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Lent 2016: March 5, Day 25 -Temptation

I should be leaving
But I can't cut loose
I have my reasons for resistance
But I have no excuse
And I lose my composure
I could use some restraint
I never claimed to be a hero
And I never said I was a saint

She's such a temptation
It's driving me crazy
And it's my fascination
That's making me act this way
And I can just hear all my friends say
"Better watch out, you're losing your touch"
But she's such a temptation

Throughout this Lenten season blog, I have been working through the lines of the Lord's Prayer as my template for daily prayer. We're getting close to the end of the prayer with the second-to-last topic, temptation.

Matthew 6:13 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

13 ‘And do not lead us into temptation,

There are a couple of strong opinions about how to interpret this portion of the prayer. Two conflicting beliefs are 1.) those who take this segment of the Lord's Prayer listed above to mean that He does tempt people (otherwise, why would Jesus suggest that we bring it up) and 2.) those who don't believe that God, Himself, actually tempts anyone. There are verses that support that as well.

James 1:13:

When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone;

Some people take this apparent conflict very seriously. Some people feel like if you find any two verses that contradict one another that maybe the Bible isn't true. I understand their concern, you can easily see the human element of the Bible just by comparing modern-day translations, let alone centuries of human influence. But that doesn't change my mind about the bible being infallible when I remember that the Word became flesh, in the form of a human person; and when He overcame death, He left behind His Spirit as His Living Word.

I don't rely solely on the written word when I am reading it, I know that I am accompanied on my journey with the Holy Spirit, who quickens my soul with truth.

Here's the verse about temptation that makes my heart leap with gratitude:

I Corinthians 10:13

13 No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.

It doesn't really matter where the temptation came from. When I get tempted, He is there with me and promises to provide a way out.

I used to hear pastors talk about how Jesus had been tempted and knew how we felt, but some small part of me sort of groused that, of course the Son of God could say no to the things that tempt me- He's above that. Somehow I discounted His overcoming temptation because somehow it was easier for Him, but then I read closely how He had been tempted in His forty days in the desert. (Luke 4 and Matthew 4) He was tempted not by things that entice me, but things that would have enticed Him. And He overcame it.

I bring this up because it speaks to His promise above in I Corinthians that He will not let you be burdened more than you can bear and He will offer a way out. Those promises actually mean much more to me because I know He really does know what real human temptation feels like and how much it hurts.

I included some Billy Joel lyrics at the top of this post from his song Temptation. It hits on a theme similar to the one I explored in my post from last July in which I review the Richard Russo book, Elsewhere. In that post I include an Eminem lyric that expresses a similar sentiment as Billy Joel- both men comment on how the object of their temptation steals from them their composure and self-will. Temptation can feel like falling, out of our control, and yet drawn as if by gravity.

So, to me, in my daily prayers, when I get to this section on temptation, I don't contemplate if God would actually tempt me or not, I pray the words He gave me to pray and then I thank Him that He knows first hand about human temptation and promised to help me through. If I have specific temptations on my heart, with which I am struggling, I call on His promise to help me and then ask for His spirit of repentance- since that has to come from Him.

And finally, I am most grateful for knowing if I do fall, I fall directly to the foot of the cross where I can find grace for a new day.

Amen.

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