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Author:Dr. Reuben Bredenhof
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Congregation:Canadian Reformed Theological Seminary (CRTS)
 Hamilton, Ontario
Preached At:Free Reformed Church of Mt. Nasura
 Mt. Nasura, Western Australia
Title:Train Us to Move our Feet
Text:LD 52 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:Spiritual Warfare

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

Ps 86:3                                                                                             

Hy 36:1,2,3,4  [after Nicene Creed]

Reading – Proverbs 7:1-27

Ps 86:1,4

Sermon – Lord’s Day 52, part 1

Ps 35:1,2

Hy 13:1,2,3,4,5

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Dr. Reuben Bredenhof, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.

Beloved in Christ, the Lord’s Prayer has been called the “perfect prayer.” It is perfect because of the One who taught it: the Lord Jesus gave it to us, and it’s the best expression of our relationship with God. For the Lord’s prayer covers everything God wants from us, and everything He grants us, in a balanced and reverent way. It’s all here: adoration, confession, thanksgiving and supplication.

The Lord’s prayer is also perfect because it’s so realistic, true to life. Especially the second half of this prayer shows how well the Lord Jesus knows us. He understands what’s on our minds every day, He’s familiar with the things we go through. For example, He tells us to ask every day for forgiveness, and to ask for help in forgiving others, because we need this.

The final petition of the Lord’s prayer is also real and down-to-earth: “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” Christ isn’t naïve about what it’s like living on Planet Earth. We live in a world full of temptation, caught up in a struggle between God and Satan, a battle between ancient kingdoms. Every day we face Satan’s lures and lies. They’re on the computer, they’re at the shopping centre, they’re in our culture, and most dangerously, they’re in our minds and hearts. Everywhere we face temptation, and so we must constantly fend off the devil’s attacks.

So we ask God to keep us from sin. We’re not asking that we never have to deal with evil, nor wrestle with the attraction of sin. But how do we respond to it? What does another day’s worth of temptations reveal in us? What does it squeeze out of us?

For this we need the daily help of God. “Father, we ask: ‘Uphold and strengthen us by the power of your Holy Spirit.’” (Q&A 127). We can’t avoid fighting this war. So we pray: “Father, arm us with your holy weapons. Teach us about the enemy and his tactics. Show us how to fight. Increase our endurance. And give us confidence as we press on.” I preach God’s Word to you about the last petition of the perfect prayer,

Father, lead us not into temptation:

  1. teach us about Satan’s deceit
  2. train us to move our feet


1) teach us about Satan’s deceit: When you’re facing an opponent, it’s important to know what you’re up against. For example, if a soldier is going to be deployed near hostile territory, he needs to learn about the enemy. What kind of weapons does he have? What’s his fighting style? What’s his level of training? Is he a novice, or is he a seasoned warrior?

In the same way, if we’re going to fight what the Catechism calls “this spiritual war” (Q&A 127), we need to know what to expect. Only too often we’re naïve when it comes to the enemy’s tactics. We put ourselves in places encircled by temptation—like hanging out at a drinking party on Friday night—and then we wonder why we stumble into foolishness and lose self-control. We let down our spiritual guard—like neglecting prayer and Scripture for weeks at a time—and then we wonder why Satan strikes hard. We don’t see the obvious pattern of temptation-and-then-sin in our lives, even though it’s been repeated dozens of times.

Compare it to soldiers who keep going through the same narrow mountain pass, though they’ve been ambushed there, time and again. They keep going back and getting hurt. Or worse, soldiers who leave their helmets at camp, or who forget their weapons, or who don’t communicate with each other when the battle is on. No good soldier would do these things!

Jesus pushes us all to “Be shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves” (Matt 10:16). Maybe we don’t like being compared to snakes, but in the present time we must be alert, ‘switched on,’ even cunning. We have to know what the enemy’s all about, and have open eyes for his tricks. We must know the enemy, yet we must also keep our innocence—“be like doves”— know how Satan works, without falling into his trap.

