Matthew 6:13 And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.
Matthew 26:41 Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
Many temptations begin with a sense of exploration, gratification, or simple fun. We tend to seek pleasure, feel better. We want to be happy and feeling good can become our goal or priority. We discover things, behaviors, foods, etc. which give us good feeling. This by itself in our world may seem normal, but spiritually and biblically, it can be destructive. When we seek after things that give us physical enjoyment we can sacrifice health, safety, and Godly character.
Patience, for example, can be difficult when we are hungry and there is a long line at the food court. We may have to struggle within our minds to tell ourselves to slow down, be patient, and be kind when our body is urging us in suffering to eat. Yet if we cut other people, yell at the cashier, or simply whine and complain with bitterness and anger we can make things more difficult.
Then there is addiction and destructive euphoria producing activities. Gambling, food, drugs, sex, money, etc. can be very rewarding/euphoric. It can feel wonderful to win the lottery, live a fantasy, or lose all sense of stress and pain (pain killers). It is so important to see how such pursuits chokes the spirit of God within us. It's like having God speak to us and then we turn up the stereo so we no longer hear God. The Spirit within us will urge us into Good and away from evil. There can be conflict when we pursue evil, because the Spirit will prompt us within our sense, provide some shame, bring uncomfortable feelings, etc. We must avoid the temptation of turning up the stereo to block out the discomforting prompts. Instead we ought to talk about this feeling with others who know and follow God to get a better sense of what is going on within us.
In striving toward God with all our mind, heart, soul, and strength we can avoid much destruction. Since God is goodness and righteousness, as we grow in God, we grow in goodness and righteousness.
James 1:12-14 "Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.13 When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14 but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. 15 Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death."
Temptation begins with a prompt in thought that could be fleeting and perhaps often going unrecognized. Stores have items near the check out designed to prompt/tempt people to purchase often referring to it as the impulse section. Advertisements of all kinds are designed to prompt desire, "This will make you feel good." When we continue thinking, after desire has been prompted, keeping our focus upon the temptation, we become a willing participant choosing to entertain the pleasuring idea. As we anticipate the pleasure within our minds we increase our desire for that pleasure. Our bodies now become compelled to get that result. Sin at this point is alive and dominating within us. After we have given ourselves over to it, we can feel bad, suffer from guilt or shame, and find blame in ourselves, life, or something else. This empty, lonely, and shameful feeling can prompt us right back into seeking another distraction from God's urge to change. We become slaves to pleasure.
Romans 6:16 Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?
Instead of thinking how we can better serve God, we are thinking about how to increase pleasure. The pleasure in the experience may become so appealing we create reasoning, rational, beliefs, and choose relationships to support it, use excuses to justify it, continuing in the pleasure at the expense of our heart, spirit, mind, soul, and loving relationships. We can slowly be lead in this direction becoming entrapped and a slave to sin.
Luke 8:13 But the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, who believe for a while and in time of temptation fall away.
Romans 6:17 But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered.
Our focus ought to be upon God, God's will, and God's character with our hearts connected. We ought to evaluate our thoughts and actions and assess the underlining motivation of our participation in them. Then we can align our thinking and actions to match God's will. When we desire to please God and experience God's goodness, anything which attempts to draw us away loses its grip and power. As we move our heart and mind more toward God and participate in God's principles we gain spiritual pleasure experiences we may use to justify continuing in God's ways. We can gain Godly insight through experiencing God's character within our hearts just as we had gained insight into evil pleasures by experiencing them physically. As we convince ourselves more and more toward God, God of love, patience, peace, mercy, forgiveness, compassion, generosity, truth, and justice, we see more and more how beautiful God's will is and how wonderful our lives can become as we continue with God. Our faith grows as our experience and belief improves
with God. Increasing our reliance and experience in God's goodness can greatly improve our faith.
1 Corinthians 10:13 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.
Galatians 6:1 Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.
1 Timothy 6:9 Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.
Hebrews 2:18 Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.
Hebrews 4:15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but
we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.
Willingness, Truth, Humility
Luke 22:46 Then He said to them, “Why do you sleep? Rise and pray, lest you enter into temptation.”
Willingness and desire for God are essential. If we are unwilling and have no interest in receiving God's goodness within us, then it is unlikely we will seek through physical discomfort to gain experience of God's righteousness. We can become resistant toward spiritual change. We can have within us such pride, selfishness, dishonesty, and resentment that we will refuse any argument toward change. "I can't," or "I don't have time," or "I tried that," are popular justifications for avoiding change. If we remain callused, rebellious, and stiff necked with uncircumcised hearts, we we may continue to turn up the music and lose our ability to hear the guidance from the Holy Spirit within us. Truth, Humility, and desire for God are required.
