOSITION:

The subject of temptation is very relevant to every man simply because each person experiences temptation. It is important for us to realize what the nature and purpose of temptation is, and it is very important for us to know how we can have victory over temptation. Therefore first we will briefly discuss the purpose of temptation and secondly we will discuss in more detail the victory over temptation.

I. Purpose of Temptation

Barclay very well clarifies the meaning and purpose of temptation. "In its New Testament usage to tempt a person is not so much to seek to seduce him into sin, as it is to test his strength and his loyalty and his ability for service. Now here is a great and uplifting truth. What we call temptation is not meant to make us sin; it is meant to enable us to conquer sin. It is not meant to make us bad, it is meant to make us good. It is not meant to weaken us, it is meant to make us emerge stronger and finer and purer from the ordeal. Temptation is not the penalty of being a man, temptation is the glory of being a man. It is the test which comes to a man whom God wishes to use." (Barclay's Matthew; pgs. 225, 56)

Sometimes it is only in the crucible of life's difficult experiences that man can be purified. Oftentimes it is only after man has been triumphant in life's challenging tests that he can meet life with maturity and strength. Life's tests are for the purpose of purifying character.

78

Web Design GroupBack To Top

"OUR FATHER WHO ART IN HEAVEN"


When thro' fiery trials thy pathway shall lie, 
My grace, all-sufficient, shall be thy supply; 
The flame shall not hurt thee, I only design 
Thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine.

To pass one test successfully is to increase one's strength for the next test. The person who has been successful in life's test, is the man whom God can use greatly in His service. Says one, "If metal is to be used in a great engineering project, it is tested at stresses and strains far beyond those which it is ever likely to have to bear. So a man has to be tested before God can use him greatly in his service." (Barclay's Matthew; p. 226)

As has been noted, what we call temptation is not meant to make us weak, but it is meant to make us strong. Tests are for the purpose of purifying and strengthening character in order that one may be better equipped as a servant of God.

For instance, sorrow is not meant to make us bitter, but it is meant to make us sympathetic and understanding. A difficult life experience is not meant to defeat us, but it is meant to make us courageous. When life's tests force us to choose, we are given an opportunity to choose the pathway which leads to greatness and nobility. Life's tests give us an opportunity to choose good instead of evil, truth instead of falsehood, bravery instead of cowardice, generosity instead of selfishness.

When a school child is given an arithmetic test, he is given the opportunity to demonstrate his knowledge. The test is not given to him to cause him to fail; it is given to him to demonstrate to him that he is allowed to progress to more advanced math and more difficult tests. God permits us to be tested in order to demonstrate our loyalty to Him and to better prepare us for greater service for him." (Athlete is tested. Hurdles on life's pathway are NOT meant to trip us, but to strengthen us.)

II. Victory over Temptation

In our discussion of victory over temptation, it is important for us to realize the method of Satan's attack, and it is important for us to realize the Christian reinforcements against temptation.

A. Satan's Attack

The petition should not be translated, 'Deliver us from evil,' but it should be translated, 'Deliver us from the Evil One.' (Evil is not an abstract entity, but

79

Web Design GroupBack To Top

"OUR FATHER WHO ART IN HEAVEN"


evil is a personified power. The Bible speaks of evil in terms of a spiritual person who is in opposition against God and man.)

The Bible speaks of Satan – man's adversary. The Bible pictures Satan as the Prince of the Power of the Air and he is said to be the leader of a demonic kingdom which is constantly plotting evil against man. Satan is also called the Devil (Matthew 4:1) which means the slanderer par excellence. Satan is called the Tempter (Matthew 4:3) who seeks the ruin of mankind. In John 8:44, Satan is called a murderer and liar. Satan is described as the roaring lion in 1 Peter 5:8, and He is called the Wicked One in 1 John 2:13. In Revelations 20:2, he is called the old serpent – reminiscent of Satan's first appearance to man. He is the robber, stealing the seed of God's Word out of the Heart of Man (Luke 8:12). He is called 'the accuser of the brethren' (Revelations 12:10).

The power of Satan in the World is not illusionary but very real. While Luther was in his room in the Castle of the Wartburg in Germany one day, he felt the power of Satan so greatly that he threw his ink-pot at the devil. Robert Louis Stevenson was convinced that Satan was a personal, active power of evil. He said one time: "You know the Caledonian Railway Station in Edinburgh? One cold, east windy morning, I met Satan there." Is is said of Jesus that he "suffered being tempted." (Hebrews 2:18) On several occasions Jesus personally encountered Satan.

Perhaps one of the clearest evidences to the reality of Satan's evil and powerful activity, is man's denial of God's existence. Such a statement only confirms that the Devil is alive and actively deceiving the hearts of men.

