Summary: Lesson 26
"And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil:"
This is perhaps the most difficult of all the Lord’s words in this "Model Prayer." The difficulty arises from what seems to be a contradiction of other Scriptures. For example, James 1:13 says, "Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:" Yet Genesis 22:1 says, "And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham..." And in Matthew 4:1 we read, "Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil."
What at first may seem to be a contradiction in the Scriptures is made clear with the proper understanding of the word "temptation." In the Greek, the original language of the New Testament, there was one word used for "temptation". That word was peirasmos (pi-ras-mos’). The word peirasmos has two meanings. It could either mean "to entice to sin" or "to prove or test." The meaning of the word is always determined by the context in which it is used.
In James 1:13 the context clearly shows the meaning to be "to entice to sin." However, just a few verses prior to verse 13, James used the word peirasmos to mean "to prove or test" when he said, "My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience" (James 1:2-3). In both Genesis 22 and Matthew 4 the meaning is clearly "to prove or test."
It appears that Jesus’ use of the word peirasmos in this "Model Prayer" is in the sense of proving or testing. While God would never entice us to sin and therefore there would be no reason to ask Him not to lead us into temptation in that sense, He does allow us to experience times of severe testing. If in times of testing we are tempted to sin, we can rest assured that the temptation is not from God. It is that temptation to sin, to do evil in the midst of testing, that we are praying to be delivered from.
This brings up an interesting question, "Is it ever wrong to ask God to keep us from trials?" Consider Matthew 26:39. There seems to be no shame in asking for an occasional "sunny day" amid the ever "stormy days" of life, but should that not be in accordance with God’s will, our prayer is then to be for deliverance from the evil that we’re often tempted with during times of tribulation.
I. THE REALITY OF TEMPTATION
Does God actually lead His people into testing? We know the answer to be "yes" from:
A. Biblical Example
2. Job - Job 1-2
3. Jesus - Matthew 4:1
B. Personal Experience
1. It doesn’t take long for a child of God to discover the fact that God does in deed lead His children into times of testing.
2. These times of testing however are not without benefit.
3. James 1:3
II. THE REASONS FOR TEMPTATION
The reasons why God allows times of testing are as varied as the testings themselves. Temptations, in the form of testings, can be a means of:
A. Displaying Purity of Character