Lead Us Not Into Temptation
I'm sure you've all heard the expression, "Be careful what you pray for - you just might get it." Well...quite a few months ago I made the mistake of asking God to show me anything that was keeping me from getting closer to Him. Bless His Holy Name!! He is faithful!
Those of you who have been walking with the Lord for a long time will agree that the closer you get to Him the more aware you become of your sin, especially the internal ones that no one else sees. When I began to pray for more intimacy, I wasn't far from Him, I just wanted more of Him. My spirit and soul were crying out for MORE! My entire being craves the fullness of His Spirit! I knew when I began praying for Him to "break me" that I needed to buckle my seatbelt and hold on tight.
Daily, I became more and more conscious of the sin in my thought life; of my lack of Christian concern for other drivers; of my relative indifference for the lost all around me, etc. The conviction of the Holy Spirit was relentless!! And still is! Praise God! He made me miserable because He loves me!
I am so grateful for His faithfulness! He loves me too much to allow me to go uncorrected. A lack of proper perspective can lead to discouragement when the conviction keeps coming - but, beloved of Christ, His conviction means He wants you to come closer! We must forsake those things that keep us from deeper intimacy - not to earn anything (obedience is my duty), but because it's my self-reliance that leads me to sin. My limited knowledge, limited ability, and limited perspective can never produce anything of eternal merit.
Draw a stick figure on a piece of paper. Now draw a line under his feet to show that we are limited spatially to being in one place at one time; next, draw a line on his right side, showing that we are limited in what we can do; now, draw a line over his head to show that we are limited in what we can know; finally, draw a line on his left side to show that we are limited in what we can perceive. Your stick figure should now be in a box - caged by his own limitations. Now look at your stick figure in that box and think about your concept of free-will. He doesn't look very free, does he? Yes, he has the ability to make choices (within his box) - and yes, he is responsible for those choices. But, no matter how you slice it, limitation doesn't equal freedom. Problem is, his "chooser" is broken - apart from God, he only makes selfish choices. (Ultimately, there's really only one choice: God or self.)
Only in connection to Christ can I overcome the sin of self-reliance that permeates my being! HIS Spirit brings the conviction that leads to confession and repentance. As I'm sure many of you already know: the Greek word for "confess" means "to say the same thing." The Spirit's conviction says, "You are sinning and need to repent." When I confess my sin, I am saying the same thing back to Him! But He started the process. As I said in my "Works and Fruit" entry - it all begins and ends with God. He alone gets ALL the Glory! I dare not steal any of it for myself!
Many times it's our ignorance of our sin that keeps us stagnant. Sometimes God has to "lead us" into certain situations in order to show us our limitations - to break us of our self-reliance. He Himself doesn't tempt us, but He may "allow" us to be tempted in certain ways in order to bring our sin to the surface so we can confess it back to Him.
1 Corinthians 11:31 says, "For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged." If you look at this verse in its context you'll see more clearly how it applies to the subject at hand. Remaining ever vigilant about our sin will spare us the need for God's correction, loving though it may be. It occurred to me this afternoon that this is a practical application of the phrase "lead us not into temptation" from the Lord's model prayer. My awareness of my weakness in a certain area allows me to cover that weakness with fervent prayer - prayer that confesses my need for God's protection in that area of my life. During this season of prayer and conviction, God has revealed a particular area of weakness in my life. I have prayed numerous times: "Lord, please protect me from my own propensity in this area - protect me from myself - keep me from such a situation, for I fear I may fail you in this regard. I confess my weakness to you, I cannot sustain myself. Where there is opportunity, take away desire; and where there is desire, take away opportunity."
Yeah, the whole process can get unbearable at times, but the payout is worth it, "that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection." Blessed Lord! Break me!