“Do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil”

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August 8, 2022 | By Jay Ashbaucher

The Lord Jesus taught his followers to pray, “Do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil” (Matthew 6:13). Praying this helps us realize our need for protection from the evil influences of Satan (1 Peter 5:8; John 8:44), the world (1 John 2:15-17), and our fleshly sinful desires (Gal. 5:17-21). Because we realize our human weakness to give-in to temptation and to fall into wrongdoing (Rom. 7:18-21), we are relying on God to deliver us from the evil one and from evil. Some have asked the question, “Does God lead us into temptation?”, because James 1:13 says, “God cannot be tempted by evil and He Himself does not tempt anyone” (see James 1:13-15). The Bible also says to Christians that “God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it” (1 Cor. 10:13).It helps us to understand the meaning of the word “temptation”. When we think of temptation, it is natural for us to think of some form of evil that is trying to get us to sin, that is, to do something wrong. Would God try to get us to do something wrong? Is it in that sense that James says, “God does not tempt anyone”? God wants us to do right, not to do wrong, so why would he try to get us to do something wrong? That is not his nature as a holy God.There is another meaning of temptation. The word means “to test, to try, to prove.” Persons can be put into situations where their faith or character is being tested. They are involved in a situation, not to drive them into some sin, but to test them to see if they will prove faithful in maintaining their righteous character or faith in God. It is a temptation, or trial in a good sense, to help them become stronger in their faith or character; to test them to see where they stand. Are they on the side of good or evil? Will they be faithful to God or not?Perhaps the best way for us to understand this prayer is to ask God not to lead us into trials or situations that would be too hard for us, but to deliver us from evils that would in some way be destructive to us by leading us away from God’s good will. This prayer takes seriously our human weakness and our tendency to sin. We must rely on God more than ourselves for the power to overcome temptation. In Gethsemane, on the night of his being betrayed and arrested, Jesus warned the disciples who were with him, “Keep watching and praying that you may not come into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Mark 14:38). These disciples failed Jesus that night. They said they would die with him if need be. When the soldiers came, they reacted wrongly. Peter tried to fight, but they all ran away in fear, shame, and defeat. They did not watch and pray as Jesus had warned them to do. When we fail, it is important to realize that Jesus loves us still. He forgives and continues to welcome us into his presence and to stay on track with him and be restored to fellowship with him. To survive failure, it is very important to realize how much love and grace Jesus has for us. Nothing can separate us from his love (Romans 8:31-39).

It is because we have experienced Jesus’ love and forgiveness that we do not want to enter into sin, thinking it’s ok because we will be forgiven. Instead, we desire to be on guard against situations that could result in sin or failure to honor God. “Watch”, Jesus said. Be aware of what may come. Be ready so that with God’s help, you can experience deliverance. Learn from each temptation experience. Know your weakness in certain situations and be prepared with a plan to resist and do battle against evil forces. Pray that God will deliver you from the forms of evil you have recognized because of your watching. Perhaps you have learned what triggers your temptation to give-in and you are able to reject the temptation as soon as you recognize it. There are many ways God helps to deliver us.

God’s goal for us is to be holy as he is holy (1 Peter 1:14-16). God, as a good parent, has been involved in testing his beloved children, and disciplining us for that very purpose, that we might share his holiness (Heb. 12:7-11). The disciples of Jesus may have failed that night in the garden of Gethsemane. But they were not failures. After Jesus’ resurrection, he gathered them together again and strengthened them to do his will. They had learned their lessons on the importance of watching and praying. Jesus, through his death, had provided a way of escape so that their sins, when they failed, could be forgiven. God transferred them from the realm of darkness into the kingdom of his beloved son (Col. 1:13). They were delivered from every form of evil, but so long as they walked in this dangerous world, with Satan ever present as a roaring lion seeking to devour them, they were reminded to keep watching and praying as Jesus taught (Acts 1:12-14; 2:41-42; Eph. 6:10-11, 18).

Notice again that this prayer has a plural form. “Do not lead us… deliver us…” We are in this together with other believers. By being together as Christ’s church, we help one another to defeat evil and sin. Hebrews 3:12-13 says, “Take care, brethren, that there not be in anyone of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God. But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called ‘Today’, so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.”

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