Every now and then I hear people saying that God had tempted them to do wrong but, realising that it was just a test, they refused to succumb to the temptation. Sometimes even well-meaning Christians will say this, or words to the same effect, which is sad because they obviously have not considered Scripture. Not only can God not be tempted to do evil Himself, NEITHER CAN HE TEMPT OTHERS TO! Whenever anyone is tempted then it's the devil at work, and anyone who is misled into thinking otherwise is being misled by Satan.
Anyway, I spoke on this subject last Sunday morning, and I thought that I'd share it with you dear reader, today. The reading that accompanied my teaching was from James chapter 1 and the first 15 verses. My text was from Matthew: And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil (6:13) .
Because temptation is a daily battle right throughout our lives, there can be no doubt that when Jesus taught us to pray to ‘Our Father, who is in heaven . . .’ we were intended to pray the prayer on a daily basis. We must never forget to whom the prayer is addressed ― the sovereign God who is our heavenly Father. In a sense each petition in the prayer affirms this in some way, but the petition that does so in a particularly special way is ‘And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil’. Even one day of relaxation during the battle with temptation can be spiritually fatal. Whilst Jesus didn’t experience the need in the second of the prayer’s petitions, Forgive us, He did experience temptation. Since He never succumbed to any temptation he had no need to ask for forgiveness. Some people may question whether or not Jesus really knew the full power of temptation, but the truth is that the only person who can fully understand the power of temptation is the person who is able to fully resist it, and so we can understand that Jesus knew more about temptation than any of us.
Lead us not into temptation. In this particular context the Greek word used for ’lead us’ is a word that is commonly translated ’bring us’, and is usually used with reference to a person moving something from one place to another, and probably expresses also the Hebrew idea of causing something to be brought or led. So this petition affirms that God is in a position to cause things to happen — to bring us or lead us — as it may please Him, thereby affirming Him as Sovereign. As our Sovereign Lord, God has control over everything that affects us: over our circumstances, over the spiritual forces outside our lives, and over us.
Lead us not into temptation. Since temptation can come from finding yourself in the wrong circumstance, this petition affirms that god has control over circumstances. It addresses Him as the one who orders the steps of His people, and so it becomes important to believe that God can actually order the circumstances of your life to protect you from the attractions of evil. Since temptation usually comes from spiritual forces outside the sphere of our lives this petition affirms that God has ultimate and sovereign control over all the spiritual forces in our world. Even though Satan and the forces of evil would love to be in control, the truth is that they cannot move outside the realms of God’s control. Whilst God does not cause them to do the evil that they do, nevertheless He does still have them under His sovereignty.
Lead us not into temptation. Many temptations are of our own making, and so this petition affirms that God has sovereignty over our own lives. We petition Him to LEAD US! To BRING US! And this personalises the sovereignty of God. It’s so easy to see God as having control over everything except our lives, simply because we like to feel in charge, but that can never be the case. Our lives will always be controlled by outside forces, whether the forces for good or for evil, the choice will have been made by us. It’s easy to slip into an attitude that sees all life as being out of control, but this petition affirms that God is in control.
Lead us not into temptation. Sometimes people can be confused about the source of temptation. The Bible teaches us that the devil tempts people whilst God only TESTS people. James 1: 13-15 says, let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he us carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. God Himself cannot commit sin, nor can He tempt anyone to commit sin. Therefore, it’s always a mistake for anyone to blame God for their temptation to do something wrong, for God is never responsible for temptation of any kind.
The Bible speaks of God’s testing a person. For example, Abraham was tested by god when he was instructed to offer his son, Isaac, as a sacrifice. God as not tempting Abraham to do something sinful, but He was testing the depth of Abraham’s commitment and the strength of his faith. Whenever God puts a person to the test, it’s to give that person the opportunity to prove themselves. Of course, there’s always the possibility of failure, but the test won’t create the weakness of commitment ― it will only reveal it.
Lead us not into temptation. Whenever the word temptation is used in connection with sin, another beside God is responsible. Ultimately the responsibility lies with Satan, but obviously he’ll work through our own sinful natures, through others, and through circumstances. It’s this type of temptation that is referred to in this petition. When we pray, lead us not into temptation, we are praying that we might escape a confrontation with the temptation to sin. Only fools flirt with temptation because there’s always the possibility that they’ll succumb to it.
Lead us not into temptation. What can we expect when we pray this prayer? Can we expect that god will protect us from the influence of Satan, or immunity from temptation? No! even our Lord Jesus, who surely knew how to pray this prayer, didn’t escape confrontation with temptation. We can, however, expect that we will not be stumbling headlong into temptation unprepared. We can expect that God’s provisions to aid us to resist temptation will always be both available and adequate. Paul writes, No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, that you may be able to endure it (1 Corinthians 10:13).
Lead us not into temptation is a prayer of personal surrender to the lordship and leadership of God in your life. It’s a renunciation of the lordship and leadership of self, and it expresses the desire to avoid sin. The location of this petition in the Lord’s Prayer, coming as it does after the petition for forgiveness, is very significant. Whenever we experience release from guilt through forgiveness, we are left with the desire to never sin again.
We must give God complete control over our lives. Consider what this this involves. Since temptation occurs in certain circumstances, we have to agree to stay away from places, from people, and from circumstances in which we know temptation will exist. We must surrender our free time to the Lord, allowing Him to guide where we go and in what we do. This includes the books we read, the TV programmes and films that we watch, and the company we keep. By praying this petition to the Lord we ask Him to direct us to things, places and people who will help us to avoid sin. Temptation also occurs when riches or poverty come to a person, so we must surrender our finances to His control, and be ready to let god determine how much or how little wealth will be ours to enjoy. Only when we surrender everything to the Lord do we let Him protect us fully from temptation.
Lead us not into temptation. This petition must be part of our daily prayer life, and must be the true desire of our hearts. Unless you consider sin a serious matter you cannot seriously pray this prayer.
Lead us not into temptation. Praying this petition earnestly leads to a new freedom and a renewed walk with God in full control of your life.