Today: Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Lord's Prayer - lead us not into temptation    (8/14/2016 )


"Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil."

I suspect most of us are more concerned about the second part than the first part of this line. All of us want delivering from evil, don’t we? But perhaps we enjoy a bit of temptation, and think we can keep a handle on it. After all, we like chocolate, and we’re hungry… we can’t really afford it, but that travel brochure looks exciting… Temptation just makes us human, surely? And it give us a bit of a thrill.

Well, that’s where the problem comes in. A bit of a thrill is OK… if that’s all it remains. But we’re not as much in control of our own temptations as we’d like to think. For some, it’s just an occasional bar of chocolate—but for others, who just can’t ever say no to such treats, it can turn into morbid obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure.

Some are content to just dream of a holiday; others buy the holidays (and lots of other things they can’t afford) and run up big debts. Some can share a laugh and a joke with a married colleague, whereas others begin an affair that breaks up the marriage and leads to someone getting fired.

The thing about temptation is that it’s like one of those door-stops shaped like a wedge: the thin end doesn’t really do very much, but it gradually gets bigger and then the thick end really gets in the way. It’s a big obstacle.

Notice how the two halves of this line in the prayer are joined together with a ‘but’—as if the two ideas were connected? Well, they are. When we give into too much temptation, and lose control, eventually some kind of evil will befall us. If we indulge all of our earthly desires (whether that’s food, material possessions or lust, for example) without any limitations, things start to unravel pretty quickly. Not only can we get sick or make the wrong choices when it comes to physical things, but we can be distracted from our relationship with God.

God wants the best for us. That’s why he came in the person of Jesus to show us how to live.

“Well,” you might say, “it was easy for him! He was God, so he never experienced temptation!”

Not true. Jesus is God, but he was also a man—and he did experience temptation. The Bible tells us that the Holy Spirit of God led Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil, Satan. Satan promised Jesus all kinds of things if Jesus would worship him, like food and the glories of the world, and he suggested that Jesus throw himself off the temple roof so that angels would rescue him. The same story told in the book of Mark says “Jesus was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted”. It doesn’t say “and the devil tried to tempt him”: it says he was being tempted. But Jesus found strength in knowing what was right, and he resisted.

So let us pray that the Holy Spirit doesn’t lead us into temptation—but that if he does, we too find the strength in God to resist, that we can be delivered from evil.

Pray: Lord, lead me not into tmptation, and deliver me from evil. Amen.

Think about: Why do you think people get a bit of a thrill out of being tempted? What does the feeling of being tempted do to us?

Challenge: Are there areas in your life where you're allowing yourself to be tempted, but where the outcome could be bad for you or other people? Ask God to help you resist these temptations.

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