If Satan is alive (and the evidence is overwhelming that he is), then we must try our best to understand the subtle tactics in his attack on man. To be forewarned is to be forearmed. We dare not be ignorant of his devices. Said Paul, "We are not ignorant of his devices." (2 Corinthians 2:ll b)

In understanding the method of Satan's attack on man, the most essential truth For us to understand is this: Sin is a perversion of natural, legitimate desires. That is to say that Satan attacks man through the channel of his natural and legitimate desires. Satan seeks to twist and to pervert that which is wholesome and natural. To see this truth let us look at specific examples.

1. Self-preservation is an inherent instinct in man but it can be misused.

Without such an instinct, man would fail to see danger when it is present, or would be unable to escape danger when he is aware of it. However, there are times when the instinct of self-preservation should become subject to a greater instinct – the instinct to help another in danger or to

80

Web Design GroupBack To Top

"OUR FATHER WHO ART IN HEAVEN"


sacrifice life's blood for a noble principle. There are times that it is better to die than to live. It is then that one of life's hardest tests comes – to die is to be a victor in the test but to live is to be a failure in the test. (Example: To be loyal to Christ and die rather than to reject Christ and live is to be victor).

Because of his sense of duty, Nehemiah suppressed his instinct for self- preservation in the face of danger. When it was suggested that he quit his work and shut himself in the Temple until a certain danger was past, Nehemiah said, "Should such a man as I flee? And who is there that, being such as I am, would go into the temple to save his life. I will not go in." (Nehemiah 6:11) Dawson Trotman, the founder of the Navigators, sought to rescue a drowning person in Schroon Lake, N.Y. and lost his own life as a result. Heroic soldiers have given their lives intentionally to save many of their fellow soldiers. The instinct to save others is greater than the instinct of self-preservation. There may be a time when we are called upon to say 'No' to the temptation to save our own life.

2. The desire for social approval is natural but it can be misused.

A sense of worthiness is developed through social approval and is necessary to maintain mental health. Many social-rejects are in state hospitals. It is most natural to want to be a part of a group. It is most natural to have the social urge but this urge can become abnormal and it is then sinful. Such an obsession for social approval can lead to a sacrifice of one's witness, a compromise in one's standards, and even a surrender of one's integrity. "Once President Garfield was urged to take a profitable, but dishonorable, course of action. It was said, 'No one will ever know.' His answer was, 'President Garfield will know – and I've got to sleep with him.'" (Barclay's Matthew; p. 232) One may be tempted to conform to social pressures, but he should always remember that it is better to be at peace with one's self than to be at peace with one's social peers.

3. The desire for success is natural but it can be misused.

God wants us to be creative in our work and diligent in our labors. God does not want us to be listless and lazy, but He wants us to be ambitious and industrious. However, to desire success and advancement at any cost is a temptation which one must not succumb to. An obsessive desire for success can cause a disregard for other people, a sacrifice of personal integrity, and the adoption of secular and materialistic standards. To make money the goal of life is a great evil. "For the love of money is the first step toward all kinds of sin. Some people have even turned away from

81

Web Design GroupBack To Top

"OUR FATHER WHO ART IN HEAVEN"


God because of their love for it, and as a result have pierced themselves with many sorrows." (1 Timothy 6:10; Living Bible) To be overly ambitious can lead to great evil. "When he was a boy in school Napoleon wrote an essay on the dangers of ambition. Yet his own ambition wrecked his life." (God's Psychiatry; p. 121)

I was too ambitious in my deed, 
And thought to distance all men in success, 
Till God came on me, marked the place, and said, 
"Ill-doer, henceforth keep within this line, 
Attempting less than others" - and I stand, 
And work among Christ's little ones, content.

(Ibid; 123)

4. The desire for sexual fulfillment is wholesome but it can be misused.

Sex is a gift of God which was intended to be the creative expression of man within the context of the permanent human relationship of marriage.

Failure to control the powerful sexual instinct results in quick marriages and quick divorces. This failure also manifests itself in pre-marital sexual relationships which issue forth in broken hearts, minds, and bodies. Man can change love into lust, the beautiful into the ugly, and the sacred into the profane. Satan wants man to play with sex, but it is not a play thing.

There are other natural desires which can be misused. The legitimate desire for food can be misused and gluttony results. The natural desire for ease and pleasure must be guarded lest one misuse time, develop laziness, or spend money needlessly on entertainment. The inquisitive urge is normal but it too can be misused and then the horrible sin of gossiping and tale-bearing results.

We should not be ignorant of the devices of Satan. Satan seeks to ruin men by perverting natural and legitimate desires.

B. Man's Reinforcement.

Three reinforcements against temptation are Vigilance, A voidance, and Trust. Let us look at each of them.