To begin with, let’s have a good profile of our enemy. He is Satan, the one Jesus calls “the father of lies.” That’s the character of so much temptation. It is trickery, a form of deception. Temptation typically sounds very good and promises much: you’ll get happiness, pleasure, acceptance, prestige, love. Yet it’s actually full of harm. With sin we always think we’re getting a lavish buffet, but it turns out to be a banquet in the grave!

So how does Satan do his thing? For a crash course in the devil’s tactics, look at Proverbs 7. The heading over this chapter in some translations is something like “A Warning Against the Adulteress.” For here Solomon describes how a loose woman tries to snare a foolish man. But this chapter isn’t just about having a pornography habit or getting intimate with someone who’s not your spouse. It relates to the whole spectrum of temptations, the enticements to sin that we all must face, whether male or female, young or old. For whenever he’s tempting, Satan often works in a similar way.

In this chapter, Solomon watches a temptation unfold. He looks, and what does he see? He sees a simple people, and among them, “a young man devoid of understanding” (v 7). That’s the first problem. Temptation works, not just because Satan is so tricky, but because we are so foolish. We lack judgment by overestimating our strength to say no. ‘I can stop anytime I like.’

This young man was “passing along the street near her corner, and he took the path to her house in the twilight, in the evening, in the black and dark night” (vv 8-9). He was heading straight into the ambush, at the worst possible time! Did he know temptation was lurking there, that a loose woman was just around the corner? He probably did.

For what about us? Are we totally ignorant of the whereabouts of sin? No, we pick up the hints and invitations. So we know what we’re going to find when we visit. We sense it, and go towards it, maybe under the cover of darkness, or in the hidden place of our thoughts, or when nobody is around to see.

James says, “Each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed” (1:14). Sin arises from our heart, particularly when we keep nurturing evil thoughts and don’t put a stop to them. Maybe we let some sinful feelings keep circulating—we often meditate on some wrong that was done to us, or we craft a sexual fantasy, or we keep going back to some other dark place in our thoughts. This is fertile ground for sin to take root.

And when Satan sees that we’ve let down our guard, he goes on the offensive: “And there a woman met him, with the attire of a harlot, and a crafty heart. She was loud and rebellious” (vv 10-11). See how everything is calculated to ensnare him: her clothing, her words, her gestures. This is very bold. Sometimes sin is right in front of us in all of its deceptive beauty—in the sparkle of yet another drink, in the glimpse of material wealth, in the flash of skin. Sometimes we hardly have a chance to turn away, for there it is, open and bold.

But Satan’s lies take many forms. He’s often on the move, “not ceasing to attack us” (Q&A 127). As Solomon says of that woman, “Her feet would not stay at home. At times she was outside, at times in the open square, lurking at every corner” (vv 11-12). Sometimes we see the devil’s attack coming, other times it appears when we’re not even looking.

We’re having a pleasant conversation which suddenly takes a hard turn toward gossip. Or there’s a really good gift of God in our life—a talent, a person, an opportunity—which we slowly transform into an idol. Or there’s a disappointment which slowly starts to breed a spirit of bitterness in us. Whether fast or slow, obvious or subtle, what do these temptations reveal in us? What do the devil’s pressures squeeze out of us?

Our temptations are often very similar to those encountered by unbelievers. But Satan sometimes has to be more deceptive to get us on board. For listen to the strange thing the adulteress says, “I have peace offerings with me; today I have paid my vows” (v 14). She says she’s done what God’s law requires, so she is free to sin.

Sounds crazy, but don’t we sometimes do the same? We excuse our favourite sin by saying that we’re good Christians. “I’ve been baptized, after all. I still attend church, and pay my dues. It can’t really hurt my salvation to indulge in this sin, can it?” But those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

We’re in for a struggle, because Satan also markets temptation in such a way that there seems to be no possible fallout. For example, the woman says, “My husband is not at home; he has gone on a long journey” (v 19). Sometimes that’s all holding us back from temptation: the consequences, the results, the possibility that someone might find out. But the lying voice puts us at ease: No one has to know. No one will see. Sometimes even children of God have a side to their life that is completely private, and completely godless.

