Do not enter into temptation

by Rev Jason Phua

Bible Reading: Luke 22:35-53; Psalm 51:1-19

READ (verses chosen for meditation)
Luke 22:45-46 “And when he rose from prayer, he came to the disciples and found them sleeping for sorrow, and he said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Rise and pray that you may not enter into temptation.”

Twice our Lord Jesus said to the disciples to pray and not enter into temptation. What did Jesus mean by that?

Firstly, what “temptation” was Jesus talking about? For Jesus, it was the temptation of giving in to his mortal will of rejecting the will of God for him to be crucified. For the disciples, it had to do with how they might lose faith as we are told that they were “sleeping for sorrow”. So “temptation” in this context does not mean God’s testing for the believer, but of situations that might render the believer to stumble.

Secondly, what does prayer have to do with not entering into temptation? Why didn’t Jesus ask the disciples to pray when they are tempted? The Greek grammar for “pray” in Luke 22 suggest that we must take it upon ourselves (for our own benefit) to pray constantly that we do not enter into temptation. The assumption seems to be that for the Christian, being watchful that we can enter into temptation is part and parcel of the new life. Furthermore, for the sake of holiness, it might be better not having to enter into temptation than having to struggle when we do enter into temptation. Indeed may the Lord grant that we do not enter into temptations, if He is willing. For the Lord knows that when we do enter into temptation, there is always the possibility for us (due to our own will) to stumble in the faith.

Today’s passage is a powerful reminder that my daily prayers ought to consist of “not entering into temptation”. Quite often, I only pray that God will help me to resist temptations or not sin due to temptations. Today, Jesus reminded that I should (by His command) constantly pray that I do not enter into temptation; for the temptations of this world can be powerful and dangerous such as social media, food and sex. Such a prayer comes from a heart of humility and reliance on the grace of God. For a heart that thinks that I can resist or overcome temptation anytime of the day is prideful. A heart that thinks I will certainly rely on the Holy Spirit when I am tempted, looks too much on my own strength; but not on the work of the Spirit.

God, by your sovereign grace, let me enter not into temptation. However, if it must be so, give me grace to stay in the Spirit to avoid stumbling in the faith. Amen.


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