Monday, 14 February 2011

'Lead us not into Temptation'

It might seem more sense to change this to 'let me not be led into temptation' because Scripture clearly states:
'When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone', otherwise Scripture would be contradicting itself.
The theologian Jim Packer ( author of ‘Knowing God’) however makes some insightful comments regarding this. The word ‘temptation’ may also be used to mean ‘test’ or ‘trial’. He uses the analogy of the driving test which has been instituted to show that the driver can do everything right and in that regard is a ‘temptation’ of sorts. Packer goes on ‘In God’s programme for the spiritual education and growth of Christians, the same applies. God does and must test us regularly , to prove what is in us and to show how far we have got….Thus he ‘‘tested’’ Abraham (RSV “tempt” AV “prove” ) by telling him to sacrifice Isaac and after the test promised him great blessing “because you have obeyed my voice”. (Gen 22)
Why should we then pray to God that we should not be tempted or tested? Packer notes three reasons
1. When God tests us for our good Satan seeks to exploit the situation for our harm. c.p.Satan with Jesus in the wilderness.
2.Temptation is no picnic and ‘no sane Christian can do no other than shrink from them. For both reasons Jesus was as right to start his prayer in Gethsemane with “Father, remove this cup” as he was to end it with “yet not my will but yours be done.”
3. Our track record of weakness, stupidity, vulnerability should make us humble enough to cry out “Lord if be possible, please no temptation.’ Packer goes on ‘only a fool will make it his preference .

Nevertheless we have the promise that ‘no temptation has overtaken us that is not common to man, but with the temptation God will provide a way of escape that we will be able to endure it.’ (2 Cor.). We may also resist the devil and he will flee from us while at the same time we should also ‘watch and pray lest we enter temptation’. The armour of God (Ephes. 6) has also been give to us to carefully put on in order to protect ourselves from the attacks of the evil. One thing that is for certain is that we should recognise is that we are no match for Satan in our own strength. He is the dirtiest, meanest fighter imaginable who will use all the tricks he has come up with since mankind was created. Christ fully wipped Satan in the wilderness, in Gethsemane and on the cross and it is only in Christ that we can defeat him.

The hymn by Martin Luther and video clip below I have posted before and feel it is appropriate again to post it in the context of this present discussion.

A safe stronghold our God is still,
A trusty shield and weapon;
He’ll help us clear from all the ill
That hath us now o’ertaken.
The ancient prince of hell
Hath risen with purpose fell;
Strong mail of craft and power
He weareth in this hour;
On earth is not his fellow.

With force of arms we nothing can,
Full soon were we down-ridden;
But for us fights the proper Man,
Whom God Himself hath bidden.
Ask ye, who is this same?
Christ Jesus is His Name,
The Lord Sabaoth’s Son;
He, and no other one,
Shall conquer in the battle.

And were this world all devils o’er,
And watching to devour us,
We lay it not to heart so sore;
Not they can overpower us.
And let the prince of ill
Look grim as e’er he will,
He harms us not a whit;
For why? — his doom is writ;
A word shall quickly slay him.

God’s Word, for all their craft and force,
One moment will not linger,
But, spite of hell, shall have its course;
Tis written by His finger.
And though they take our life,
Goods, honor, children, wife,
Yet is their profit small;
These things shall vanish all:
The City of God remaineth!


John Chrysostom said...

“And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from the evil one: .”

Here He…quells our pride, instructing us to deprecate all conflicts, instead of rushing upon them…

Just as when we are dragged forth, we must stand nobly; so also when we are not summoned, we should be quiet, and wait for the time of conflict; that we may show both freedom from vainglory, and nobleness of spirit.

And He here calls the devil “the wicked one,” commanding us to wage against him a war that knows no truce, and implying that he is not such by nature.

[...] We should note that He did not say “deliver us from the wicked ones”, but “from the wicked one”, instructing us in no case to entertain displeasure against our neighbours for whatever wrongs we may suffer at their hands, but to transfer our enmity from these to him, as being himself the cause of all our wrongs.

Having then made us anxious as before conflict, by putting us in mind of the enemy, and having cut away from us all our remissness, He again encourages and raises our spirits, by bringing to our remembrance the King under whom we are arrayed, and signifying Him to be more powerful than all.

Dr.Luther said...

Lead us not into temptation. Keep us fit and alert, eager and diligent in Your Word and service, so that we do not become complacent, lazy and slothful as though we had already achieved everything. In that way the fearful devil cannot fall upon us, surprise us and deprive us from of Your precious Word or store up strife and factions among us and lead us into other sin and disgrace…

Origen said...

