After sacrament meeting this morning, my wife and I sat on the bench and talked quietly about the meaning of part of a line in the closing hymn, “Lord, We Ask Thee Ere We Part.”
Here are the words:
Keep us from temptations free.
Will we ever, while on this fallen planet, be free from temptation? Free from the whisperings of greed, pride, and the flesh?
Not a chance.
If you and I ask God to remove all temptation from our lives, what is the answer going to be? It’s going to be, “No.” What are we here for, anyway?
After talking about it, this is the way Cristi and I see that line from hymn 153 now: We cannot remain free from temptations, but we can be free from their effects.
I am comforted by this realization in two ways: (1) temptation is, in and of itself, only an invitation to sin, and (2) temptation, in and of itself, is not sin.
In other words, just because I run into a temptation on the doesn’t mean I have to invite it over for dinner. Neither do you.
Even though I encounter them, I can stay free from them.
Was Jesus tempted? Yes.
For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. (Hebrews 4:15.)
Why was he tempted?
For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted. (Hebrews 2:18.)
How did he deal with temptation?
He suffered temptations but gave no heed unto them. (D&C 20:22.)
Christ was tempted just as we are but he did not heed them or allow them any power in his life. Why? Because he was not deceived by them. We are, though. That is why we are counseled to pray always.
Pray always, that you may come off conqueror; yea, that you may conquer Satan, and that you may escape the hands of the servants of Satan that do uphold his work. (D&C 10:5.)
How do we overcome temptation?
But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. (James 4:6–7.)
Be humble. Be ready. When temptations come, resist them. Do not entertain them. Challenge them. Preach a sermon to the devil and his bellow-servants. Explain to yourself why temptations make no long-term sense. Above all else, pray, that is, include your Heavenly Father in the conversation. If there is anything a devil does not like, it is detection and resistance.
We can be from temptations free.
But keep watching. They’ll be back.