Matthew 6:13
And do not lead us into temptation,
But deliver us from the evil one.
For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

I have to tell you: I used to have a problem with this part of the Lord’s Prayer. (Matthew 6:9-13) I was confused because I always understood it as it is written in English, and it seemed to conflict so directly with what James wrote in his epistle.

James 1:13
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.

If God does not tempt anyone, then how can we ask Him not to lead us into temptation? It seemed to me that God wouldn’t – actually COULDN’T lead us down that path. My thoughts back then were quite confused, but the more I studied the Word of God, the more I read His holy Bible, I came to realize a few things.

First of all, my initial understanding of the word “temptation” turned out to be wrong – which, unfortunately, is not uncommon when dealing with English translations of the Bible. The Greek word is “πειρασμον” (“peirasmon”), which has its roots in a word meaning “to be pierced” – or, figuratively, to face trials and testing. Being led into temptation is thus not about being led toward evil thoughts and sin, it is about being tested by difficulty and trials. Temptation is not about our thought processes but about the situations that put our hearts and minds to the test.

This idea of facing trials is born out by the second part of the sentence, “But deliver us from evil.” You see, God would never guide us into an evil place, but He would allow us to face evil if such crossed our path of its own accord. The plea is thus that God keep us from such circumstances – keep us from, for example, the trials of Job. We don’t want to face such testing, and yet, as James notes, such temptation and trial-by-fire is exactly the kind of thing that shows our true character.

James 1:12
Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.

In our prayer, Jesus is telling us to ask the Father not to lead us into such fiery trials. The plea is not that we should never face them, only that God Himself doesn’t take us into them. So here in our prayer, we are to humble ourselves before God and tell Him, “I’m not going that route, Lord, and I hope You don’t lead me that way either. AND, if I ever end up there, please save me from the evil that I face.”

But let us remember something about this prayer: it is a corporate prayer, not just a personal one. The Lord’s Prayer is spoken in the first-person plural – “we” and “us” rather than “I” and “me.” So when we ask God not to lead US into temptation, we are asking Him to guard the path of the church, the community, the nation. We are asking Him to watch over our families and friends, to be ready to snatch us all from the claws of Satan. “But deliver us from evil” is a plea for nothing less than our salvation.

This verse of the Lord’s Prayer is an acknowledgment of our weakness and our occasional pride, of our inability to face trials and evil on our own. Coming as it does after a plea for daily sustenance and forgiveness, this verse is a true statement of our situation:

“We cannot provide for ourselves, so please provide for us.
We cannot utterly avoid sin, so please forgive us.
We are too weak to face trials on our own, so please save us from evil.”

When we come to Christ and understand our frailty and sinfulness, then we naturally seek to become stronger, to fight against our flesh and seek the Spirit. This last verse of supplication is our final acknowledgment that we don’t want to be part of this world, that the kingdom we seek, the path down which we want to be led, is GOD’s kingdom and GOD’s way.

As we say the Lord’s Prayer today and meditate on its riches, let us reflect on our own lives. Let’s take a good, long look at the times we have been tested and tried. Which ones have we gotten ourselves into? Which ones found us? And how did we come out of those trials and temptations? If we can at least honestly answer, “It wasn’t me,” then we are on the right path. As any recovering addict can tell you, it is only when we acknowledge our own powerlessness in the face of temptation that we truly find the power to face such trials, and the power doesn’t come from us.

Zechariah 4:6-7
6 So he answered and said to me:
“This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel:
‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ Says the LORD of hosts.
7 ‘Who are you, O great mountain?
Before Zerubbabel you shall become a plain!
And he shall bring forth the capstone
With shouts of “Grace, grace to it!”‘”

So let us remember that it is not by our own might that we come through trials and temptations, and it is not our own power that provides for us. It is God’s mercy and grace that bring us forgiveness and salvation. It is His power that is ours through faith, and it is that God-given faith that allows us to say, “Mountain, go there!” (Matthew 17:20, 21:21) So let us pray for such great faith, pray for His power and providence, pray for forgiveness and salvation, and pray for His love to be witnessed so fully in our lives.

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.


About Glenn Pettit

I am a deacon at The Well of Iowa, and a father and grandfather. Called to teach and to preach, I write fresh messages about the Bible every now and then.
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