To him that o’ercometh, God giveth a crown,
Through faith we shall conquer, though often cast down;
He who is our Savior, our strength will renew.
Look ever to Jesus, He will carry you through.
Ask the Savior to help you,
Comfort, strengthen, and keep you;
He’s willing to aid you
And He will carry you through.
From “Yield Not to Temptation, For Yielding Is Sin,” by Horatio R. Palmer, 1868
In the series that we have been bringing to you on “The Secret Place of Power In Prayer,” we’ve each time called your attention to Matthew 6:6, and it reads thus, “But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thine inner chamber, and having shut the door, pray to thy Father which is in secret, and thy Father which seeth in secret shall recompense thee.”
We’ve talked about the place of prayer being a place of solace, a source of strength. Today we are going to talk about it being a source of victory over temptation. When Jesus called His disciples to Him and gave them their first public teaching in the Sermon on the Mount, He gave them to understand that prayer was a vital part of the new kingdom that He came to set up, and that we must have a solitary place where we can be alone with God, some fixed spot where we can meet Him daily. There he promises to meet us.
This secret place alone with God called the inner chamber in this verse can be anywhere, but it must be a quiet place and time alone with God. There’s a little verse:
I know an old house on a hill,
A mountain road, a grove, a rill,
And billowed hilltops, stretching far
To sunset and evening star.
I take a path through glade and wood,
Deep drinking of its solitude,
And find a spot o’erarched and still
Where peace and poise the spirit fill.
The Master’s presence there is near,
The Master’s plan again is clear;
And far removed from work or strife,
I reappraise the worth of life.
Yet hill and outlook, glade and wood,
The time, the place, the solitude,
Hold not the secret of the prayer;
The secret place is anywhere.
“The Secret Place,” by C. K. Ober
We have taken today for this particular scripture the words: “He will not tempt you above what you are able to bear, but will with every temptation make a way of escape.” (1 Corinthians 10:13) You know you can count that one a fool who thinks that he can stand against the temptations of today without seeking God’s help in prayer.
The world tempts! The lusts of the flesh and the inbred lust of so many different kinds, and the pride of life come against us, and the only way we can overcome is by God’s help.
When will we learn that it’s through the victory of faith and the shed blood of Calvary? For there Jesus Christ overcame the Enemy, and all power in heaven and earth was there given into His hands. And only through that power can we overcome the temptations of Satan.
It is only by the sanctifying spirit of God that comes upon us in the secret place of prayer that we can, as God’s Word says, “Have power over all the power of the enemy.” (Luke 10:19)
It is there that the Lord becomes a wall of fire around us and we are able to resist sin and temptation. Oh, you can’t! You cannot confront your fierce adversary alone, but the Lord tells us, “When the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of God will raise a standard against him” (Isaiah 59:19).
But you have to be in touch with the Spirit of God before you can confront such an adversary. And you can get that touch in the secret place, where His Spirit will empower you. Someone wrote recently, “The temptations of life are just too great today.” Well, the question is, too great for whom? Of course they’re too great for you, but not for the God who waits in the secret place to strengthen you for just such a temptation.
It’s only by God’s help that anyone can resist temptations all the time! You were never supposed to resist it alone; that’s why you need God so much, because you can’t have victory in yourself. God gave His Son not only to die in our stead for our sins, but to give us victory over sin!
He said, It’s “not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts.” (Zechariah 4:6) True, the Tempter has supernatural power. But God has divine power, and He invites you to link your human power with His divine power which gives you supernatural power, and strength to resist the temptation.
Of course you can’t stand against the Tempter alone. There has never been one who could resist every temptation continuously without the Lord’s help, and this help is sought and found in the secret place, this inner chamber of prayer that we’ve been talking about.
Secretary Seward1 under Lincoln misjudged the strength of the South, the enemy in that day, and he told the boys of the North that the war would be over in just three or four months; but you know how it dragged out into years. He misjudged the strength of the enemy.
If you misjudge the strength of the enemies of your soul, and think to go out into the world and stand against the pressures and satanic powers of this atomic age in your own human strength, you’re going to be tragically disappointed and utterly defeated.
