I have never been a part of a twelve-step group, and I’m somewhat thankful for that, although I do think that people who are a part of those organizations have a perspective on life that is sometimes more honest and loving than people who have not been.
This week we confessed the 6th Petition of the Lord’s Prayer:
What is the Sixth Petition?
Lead us not into temptation.
What does this mean?
God tempts no one. We pray in this petition that God would guard and keep us so that the devil, the world, and our sinful nature may not deceive us or mislead us into false belief, despair, and other great shame and vice. Although we are attacked by these things, we pray that we may finally overcome them and win the victory.
I have known people who have been in twelve step groups, and one of the things that I appreciate about their lives is their constant awareness of temptations. They are aware of what tempts them and what doesn’t. I knew an alcoholic who told me that if he was around people drinking moderately, it wouldn’t tempt him to drink; but if he was around people who were getting “fall on the floor drunk” something in him told him that he wanted that as well. That was his trigger, the thing that caused his brain to start the downward spiral of temptation.
A part of the discipline of the twelve step group is learning to recognize the trigger and the temptation for what it is and to step away from it. The addict has to be able to see the temptation for what it is, a harmful and dangerous thing that he or she has sworn away for a reason. Many times, that reason is the acknowledgement that the temptation’s promise of the “good time” is a lie. It is a false belief.
My alcoholic friend talked about this when I expressed shock at his admission that it took people that were “fall on the floor drunk” to get him to be tempted. I was shocked by this. For me, it was easy to recognize that it was a bad thing when people got THAT drunk – when they were slurring their words and holding back their vomit. But for him, his brain had convinced him, “now THAT was pleasure”. His brain believed that, and he struggled against that false belief.
Likewise, we are all a part of “Sinners Anonymous”. We may not have 12 steps (although sometimes I think we would benefit from walking through them in regard to our sin), but we all have an addiction to sin. We have this addiction that tempts us to believe that which is false – that sin is attractive, that it is a good time. It is as if we’re looking at a house full of meth addicts smoking until their teeth rot out, and we’re saying “that’s the life”.
But God steps in and challenges our false belief. He asks us, “is that really the best life that you think I have for you? Do you really think that I love you so little that all I gave you for your pleasure is this sin? Don’t you think that I know better?”
Jesus comes into our lives, the best AA or NA sponsor that we could ever hope for. He meets us in our temptations, and he meets us even when we have fallen into temptation. He dusts us off, he puts his arm around us and turns us around. “Forget all of that,” he says, “let me show you what life really looks like.”
That life is the life that He bought for us on the cross, the abundant life He promises that we start having here, but will have in completion in the Resurrection. He offers us true life, something real to believe in, not something false that will leave us disappointed. So the next time you’re tempted, remember to question if this is the good life that Jesus has prepared for you. And if it isn’t, recognize the goodness of the life that He DOES have for you, pray that He might reveal that good life to you again, and move on. There IS something better.