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Living on the Edge of Disaster

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey
The Truth Network Radio
April 26, 2023 12:00 am

Living on the Edge of Disaster

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey

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April 26, 2023 12:00 am

Do you have enough willpower to not be tempted? Of course not. How about resisting temptation, do you have enough strength to resist all the temptations to sin that come your way? Every believer knows that they do not. That’s why, as Jesus continues giving us an example of how to pray, He reminds us that temptation is inevitable—it will come—and He reminds us that only through God’s strength can we overcome.


See, this prayer is an admission.

Jesus wants us to admit that our hearts are little manufacturing plants where temptation is all too easily invited to apply for work. And then we give it a front office. We give it direct access to the board of directors that controls our lives and gives it the run of the place. So be on guard. It might knock on your door. So lock it. It might call you.

So change your number. Let me ask you something. Do you have enough willpower not to be tempted? Well, of course not. No matter how strong you are spiritually, temptation will come. How about resisting temptation? Do you have enough strength to resist all the temptations to sin that come your way?

Again, no. Every believer knows that they don't. That's why as Jesus was teaching his disciples how to pray, he reminded them that temptation is inevitable.

It will come. And he reminded them that only through God's strength can we overcome. Stephen continues examining Jesus' instructions in this message called Living on the Edge of Disaster. According to news reports, around 12 tourists a year on average slip and fall to their death from somewhere along the rim of the Grand Canyon. Recently, a man hopped up on a low stone wall for his daughter to take a picture. He'd noticed that there was a narrow ledge behind that low wall and after she snapped the picture, he hopped off backwards pretending to fall to scare his daughter.

He slipped on that narrow ledge and fell 400 feet to his death. I have read that the majority of individuals who fall off the rim are young men, young confident men, hopping from one rock to another, posing for pictures and they get too close to the edge. Park rangers have one piece of advice. It's almost so simple, it's easy to ignore. Here it is, quote, stick to the path.

One article reported that rangers often remind more than a million visitors every year, quote, remember this is not an amusement park. This is dangerous. It's easier than you think to lose your balance and in a moment, fall. That sounded like the Christian life to me when I read that. In many ways, the Christian life does not rescue you from danger, it introduces it to you. And the false advertising of the average gospel narrative today is that when you come to Jesus, he leads you into an amusement park and it's fun and games all the way to heaven. The truth is following Jesus is more like hiking along the rim of the Grand Canyon, steep cliffs, narrow paths. And Jesus introduces you to a life where the enemy is constantly attempting to lead you off the path, to lose your balance and go over the edge.

Living on the edge, I think is a great motto for the Christian life, a very real motto. Now that sounds a little too dramatic for you, then you've got something to learn from the Apostle Paul who said he was afraid that after having preached to others that he himself would be disqualified, 1 Corinthians 9, 27. He wasn't afraid of losing his salvation, he was afraid of losing his integrity and his testimony.

He didn't want to discredit the gospel, he didn't want to discourage other believers who would be watching him and he certainly didn't want to disappoint the Lord who had saved him. So Paul lived with an awareness of that kind of potential disaster, that kind of potential disqualification, that kind of potential discrediting of the gospel, that kind of fear of disappointing the Lord and walking too close to the edge. For the believer today that happens to be the best way to live, Paul would write, take heed while you stand lest you what?

Fall, 1 Corinthians 10, 12. See the proud believer is convinced he will never fall. The humble believer is convinced he will never stand apart from the grace of God. It should be no surprise that the Lord will teach us to pray with that kind of perspective. If you have your copy of Luke's gospel, turn to chapter 11. He's been teaching his disciples how to pray and he introduces a very simple phrase that doesn't skirt the issue, doesn't sugar coat the issue.

If he doesn't play it down, he calls it what it is. We're now at verse 4 and the last phrase and I want to combine it with Matthew's account as well where Jesus teaches them to pray this, and lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. It's a good phrase to consider. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. Whereas one little girl who was being taught to pray this prayer came to this point and prayed, lead us not into temptation but deliver us from email.

Not bad. Jesus is about to teach them and us how to face the danger of temptation and evil. You face that danger not by ignoring it, not by downplaying it, but by recognizing it every single day. Recognizing you are living on the edge of disaster at any moment.

When you get out of bed in the morning, you are moving into the realm of danger. This is the final prayer request recorded in this pattern prayer. You might notice it began with our Father in heaven and it ends with evil on earth. One author said the Christian lives in between those two every day. So the prayer ends really with nothing less than a cry for help from believers who want to stay on the path, who don't want to lose their spiritual balance, who don't want to fall off the edge of the canyon, so to speak, in their Christian experience.

And that's possible. So this prayer is, and I just want to pull out four truths that will protect us in this world of danger and I believe why Jesus would want us to pray it. First of all, this prayer leads you to realize that the danger of temptation will never go away. Lead us not into temptation.

This is as daily as daily bread. This is as daily as forgive us our sins because we do fail. You might be initially confused by this phrase. It sounds like God might tempt the believer to sin or lead the believer into some kind of tempting situation. From other passages of scripture, we know that this is not true. James writes in his letter, let no one say when he is tempted.

