“‘And lead us not into temptation.’” – Matthew 6:13a
The Lord’s Prayer – Sixth Petition
“Temptation” is any situation in which we are led into false belief, despair or shameful sins. The devil tempted Eve into false belief. He led her to believe that God was unloving when he gave them the command not to eat from a certain tree in the garden. Satan argued that God was really withholding a great blessing from her and Adam. If they’d eat of the forbidden fruit, they would be like God. All they had to do was disobey his Word. The devil also tempted Judas with the desire for riches, which caused this chosen apostle of the Lord to fall from his privileged position. And once he had betrayed Jesus, the devil retained his victim by convincing him that there was no forgiveness for the great sin he had committed. Judas was led into such despair that he took his own life. And the devil comes with his temptations to lead people into great and shameful sins. He tempted King David to commit adultery, which led to the murder of an innocent and unsuspecting husband.
Satan skillfully uses the sinful attractions of this world to help him accomplish his evil intent. He is often successful in persuading people to pattern their lifestyle according to popular choices rather than the will of God revealed in the Bible. Satan also knows that the cravings of our sinful nature are very powerful and that with just the right temptation at the right time, he may be able to lead us into sin.
So Jesus teaches us to pray to our heavenly Father, “Lead us not into temptation.” Let’s not misunderstand this petition. God doesn’t tempt us. It is written in the book of James: “When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone” (James 1:13). It is God’s will that we overcome the temptations of the devil, the world, and our own sinful flesh. Therefore, we pray in this petition that God would give us the power and strength to resist temptation so that Satan and sin will not control our lives and bring us to eternal death.
God’s Word strengthens our faith and gives us a powerful defense against temptation. The apostle Paul urges us to “take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one” (Ephesians 6:16). Paul was thinking of the Roman war shield which was covered with leather. The soldiers soaked their shields in water before battle. These water-soaked shields helped to defend the soldiers from the enemy’s flaming arrows. By immersing our faith in the living water of the Word, we are equipped to defend ourselves from temptations. And God, our gracious Lord, assures us that he will not allow the onslaught of temptations to become so great that we will be defeated. The Bible teaches: “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 stand up under it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).