When I was 23, I worked in an art gallery in Philadelphia. I lived in an apartment in the corner of the dimly lit cockroach-infested bowels of a large, old apartment building. The only other apartment near me was occupied by a small time thug who occasionally asked me if I’d like a new (stolen) TV, or if I’d mind keeping his gun in my place for a few days (no thanks). When coming home to my apartment, I was always afraid that someone would lurch out of the shadows in the basement and stab me.
I had 3 locks on my door.
One evening after work, when I opened the door my blood ran cold. There on top of my couch sat a gigantic cat. It leapt from the couch like a banshee and rocketed past me into the shadows of the basement. Heart pounding, I locked the door behind me. How did this demonic specter get into my apartment?
The next morning after unlatching my 3 locks, I opened the inside door and was about to open the outer door, which had slats, much like a window shutter. Glancing down I saw a dark shape the size of a large groundhog. It was the tomcat, crouching, patiently waiting to dart in when I opened the door…
Sin and temptation are always lurking at the door, waiting for an opportunity to pounce on us. God told Cain “…sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.” (Genesis 4:7)
That’s why Jesus told us to pray regularly, “Lead us not into temptation” (Luke 11:4).
When we pray this, we are confessing our weakness to God. We are saying, “Father, I am so prone to sin, I’m asking that you would spare me from being tempted. You know how weak I am. Please don’t even let me be exposed to temptation. Please keep me from falling into sin. Please deliver me from the snares of the enemy.”
Don’t ever underestimate the power of sin to tempt and entrap you. Don’t ever think you are incapable of falling into certain sins. Don’t ever look down on someone else who has fallen into sin and say I would never do that. Apart from God’s grace, we are all capable of any sin. We are prone to wander.
Adam and Eve had no sin nature, no inward tendency to sin, yet they gave in to Satan’s enticements. The great serpent has been studying the human race for thousands of years. He knows every trick in the book. He knows every chink in our armor and where we are most prone to sin. Do you think you are smarter than him?
The hymn Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing aptly describes our vulnerability to sin:
O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.
We are prone to wander from the God we love. So we must regularly pray “lead us not into temptation.”
But not only should we pray for ourselves, but for others. Jesus used the plural in his teaching: “Lead US not into temptation.” So pray for others. If you’re married, ask the Lord to deliver your spouse and children from temptation and sin. Ask God to deliver your pastors from temptation. Ask him to keep them humble and pure. Pray for fellow believers.
In case you are wondering what happened to the cat…
I went to the kitchen, got a large glass of water, then pitched it through the slats of the outer door, drenching him. He screeched like the Wicked Witch of the West, then tore off. But he was back again the next morning, crouching, waiting. After about 4 days of cold showers, I didn’t see him again. But from then on, I always checked for him before opening the door.