I am being tempted by God, for God cannot be tempted with evil and he himself tempts no one. Some have tried to explain this by pointing out that the Greek word for temptation is the same word for testing and that is true, the same word, but nowhere is the believer ever taught to ask God to keep him from being tested. In fact, we're told to embrace it because testing produces endurance.

James also says that in chapter one. God definitely leads us into times of testing in order to strengthen our faith and our walk. The context determines whether or not it is referring to testing which is intended to develop us or temptation which is intended to destroy us. The context in Luke 11 is clearly temptation, the sin, destruction, evil. Protect us from the destructive, tempting power of sin. You could read it that way. Lead us not into temptation could be understood to mean, as I think Chuck Swindoll wonderfully paraphrased it in his commentary, cause us not to yield to temptation.

It's the idea. By the way, that's how Jesus prayed. The real Lord's Prayer, by the way, is John chapter 17 where Jesus uses the same terminology where he says to his father, I do not ask you to take my disciples out of the world, but that you protect them from evil.

Same idea. Jesus knows the danger you're facing today. He knows that Satan, who is the original tempter, works in concert with our fallen flesh, constantly advertised through a fallen world to sin, to fall off the path, to lose our balance, to destroy our integrity, to remove our witness and testimony and he never lets up. If you're 35 years old, his network of fallen angels has had 35 years to study you, to study your fallen nature, to watch you, to take notes on your propensities. They can see you blink. They see you look twice. They have a file on you that would probably terrify all of us.

If you're 55 years old, that simply means they've had 20 more years to study you, to figure you out. In the Bible, Satan is called, among other names, the tempter, Matthew 4-3, the serpent, 2 Corinthians 11-3, the dragon, Revelation 12-13, the lion seeking someone to devour, 1 Peter 5a, literally to swallow whole, so to speak. He can't steal your soul from heaven, but he'll try to destroy your life on earth. And Peter says he's hungry. He's a hungry lion prowling around. You don't play around with a hungry lion. You don't have a conversation with a hungry lion.

You avoid them. I remember being in East Africa for a series of meetings and one afternoon my host took me in his jeep on a day safari. At one point, we came to a large tree where a pride was lying underneath in the shade of several lionesses and cubs. My host stopped the jeep about 100, 200 feet away and we sat there looking. One of the lionesses got up and came over toward us to my side of the jeep. She came all the way over and just looked in the window at me. Her back, she was so big, was tall enough to reach the bottom of that window ledge and I'd rolled that thing up fairly tightly and she stood there looking at me, no doubt having heard that I don't like cats, I fear.

Her purring was so loud it sounded, she sounded like a small engine. Peter had evidently seen them too. He compares Satan to a hungry one. And Jesus wants to remind us in this prayer that temptation is a dangerous and a daily threat. Temptation is not going to go away until the day we are glorified in complete and final and confirmed holiness like Christ in his presence. So here's the first truth to understand about this prayer request. It leads you to verbalize the danger of temptation that will never go away. Secondly, this prayer leads you to recognize that your sinful heart gladly gets in the way. The reason temptation is so tempting is because it's something you're interested in.

You know, when my wife periodically sends me to the grocery store to pick up just a few things, I never linger in the vegetable section. I won't stop there. One man wrote, tongue in cheek, why would I resist temptation?

It might go away. It's dangerous because it tempts our sinful nature. You know, we're far too quick to blame the devil and the world for what we're capable of doing all by ourselves. And J. I. Packer, as I'm reading his little book on this prayer, he dips back into his Anglican past and he pulls this from the Anglican prayer book. As it describes sin we battle with, so clearly, deliver us from sin that is from all blindness of heart, from pride, vainglory and hypocrisy, from envy, hatred and malice, from fornication and all other deadly sin, from hardness of heart and contempt of thy word and commandments.

And I love the way it ends. Good Lord, deliver us. See, this prayer is an admission. Jesus wants us to admit that our hearts are little manufacturing plants where temptation is all too easily invited to apply for work. And then we give it a front office.

We give it direct access to the board of directors that controls our lives and gives it the run of the place. Deliver us from temptation is an admission that we need delivering from ourselves. Jesus taught his disciples in Matthew 26, watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation, that is, be snared by it.

In fact, the word for watch in that text is the word for a soldier on guard. So you get out of bed, you go into the day and you're on guard. Every day you will have a test of integrity. Every day you will have a test of purity.

Every day you will have a test of honesty. So be on guard. It might knock on your door, so lock it. It might call you, so change your number. It might entice you, so delete it.

It might be around the corner, so avoid that corner. One author wrote it this way, find out what for you is fire. Find out what for you is fire and then don't play with it. You can't decide to get rid of temptation, but you can decide not to listen to it, not to hide it, not to plan for it, make room for it, give your number to it. That's the point Martin Luther, the reformer once made on this prayer.

