8 Minute Read

TODAY’S BIBLE READING:

Exodus 29:1–30:10
Matthew 26:14-46
Psalm 31:19-24
Proverbs 8:14-26

TODAY’S BIBLE VERSE(S):

Matthew 26:41 (CSB): “Stay awake and pray, so that you won’t enter into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

REFLECTIONS ON TODAY’S BIBLE VERSE(S):

Every single one of us battles temptation. Whether it is the temptation to visit the refrigerator too many times, or the temptation to worry incessantly, or the temptation to vent angry words, or the temptation to gossip, we all struggle with certain propensities to sin.

When we read of the events that surrounded Jesus the day He was betrayed, we hear the Apostle Peter testifying to his devotion to Jesus. As he speaks, he is clear that he will not fall to a supposed temptation to deny Jesus.

Matthew 26:33-35 (CSB): “Peter told him, ‘Even if everyone falls away because of you, I will never fall away.’ 
“‘Truly I tell you,’ Jesus said to him, ‘tonight, before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.'”
“‘Even if I have to die with you,’ Peter told him, ‘I will never deny you,’ and all the disciples said the same thing.”

Peter was sincere … but he was sincerely wrong. We know the story. We know that he did exactly what he said he wouldn’t do.

Peter was presented with the temptation to deny Jesus … and he fell prey to it.

Matthew 26:74-75 (CSB): “Then he started to curse and to swear with an oath, ‘I don’t know the man!’ Immediately a rooster crowed, and Peter remembered the words Jesus had spoken, ‘Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.’ And he went outside and wept bitterly.”

He said he would never fall away from Jesus … but he did.

He said he would never deny Jesus … but he did.

The temptation he would face to protect his life, in the presence of people who were going to kill Jesus, was too great. His fear of death caused him to fall prey to temptation and deny Jesus three separate times.

The temptation was just too great. The temptation to deny Jesus was was just too powerful …

… or was it?

Was there something that Peter could have done that would have enabled him to courageously and victoriously stand up to the temptation to deny Jesus?

Yes.

After Jesus’ warning of Peter’s imminent betrayal and before the actual act of betrayal, Jesus told Peter exactly how he could stand up against temptation and defeat it. Listen.

Matthew 26:40-41 (CSB): “Then he (Jesus) came to the disciples and found them sleeping. He asked Peter, ‘So, couldn’t you stay awake with me one hour? Stay awake and pray, so that you won’t enter into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.'”

Did you hear what Jesus said?

Did you notice that Jesus told Peter that there was one particular activity that would enable him to be victorious over temptation?

“Stay awake and pray, so that you won’t enter into temptation.”

Jesus knew that Peter was about to experience a powerful temptation to deny Him and that it would be so overwhelming that he would fall prey to it. But, Jesus told Peter that he could be victorious … if he prayed.

How does prayer keep us from entering into a time of temptation?

Let me share two answers that immediately come to mind…

1. Prayer removes tempting circumstances.

We can pray at the beginning of each day that God will take away temptations to sin – and He will do it.

After all, didn’t Jesus tell us to pray this way?

Matthew 6:13 (CSB): “And do not bring us into temptation, …”

Do you want God to remove some circumstances from your day that you would find too tempting and might fall prey to? Then pray that He will take them away.

2. Prayer robs temptation of its power.

Some things are a temptation to one person that are not tempting to someone else. In fact, something can be tempting to us one day and not tempting the next day.

In order for something to be a genuine temptation, there must be 1) desire, and 2) opportunity.

So, since we cannot guarantee that we can run from all tempting opportunities, we should focus on our desires.

How does that happen? How can we lose our desire for the temptation of sin?

Imagine that it is lunchtime and you skipped breakfast this morning. You are hungry! Let’s further imagine that I put an apple pie in front of you that had just been taken from the oven. The aroma made your mouth water. But I told you not to eat it. It would prove to be an overwhelming temptation, wouldn’t it? You would have to fight the overwhelming urge to satisfy your hunger with a piece of that pie.

Now, let’s change the scenario. Imagine that you have just gorged yourself on a Thanksgiving meal. You are stuffed! And let’s imagine that I put that same aromatic pie in front of you and told you not to eat it. Would it be a temptation to you? Probably not. You might even push it away from you. It may, in fact, be painful to see that pie – because your stomach is already full.

You see, the pie’s temptation is only as powerful as our appetite for that pie. If we are hungry, the pie is tempting. If we are full, the same pie is not a temptation at all.

With that principle in mind, how do we get “filled up” so that we lose our appetite for the temptation to sin?

Matthew 26:41 (CSB): “Stay awake and pray, so that you won’t enter into temptation…”

If we are cultivating our relationship with our God by spending much time in prayer with Him, our hearts will be filled up. As we enjoy our God, we will lose our taste for the world’s sensual delights.

So, if you or I fall to temptation, a very valid question would be: “How’s your prayer life?” We could assume that it is in disarray because praying people have generally lost their appetite for sin.

Conclusion

Do you want to be victorious over sin? Do you want to stand victorious on the spiritual battlefield and defeat temptation rather than continuing to be defeated by it?

Then cultivate a powerful, meaningful prayer life!

Matthew 26:41 (CSB): “Stay awake and pray, so that you won’t enter into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”