I wonder why we go so ill-equipped when God offers just what we need. Why choose the human when we can have the divine? Why struggle in the natural when we can have the supernatural? It was never in God’s plan that we should do so.
Jesus said, “Without me ye can do nothing,” but He also said, “With God all things are possible!” (John 15:5; Matthew 19:26) And oh, my friend, it is so possible that God can deliver you from the temptation! He will go with you into every single trial and temptation and not tempt you above what you are able to bear.
In Matthew, chapter 8, beginning at the 23rd verse, we have this wonderful story which encourages faith, and perhaps we see a picture of ourselves in this story when He says: “O thou of little faith, why art thou afraid?
“When he was entered himself into the ship, his disciples followed him, and behold, there arose a great tempest in the sea, inasmuch as the ship was covered with the waves; but he was asleep. And his disciples came unto him and awoke him, saying, ‘Lord, save us; we perish.’ And he saith unto them, ‘Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith?’ Then he arose and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm. And the men marveled, saying, ‘What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him!’” (Matthew 8:23–27)
If He can do that, don’t you think that He can rebuke the Enemy that’s tempting you and testing you in your life? If you’ll just put your hand upon His and utterly trust Him, and there in the secret place commit everything into His hands—just turn your life completely over and tell Him all about it—then faith will be the victory!
There’s a wonderful little poem, I don’t know who wrote it:
Faith is a grasping of Almighty power,
The hand of man laid on the arm of God
The grand and blessed hour in which the things impossible to me
Become the possible, O Lord, through Thee.
Anna Elizabeth Hamilton (1843–1875)
Wonderful, how true! With your hand in His and just trusting Him utterly, taking Him with you into every walk of life, He’s going to help you get over that thing. There’s victory ahead!
Someone wrote me just this last week. She said, “Things are so dark right now.” She hardly ever writes when things are light. It always seems that there’s darkness. Well, praise God, the light of God’s Word can shine in that heart, and there’s light when the Word breaks in.
Go to the Word of God when you’re tempted and tested that way. That wonderful verse:
To him that overcometh God giveth a crown.
Through faith we will conquer, though often cast down.
He who is our Savior, our strength will renew.
Look ever to Jesus, He will carry you through.
From “Yield Not to Temptation,” by H. R. Palmer
Ask the Savior to help you, comfort, strengthen and keep you. He’s willing to aid you, and He will carry you through. I think this is precious:
Faith is believing when all seems past hoping,
Although receiving no glimmer of light
Leaving the grieving and doubting and groping,
To those who are living only by sight.
Faith is still trusting completely God’s promise,
When it would almost seem God has forgot,
Scorning to be a weak doubter like Thomas,
Seeking no sign nor bemoaning our lot.
Faith is believing in God, holding securely
To that bright substance of things yet to be,
While living as purely, trusting as surely
As though our faith were a thing we could see.
God bless you. The Lord loves you! It’s an individual thing with the Lord. “He careth for you” (1 Peter 5:7). We’ve tried to make that plain so many times, that He loves you. I told you recently about someone that I was talking to that was very ill, and I said, “Do you feel the love of God? Do you comprehend His love? Are you conscious of it?” And they said, “No, I’m not. I just see Him love other people and I feel like He loves others, but I just don’t feel His love for me.”
Well, that’s a matter of faith. You’ve got to take God’s word for it. “He careth for you” and He’s willing to help you through that temptation, if you’ll just live in His Word and meet His conditions: abide in Him, let His Words abide in you. (John 15:7)
”They that wait on the Lord renew their strength.” (Isaiah 40:31) Then you’ll have strength for the battle, as you renew your strength at His feet there in the secret place, there alone with Him. I don’t see how you do without Him! As we’ve so often said, “It’s so wonderful to begin the day that way, just to begin in the early morning to look to the Lord.”
The first thing, take your Bible and get before Him and get in touch with the place of power. God’s waiting for you, and He is still on the throne and prayer will certainly change things for you, as in the wonderful words of that song:
God is still on the throne,
He never forsaketh His own;
He will still care for you,
God is still on the throne.
He does care for you. Amen.
- William H. Seward (1801–1872), Secretary of State under Lincoln.