(NOTE: A PDF file of this blog can be downloaded by clicking here. 180. The Prayer That Can Change The World. The Lord’s Prayer. “Lead Us Not Into Temptation.” Matthew 6_13
“Lead us not into temptation.” The wording is the same in the original Greek New Testament versions of both Matthew’s (6:13) and Luke’s (Lk 11:4) gospels, namely “not” (μη), “lead” (εισενεγκης), “us” ( ημας), “into” (εις), “temptation” (πειρασμον).
.However a recent translation such as the New Revised Standard Version has these words, “And do not bring us to the time of trial”. Other translations have “save us from the time of trial.” Though the words may differ the concept is very much the same in each translation. “Bring us not to” may mean the same as “save us from”. What then are we actually praying when we pray this part of the Lord’s Prayer?
“Lead”. It may help us to look a little more closely at the actual words. “Lead” is from a Greek word (eisphero) which means to bring, bear or carry. (We get some idea of this in the name Christopher where it means “bearer of Christ.”) But there is no concept of God deliberately leading His people into temptation. Rather the prayer is a request to God that He work in such a way that His people do not walk into situations which He knows would be too tempting for them to deal with successfully.
“Temptation”. The other word in this short phrase is “temptation”. It can also be translated as “trials”. It is the Greek word (peirasmos) meaning both “trials” and “temptations” while the verb is translated as “tempt” or “test”. The different meaning depends on the origin of the trial or temptation. Simply put, Satan or the Devil or the Tempter is the one who tempts. God is the One who tests. We will see how this works out in the New Testament.
IT IS THE DEVIL WHO TEMPTS HUMANS
The devil tempted Jesus as a human. The temptation narrative is first described in a general sense. Mat 4:1 “Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted (peirazō = to tempt) by the devil. It is interesting to note that the “led” (anagō) is a different word to that in the Lord’s Prayer. It means literally “to lead up.” The Spirit led or guided Him into the wilderness. In Mark’s account it is a much stronger word for the Spirit’s work. It is (ekballo) meaning to “throw” or “cast forth”. Mar 1:12 “The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness.” Jesus was full of the Spirit as He began His ministry and the temptations were a God-permitted opportunity for Him to register His defeat over Satan’s temptations at the very beginning of that ministry. The Spirit motivated and empowered Jesus to defeat Satan on his own “home-turf” as it were.
After that general introduction to the temptations they now are described specifically.
1). The first temptation to Jesus was to satisfy a legitimate need (human hunger) in an illegitimate manner. Mat 4:2 And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3 And the tempter (Here it is the verb peirazō= the one tempting) came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” There was nothing wrong with Jesus satisfying His hunger by eating food. But the devil was tempting Jesus to use His power in an inappropriate way (to do a miracle at the behest of the Devil, and not acting according to the will of His Heavenly Father.)
Jesus’ answer showed that He recognised that the temptation was a temptation to act independently of God. He committed Himself to live by the revealed will of God in His word, Mat 4:4 ‘But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.'”
The Devil acts on the same principle in tempting humans today. Every human has legitimate needs. Sometimes the needs are crying out to be met. However the needs must be met in legitimate ways, in God’s ways. We read that Jesus didn’t put Himself into a compromising situation. He was responding to the leading of the Holy Spirit. He relied on the Holy Spirit to enable him to recognise the source of temptation and the means by which He was to overcome it. Humans, where they find themselves in tempting situations, must ask themselves whether the Lord has led them into that situation or whether they have compromised their faith in some way or other. They have to be honest in recognising that sometimes they are the ones who have placed themselves in difficult circumstances. When the devil tempts, his ultimate aim is to destroy the person. When God allows trials, his ultimate aim is to strengthen the person.
2). The second temptation for Jesus was to test the faithfulness of God in caring for Him. If Jesus was going to live by the authority of the Word of God then the Devil would deceitfully quote that authority as part of his temptation. Mat 4:5 “Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple 6 and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, “‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and “‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.'”
Jesus recognised the strategy of the Devil in quoting scripture to Him. He saw it as a temptation to put God to the test. It was to force God’s hand. Jesus would not do that as He replied, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.'” 4:7.
If Jesus had thrown himself down from the pinnacle it would have been an act of presumption on His part. God’s care is always there for those who are walking according to His way and in His will. The devil tempts humans today to act independently of God sometimes as a means of trying to force God’s hand. Sometimes the dividing line between assurance and arrogance is difficult to see. Arrogance leads us to attempt to do what we want to do rather than the will of God. Assurance means that we are looking to the Lord for His guidance, overruling and protection as we seek to obey His well and not our own.
3). The third temptation was to obtain power by submitting to the Devil and receiving power through him, Mat 4:8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9 And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” For Jesus to have done that would have been an act of idolatry. He indicated that in His reply, Mat 4:10 Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.'” For Jesus commitment to God and to the will of God was central to His life.
Jesus had won the victory over Satan by living according to the will of God revealed in His word. The devil had met his match. Mat 4:11 “Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.”
There are many people in our world who feel powerless or at least lacking in power to change their circumstances. Sometimes they seek power in attempting to have secret knowledge. They may seek this knowledge through delving into eastern religions or by dabbling in the occult. In these ways they may be led into deception. Others seek power through intimidation, harassment and bullying. It is a means of trying to build oneself up by knocking down or destroying other people. As such it is not of God.
There is a place for humans to seek for power. However it should be in submitting to God in every way so that He can empower them to be the people of God He wants to be and do the things He wants them to do. The powerful person then is the person who humbles himself or herself before the mighty hand of God. Only then can He exalt them to fulfil His purposes. As Peter wrote, 1Peter 5:5 “… Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” 6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you.”
The common factor in Jesus’ victory over these temptations was His dependence upon the word of God in Scripture. That is where the victory is to be found for every human in every generation, 2 Timothy 3:16 “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
QUESTIONS for consideration by individuals or groups. (Added Sat 2nd July 2016)
Question 1. Do you think it is a sign of a luke-warm faith on their part when people feel strong temptations? Why or why not?
Question 2. As you look at the account of the first temptation, can you see any way in which humans today are tempted in similar ways? What are some of the ways in which people are tempted in today’s world?
Question 3. In the second temptation Satan tried to tempt Jesus by misquoting the Scriptures by which He was living and obeying. Have you ever had any experiences in which the Devil or a fellow human tried to deceive you by misquoting some part of the Bible? How did you recognise it as deceit and how did you overcome it?
Question 4. We are often tempted to compromise ourselves or our ideals. In what ways do those various temptations to compromise come? How can we overcome the temptation to compromise?
Question 5. In what ways would you seek to help someone who felt helpless or powerless in their situation in life? What dangers would you need to avoid in doing so?
Blog No. 180. Jim Holbeck. Posted on Sunday, 17 April 2016. (Revisited Sat 2nd July 2016)