Session #049 Detours & Distractions
Scripture Matthew 6:13a
Summary When we don’t understand temptations, tests and trials, we may miss what God intends for us and end up being derailed, detoured and distracted from the purposes of the kingdom. Matt 6:13 is more than just a plea to be kept from temptations but one that asks for victory in and through temptations! Learn about the five temptations common to all, and the way not only to escape but also to overcome!
In this manner, therefore, 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 this day our daily bread
And forgive our debts as we forgive our debtors
And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one
For Yours is the Kingdom, the Power and the Glory forever.
Amen. Matthew 6:9–13
Matthew 6:13a is a prayer for deliverance and looks forward to victory in the future. Temptations are traps laid by the enemy to delay and distract us, thereby causing us to make detours from the things of God, with the ultimate objective that we will miss the mark and eventually not cross the finish line.
Understanding Temptations (peirasmon: literally “pressure”)
There are two Greek verbs for the word temptation, peirazo which means to test with a view toward destruction, for the purpose of fault-finding or rejection. Satan is known to be the tempter as written in Matthew 4:3. In Luke 4:12, we are warned not to tempt God.
Dokimazo is the other Greek word for temptation and it means to test with a view of strengthening, for the purpose of determining the genuineness by fire, to reveal true metal as dross is burnt off. Christians are called to test and examine themselves. The genuineness of our faith is tested in this manner. God also invites us to prove Him, to find Him faithful as written in Hebrews 3:9.
Two Sides of the Same Coin
A trial is a challenging situation that can be seen as either a temptation to go against God, or a test to stay faithful to God. It can be a temptation to give up on God, or a test to hold on to God. A temptation to live beneath the expectations of God, or a test to rise up to maturity in God. They are simply two sides of the same coin.
Temptations are meant to distract us from the purposes and plans of the kingdom of God. But tests are meant to keep us on track and position us for the purposes and plans of the kingdom of God. God tests us, but Satan will use that to tempt us. Satan tempts us, but God allows that situation to test us. God knows full well that He has given us every resource and power in Him to pass the test. The Key Differentiating Factor is Our Response. Will we succumb to the temptation and ‘fail’ the test? Or will we stay true to God and His Word and ‘pass’ the test?
Lead Us Not Into Temptation? God never tempts us. James 1:13 says, “When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone.” God is on your side when it comes to temptation, and when you pray this prayer you can be confident that God will answer.
God wanted to test His Son and allowed the temptation by the devil. The same thing happened in Eden where Adam and Eve ‘failed’ in the cushy setting of Eden. Jesus ‘passed’ in the barren setting of the wilderness.
Knowing the intensity of such temptations, we pray not to be similarly led. Yet, acknowledging the need for the testing of our faith, obedience and character, we can expect temptations.
So we pray, “Test me, Lord, but do not allow me to succumb to temptation.” Or “Help me, that I am not distracted and detoured from the purposes of the Kingdom of God!” (cf Matthew 26:41).
Learning from Another Church … in the Wilderness (1 Corinthians 10:1-13)
Paul warns the Church in Corinth in 1 Corinthians 10:1-13 that all have been saved out of Egypt but God was not pleased with most of them as their hearts were set on evil things. In 1 Corinthians 10:11, Paul reminds us that these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition. What things? Temptations Are Common To All Of Us.
“No temptation has overtaken you except 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. 1 Corinthians 10:13
Common Temptations We All Face
The Temptation of Evil Things (1 Corinthians 10:6)
Israel lusted and craved for the ‘good’ things of Egypt. Today, the people of God continue to crave for the ‘good’ things of the world. These things may not necessarily appear evil (garlic, leek, onions); but they reveal the fleshly cravings or lusts that remain in our hearts. Are we lusting after what God withholds and discontented with what God provides (Romans 8:5; Galatians 5:16,17)?
We prefer to rationalize by asking, “What’s wrong with that?” instead of asking, “Is it God’s best for me?” Fuelled by recent prosperity and blessing teachings, Christians justify their desires as “the desires of your heart” that God just cannot wait to fulfil. Take heed of James’ warning in James 1:14-15 that it begins with one own desire.
The Temptation of Idolatry or remaking God into our image (1 Corinthians 10:7; Exodus 32:6)
We think this does not refer to us as long as we do not worship any other god or religion.
With the extension of this principle to anything we place before or above God such as money, career, or children, these can become idolatry.
Israel wanted to worship other gods, but Aaron knew that was a no-no. So, he compromised by giving them what they wanted, but still called the idol YHWH. After making a golden calf, Aaron declared, “This is your god, O Israel, that brought you out of the land of Egypt.” Exodus 32:4. To Israel, they were worshipping the God who brought them out of Egypt. They just did not realize they were worshipping an image of YHWH which they had made for themselves.
Christians can make the same mistake today as well. We think we are worshipping God but the truth is, we are worshipping our own image or ideas of God. Concepts that are hard to accept, we are quick to offer suggestions and alternatives that sit better with us. And then, we stretch these to an extreme, neglecting the other aspects of the person and nature of God. Instead of advancing His Kingdom and serving His purposes, we too “sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.”
The Temptation of Sexual Immorality (Numbers 25:1-18; 1 Corinthians 10:8.)
At Shittim or Acacia Grove, Israel committed harlotry with the women of Moab, and was enticed to idolatrous worship and “joined to Baal of Peor”. Knowing that he cannot curse the people of God, Balaam advised Balak to seduce them through women and idolatrous practices ( 2 Peter 2:15; Jude 11; Revelation 2:14).
