“Lead us not into temptation.” – Matthew 6:13
Charles Spurgeon had a knack for preaching pithy and probing sermons. In his introduction to this text he remarked that while “looking over a book of addresses to young people” this text “struck me as being a perfect gem.” Simply, young people urgently needed guidance in avoiding sin.
In the address, the Scripture for that morning, “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil,” had been paired with the exposition “a sinner in danger of being a greater sinner still.” Spurgeon remarked that to fully “understand our text” would require “sharp brushes in the wars” and “battle against the enemy within his soul.” The implied caution for young Christians was clear, be on guard against temptation.
In the first section of his sermon, Spurgeon examined the cause, or “What suggests such a prayer as this?” First, he asserted that the warning was suggested by “watchfulness.” Here he observed that this petition follows after “Forgive us our debts.” Since he “[supposed] the petition to have been answered” he cautioned believers not to grow slack in watchfulness after relishing forgiveness. He believed that fresh temptation would come “very speedily” because “Satan cannot bear to lose his subjects” and so “watchfulness” was wanted.
Second, Spurgeon believed the prayer to be one of “holy horror at the very thought of falling again into sin.” Here he reminded his congregation of the example of a recently converted “man of licentious life and everything that was bad.” Such a person, in his view, “was terribly afraid lest his old companions lead him back again.” Sin had become abhorrent to his soul and so his heart recoiled at the thought.
Third, Spurgeon saw a “diffidence of personal strength” in this prayer. While there are some who feel “strong enough for anything” and “[invite] the battle” this was “not so with the man who has been taught of God.” Rather, such a one has “learned his own weakness; he does not want to be tried.” Now, when the battle comes he will “play the man” and resist sin “but he does not ask for conflict.” The “wise believer” holds an “utter despair of himself,” but an exceedingly high view of Christ and the sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit.
In the second section of his sermon, Spurgeon asked “What are the temptations which the prayer deprecates?” Here Spurgeon declared “I do not think the prayer is intended at all to ask God to spare us from being afflicted for our good.” Rather, the cry was “Save me, O Lord, from such trials and suffering as may lead me into sin.”
First, Spurgeon turned his attention to “providential conditions.” Reflecting on money matters Spurgeon first addressed those who “have never known actual want.” He warned them saying “when we see what extreme poverty has made some men do, how do we know that we should not have behaved even worse is we had been sorely pressed as they?” But, the same was true in reverse as well. He said “you may very well thank heaven you never knew the temptation” of having “more to spend than [you] can possibly need.” Indeed, an indiscrete rich man was like “a galleon waylaid by pirates,” that is “never out of danger.”
Second, Spurgeon addressed “physical conditions.” He remarked that some men are “very moral in character because they are in health,” implying that the loss of such would be a burdensome trial to their character. As a man who himself struggled with rheumatism, gout, and lupus Spurgeon informed his congregation that “diseased livers, palpitating hearts, and injured brains are hard things to struggle against.”
In the third, and final, section of his sermon, Spurgeon addressed “The lessons which the prayer teaches.” First, he declared “never boast in your own strength.” He forbade his hearers to say, “‘Oh, I shall never fall into such follies and sins.’” Rather, he urged “never court temptation by boasting in your own capacity.”
Second, Spurgeon urged his hearers to “never desire trial.” Indeed he urged, “we must not for any reason desire to be afflicted or tried.” Third, he declared “never go into temptation.” Spurgeon lamented that “people go to church and say” this prayer but then “know where temptation is to be found and go straight into it.” Indeed, such a “man who goes into sin willfully….is a hypocrite without a mask upon him.”
Why you should take up and read:
Charles Spurgeon had a knack for preaching pithy and probing sermons. This one in particular is remarkable for his pointed exhortations to avoid temptation and sin. For those looking for guidance on how to not enter into temptation please take up and read.
Here is a link to the Sermon of the Week:https://www.spurgeon.org/resource-library/sermons/lead-us-not-into-temptation--2#flipbook/
Phillip Ort serves as the Director of The Spurgeon Library at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City while studying in The Residency Ph.D. program.