This petition goes to the root of the preceding one, for our sins result from our consenting to temptation; we therefore ask our Father not to "lead" us into temptation. It is difficult to translate the Greek verb used by a single English word: the Greek means both "do not allow us to enter into temptation" and "do not let us yield to temptation."[] "God cannot be tempted by evil and he himself tempts no one";[] on the contrary, he wants to set us free from evil. We ask him not to allow us to take the way that leads to sin. We are engaged in the battle "between flesh and spirit"; this petition implores the Spirit of discernment and strength.

The Holy Spirit makes us discern between trials, which are necessary for the growth of the inner man,[] and temptation, which leads to sin and death. We must also discern between being tempted and consenting to temptation. Finally, discernment unmasks the lie of temptation, whose object appears to be good, a "delight to the eyes" and desirable,[ when in reality its fruit is death.
God does not want to impose the good, but wants free beings.... There is a certain usefulness to temptation. No one but God knows what our soul has received from him, not even we ourselves. But temptation reveals it in order to teach us to know ourselves, and in this way we discover our evil inclinations and are obliged to give thanks for the goods that temptation has revealed to us.
"Lead us not into temptation" implies a decision of the heart: "For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.... No one can serve two masters."[
"If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit."[157] In this assent to the Holy Spirit the Father gives us strength. "No testing has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your strength, but with the temptation will also provide the way of escape, so that you may be able to endure it." Such a battle and such a victory become possible only through prayer. It is by his prayer that Jesus vanquishes the tempter, both at the outset of his public mission and in the ultimate struggle of his agony.[159] In this petition to our heavenly Father, Christ unites us to his battle and his agony. He urges us to vigilance of the heart in communion with his own. Vigilance is "custody of the heart," and Jesus prayed for us to the Father: "Keep them in your name."[160] The Holy Spirit constantly seeks to awaken us to keep watch.[161] Finally, this petition takes on all its dramatic meaning in relation to the last temptation of our earthly battle; it asks for final perseverance. "Lo, I am coming like a thief! Blessed is he who is awake."

John Wesly said...

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil — Whenever we are tempted, O thou that helpest our infirmities, suffer us not to enter into temptation; to be overcome or suffer loss thereby; but make a way for us to escape, so that we may be more than conquerors, through thy love, over sin and all the consequences of it. Now the principal desire of a Christian's heart being the glory of God, (ver. 9, 10,) Matthew 6:9,10 and all he wants for himself or his brethren being the daily bread of soul and body, (or the support of life, animal and spiritual,) pardon of sin, and deliverance from the power of it and of the devil, (ver. 11, 12, 13,) Matthew 6:11,12,13 there is nothing beside that a Christian can wish for; therefore this prayer comprehends all his desires. Eternal life is the certain consequence, or rather completion of holiness. .

r.c.ryle said...

The eighth sentence is a petition respecting our weakness: "Lead us not into temptation."

It teaches us that we are liable, at all times, to be led astray and to fall: it instructs us to confess our infirmity, and beseech God to hold us up, and not allow us to run into sin. We ask Him, who orders all things in heaven and earth, to restrain us from going into that which would injure our souls, and never to suffer us to be "tempted above that which we are able to bear." (I Cor. 10:13.)

hugh latimer said...

Here by this petition, when we say, “Lead us not into temptation,” we learn to know our own impossibility and infirmity; namely, that we be not able of our ownselves to withstand this great and mighty enemy, the devil. Therefore here we resort to God, desiring him to help and defend us, whose power passeth the strength of the devil. So it appeareth that this is a most needful petition: for when the devil is busy about us, and moveth us to do against God, and his holy laws and commandments, ever we should have in remembrance whither to go, namely, to God; acknowledging our weakness, that we be not able to withstand the enemy. Therefore we ought ever to say, “Our Father, which art in heaven, lead us not into temptation.”

Roy Davison said...

If we pray and put our trust in the word of God revealed in Scripture, God will help us resist temptation.

But we must be careful: "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world" (1 Peter 5:8,9). "Resist the devil and he will flee from you" (James 4:7).

"Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it" (1 Corinthians 10:12,13). We must take advantage of the way of escape that God provides.

We must be spiritually minded to resist temptation, realizing that eternal spiritual values are more important that temporary earthly pleasure or gain. "And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows" (1 Timothy 6:8-10). Notice again that the promise of worldly riches is a false promise. They who love money get sorrow.

Jesus can help us resist temptation. He was tempted like we are. He understands what it is like to be tempted. "In all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted" (Hebrews 2:17,18). "For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need" (Hebrews 4:15,16).

"The Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment" (2 Peter 2:9).

"Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been proved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him" (James 1:12).