In fact, he originated this saying that you've probably heard 500 years ago when he wrote on this subject, you cannot keep the birds from flying over your head, but you can keep them from building a nest in your hair. So this prayer leads you to realize that the danger of temptation will never go away. It leads you to recognize that your sinful heart gladly gets in the way. And now thirdly, this prayer leads you to admit that you don't have the willpower to resist the wrong way. You might notice here that Jesus does not teach us to pray, Father, give me more willpower to fight against temptation.

That's not what he teaches. This is a prayer of desperation. Jesus isn't telling us to ask for more willpower.

He's wanting us to admit we don't have enough. Deliver us from evil means we cannot deliver ourselves. Keep us from temptation is another way of saying we can't handle it. We can't overcome it on our own. This is a prayer that will only be prayed by people who recognize they are powerless apart from the Father's guidance. Are we willing to pray it?

Do we recognize we need to? I remember when our twin sons were about five years old, we were praying at the breakfast table before school as was our custom and we would take turns. It was one of my son's turns and he just announced matter of factly that he wasn't going to pray.

We have total rebellion and he's only five. I kept my cool and said, well, why aren't you going to pray? And he rather nonchalantly looked at me and said, because I really don't need to. I don't need to. In other words, I got everything under control. He's got kindergarten figured out. I know where my colored pencils are.

Life's good. Now, we wouldn't say that, but do we think that? See, we're not praying about temptation, perhaps because we don't think we need to. This is not a new problem, by the way.

You can go all the way back to the upper room where it began to surface. This is Peter, the disciple. The Lord is warning his disciples in Matthew 26 and saying one of them is going to betray him. In fact, not just Peter, but all of them say, surely not I.

Surely not I. None of them said, Lord, we better start a prayer meeting because it is probably me. Later, Jesus informs them that Peter, specifically that he's going to deny him three times. Peter responds in verse 33 of that chapter, Lord, if everyone else falls away, and I wouldn't be surprised if they did, I will never fall away.

I'm not going over that edge. Remember, proud Christians don't think they can fall. Humble Christians don't think they can stand apart from Christ. So Peter effectively says, I'm strong.

I can go right up to the edge of disaster. And Jesus says to him in verse 34, truly I say to you, in other words, mark my words, Peter, what I'm telling you is the truth, this very night before a rooster crows, you will deny me three times. That's pretty specific.

How specific can you get? You're going to deny me three times, and then a rooster is going to crow to remind you that I said you would deny me three times. Peter still did not respond, well, Lord, you know, with all those specifics, it's obvious something's going to happen. Can I go somewhere to pray?

No, he says that isn't going to happen to me. There's no chicken coop in my future. There are no roosters crowing. Many Bible students will focus on Peter's denial because of the pressure out there in the courtyard later on by that servant girl who cornered him as one of the Lord's disciples. Peter didn't fall off the edge into that canyon of disaster in that courtyard.

He had started a free fall hours earlier in the upper room. He didn't think this prayer was for him. Life's good. I've got it under control. See, Jesus is teaching us here to pray, not because temptation might show up, but because it will, and we are to pray as it were every single day, Lord, I know temptation's coming.

I cannot handle it on my own. Protect me in it and through it. With that, we're ready for the fourth observation or truth in this prayer.

Here it is. This prayer leads you to rest in the promise that God will guide you in the right way. Now, having admitted our powerlessness, we're given the promise of his powerfulness. He can guide us around it, oftentimes through it. Deliver us from evil, Matthew adds. Don't permit, you could translate that, evil to catch us in its net.

It's the idea. Philip Keller writes in his wonderful little book on prayer, which I've enjoyed in our study, this. The Lord would not teach us to ask our Heavenly Father for deliverance from evil if deliverance wasn't available. He would not instruct us to pray to be delivered from temptation if our Father had no interest in doing it.

But he does and he will. This is yet another measure of his grace and his love for us, his children. See, temptation, beloved, is always looking for something in our lives that is not under the management of God's Spirit. Something we're keeping from him.

And it targets that. Those areas that are not surrendered. Those areas where we are not satisfied, as we sang earlier. So this prayer request is about more than temptation and sin. This is about trust and surrender. That's what we're saying when we pray this prayer. Peter Forsythe put it this way when he wrote 100 years ago, the first duty of every soul is not to find its freedom, but its master.

I love that phrase. The first duty, what he means is the primary duty. In fact, you could consider it the primary delight.

Here's your primary delight. Here is the sin, avoiding temptation, overpowering, God-delighting duty of every soul, not to find its freedom, but its master. And when your Heavenly Father is declared daily to be your master, guess what? He gives you the freedom to avoid falling over the edge of disaster. He gives you the freedom to keep your balance. He gives you the freedom to stay on the path.

He gives you the freedom to live life worth living, to avoid the snare and stay on the path. Stephen called this message, living on the edge of disaster. He'll continue through this series called the disciples prayer next time. We have a place on our website where Stephen answers Bible questions that have come in from listeners. You might enjoy going online and looking at what other people have asked and reading Stephen's answers. You can send us an email if you address it to info at Use that address info at for any questions or correspondence and join us next time for more wisdom for the hearts. I'll see you next time. I'll see you next time.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-26 00:45:58 / 2023-04-26 00:54:21 / 8

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