In the last blog we saw that “lead us not into temptation” (Matthew 6:13) does not refer to the possibility of God can in any way be responsible for tempting us to sin. He does allow tests and trials, but these are for our growth and His glory. So we are not asking God to not do what He has promised He won’t do (James 1:13), lead us into temptation of evil.
Then what does this petition refer to? The other meaning of the Greek word translated “temptation” is “testing” or “trials.” That makes more sense. But when you think about it, praying this prayer means we are asking God to keep us from that which He clearly says is good for us (James 1:3). Why should we pray to have that which is good for us kept from us?
I think the answer to this is that we are praying, not to have God keep us from testing or to keep us from sin He would lead us into (for He never would do that), but that we are praying for Him to protect us from Satan’s temptations. When God allows us to face a trial or test it is almost always used by Satan as a temptation. The very same event that can bring us growth as we draw closer to God can also bring us sin as we turn from Him. It is a 2-sided coin. There can’t be an opportunity to trust God without an opportunity to NOT trust him as well. As long as the path continues on there is no choice, it is only when there is a fork in the road that we must make a decision as to which way to go. The same is true of our choices in life.
Think of Adam and Eve. God told them not to eat of the fruit as an opportunity to show their faith and trust in Him, but Satan used it as a way to get them to disobey and sin. The same is true of Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness. It was a time of drawing closer to God and committing to the path God had for Him. But Satan used that to try to bring an alternate path into Jesus’ life, an easier and more self-pleasing one.
That happens with us when we face issues in life such as sickness, unemployment, even success such as a nice raise. We can use these things to come closer to God and trust in Him or turn to our own means of dealing with them – anger, bitterness, greed, pride, etc.
How are you responding? Praying for God’s help in the coming temptations you will face is what Jesus is referring to. We welcome that which will help us grow in faith and trust in God, which will be a good testimony to others and which will glorify Him. But we pray for help from that which would draw us to face things in our own power and turn to sin and evil instead of faith and trust. How are you responding to what you are dealing with in life? Are you using it as an opportunity to trust God, or has it become a stumbling black in your life? Pray for God to help you stay faithful whatever you face in life.
(Written by Jerry Schmoyer, 2014. You can find more of his writings at http://www.christiantrainingonline.org/. If you have questions or suggestions feel free to contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org)