Summary: This sermon questions the traditional interpretation of the phrase "lead us not into temptation..." and challenges us to endure trials in order to prove and improve our faith.
Lessons on Faith from the Lord’s Model Prayer
November 9, 2003
A. [Three Thieves Who Couldn’t Quit, Citation: http://www.newsoftheweird.com/archive/, Kevin A. Miller, Wheaton, Illinois]
Eduardo Rivera, 43, was in court awaiting a hearing on a charge of receiving stolen property when he was rearrested after carving his name into a courtroom bench (Reading, Pennsylvania, February 2003).
David Joe White Jr., 32, having just pleaded guilty to 42 burglary charges, was rearrested after swiping his lawyer’s portable tape recorder from the defense table (Attalla, Alabama, February 2003).
Chan Kwok-keung, 34, was sentenced to four months in jail for stealing a court interpreter’s purse; he was in the courtroom at the time on theft charges (but had just been cleared).
1. The truth is that temptation is a difficult thing for everyone.
2. But today as we continue or study through the Lord’s Model Prayer, we are going to see that is possible to conquer temptation.
B. Today we come to Matthew 6:13 (NIV), And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’
C. Today I want us to think about four things that trials and temptations are not, first…
I. Trials are not unprofitable
Matthew 6:13 (NIV), And lead us not into temptation,
A. There are so many problems with this line that I don’t even know where to begin…
1. I have prayed this prayer so many times that it has just become routine to me and I don’t think I’ve even stopped to think about.
2. First I will say that most commentators on this text agree that there is a lot of confusion wrapped up in these few words, but no one is able to make sense of them.
B. What would happen if we didn’t pray this prayer?
1. If we don’t pray this prayer, will God lead us into temptation?
2. James 1:13 (NIV), When tempted, no one should say, "God is tempting me." For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone;
3. So if God does not tempt anyone, why does Jesus tell us that we should ask God not to do something that He doesn’t do?
4. Am I saying that the Bible is wrong?
5. No, not really. What I’m saying is that something has been lost in the translation from Greek/Aramaic to English.
6. No one is actually sure what this phrase means.
C. Here’s another peculiarity about it…Matthew 4:1 (NIV), Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil.
1. The Spirit of God clearly led just away to be tempted by Satan.
2. And it is clear that God DOES allow us to be tempted by Satan.
3. Why does God do that? To build our faith!
4. Our faith, our character, is built by the trials and temptations we encounter!
D. Which leads me to another peculiarity about the translation: the word “peirasmos.”
1. That word is translated in various ways throughout the NT.
2. It actually means, “to put to proof.”
3. It means to prove your faith.
4. Temptations, trials, and tests prove or improve our faith.
5. It is translated alternately in different passages as trials or tests or temptations.
6. It doesn’t just mean temptations; it means everything that is a hardship for us, which could include other forms of suffering and sickness.
7. All of these types of things are actually spiritually good for us.
E. Knowing that about this Greek word, let us look at one of the places that it is translated as “trials.”
1. James 1:2-4 (NIV), Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4 Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
2. There it is clear that there is great spiritual gain in trials and temptations, peirasmos.
3. So again, why would Jesus tell us to pray that God would not allow things to happen in our lives that are meant to prove or improve our faith?
4. The same Greek word is used in The Lord’s Model prayer as in James.
5. It appears that Jesus tells us to ask God to avoid these temptations and contradict James when he says there is great gain in these tests of faith.
6. Could it be that something has been lost in the translation of Jesus’ Model prayer?
F. Now let me point out that temptation is not a sin.
1. The thought popping into our head is not a sin.
2. The thought popping into our head is temptation that Matthew 4:1 tells us is put there by Satan.
3. Matthew 4:1 (NIV), Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil.