Secrets of the Lord's Prayer: How Does God Use Temptation?
"Lead us not into temptation..." (Matt. 6:13a)
In the previous article about temptation, we learned that Jesus wants us to talk to God about the difficulties we will have in this life due to spiritual warfare and circumstances in life. We have the opportunity to be let out of certain difficulties if our dialogue with God deals with these subjects. He tells us that we must be alert to the presence of evil that comes from our choices and that will come at us from the devil. For past articles in the Lord's Prayer series, click HERE.
In this next segment about Matthew 6:13, let us deal with the technical ideas behind the meaning of temptation so we can interact with what Jesus is telling us. There are a number of very interesting words and ideas that need to be explored before we can have a clear picture of what Jesus really wants us to talk with the God about in the years of our life.
The key word translated here as temptation is the Greek word "perismos," which means trial, test, temptation, or difficulty. The meaning of the word, specifically, is determined by the context. It is instructive to realize that the three different ideas of test, trial, and temptation come together in this word. It is often helpful to translate this word as "test," so that the negative connotation of temptation does not twist our understanding about a verse before we begin thinking about it. Therefore, in this verse, Jesus' instruction would read, "Lead us not into testing but deliver us from evil."
This suggests that Jesus wants us to have a dialogue with God about the kinds of testings, trials, and even temptations that could come our way over the next few days. Are there areas you can see coming where you could have difficulty or stray from the path of righteousness? Is there a person who is sexually tempting who you are in proximity to? Are there opportunities to steal or defraud? Are gossip, slander, and negativity rampant in the people you meet with? Are pride, ego, arrogance, and bigotry swirling in the conversations near you? Are certain sins excused with some of the people you are hanging around with? There are certain testings, trials, and temptations that would defeat us if we allow them to work on us. We need God to help us to be somewhere else - to make us aware of them so we can overcome them or keep us from them.
We, as humans, see these different definitions in stark contrast. A trial is different than a temptation because we may have caused the trial. We think of a temptation as something that is coming at us to harm us. A test is something that comes to us to train us or qualify us and that is different than a temptation, which is designed to cause us to fail. What seems to be true in the scriptural point of view is that a difficulty or obstacle could be seen as a trial or a test or a temptation depending on the point of view. Joseph's being sold into slavery in Egypt was a trial caused by his brothers' betrayal, and it was definitely an opportunity for the devil to tempt him to give into despair and lure him into bad choices. But it was also a test by God. Joseph saw this, and in Genesis 50:20, he reveals his victory in passing the test as he says to his brothers, "You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good to bring about this present result."
First Corinthians 10:13 says, "No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. 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 endure it." This is the same word, perisomos, that is translated temptation. In other words, when we face a difficulty, it is often all three -- a trial, a test and a temptation. Now let me be clear that God never brings a temptation to you, but He does allow the devil to bring them. But from God's design, this temptation can be used as a test meant to move you to the next level of spiritual development. In a certain sense, it is our response to this difficulty that determines what it becomes for us. It becomes a trial or a test or a temptation as we interact with it. It's up to us how to respond.
In your prayer time, ask God where are the areas you already facing affliction, opposition, and temptation? Is there some change you can make that will lessen the opposition? Has this type of affliction defeated you in the past? How can you miss its affect and power this time? Have these types of dialogues with God. Be willing to see the problems and difficulties through different perspectives. Talk to others as well as to the Lord.
Next time, we will talk about how the choices and decisions we make can change the temptations we are faced with. 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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