Lead us not into temptation… (Luke 11)
God forgives sins. He is good and generous and has paid the price that we might be able to ask him for forgiveness and receive it by faith.
Part of The Father’s agenda regarding sin is not only that we might be cleansed and forgiven, but that we might be a forgiving people. It is basic discipleship to learn that all sins can be forgiven and that we must love and forgive others as we have been forgiven.
But the LORD wants to take us farther than those two steps, for it is his will that we hate and dread all sin, thus we are taught to pray “Lead us not into temptation…”.
These prayer requests, given to us by Jesus, all amount to humble acknowledgements; we need God to provide for our daily physical needs, we are dependent, frail creatures. We need forgiveness and to forgive, as well, for there is still an ongoing struggle within us with indwelling sin. We don’t want to be estranged from our Father, so we confess those sins, asking for forgiveness.
As we grow in grace we begin to see that our sins come as a result of patterns of temptation which we fall prey to. The idea is to learn how to disrupt those patterns and to be delivered out of the temptations which we have been prone to fall to. We now hate sin, and dread it. We don’t want to fall anymore.
Have you ever prayed about your temptations? All of us have our own unique iniquities which Satan, the tempter appeals to. The enemy of your soul has studied you and knows what predilections you struggle with.
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.( I Peter 5:8-9)
We are to be aware of the danger of seduction into sin. Satan desires to have us , that He might sift us like wheat. We are cautioned by Jesus himself, “Watch and pray that you enter not into temptation”.No matter how willing we are spiritually, we are told to be aware of our weakness, ie the flesh, our unregenerate nature.
Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.(Matthew 26:41)
One of the best things that can happen to any Christian is when they come to the conviction that they can no longer trust themselves. When we realize that at any moment, given the right circumstances, any of us can defect from Christ in a shocking manner.
No one is exempt from the possibility. The Apostle Peter certainly wasn’t. He was confident that He loved Jesus so much that He would not defect even if everybody else among the disciples did defect.But within hours He had denied Jesus three times.
Jesus tried to urge Peter to pray about the trial and temptation which He was about to undergo, but Peter’s overconfidence in the flesh made him weary so He slept instead. What was there to pray about? It turned out there was much Peter could have been praying about. “Lord lead me out of the coming temptation, give me the grace not to deny you, the awareness of what is really going on…Please LORD don’t let me have to be put to the test!”.
There is a beautiful prayer about temptation found in the Proverbs of the Bible. It is often unrecognized as being so. but it exemplifies a profound prayer on this very subject,
Two things have I required of thee; deny me them not before I die: Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me: Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the Lord? or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain.( Proverbs 30:6-9)
What is Agur saying here? Is he not pleading “Lord I do not trust myself, Please don’t let me be tested either with riches or poverty, as I am afraid of what I might do in either case?”
All we need to know about the terrible battle with sin and temptation is found in the account of the Fall. The Devil came to our first parents as the tempter. He came not directly, but subtly he challenged the authority, the goodness and the veracity of God. Always his goal is to estrange us from God himself, to pull us away.
Has God really said….? Underneath every temptation a serious religious question is raised; in this case the question is about the Word of God and their understanding of it. Did the first couple really hear God right?
Eventually in that one incident the Devil had them questioning God’s Word, God’s goodness, the God ordained Sanctions,( You shall not surely die) and by temptation he had turned them into rival”gods” choosing their own definition of ‘good and evil”.
Adam and Eve now knew ‘good and evil’ by firsthand experience, and every tear of sorrow ever shed since is because they yielded to temptation.
Temptation is dreadful, and sin is awful and destructive. It is the evil of evils, something to fear and hate. Above all it is something to pray about and to seek to overcome with all of our being. God is the one we must resort to and to seek for deliverance.
This request “Lead us not into temptation…” has an implicit promise within it. God will lead us. By Jesus teaching us to pray this way, He is telling you that God is willing to lead us in those paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. God knows which misguided ways we travel, often repetitively, by which we have too often fallen. He can show us new ways; new habits of thought and deed which will cause us to triumph over the sins which had once so easily beset us. We do not have to yield to temptation.