“Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Matthew 26:41
Temptation doesn’t first appear to us as something evil. It draws close to us through the gateway of our own heart and and presents itself as an answer to our deepest longings. It smiles at us, whispers promises, and tells us that happiness is near. It is a most beautiful disguise of sin, which covers the ugliness of itself with a mirage of hope based upon our own fleshly desires. Very rarely does it require much effort on Satan’s part at all, for our human nature drives us to say yes to the call of our deceitful hearts. And even when our spirit longs to do what is right, our flesh naturally battles against it. How crucial it is, therefore, that we cling to these words of Jesus and submit to their wisdom: “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.”
It is very easy to fall, especially when we are not looking ahead of us for what may cause us to stumble. 1 Peter 5:8 warns, “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” Satan is alive in this world, and he is working to accomplish the opposite of what God wants for our lives. If we do not stay alert, he can creep up on us, enticing us with the beauty of a lion, yet leading us down a path of destruction. Satan knows the weakness of our flesh, and he preys upon it every chance he gets in order to get us further away from God and closer to the trap of his schemes. Therefore, “day after day” we must “stand on the watchtower” (Isaiah 21:8) to see what is approaching, and when we see the enemy coming, we must call out to God.
Like the psalmist, we can cry out, “Hear my prayer, O Lord; let my cry for help come to you” (Psalm 102:1)! Every single moment we feel the weakness of our flesh trying to gain control, we can ask God for the grace we need to get through the moment. God knows we are weak in the face of temptation, but when we come to him with a spirit that is willing to obey, he can bring us victory over things that seem virtually impossible to defeat! Satan has no power over God, nor do our fleshly desires have ultimate victory over the spirit that God set within us. Alone, we may feel weak and vulnerable, unable to stand against the lure of sin, but with God, we are strong. He alone makes us victorious, for he is “the God of peace [that] will soon crush Satan under [our] feet” (Romans 16:20). May his victory be ours forever!
Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Messiah. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down. Revelation 12:10
And the lookout shouted, “Day after day, my lord, I stand on the watchtower; every night I stay at my post.” Isaiah 21:8
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. Matthew 6:13