"Lead us not into temptation..." (Matt. 6:13a)
In the Lord's Prayer, Jesus is instructing His disciples in the art of having an intimate relationship with God. Each of the sentences in the prayer is about an extended spiritual exercise that will require interaction with God. For past articles in the Lord's Prayer series, click HERE.
In this fifth statement, Jesus shocks us with His instruction. He tells us that we will need to have many conversations with God about the spiritual warfare going on in our lives. He suggests that we should have a dialogue with God about temptations, tests, and trials that our coming our way. We have the opportunity to be let out of certain difficulties if your dialogue with God deals with these subjects. He tells us that we must be alert to the presence of evil that comes from us and that will come at us.
Remember that each one of these sentences is not a magic phrase but a whole dialogue and expanding prayer conversation with God. Our life is not set in stone with certain trials predestined to occur. Our interactive devotional life with God can change the course of our life. We can miss certain trials. We can be spared certain temptations. We see Jesus having many of these types of spiritual warfare conversations with His disciples and in His prayer life with God the Father. This critical sentence sends our minds spinning with possibilities.
Let me show you some of these verses:
"Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil." (Matt 4:1)
"And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen." (Matt 6:12)
"And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, 'My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.'” (Matt 26:39)
"When He arrived at the place, He said to them, 'Pray that you may not enter into temptation.'” (Luke 22:40)
"No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it." (1 For 10:13)
"Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance." (James 1:2,3)
"You meant it for evil but God meant it for good to bring about this present result." (Gen 50:20)
I hope it is clear from the variety of these verses that we need to have spiritual warfare conversations with God about our life. We need to interact with God when we begin to face testing and trials. I can imagine a conversation like this one, “Dear Lord, my job has asked me to handle this new area that I do not feel I am really skilled at or want to become skilled at. This is a clearly a test and I want to stay doing what I am doing now. Lord, do I need to take this assignment? What do you want me to learn by doing that assignment? I would like to be reassigned to this other area rather than this area. I cannot see what value there would be in my allowing this transfer to take place.” As the Lord brings ideas and verse back to your mind, you continue the dialogue and press the case of missing that assignment at work. Many more dialogues continue while you are at work and your bosses decide if you will be transferred to this new department. Keep praying and be ready to receive the answer from God whether you have been let out of the assignment or the answer is “No, you need to go through this trial to grow you."
We also need to be aware of what is going on around us and against us within the context of spiritual warfare. "Lord, I believe that one of my co-workers is being flirtatious in ways that I would need to shut that temptation down in the best possible way. I have also noticed that there are opportunities to gossip and even slander others and I am so tempted to get sucked into those discussions putting down other people. Please show me how I can pass out of that temptation and not get drawn into these entanglements.” This interaction with God will go back and forth as God brings to mind ways to not see these people or to not engage in those conversations or things to say to shut down the negative orientations of the conversations. Asking the Lord Jesus to help you avoid the very things he wants you to avoid is the conversation He has been wanting to have. Too often we want to get as close to sin as possible before we turn away. We enjoy feeling the pull of temptation and do not see the destructiveness of sin. We need to ask God for all the help we can receive and we need to recognize when our natural tendencies put us in greater peril.
Next time, we will get into more of what trials, testing, and temptation means for us. Stay tuned and join me next week. Feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Remember, your greatest life is just ahead.
In His service,
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The Fruit of the Spirit explained simply and with relevance for today.
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