So what happens to the young man in Proverbs 7? “Immediately he went after her, as an ox goes to the slaughter” (v 22). Notice how the Spirit describes giving in to temptation. It isn’t just a game. It’s a matter of life and death.

What is the lesson? Solomon urges us, “Now listen to me, my children. Pay attention to what I say! Do not let your heart turn to the ways of temptation or stray into the paths of sin. Satan’s house is a highway to the grave, one that leads down to the chambers of death” (cf. vv 24-27). The greatest lie—and it is told over and over by the devil—is that sin is harmless, the rewards are worth it, and in the end it doesn’t matter.

Yet it is a lie. Sin always has a price. Sin will always wreck something within you, or between you and God, or between you and other people. And Satan isn’t concerned about any regrets we might have later. But God tells us that taking the road of sin can lead to only one place. So we pray that God will train us to rightly move our feet!


2) train us to move our feet: Let’s return briefly to the idea of army training. It’s not enough for a soldier to know his enemy. He also has to know how to fight against him: What weapons can he use? What strategies? Who are his allies?

First and most importantly, remember that this lesson about temptation is a prayer. That’s where to begin always: with prayer. As we start our day, we should give proper time to prayer. Right at the start of the day, it’s good to think ahead about the possible temptations that you’re going to face. Visualize it, if you can.

For instance, will you be spending time with people who sometimes bring out ugly things in you, like a spirit of envy or the use of crude language? Will you be dealing with difficult personalities at your work, where you might be tempted to lash out? Will you be alone for a while without having to give account to anyone? Thinking ahead to our day, we should ask God to direct our feet away from sinful things, that we would be on guard. We start our day with prayer, and we must continue it with prayer.

Recall what Jesus said in the garden in Matthew 26:41, “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.” Avoiding the lure of temptation takes watchfulness combined with prayer. We have to know our enemy, and we have to know our weakness. Keep a close eye on your heart, and its condition, for this can have a huge effect on how readily we give in to sin.

Am I tired today and less resistant to pressure? Am I unhappy because of some recent letdown? Is yesterday’s anger just beneath the surface? Have I been distant from the Lord for the last week or two? At times like this, the danger is very great. The devil’s lying words can suddenly seem far more reasonable. Watch and pray, so that you will not fall into temptation.

We pray for grace, because God’s grace, it says in Titus, “teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age” (Titus 2:12, NIV). With the voice that only God can give, we say ‘No’ to angry thoughts, lustful dreams, feelings of greed or bitterness.

If we say ‘No’ to temptation, sometimes that’s enough to stop Satan in his tracks. “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you,” says James 4:7. I wonder what would’ve happened if that young man in Proverbs 7 had simply said ‘No.’ By God’s grace, ‘no’ can be a powerful word. I wonder what would happen if we said ‘No’ more often—said it out loud, said it directly—‘no’ to ungodliness and worldly passions.

But words aren’t always enough. Sometimes the invitation is so strong that we can’t stand in its presence. So God also teaches us to run from temptation. Consider what Joseph did when Potiphar’s wife tried to drag him to bed to have sex. Joseph fled. Sometimes we have to physically remove ourselves from the scene of temptation. We should know enough not to trust ourselves in certain situations and places, that now it’s time to leave.

This goes for the kind of people we have around us, too. The Catechism says that ‘the world’ is one of our sworn enemies, and by that it means the ‘world’ of people who are actively hostile to God. There are many who can drag us down. So we must be careful about how much worldly people become part of our life. Do we love their kinds of entertainment, their songs and movies? Do we spend lots of time with unbelievers, with no intention of telling them about Christ? Do we start to think the way unbelievers think, or talk as they do?