The same, satanic doctrine of Balaam continues to entice the people of God, especially through the media and other social influences. Sexual immorality continues in the Church today such as pornography, homosexuality, paedophilia, adultery, and fornication. Spiritual adultery too, through friendship with the world (James 4:4).
The Temptation of Tempting God ( 1 Corinthians 10:9; Numbers 21:4-9)
A self-centred heart that is quick to question and blame God
In 1 Corinthians 10:9, the word tempt is ekpeirazomen which means to try to the utmost, to the limit. We know that there is no limit to God’s long-suffering nature, but a point at which God says, “That’s enough!”
It reveals a condition of the heart that is selfish and self-centred, one that takes God and His grace for granted, seeing blessings as an entitlement to be demanded, rather than to be received with gratitude. A heart that is covetous, discontented, and never satisfied, will not appreciate the blessings in hand, instead choosing to complain about what could be.
Israel “spoke against God and against Moses”. In response to such behaviour and attitude, Paul warns, “Don’t push it!” The bronze serpent on the pole that saved Israel became an iconic idol with no power. It is the same with the Cross, it has become a symbol of Jesus (John 3:14,15) that many worships with no power and victory.
The Temptation to Complain deals with issues of pride and non-submission (1 Corinthians 10:10)
Numbers 16 records the rebellion of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, together with 250 leaders, discontented with their lot in ministry and with the leadership of Moses and Aaron. With that, God opened the earth and swallowed up the rebellious households (Numbers 16:35). The fire had consumed the 250 rebel leaders (Numbers 16:41-50).
Complaining against spiritual leaders who are appointed by God is the same as complaining against God (Exodus 16:8).
All these are examples and a grim reminder to us. Beware of the evil things, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, the pride of life (1 John 2:16). We cannot remake God into what we want Him to be which is idolatry.
Sexual immorality is a decline of morals in today’s media and society. “Therefore, let him who thinks he stand take heed lest he fall!” (1 Corinthians 10:12).
Clearly, we can be tempted, distracted and detoured from the Kingdom of God. But thank God that is a Way of deliverance and of escape that gets us back on track with the Kingdom of God.
The Way of Deliverance and of Escape (Matthew 6:13; 1 Corinthians 10:13)
Our heavenly Father has made a Way for us and deliverance is provided for in Jesus, our Deliverer. Jesus came to set the captives free from the entrapment of temptations. Jesus is the Way of Escape.
When tempted, look for the Way. In John 14:6, Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” Notice how temptations are exactly the opposite,
Temptations are Detours from the Way of God and Kingdom.
Temptations are Deceptions that twist the Truth found in His Person and Word.
Temptations bring Death as opposed to the Life that is found only in God and Jesus Christ.
Temptations draw you away from the purposes of the Kingdom. When our eyes are fixed on the temptation and its options, that is when we get into trouble, Fix your eyes on Jesus.
Learn from the Church in the Wilderness, the things that they have failed in. Learn from the response of Jesus in the Wilderness in Matthew 4:1-11 on how He overcame the tempter.
Jesus knew who He was, His Identity
His identity was not based on what He has or has accomplished. His identity is based on His relationship with His Father.
Jesus’ mind was set on the spiritual, not the natural.
He held on to a spiritual reality even when in the natural, He was hungry and weak but
He walked by faith not by sight.
Jesus stood steady on the Word of God.
The Word of God serves as a firm foundation in times of testing as there is no compromise. Do not rely on others to interpret God’s Word but read and understand it for yourself.
Jesus would only do it God’s way, not the world’s way.
Although the world’s way appeared easier and more comfortable; although it appeared to fulfil the same purpose of establishing the Kingdom of God, if it is not God’s way, it is the wrong way. That is deception, it involves a huge compromise, worshipping the enemy.
Jesus stayed true to His Call and Mission.
He knew what He was sent to do. Can we say the same of ourselves? Anything that did not align Him with Kingdom purpose is a distraction and a detour.
Looking to Jesus, the Way means walking the Way of Jesus. At times, the onslaught of temptation can intensify especially trying and the way of escape takes more than a moment of fleeing. The enemy does not tempt you once and gives up. He looks for another and another ‘opportune’ time. An opportune time is likely in our moment of weakness, greatest pressure, or when our guard is down with pride and complacency.
That explains the need “to bear it”
Question: do we endure the temptation or the way of escape? Battling temptation is suffering because the situation can be really tough or because what we are giving up seems so good.
Jesus had endured the Garden of Gethsemane and the Via Dolorosa, was He not tempted to not go through with the Father’s Will? We flee from temptation, we are to endure the way of escape.
Know that God is faithful. However ‘tough’ the temptation or test, God has already given us every resource and power in Jesus Christ to overcome it. In other words, if we know how to rely on and submit to God, we can be victorious in and through every temptation. God’s purpose is not to break us down, but to build us up. Kingdom people with Kingdom character on Kingdom assignments for Kingdom purposes and glory (James 1:2–4).
The Promise is given in James 1:12, “Blessed is the man who endures temptation [peirasmon]; for when he has been approved [dokimos], he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.”
Are you facing Detours and Distractions? How are you dealing with these Detours & Distractions?
“And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one.”
Rephrasing the prayer above, “Test me, Lord. But do not allow me to succumb to temptation.
Jesus is my deliverer and He has shown me what it means to bear through the way of escape. Enable me by Your grace. May I never be derailed, detoured, or distracted from fulfilling my kingdom assignments.”