Lead us not into temptation (Luke 11:4).
(Today’s is the last in a brief series of meditations on the Lord’s Prayer.)
James says no one can say God has tempted him; this request, then, is for God to keep us from situations where we might fall. It is a recognition of the dangerous, bait-riddled, sin-inducing nature of this world. If love of money doesn’t get us, perhaps the temptation to fit in with the crowd will. If not sexual lust, perhaps self-righteousness; if not addiction to drugs, then perhaps unforgiveness. We are fish who need to be reminded that we are soaking wet with sin-saturation.
We are fish who need to be reminded that we are soaking wet with sin-saturation.
Doubtless this is why Jesus prayed for us the very thing he taught us to pray for ourselves! “I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one” (John 17:15). And interestingly he follows up immediately with the prayer, “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth” (John 17:17). It seems, then, that we are dependent on prayer to keep us from sin, and that our dependency on prayer should lead us to regular Bible reading. We are kept from temptation through prayer, and we are sanctified further through God’s Word.
The request, “Lead us not into temptation,” is also a personal repudiation of the sinful inclinations we see within ourselves. Though we see desires in us toward various sins, we are determining that we would not have the sin even if it were available to us. We seek to walk well; we long to conquer sin. We are not satisfied to be forgiven; we pray to love better, live better, decide better in the future!
We are not satisfied to be forgiven; we pray to love better, live better, decide better in the future!
This is a prayer ultimately then for God’s leadership in and throughout life. We are throwing ourselves completely on his wisdom and direction. We are recognizing that God is, alone, able to navigate us through the deadly obstacle course of this life successfully. We can’t do it without him, no matter how determined or well-intentioned we may be.
This is why Matthew’s parallel account of the Lord’s Prayer includes the additional request for God to “deliver us from evil.” (Matthew 6:13). This prayer raises our sites to real and lasting and overwhelming victory over sin, not just in eternity, but also here and now. Christians are not being influenced by two equal forces! The Holy Spirit will ultimately win, in us individually and in the world as well.
One day soon sin will be crushed everywhere, for all time.
Yes, there is a battle going on inside you, but it is because of a larger battle going on outside and around you. In reality, the battleground in you is part of a greater battle everywhere since the Fall. And one day soon sin will be crushed everywhere, for all time.