Lead Us Not Into Temptation…

Consider the opening words of John Piper in his book, Let the Nations Be Glad! The Supremacy of God in Missions, “Missions is not the ultimate goal of the church. Worship is. Missions exists because worship doesn’t.” Piper goes on to assert that, “worship is…the fuel of missions…[because] you can’t commend what you don’t cherish.”

The goal of our “Deeper Still” series is not to do more, be more loving, or joyful, or obedient – or even to try and be good. The goal of the Christian life is Jesus Christ Himself – to grow an intimate, passionate, dynamic relationship with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Contemplative prayer is first and foremost learning how to listen — to quiet our anxious, ADD hearts and listen for God’s word, which is alive (Hebrews 4:12) and capable of ushering us into the very presence of Trinitarian love in order to comfort, encourage, and confront us.

The Lord’s Prayer is a collection of short phrases perfectly suited to contemplation. If we pray the Lord’s Prayer in its entirety and at a moderate pace, it takes about 30 seconds to recite — yet it takes a lifetime to plumb its contemplative depths.

“Lead us not into temptation…” — one of the most problematic passages in the gospels. The first 3 petitions deal with the wonder of God:

  1. God’s Name,
  2. God’s Kingdom
  3. God’s Will.

The second 3 petitions speak to our humanity needs:

  1. Provision: “Give us this day our daily bread.”
  2. Pardon: “Forgive us our debts as forgive our debtors.”
  3. Protection: “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”

We can also breakdown the Lord’s Prayer by considering the verbs: be hallowed, come, give, forgive, and lead.

  1. “Be hallowed” has a different quality from the other verbs. It has the gesture of creating a still space.
  2. “Give” and “forgive” are closely related as words in our English language. Although the (original) Greek words are not related, there is still a complementary gesture: offering and releasing.
  3. “Come” and “lead” both imply gestures of movement. They are also complementary—the former draws near; the latter moves on, bringing us with it.

As the 6th and final petition is examined, it is important to remember that:

  1. Temptation is not sin. The writer of Hebrews tells us that Jesus was: “tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin” (Heb 4:15)
  2. God does not tempt anyone. The book of James tells us: “Don’t let anyone under pressure to give in to evil say, ‘God is trying to trip me up.’ God is impervious to evil, and puts evil in no one’s way. The temptation to give in to evil comes from us and only us. We have no one to blame but the leering, seducing flare-up of our own lust. Lust gets pregnant, and has a baby: sin! Sin grows up to adulthood, and becomes a real killer” (James 1:13, MSG).

So, what then, is temptation? The Greek word for temptation is πειρασμός (peirasmos). The root word peira means, “experience” and the ending asmos describes a “process.” Temptation literally means: a process of experience — one we may or may not learn from.

What does, “deliver us” mean? The Greek verb, ῥύομαι (rhoumai) can be translated “rescue or deliver.” The meaning of the word is “to draw to oneself.” In essence when we pray the Lord’s Prayer, we are asking, Our Father who is in heaven… to draw us close (or, lead us) so that we are protected from the Evil One—Satan, our adversary, the Devil, the one who is our accuser and slanderer.

William Willimon and Stanley Hauerwas offer an important perspective on this petition, “When you pray to be…delivered…you are acknowledging that you are not in control of your fate…and that you answer to some greater power than that which the world bows before.” (From: Lord Teach Us: The Lord’s Prayer and Christian Life by William H. Willimon & Stanley Hauerwas, Nashville: Abingdon, 1996.)

When we pray, “deliver us from evil,” we confess that evil is real and temptations trouble our souls. We admit that we are vulnerable and weak. And so the only appropriate cry is for us to pray, Rescue me. Deliver me! Or, O God, “lead me!”

Take a look at 4 other verses that speak to this issue of temptation:

  1. “Here’s what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace.” (Mat 6:6, MSG)
  2. “Temptations are inevitable” (Matt 18:7, NLT; also Lk 17:1)
  3. “Those on the rocky soil are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no firm root; they believe for a while, and in time of temptation fall away.” (Lk 8:13, NASB)
  4. “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” (1 Cor 10:13, NIV)

What Are Tools To Defeat Temptation? (The first 2 are individual, the next 3 are corporate.)

  1. Holy Conviction (as opposed to condemnation), we are to aim at wanting to be free. “The purpose of my instruction is that all believers would be filled with love that comes from a pure heart, a clear conscience, and genuine faith.” (1 Tim 1:5, NLT)
  2. We know have a choice: “Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb 4:16, NASB)
  3. The Body of Christ – loving, honest, accountable relationships
  4. The Bible – God’s Word
  5. Gifts of the Holy Spirit

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