This is a clause I have struggled with:
Our Father in heaven,
let Your name remain holy.
Bring about Your kingdom.
Manifest Your will here on earth,
as it is manifest in heaven.
Give us each day that day’s bread—no more, no less—
And forgive us our debts
as we forgive those who owe us something.
Lead us not into temptation . . . (Matthew 6:9-13)
Scripture is clear that our Father will never tempt us to sin. To think so is foolishness. Jesus’ brother James made it clear when he wrote:
No one who is tempted should ever be confused and say that God is testing him. The One who created us is free from evil and can’t be tempted, so He doesn’t tempt anyone (James 1:13)
Then he goes on to explain:
When a person is carried away with desire, lured by lust, and when desire becomes the focus and takes control, it gives birth to sin.When sin becomes fully grown, it produces death.
So, it is when you give in (or surrender) to any temptation and desire, that is when sin is born! And, if you give in to that sin long enough, it will overpower you and costs you your life.
Now this was misunderstood by some of the early Catechisms:
In the sixth petition, which is, And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, we pray that God would either keep us from being tempted to sin, or support and deliver us when we are tempted —Westminister Shorter Catechism
Then, in the Heidelberg Catechism, that I was taught in Jr. High:
“And lead not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one” means, By ourselves we are too weak to hold our own even for a moment. And our sworn enemies — the devil, the world, and our own flesh — never stop attacking us. And so, Lord, uphold us make us strong with the strength of your Holy Spirit, so that we may not go down to defeat in this spiritual struggle, but may firmly resist our enemies until we finally win the complete victory.
I think St. Augustine might have had a closer handle on it when he taught:
The prayer is not, that we should not be tempted, but that we should not be brought into temptation; as it, were it necessary that any one should be examined by fire, he should pray, not that should not be touched by the fire, but that he should not be consumed.
Oh, now that seems closer to what we need to do!
But Peter wrote,
“Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around as a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (I Peter 8)
Now I always feel compelled to point out that Peter did not write that the devil WAS a roaring lion seeking someone to devour, he said that he walks around AS a roaring lion. After Jesus rose from the dead the devil was more like the toothless Abominable Snowman in the story of Rudolph, the Red-nosed Reindeer.
That is why Paul wrote,
Finally, receive your power from the Lord and from his mighty strength. Put on all the armor that God supplies. In this way you can take a stand against the devil’s strategies (Ephesians 6:10-12)
We have to understand that temptation has two parts — the circumstances which lead to sin, and the desire that is addressed by the circumstances. As one writer pointed out, “There must be tinder as well as a spark, if there is to be flame. Fire falling on water or bare rock will kindle nothing. God s sends the one, we make the other.”
Interesting. I will have to think about this some more and get back to you tomorrow. But until then, where does our Father say He will lead us?
Who is like you among the gods, O Yahweh?
Who is like you? . . . In your unfailing love, you will lead the people you have redeemed. Powerfully, you will guide them to your holy dwelling (Exodus 15:11, 13)
Wow! His “unfailing” love is going to lead us, and He is going to “powerfully” guide us to His home! That is they way to go!
Be strong and courageous! Don’t tremble or be terrified, because Yahweh your Elohim is with you wherever you go (Joshua 1:9)
This is what Yahweh says . . .
I will go ahead of you and smooth out the rough places.
I will break down the bronze doors and cut through the iron bars.
I will give you treasures from dark places and hidden stockpiles.
Then you will know that I, Yahweh Elohim of Israel,
have called you by name. (Isaiah 45:1a, 2-3)
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