Rather, surround yourself with people who can help you serve God. Let’s ask this about the friends we have, the people we often spend time with: Do they bring out the best in me? Will these people ever incite me to sin? Or will they encourage my walk with Christ, and make me stronger by their words and example? Can I collaborate with them in resisting the devil?

We’ve spoken about the great need for prayer in fighting this spiritual war. We’ve mentioned the tactics of resisting sin, and of fleeing sin, and of cooperating with fellow believers. Now let’s also give attention to the importance of Scripture for our call of duty before the Lord. Think of God’s words in Proverbs 7, just before that sorry tale of the young man; “Treasure my commands within you. Keep my commands and live” (vv 1-2).

Why is being busy with the Word so effective in keeping us from sin? Scripture tells us again and again what are the good commands of God. Scripture lays out the lessons for a safe and healthy life before him. Scripture also tells us about the alternatives to sin, the holy replacements, about how to fill our lives with what is right and healthy instead. If we devote ourselves to doing good, if we are busy with God’s Kingdom, it is certain that the devil will find less room to maneuver.

Scripture also tells us how the snare of temptation works. In no uncertain terms, Scripture even tells us about the disastrous results of sin, what happens to those who surrender to the devil and do not turn back to Christ.

In short, Scripture trains us how to move our feet. We know the truth of Psalm 119:9, “How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your Word.” And not just a young man, but a young woman, and an old woman, and middle-aged folks, and everyone else. We keep our way pure by guarding it according to God’s Word.

When we faithfully read God’s Word, and we faithfully call on him for strength, He can help us “always firmly resist” (Q&A 127). Underline that word ‘firmly.’ For there really can be no other way of effective resistance. You cannot casually resist your enemies. You cannot carelessly resist, or temporarily, or lazily. If our resistance isn’t firm, we’ll go down to defeat.

Soon Sunday will be over, and it’ll be time to head back into our regular lives. Tomorrow we go back to the office, back to the schoolyard with our friends, back to working around the house. And tomorrow—if not already this evening—the attacks will continue.

The devil won’t leave us alone, especially if we’ve made it clear that we want to serve the Lord. You’ve professed your faith, perhaps. You’ve made choices that distinguish you from the many who don’t care about God. You’ve been trying to walk with the Lord faithfully. These are things that put you squarely in the devil’s sights.

So we pray this petition with all our might, “Our Father, lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” And in answer to our prayer, God gives us the promise of 1 Corinthians 10:13, “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man.” That’s good to know! Whenever we hear an alluring invitation of sin, it’s actually nothing new. Joseph heard it before, and David did, and Peter, and Adam and Eve did. Satan has a limited playbook—it’s highly effective, but limited.

Why is that so good to know? Because we know that nothing surprises our God. In his perfect knowledge, and through Jesus’s own experience as a human here on earth, God knows exactly what we go through. No temptation has seized us except what is common to mankind, and no temptation has seized us that Almighty God cannot defeat.

That’s how Paul puts it: “God is faithful. He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear” (v 13). He knows our weaknesses, our limitations, and He knows what a liar Satan can be. And knowing all this, God faithfully guides our feet in this life.

Remember that very sober statement in the Catechism, “In ourselves we are so weak that we cannot stand even for a moment” (Q&A 127). We need God to uphold and strengthen us. And God will: “For when you are tempted, God will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it” (1 Cor 10:13). That’s his sure promise: there is always a way out, strength available to stand. There is a way, but we’ve got to seek it!

Pray every day for God’s help, or you’ll be helpless. Arm yourself with the Word and the Spirit, or you’ll be unprotected against the devil’s flaming arrows. Surround yourself with fellow soldiers, or you’ll be standing all alone. Depend on God’s faithfulness, and He’ll help you be faithful. Believe that through Christ, the power of sin has been broken.

So in our hour of tempting, and in the middle of a long day, in the heat of battle and in our moments of rest, keep looking to Christ, for you can stand fast only through him!  Amen.

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Dr. Reuben Bredenhof, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright 2021, Dr. Reuben Bredenhof

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