“That You May Not Enter Into Temptation”
“Keep on the watch and pray continually, that you may not enter into temptation.”—MATTHEW 26:41.
THE pressure was intense—unlike any he had experienced before. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, was near the end of his earthly life. Jesus realized that soon he would be arrested, condemned to death, and impaled on a torture stake. He knew that his every decision and action would reflect on his Father’s name. Jesus also knew that the future life prospects of mankind hung in the balance. Faced with all this pressure, what did he do?
2 Jesus went to the garden of Gethsemane with his disciples. It was a favorite spot with Jesus. There he withdrew a short distance from his disciples. When alone, he turned to his heavenly Father for strength, pouring out his heart in fervent prayer—not just once but three times. Though perfect, Jesus did not feel that he could face the pressure on his own.—Matthew 26:36-44.
3 Today, we too are under pressure. Earlier in this brochure, we considered evidence that we are living in the final days of this wicked system. The temptations and stresses of Satan’s world are intensifying. The decisions and actions of any of us who profess to serve the true God reflect on his name and have a profound effect on our individual prospects for life in his new world. We love Jehovah. We want to ‘endure to the end’—the end of our life or the end of this system, whichever comes first. (Matthew 24:13) But how can we maintain our sense of urgency and keep on the watch?
4 Knowing that his disciples—both back then and today—would also be under pressure, Jesus urged: “Keep on the watch and pray continually, that you may not enter into temptation.” (Matthew 26:41) What do those words mean for us today? What temptation do you face? And how can you “keep on the watch”?
Temptation to Do What?
5 All of us daily face the temptation to give in to “the snare of the Devil.” (2 Timothy 2:26) The Bible warns us that Satan has especially targeted Jehovah’s worshipers. (1 Peter 5:8; Revelation 12:12, 17) For what purpose? It is not necessarily to take our life. It is no victory for Satan if we die faithful to God. Satan is aware that Jehovah, in His due time, will undo death by means of the resurrection.—Luke 20:37, 38.
6 Satan wants to destroy something even more valuable than our present life—our integrity to God. Satan is desperate to prove that he can turn us away from Jehovah. Hence, if we can be induced to be unfaithful—to quit preaching the good news or to abandon Christian standards—that would be a victory for Satan! (Ephesians 6:11-13) So “the Tempter” places before us temptations.—Matthew 4:3.
7 Satan’s “deceptive tactics” are varied. (Ephesians 6:11, Jewish New Testament) He may tempt us with materialism, fear, doubt, or pleasure-seeking. But one of his most effective methods involves discouragement. A sly opportunist, he knows that despondency can weaken us, making us vulnerable. (Proverbs 24:10) So especially when we “become crushed” emotionally, he tempts us to give up.—Psalm 38:8.
8 As we get deeper into the last days, it seems that causes for discouragement increase, and we are not immune to them. (See the box “Some Factors That Cause Discouragement.”) Whatever the cause, discouragement can sap our strength. “Buying out the opportune time” for spiritual obligations—including studying the Bible, attending Christian meetings, and sharing in the ministry—can be a challenge if you are exhausted physically, mentally, and emotionally. (Ephesians 5:15, 16) Remember that the Tempter wants you to quit. But this is no time to slow down or to lose your sense of urgency regarding the times in which we live! (Luke 21:34-36) How can you resist temptation and keep on the watch? Consider four suggestions that can help.
9 Rely on Jehovah through prayer. Recall Jesus’ example in the garden of Gethsemane. Under intense emotional stress, what did he do? He turned to Jehovah for help, praying so fervently that “his sweat became as drops of blood falling to the ground.” (Luke 22:44) Think about it. Jesus knew Satan well. Jesus had observed from heaven all the temptations that Satan uses in his efforts to ensnare God’s servants. Yet, Jesus did not feel that he could easily handle whatever the Tempter might place before him. If the perfect Son of God felt the need to pray for divine help and strength, how much more so should we!—1 Peter 2:21.
10 Remember, too, that after urging his disciples to “pray continually,” Jesus said: “The spirit, of course, is eager, but the flesh is weak.” (Matthew 26:41) Whose flesh was Jesus referring to? Surely not his own; there was nothing weak in his perfect human flesh. (1 Peter 2:22) But it was different with his disciples. Because of inherited imperfection and sinful tendencies, they would especially need help to resist temptation. (Romans 7:21-24) That is why he urged them—and all true Christians after them—to pray for help in facing temptation. (Matthew 6:13) Jehovah answers such prayers. (Psalm 65:2) How? In at least two ways.
11 First, God helps us to recognize temptations. Satan’s temptations are like snares strewn across a dark path. If you do not see them, you may be entrapped. By means of the Bible and Bible-based publications, Jehovah throws light on Satan’s snares, thus enabling us to avoid giving into temptation. Over the years, printed literature and convention and assembly programs have repeatedly alerted us to such dangers as fear of man, sexual immorality, materialism, and other satanic temptations. (Proverbs 29:25; 1 Corinthians 10:8-11; 1 Timothy 6:9, 10) Are you not grateful to Jehovah for alerting us to Satan’s designs? (2 Corinthians 2:11) All such warnings are an answer to your prayers for help in resisting temptation.
