CALL TO OBEDIENCE #422
Reimar A.C. Schultze
"Lead Us Not Into Temptation..."
By Reimar Schultze
This prayer more than anything else is a cry for mercy to our beloved Father. Here we can rejoice that our Lord bids us pray so that He would deliver us by His omnipotent hand. Indeed every petition that He gives us in the Lord’s prayer is for us to invite Him to become part of our lives. And certainly this petition confirms that we are in a warfare against evil.
Let us now consider this petition in its two parts. The first: lead us not into temptation, deals with the temptations, the trials and tests that originate with God, such as Abraham being tempted to give up his son. The second part: deliver us from evil (the evil one), deals with those temptations that originate with the devil, such as the devil tempting Eve.
Lead us not into temptation
Knowing that God will never tempt us to sin as Jesus’ beloved brother James said in James 1:13, we need to look for a better translation of this word from the Greek (peirasmos). Here we find, considering James’ words and the general context, that the English word “temptation” here is better translated to mean tests, trials or afflictions. Knowing this, God will tempt us which means He will test us and try every one of us in the furnace of affliction. He wants us to ask Him to join us in that furnace, lest we fail in the hour of our need. We should therefore pray: “Lead us not into temptations beyond what we can bear. Grant us more grace in them or show us the way of escape.”
By virtue of these trials, we are privileged to become partakers of Christ’s sufferings. It is only as we suffer with Him that we shall reign with Him (Rom. 8:17; 2 Tim. 2:12). It is in the fire of affliction and on the anvil of God’s perfect will that our souls are being tempered and prepared for everlasting joy in the presence of the Godhead. It is in trials that God will refine us; it is here where He may deliver us from pride and self-conceit. It is here where He may get us to the place where we realize that we have spent too much time with the mission and not enough time with the Lord of the mission. This leads us to the verse: Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word (Ps. 119:67).
There is no crown of life without trials. Paul said: ...we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God (Acts 14:22). As there is no refining without trials, so there is no advancement in the King’s vineyard but that we have first been tested. In trials, our roots are forced deeper into the soil of humility, causing our spiritual branches to spring upward. Thus we can say:
Concerning Abraham: By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son (Heb. 11:17);
Concerning Job: But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold (Job 23:10);
Concerning the Psalmist: It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes (Ps. 119:71);
Concerning all of us: Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life... (James 1:12);
Concerning Jesus: Then was Jesus led up of the spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil (Matt. 4:1).
Again, Lead us not into temptation (tests and trials) which we cannot bear, as added by some of the apostolic fathers, invites our Lord to join us in our tests and trials, so we might triumph in them.
But deliver us from evil [the evil one]
Some translators favor from evil, others from the evil one. Both translations are permissible. But Jesus used the masculine preposition for the word, “but,” indicating the evil one. Again, this enforces that in this life we are fundamentally dealing with only two supernatural powers: God and Satan, and you and I are the battleground where these forces meet. Regarding this petition, Peter said: Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8).
Each day the devil has you on his agenda. For you to go into a day without having first put on the armor of God is a recipe for failure. If you failed to do so in the morning, your actions and reactions, interactions, decisions, words and thoughts during that day will lack the anointing and direction of the Holy Spirit and will lead to much damage. You will miss what you were created for that day and you will find that the devil will take advantage of your tried soul.
Now let us become acquainted with some of the devices of the devil. For the Apostle Paul said not to be ...ignorant of his devices (2 Cor. 2:11). Let us examine how the devil works. Here are the first words we hear about the devil: Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made... (Gen. 3:1) which means the devil is a deceiver. As holiness is God’s primary attribute, deception is the devil’s primary attribute. For example, as Martin Luther suggests, had the devil been a creature creeping on the ground, he would have frightened Eve. Had he not been an upright creature like her, looking very beautiful, wise and intelligent, she would not have listened to him. The devil always hides himself behind something beautiful; he never shows himself as ugly or repulsive. He never comes to you saying: “I am the devil.” Remember that. Eve was deceived and sin entered into the spiritual bloodstream of man and since that time we are all born with a sinful nature (Paul calls it the carnal nature). The carnal nature is the devil’s foothold in every person coming into this world. Here is what the devil hides behind:
The devil hides behind the carnal nature: he provoked David to number the troops because the carnal nature likes numbers. We like numbers in our churches. Promotions in our world are all about numbers. David was deceived. God did not want David to rely on numbers but on Him. Because of David’s deception, 70,000 men were killed by pestilence. How many widows and orphans did this make?
The devil hides behind false prophets: Jesus said, Take heed that ye be not deceived: for many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and the time draweth near: go ye not therefore after them (Luke 21:8).
The devil hides behind family attachments: he tells us that family attachments and obligations are to take first place in our lives. But God tells us the opposite. He separated Abraham from his family to make him the father of many nations. Had Abraham not been separated from his family, God could not have used him. His cousin Lot did not want to be separated, but because he refused to leave his uncle, his wife turned into a pillar of salt and he died in shame. Jesus was wanted by His family, but He said that he who does the will of God is my brother, my sister and my mother (Mark 3:35). He also said unless you hate your father, mother, brother, sister and own life, you cannot be My disciple (Luke 14:26).
The devil hides behind criticism: he says it is good and proper for us to pass judgment on others. But the Bible tells us that criticism destroys marriages, churches and friendships. It tells us if we criticize others, we violate the law of love: loving our neighbors as ourselves. Are you glad that Jesus does not criticize you?
The devil is the accuser of the brethren (Rev. 12:10): when he accuses us, he takes on the form of an angel of light and we think that God is accusing us. We hear a voice saying that our sins are not forgiven, that our marriage cannot be saved and that God does not love us. Sometimes when we are in the middle of prayer, he puts wicked things into our heads. He wants to make us feel guilty and condemned. But, child of God, do not let him get away with this. Tell him that this is his garbage and not yours; tell him that you are washed by the blood of the Lamb; tell him to take his garbage and get lost.
The devil will hide behind false doctrines: he will tell you that we have no commitment to obey the law. He will tell you that Christ has done away with the law. Of course, Christ has done away with the ceremonial laws but not with the Ten Commandments. It is still wrong to commit adultery, to have other gods, to kill, to steal, to lie and to covet. The devil will focus your attention on what you do not have, instead of on what you do have. He will put covetousness in your heart. Remember, the devil is the source of all lawlessness.
Over and over again the devil will hide behind the word of God: he quoted Scripture to Jesus. The devil knows how to use the Bible for your destruction. He will twist and take things out of context, to confuse and deceive you.
So Jesus told us to pray: ...lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one (Matt. 6:13a). If you do so, He will do just that. Remember again, God tempts (tests) you to draw you closer to Himself; the devil tempts you to destroy you.