Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy name; Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven; Give us this day our daily bread; And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; And lead us not into temptation; But deliver us from evil; For Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.
“And lead us not into temptation”
When we read the Bible, we frequently run into the word “temptation.” The root word in the original means to “try” or “test.” Temptation is a trying, a proving, or a testing. The word “temptation” may refer either to an act of testing or to an enticement to evil.
When it is said that the devil tempts us, the sense is that it is a temptation to sin. Scripture tells us that Jesus was led into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil (Matthew 4). The obvious intent of the devil was to try to make Jesus sin. Satan failed! The devil, and world, and our own sinful flesh are daily and strenuously seeking to tempt us to evil. These unholy three come with all kinds of allurements to lead us away from the Lord and away from His Word. They present their allurements (temptations) in fine-sounding words to which they add deceitful promises; they offer them in tempting fashion (fool’s gold) to ensnare us, always with the intent to bring us into spiritual ruin. Their intent is to deceive us and seduce us “into misbelief, despair, and other great shame and vice.” Soberness and vigilance are called for in order to be alert to–and in order to fight–the evil foe (1 Peter 5:8,9).
In the 6th petition of the Lord’s Prayer we pray, “Lead us not into temptation.” Obviously we are addessing the Lord. But does the Lord tempt us to sin, for which reason we ask Him not to? No way! Scripture says, “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God; for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempts He any man; but every man is tempted when he is drawn away of his own lust and enticed” (James 1:13,14). It is one of the contradictions of life that after we have prayed the Lord to keep us from temptation, we often turn right around and seek it out or walk where it is.
When it is said that God tempts us, it is always a “test” for our good. God tempted (tested) Abraham by telling him to offer his only son Isaac. As Abraham was about to do so, the Lord stopped him, saying, “Now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me” (Genesis 22:12). By this test Abraham’s faith was shown to be more than mere words. Temptations or the tests that God sends us are meant to be “faith-strengtheners,” serving the same purpose as the weights we lift to build up muscle tone, lest we become flabby.
Tests come to God’s children in many different forms. Maybe they come through sickness or even death of a loved one. They may come through loss of a job or difficulty in finding one. They may come through storm and devastation that takes away what we have. Poverty is a test of faith, but so also may be a glut of riches. Persecutions and ridicule for the faith are tests–Satan means them for our harm, but God means them for our good (Genesis 50:20).
Tests serve a good purpose when they remind us of the fleeting nature of life so that we re-focus on eternal things. When we begin to feel quite independent of God, He may send us a test to remind us that without Him we are nothing. His tests serve to bring us back to the Word when we have become indifferent to it. Tests create within the child of God a yearning for heaven where there is no more testing. Neither is there any more sorrow, tears, or death (Revelation 7).
When we pray “Lead us not into temptation,” we are praying that the Lord would guard and keep us so that temptation to evil may not overcome us. We are praying Him for the wisdom to understand the difference between the temptation to evil which is of the devil, and the test from God which is for our benefit. We further pray that the Lord would give us the strength to prevail when He tests us, so “that we may finally overcome and obtain the victory.”
God who commands us to pray and has promised to hear all who pray in the name of Jesus, gives us promise that He will not send any temptation that we cannot bear, but will Himself help us to endure it (1 Corinthians 10:13). As we look into His Word and stand fast in His Word, we have the armor that shields us against Satan’s fiery darts. But above all we have the assurance that He, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who was tempted like unto us in every way, yet without sin, “will stablish you and keep you from evil” (2 Thessalonians 3:3).
–Pastor Daniel Fleischer
THE SIXTH PETITION
And lead us not into temptation.
What does this mean?
God indeed tempts no one; but we pray in this petition that God would guard and
keep us, so that the devil, the world, and our flesh may not deceive us nor
seduce us into misbelief, despair, and other great shame and vice; and though
we be assailed by them, that still we may finally overcome and obtain the victory.
--DR. MARTIN LUTHER'S Small Catechism
(Concordia Publ. House, 1943)
The Sixth Petition
"And lead us not into temptation."
What does this mean?
God indeed tempts no one; but we pray in this petition that He would guard and
keep us so that the devil, the world, and our flesh do not deceive us or lead us
into misbelief, hopelessness, or any other shameful or sinful acts; and, although
we are tempted by them, we ask that we win in the end and keep the victory.
--MARTIN LUTHER'S SMALL CATECHISM
(Sydow edition, 1988)
(A comparison of two currently used versions.)