12 Second, Jehovah answers our prayers by giving us the strength to endure temptation. His Word says: “God . . . will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear, but along with the temptation he will also make the way out.” (1 Corinthians 10:13) God will never allow a temptation to become so overwhelming that we would lack the spiritual strength to resist—if we continue to rely upon him. How does he “make the way out” for us? He ‘gives holy spirit to those asking him.’ (Luke 11:13) That spirit may help us to recall Bible principles that can reinforce our resolve to do what is right and help us to make wise decisions. (John 14:26; James 1:5, 6) It can help us to display the very qualities we need in order to conquer wrong tendencies. (Galatians 5:22, 23) God’s spirit may even move fellow believers to ‘become a strengthening aid to us.’ (Colossians 4:11) Are you not thankful that Jehovah responds in such loving ways to your prayers for help?
Be Realistic in Your Expectations
13 To keep on the watch, we need to be realistic in our expectations. Because of the pressures of life, we all grow weary at times. But we must remember that God never promised that we would have a problem-free life in this old system. Even in Bible times, God’s servants faced adversities, including persecution, poverty, depression, and sickness.—Acts 8:1; 2 Corinthians 8:1, 2; 1 Thessalonians 5:14; 1 Timothy 5:23.
14 Today, we too have our share of problems. We may face persecution, experience financial anxieties, struggle with depression, get sick, and suffer in other ways. If Jehovah were to protect us miraculously from all harm, would that not provide a basis for Satan to taunt Jehovah? (Proverbs 27:11) Jehovah does allow his servants to be tempted and tested, in some cases even to the point of premature death at the hands of opposers.—John 16:2.
15 What, then, has Jehovah promised? As we have previously noted, he has promised that he will make us equal to any temptation we may encounter, provided that we fully trust in him. (Proverbs 3:5, 6) Through his Word, his spirit, and his organization, he protects us spiritually, helping us to safeguard our relationship with him. With that relationship intact, even if we die, we win. Nothing—not even death—can prevent God from rewarding his faithful servants. (Hebrews 11:6) And in the new world now near at hand, Jehovah will not fail to fulfill all the rest of his marvelous promises of blessings for those who love him.—Psalm 145:16.
Remember the Issues
16 To endure to the end, we must remember the vital issues involved in God’s permission of wickedness. If at times our own problems seem overwhelming and we are tempted to quit, we do well to remind ourselves that Satan has challenged the rightfulness of Jehovah’s sovereignty. The Deceiver has also questioned the devotion and integrity of God’s worshipers. (Job 1:8-11; 2:3, 4) Those issues and the way that Jehovah has chosen to resolve them are bigger than any of us as individuals. How so?
17 God’s temporary permission of hardship has allowed time for others to embrace the truth. Think about this: Jesus suffered so that we might have life. (John 3:16) Are we not grateful for that? But are we willing to put up with hardship for a little while longer so that still others might gain life? To endure to the end, we must recognize that Jehovah’s wisdom is far greater than ours. (Isaiah 55:9) He will end wickedness at the time that is best for the settling of the issues forever and for our own eternal good. Really, how could it be otherwise? There is no injustice with God!—Romans 9:14-24.
“Draw Close to God”
18 To maintain our sense of urgency, we need to stay close to Jehovah. Never forget that Satan is doing all in his power to destroy our good relationship with Jehovah. Satan would have us believe that the end will never come and that there is no point in preaching the good news or living by Bible standards. But he “is a liar and the father of the lie.” (John 8:44) We must be determined to “oppose the Devil.” Our relationship with Jehovah is something that we should never take for granted. The Bible lovingly urges us: “Draw close to God, and he will draw close to you.” (James 4:7, 8) How can you draw closer to Jehovah?
19 Prayerful meditation is vital. When life’s pressures seem overwhelming, pour out your heart to Jehovah. The more specific you are, the easier it will be to see his answer to your requests. The answer may not always be exactly what you had in mind, but if your desire is to honor him and to maintain integrity, he will provide the help you need so that you can endure successfully. (1 John 5:14) As you see his direction in your life, you will draw closer to him. Reading about and reflecting on Jehovah’s qualities and ways, as revealed in the Bible, are also essential. Such meditation helps you to know him better; it stirs your heart and deepens your love for him. (Psalm 19:14) And that love, more than anything else, will help you to resist temptation and keep on the watch.—1 John 5:3.
20 To keep close to Jehovah, it is also important that we stay close to our fellow believers. This will be discussed in the final section of this brochure.
• What did Jesus do when under extreme pressure near the end of his life, and what did he urge his disciples to do? (Pars. 1-4)
• Why has Satan targeted Jehovah’s worshipers, and in what ways does he tempt us? (Pars. 5-8)
• To resist temptation, why must we pray continually (Pars. 9-12), be realistic in our expectations (Pars. 13-15), remember the issues (Pars. 16-17), and “draw close to God” (Pars. 18-20)?
[Box on page 25]
Some Factors That Cause Discouragement
Health/age. If we suffer from a chronic illness or if advancing age imposes limitations, we may get depressed because we are not able to do more in serving God.—Hebrews 6:10.
Disappointment. We may become disheartened if we see little response to our efforts in preaching God’s Word.—Proverbs 13:12.
Feelings of worthlessness. Because of years of ill-treatment, a person may become convinced that he or she is unloved, even by Jehovah.—1 John 3:19, 20.
Hurt feelings. If someone has been deeply offended by a fellow believer, he may get so distraught that he is tempted to stop attending Christian meetings or sharing in the field ministry.—Luke 17:1.
[Picture on page 26]
Jesus urged us to “pray continually” for help in fighting temptation