Monday, April 6, 2015

Teach us to Pray, part 41: Lead us not into temptation

And He said to them, "When you pray, say: 'Father, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. 'Give us each day our daily bread. 'And forgive us our sins, For we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.'" (Luke 11:2-4 NASB) 

The word translated as "lead" is eispherĊ and means "lead into". McArthur cautions us against thinking that God tempts us to sin. "God does not tempt us (James 1:13), but He will subject us to trials that may expose us to Satan's assaults, as in the case of Job and Peter (Luke 22:31,32). This petition expressed the believer's desire to avoid the dangers of sin altogether." (MBC p 1133)

Matthew Henry explained further. "That temptations to sin should be as much dreaded and deprecated by us as ruin by sin; and it should be as much our care and prayer to get the power of sin broken in us as to get the guilt of sin removed from us." 

The very thought of sin should be so heinous to me that I would desire to avoid it at all costs. Our Lord gave a wonderful example when He taught His disciples to pray in this way. What I am saying with the words, "lead me not into temptation" is, in essence, that Satan would not be allowed to assail me in such a way, tempt me so severely, that I fail to stand firm. 

The model prayer in Matthew includes the request "but deliver us from evil" and that is the point of requesting that God not to "lead me into temptation". When temptation comes, I am to ask God to deliver me from it. 

Temptation can be appealing, tantalizing, exciting, can't it? In a very foolish way, I have not always wanted to avoid all temptation. When the temptation is severe, it is much easier to yield, and then give the enemy credit for the attack. In the words of Flip Wilson, "The devil made me do it." God, of course, is not deceived. Satan may have attacked, but I am the one who yielded. 

If I could only see Sin the way God sees it, if I could understood the horrible price that was paid and keep it in the forefront of my mind, I would not be so quickly enticed. The only solution, then, is to do what Jesus told us to do. I, we, must pray that we will not be led into temptation so great that we cannot avoid it. I must be diligent to pray for my own deliverance from evil. I must want to avoid evil, sin, wrongdoing, wrong thinking, wrong speaking.

I must remember that it is the temptation to sin, and the yielding that follows, that ultimately brings me to the consequences of sin. The price of sin is the very thing I must avoid, and that begins with avoidance at the very start. 

Join me, then, as I earnestly pray, "Lead me not into temptation." If sin will take us further than we ever meant to go, cost us more than we ever meant to pay, and keep us longer than we ever meant to stay, and it will, then let us hold firm. Let us refuse that first step on the journey of destruction and count on our Lord to help us, because He says He will.