This week we will be looking at the final request of the Lord’s prayer, ‘Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one’. We’ll take some time to unpack it over the next few days.
The phrase,which the NIV translates as ‘don’t let us yield to temptation’ can at first glance seem confusing yet it gives us a fuller understanding of this part of the prayer and Jesus' intent for us as His followers.
The Greek word for temptation is peirasmos. It is used by three of the NT passages that talk about temptation. Does God tempt us? Does He test us? We read of Jesus being led into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil (Matthew 4). Abraham had his faith tested (Hebrews 11:17) when God told him to sacrifice Isaac. And then there are the Israelites who endured 40 years of testing in the wilderness! Imagine 40 years.
Consider the following quote by David Timms in his book, Living the Lord’s Prayer: "Is there a difference between temptation and a test? To most of our minds, yes. Temptation usually carries connotations of something that crosses a moral line - tempted to steal, lust, envy or lie for example. When we say that we feel sorely tempted, we generally mean that we feel strongly inclined to violate the moral code of the kingdom... A test however relates more to our faith. Much like Abraham, we may feel that various trials and hardships test whether or not we will trust the Father."
We also have the words found in Hebrews 1:13-14 (I’m including 12-15 for context):
12 God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. 13 And remember, when you are being tempted, do not say, “God is tempting me.” God is never tempted to do wrong, and he never tempts anyone else. 14 Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. 15 These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death.
Our temptations are the result of our sin nature - I may be tempted to gossip, lie, become resentful - you can fill your own blank. However the testing we experience is permitted, allowed by God to refine us, teach us, transform us. It might be a time of suffering, a personal struggle, relational challenges, financial difficulties.
What we need to remember is that our testing provides for the opportunity for us to move into a deeper relationship with our heavenly Father. It is an opportunity for our faith to deepen and our trust to grow. I wonder how this perspective, this truth deeply ingrained in our heart and soul would create a new paradigm for us during our seasons of testing. (But more on this tomorrow.)
What is a temptation you are experiencing?
Where are you being tested?
Take a moment to reflect on your answers and then ask God for what you need.