31 And the Lord said, “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. 32 But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.” 33 But he said to Him, “Lord, I am ready to go with You, both to prison and to death.” 34 Then He said, “I tell you, Peter, the rooster shall not crow this day before you will deny three times that you know Me” (Luke 22:31–34, NKJV).
Peter, the stone, would soon crack under temptation, although he was sure he would never deny Jesus (Luke 22:54-62). Peter’s sin was grievous, but it would not define him. Jesus looked beyond Peter’s transgression to a future faith that would bless others. Indeed, Peter returned to Christ and, as an apostle, strengthened his fellow apostles and countless others. We can see ourselves in Peter. Satan wants to sift us as wheat like he tried to destroy Peter’s faith. When we yield to temptation in times of weakness, we have a friend in Jesus, an Advocate with the Father who intercedes for us when we confess our sins (1 John 1:9-2:2). Do not let your moment of weakness and sin define your faith. Like Peter, return to the Lord with godly sorrow and repentance (Luke 22:62; Acts 8:22-24). With revived faith, be a blessing to others. What a friend we have in Jesus! He will never leave or forsake us (Heb. 13:5-6).
10 Now whom you forgive anything, I also forgive. For if indeed I have forgiven anything, I have forgiven that one for your sakes in the presence of Christ, 11 lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices. (2 Corinthians 2:10–11, NKJV)
The sinning Christian we read of in 1 Corinthians 5:1 was disciplined by the Corinthian church, and he repented of his sin (2 Corinthians 2:6-8). Now was the time for forgiving and rejoicing, not recrimination. Satan will seek an advantage against us, even when a Christian repents of sin. Therefore, we must always be alert for his subtle deceptions. We cannot afford to be uninformed and unaware of his strategies to entice us to sin. While we pray to our Father to not “lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one,” we must also equip ourselves with the whole armor of God and “be strong in the Lord,” to “be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (Ephesians 6:10-11). When someone sins against us and hurts us, but then asks us for our forgiveness, we must fully and completely forgive (Matthew 6:14-15; 18:21-35). Otherwise, we are overtaken by sin, at the very moment we ought to be instruments of God’s mercy and compassion.
And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. (Matthew 6:13, NKJV)
Jesus is not saying to pray that we are never tempted; Temptations to sin come to us all. James settles the matter once and for all that the devil, not God, is the source of temptations (Jas. 1:13-15). Jesus is teaching us to pray for God’s watchful care so that we will not succumb to temptations (for by so doing, we choose to sin). “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation” was the Lord’s exhortation to the three disciples who slept in Gethsemane; and to us as well (Matt. 26:41). Sadly, we often sleep even as we walk into the midst of temptations, all the while expecting the Lord to miraculously rescue us from spiritual harm. While praying for God’s assured protection and to use the available avenues of escape when temptations come, we must vigilantly watch for the enticements the evil one will set before us (1 Cor. 10:13; 1 Pet. 5:8). God’s deliverance from temptation comes as we watch and pray, resist the allurements of the devil and refuse to sin against God.
5 Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, 6 and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written: ‘He shall give His angels charge over you,’ and, “In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone.’ ” 7 Jesus said to him, “It is written again, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God.’ ” (Matthew 4:5–7)
The devil is a master manipulator. Appealing to pride, he tempted Jesus to put God to the test to see if He would keep His word. But, Jesus refused his enticement. The devil quoted Scripture, but he left out an important part of the passage (Psa. 91:11-12). Jesus was indeed the Son of God, and God did indeed promise His protective care. But Satan left out a statement that would have exposed his temptation: “To keep you in all your ways” (Psa. 91:11). Jesus knew God would protect Him as He did the Father’s will, but, not if His way was against God’s way. So, Jesus exposed Satan’s unholy use of God’s word and refused to put God to the test. As Jesus quotes Scripture here he teaches us an important lesson: God’s word harmonizes. The devil twists the Scriptures. You can resist sin’s temptation by knowing the Scriptures and by handling them carefully.