"There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance--that principle is contempt prior to investigation."
----Herbert Spencer Alcoholics Anonymous Page 568, Chapter--Spiritual Experience
If our willingness becomes blocked, we can pray to God, to help us become willing. Humility is often the first step toward fixing spiritual problems. Prayer ought to be sincere and with a humble heart.
See scripture below about willingness
Exodus 25:2 “Speak to the children of Israel, that they bring Me an offering. From everyone who gives it willingly with his heart you shall take My offering.
Exodus 35:5 ‘Take from among you an offering to the LORD. Whoever is of a willing heart, let him bring it as an offering to the LORD: gold, silver, and bronze;
Exodus 35:21 Then everyone came whose heart was stirred, and everyone whose spirit was willing, and they brought the LORD’s offering for the work of the tabernacle of meeting, for all its service, and for the holy garments.
Exodus 35:29 The children of Israel brought a freewill offering to the LORD, all the men and women whose hearts were willing to bring material for all kinds of work which the LORD, by the hand of Moses, had commanded to be done.
Judges 5:2 “When leaders lead in Israel, When the people willingly offer themselves, Bless the LORD!
1 Chronicles 28:9 “As for you, my son Solomon, know the God of your father, and serve Him with a loyal heart and with a willing mind; for the LORD searches all hearts and understands all the intent of the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will be found by you; but if you forsake Him, He will cast you off forever.
1 Chronicles 29:5 the gold for things of gold and the silver for things of silver, and for all kinds of work to be done by the hands of craftsmen. Who then is willing to consecrate himself this day to the LORD?”
1 Chronicles 29:6 Then the leaders of the fathers’ houses, leaders of the tribes of Israel, the captains of thousands and of hundreds, with the officers over the king’s work, offered willingly.
1 Chronicles 29:9 Then the people rejoiced, for they had offered willingly, because with a loyal heart they had offered willingly to the LORD; and King David also rejoiced greatly.
1 Chronicles 29:17 I know also, my God, that You test the heart and have pleasure in uprightness. As for me, in the uprightness of my heart I have willingly offered all these things; and now with joy I have seen Your people, who are present here to offer willingly to You.
2 Chronicles 17:16 and next to him was Amasiah the son of Zichri, who willingly offered himself to the LORD, and with him two hundred thousand mighty men of valor.
2 Chronicles 29:31 Then Hezekiah answered and said, “Now that you have consecrated yourselves to the LORD, come near, and bring sacrifices and thank offerings into the house of the LORD.” So the assembly brought in sacrifices and thank offerings, and as many as were of a willing heart brought burnt offerings.
Ezra 3:5 Afterwards they offered the regular burnt offering, and those for New Moons and for all the appointed feasts of the LORD that were consecrated, and those of everyone who willingly offered a freewill offering to the LORD.
Nehemiah 11:2 And the people blessed all the men who willingly offered themselves to dwell at Jerusalem.
Isaiah 1:19 If you are willing and obedient, You shall eat the good of the land;
Matthew 11:14 And if you are willing to receive it, he is Elijah who is to come.
Matthew 26:41 Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
Mark 14:38 Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
John 5:35 He was the burning and shining lamp, and you were willing for a time to rejoice in his light.
2 Corinthians 8:3 For I bear witness that according to their ability, yes, and beyond their ability, they were freely willing,
2 Corinthians 8:12 For if there is first a willing mind, it is accepted according to what one has, and not according to what he does not have.
2 Corinthians 9:2 for I know your willingness, about which I boast of you to the Macedonians, that Achaia was ready a year ago; and your zeal has stirred up the majority.
1 Timothy 6:18 Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share,
James 3:17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.
1 Peter 5:2 Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly;
Leviticus 26:21 ‘Then, if you walk contrary to Me, and are not willing to obey Me, I will bring on you seven times more plagues, according to your sins.
Hosea 5:11 Ephraim is oppressed and broken in judgment, Because he willingly walked by human precept.
Matthew 22:3 and sent out his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding; and they were not willing to come.
Matthew 23:37 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!
John 5:40 But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.
1 Corinthians 9:17 For if I do this willingly, I have a reward; but if against my will, I have been entrusted with a stewardship.
Acts 18:21 but took leave of them, saying, “I must by all means keep this coming feast in Jerusalem; but I will return again to you, God willing.” And he sailed from Ephesus.