NOTE: This is from a message John Piper recently preached at a men’s conference in London.
“Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation” (Matthew 26:41). OK? That’s the reason I’m telling you to stay awake. ‘Watch, pray, watch, pray.’ Because otherwise, you’re going to go into temptation. Temptation isn’t just going to come at you; you’re going to sink into it. It’s going to conquer you if you don’t watch and pray.
And then he tells them why: “The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
You are about to face the most serious, difficult, threatening temptation and test of your life. And you’re going to sleep in preparation for that?
You remember when Jesus told Peter, “You’re going to deny me three times,” and Peter said, “Even if I have to die, I will not deny you” (see Matthew 26:34–35).
All the disciples joined in and said, “We too will die before we will deny you.”
Well, they slept three times in spite of three warnings: “Stay awake, stay awake, stay awake.” And the result is in Matthew 26:56, “Then all the disciples left him and fled.”
That’s what you get for sleeping. That’s how much power you have, if you just sleep through the war. Jesus fought the battle and he won.
What were they doing while he was fighting the battle? They were sleeping.
Men, you do not want to be that kind of person, sleeping through the greatest events in the history of the world, when the God of the universe has said to you, “You need to stay awake. Really, if you knew what was coming here, you would need to stay awake.”
Be a vigilant man. Don’t be a lazy man. Don’t be a slacker. Get up. Do your work. Come home. Do your work. Get a vision. Be intentional.
Don’t sleep your life away. If you’re lazy, kill it. Put it to death. It is remarkable to me here that when he says, “The flesh is weak and the spirit is willing,” he’s not mainly talking about sex. He’s talking about weariness.
You’re just too tired to read your Bible, too tired to lead the family in any kind of moral enterprise, too tired to go to church, too tired to talk to anybody. You just think to yourself, “I just want to go home and sit.”
You will be a sitting duck for the Devil if you yield to that kind of lifestyle.
John Piper is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College and Seminary. For 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis. He is author of more than 50 books, including “Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist” and most recently “Expository Exultation: Christian Preaching as Worship.”
The original version of this article was published on desiringGod.org under the headline “How to Conquer Temptation.”
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