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The Lord’s Prayer, Part 10

We now come to our final request in the Lord’s Prayer, “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” At first glance, the phrase, “Lead us not into temptation,” seems a bit strange or out of place. The reason for this is that God would never tempt us (James 1:13). Some have a distorted view of God and think that He’s waiting to trip us up or expose us to sin’s lures. But that is not God’s way with us. He may test us through hardship, but he does not tempt us with sin.

In the Lord’s Prayer we are asking Him for strength to resist temptation. The New Living Translation renders it, “And don’t let us yield to temptation.” Another way to put it might be, “Lord, please lead me out of and away from the things that tempt me!” Jesus warned His disciples on the night He was betrayed, “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matthew 26:41) As we’ve seen elsewhere in this prayer, we are dependent on our heavenly Father and in this case, we’re dependent on His strength to resist temptation.

Where does temptation come from? The Scriptures point out at least three sources of temptation: the world system, our own fleshly desires and the devil (see 1 John 2:15-16; James 1:14; and John 13:2). The world and its ways are contrary to God. There’s nothing mysterious about this. The world calls good what God calls evil; and it calls evil what God calls good. Abortion or the killing of unborn children is one sober example of this horrible distortion.

One significant way in which we are led astray by the world is through others who aren’t following Jesus. Paul warns, “Do not be misled: ‘Bad company corrupts good character.’” (1 Corinthians 15:33) The world offers enticements that lure us away from God’s pure character toward lewd and baser things. The world cries out to us, “Come run with us.” “Everybody’s doing it!” “No one will know.” “It’s fun, try it!” “It doesn’t hurt anyone.”

Clearly, a second way we are led into temptation is through our own fleshly desires stimulated by greed, lust, envy, jealousy, and pride. The Bible refers to this as, “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.” (1 John 2:16) James explains, “Each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.” (James 1:14-15) Because our flesh is weak, it’s so important that we ‘feed’ our spirit with God’s Word, fellowship and prayer.

Finally, some temptations come from the evil one, the devil. Jesus was tempted by the evil one, yet He resisted his temptations and did not sin. Peter warns us, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith.” (1 Peter 5:8-9) The devil wants to trip us up. He wants to foil God’s plan to transform us and make us more like Christ. He lies to us in much the same way he lied to Adam and Eve in the garden.

Coming back to the Lord’s Prayer, we ask God to help us resist temptation and to protect us from the evil one. This prayer presupposes that we will obediently avoid such situations that would place us in harm’s way. In other words, don’t go to places where you know you’ll be tempted. Don’t hang out with others who are constantly trying to lead you into temptation. And in some situations where temptation simply appears unannounced, we must flee! We must not flirt with temptation, but flee from it! We’re told to “Flee from sexual immorality!” (1 Corinthians 6:18) “Flee from idolatry!” (1 Corinthians 10:14) Flee from the lure of riches. (1 Timothy 6:11) And “Flee the evil desires of youth.” (2 Timothy 2:22)

“Father, lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.”

©2011 Rob Fischer