“Lead Us Not into Temptation”
In the Lord’s model prayer (Matthew 6:9–13), Jesus instructed His followers to pray saying, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one” (verse 13). God does not tempt man to sin. James wrote, “Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone” (James 1:13).
The idea that the gods were responsible for man’s temptations was common to the Greeks of James’s time and among some Christians. It was this type of accusation that our first parents made against God following their sin (Genesis 3:12, 13). Adam blamed God for creating Eve as his wife and Eve, also, blamed Him for placing the serpent in the Garden of Eden.
The apostle Paul clearly affirmed that, “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13). It is not God’s wish that men should suffer. Man has brought this sad condition upon himself by his rebellion against God’s love (Genesis 1:27, 31; 3:15–19; Ecclesiastes 7:29; Romans 6:23).
Since this is the case, the Lord uses hardships to develop human character according to His will (1 Peter 4:12, 13). Therefore, when men are tempted, they should recognize that the temptation comes, not because the Lord sends it, but because He permits it. Moreover, if correctly faced, in God’s power, temptations speed the Christian’s growth in grace.
God Tests Man
While God does not tempt man, He “tests,” or “proves,” man’s heart. The Lord tested Abraham to see if he loved his son more than God (Genesis 22:2). And Abraham passed the test. For that, the Lord blessed him greatly (Genesis22:16-18). The Lord also tested the Israelites (Exodus 20:20). And He tested Job severely (Job 1-2). Job proved his faithfulness to God even when he lost his family, all of his possessions and health. After the test, the Lord rewarded him greatly (Job 42:12-17).
The passage “lead us not into temptation” is a petition meaning “Do not permit us to enter into temptation” (1 Corinthians 10:13; Psalms 141:4). David prayed, “The LORD keeps you from all harm and watches over your life. The LORD keeps watch over you as you come and go, both now and forever” (Psalm 121:7-8).
God’s promise is not that we shall be protected from temptation, but that we shall be protected from falling into it (John 17:15). But too often we willfully place ourselves in the way of temptation (Proverbs 7:9). Therefore to pray “lead us not into temptation” is to submit to God’s ways. Only when we do that, we can claim God’s promise of protection: “Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation; There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling” (Psalm 91:9-10).
Jesus, the Christian’s example of a holy life, gained victory over temptation through standing on God’s Word (Luke 4:4, 8, 12). So, His followers, may find the same victory in Jesus, the living Word (John 1:1–3, 14). The Lord is ever ready and willing to deliver those who call upon Him and to keep them from falling into sin. For He is “a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble” (Psalms 9:9). He “knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations” (2 Peter 2:9). And He promised, ‘I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world” (Revelation 3:10).
In His service,