Today we begin our exposition of the petition, “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” (Matthew 6:13) What makes this petition one of the most challenging to expound on is the fact that the original word for “temptation” can also refer to a trial. Thus, the context of the word is what determines whether or not something is a temptation – a solicitation to evil – or a test from God, as we see in Genesis 22:1,2 when God told Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac.
Having said that, what did Jesus mean when He instructs us to pray to The Father, “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil”? That is not quickly discovered nor easily understood. However, what we do know beyond a shadow of a doubt is that as long as we are in these mortal bodies, we will all face temptation (1 Corinthians 10:13a). Due to the remaining corruption that is in our flesh (Romans 7:18), and the corruption that is in this present evil world (Galatians 1:4), temptation is a way of life for each and every one of us.
It is important for us to understand that temptation in and of itself is not a sin, for Jesus Himself was tempted, yet without sin (Matthew 4:1-11; Hebrews 4:14,15). Being tempted is human; giving in to temptation is when we take its bait and fulfill its desires (James 1:13-15). Both Paul and Peter give us the promise of God’s delivering power when we submit to Him during the temptation (1 Corinthians 10:13; 2 Peter 2-9a). Nevertheless, we can not be careless when it comes to the importance of putting on the whole armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18).
On the other hand, we need to remember that God does indeed test His children to reveal the depth of our obedience to Him (Deuteronomy 8:2,3). Sometimes, these tests come in the form of fiery trials of persecution (1 Peter 1:6,7). So, may we unite our hearts in prayer and ask The Lord to reveal to us His precious truth regarding these two inevitable parts of the Christian life. As we saw last week, the desired end of a temptation or a test is that our God may be glorified. Thus we are taught to pray for God’s leading away from temptation, and for deliverance from evil. Do this Lord, for our benefit and Your glory. Amen.