1. Vigilance is important because of the subtle forms which temptation takes.

82

Web Design GroupBack To Top

"OUR FATHER WHO ART IN HEAVEN"


"Be self-controlled and vigilant always, for your enemy the devil is always about, prowling like a lion roaring for its prey." (1 Peter 5:8)

One must be vigilant lest Satan attack him at his weakest point. A chain is no stronger than its weakest link; no Christian is stronger than at his weakest point. Satan attack's one at his weakest point. One must guard against bitterness during times of unexplained sorrow. One must guard against skepticism if he finds it hard to accept the unique and miraculous. One must guard against intolerance if he is strong-willed and opinionated. One must guard against compromise if he is a person who is easily led. One must guard against egotism and pride if he is an unusually gifted person. If one is a very affectionate type of person, he must guard against undue intimacy in relationships. If one finds discipline hard to exercise, then he must guard against the misuse of time. One who has a vivid imagination must guard against wandering thoughts. If one is inclined to look on the dark side of life, then he must especially guard against pessimistic attitudes. If one is unusually ambitious, he must guard against the wrong desire for power. If one is a natural leader he must guard against the temptation to be domineering.

It is important to realize that Satan not only attacks one at his weakest point, but oftentimes attacks one at his strongest point. "We must always remember that again and again we are tempted through our gifts. The person who is gifted with charm will be tempted to use that charm 'to get away with anything'. The person who is gifted with the power of words will be tempted to use his command of words to produce glib excuses to justify his own conduct. The person with a vivid and sensitive imagination will undergo agonies of temptation that a mere stolid person will never experience. The person with great gifts of mind will be tempted to use these gifts for himself and not for others, to become the master and not the servant of men. It is the grim fact of temptation that it is just where we are strongest that we must be forever on the watch." (Barclay's Matthew; p. 59)

Peter was known for his courage and forwardness, and yet Peter's greatest strength failed him in the most critical hour of testing, and the result was denial of his Master. Over-confidence has been the downfall of many. There are too many on record who thought gross immorality could never be a problem to them, and yet when they were off their guard, the fell grievously into sin. The Christian must always be alert lest he be caught in the snare of the enemy. "Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall." (1 Corinthians 10:12)

2. Avoidance is important because of the possibility of sinful conformity.

83

Web Design GroupBack To Top

"OUR FATHER WHO ART IN HEAVEN"


Billy Graham gives some helpful suggestions: (A void wrong companies – "Come away from among them and stay away; touch not their evil things." (2 Corinthians 6:17; Living Bible); (b) Avoid the second look at evil things – You can't help the first look, but don't take the second; (c) Discipline your conversation; (d) Be careful how you dress; (e) Choose carefully the shows and T.V. programs you watch; (f) Choose carefully what you read; (g) Be careful how you use your leisure time; (h) Never engage in heavy petting; (i) Spend a great deal of time studying and memorizing the Scriptures; (j) Have Christ in your heart.

3. Trust is important for God alone has the power to deliver one from Satan's snares.

Why can God deliver us from the Evil One? "Thine is the Kingdom, and the Power and the Glory forever." The one to whom we pray is a King who is holy and all-powerful. "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." (1 Corinthians 10:13) "I can do all things in him who strengthens me." (Philippians 4:13; R.S.V.) "Now to the One who can keep you from falling and set you in the presence of His glory, jubilant and above reproach, to the only God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, might and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all time, now, and for evermore. Amen. (Jude 1:24, Jude 1:25) "The Lord is faithful, and He will Strengthen and Protect you from the evil one." (2 Thessalonians 3:3) "Greater is He that is in You than he (Satan) that is in the World." "My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one." (John 17:15)

He is able to deliver thee, 
Tho' by sin oppressed 
Go to him for rest; 
"Our God is able to deliver thee."

"We know (absolutely) that anyone born of God does not (deliberately and knowingly) practice committing sin, but the one who was begotten of God carefully watches over and protects him – Christ's divine presence within him preserves him against the evil – and the wicked one does not lay hold (get a grip) on him or touch (him)." (1 John 5:18; Amplified Version)

"For we have not a high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.

84

Web Design GroupBack To Top

"OUR FATHER WHO ART IN HEAVEN"


Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." (Hebrews 4:15-16)

CONCLUSION:

The word 'temptation' should best be translated 'test'. God permits us to be tested in order that our character may be refined, and in order that our loyalty to Him might be demonstrated. Temptation is not meant to make us weaker; it is meant to make us stronger.

Satan attempts to work through natural desires to cause us to fall. Vigilance, A voidance, and Trust are all reinforcements against temptations.

"What amazing confidence did our Lord have in us! C. F. Andrews reminds us of an old legend that tells us that when Jesus returned to heaven He was asked by an angel: 'What have you left behind to carry out the work?' Jesus answered: 'A little band of men and women who love me.' 'But what if they fail when the trial comes? Will all you have done be defeated?' 'Yes,' said Jesus, 'if they fail, all I have done will be defeated.' 'Is there nothing more?' 'No,' said Jesus, 'there is nothing more.' 'What then?' Jesus quietly replied, 'They will not fail.'" (God's Psychiatry; pgs. 125, 126)

85

Web Design GroupBack To Top

"OUR FATHER WHO ART IN HEAVEN"


NOTES

86

Web Design GroupBack To Top