Have you been tempted lately? The more we pray and the more we trust in God the more likely it is that Satan will tempt us. In Jesus’ life Satan comes after him immediately following his baptism. In the book of Job Satan went after a man who was “blameless and upright.” We might think that we have to be doing something wrong in order for Satan to come after us, but this is not so. We must always be aware that Satan is roaming around like a roaring lion ready to pounce on his next prey.
The purpose of praying “lead us not into temptation…” is to understand that evil is real and a threat to all of us, but also to understand we have the power of God on our side. Our greatest weapon in spiritual warfare is prayer. We need to constantly be on our knees in battle with the powers of darkness. God can keep us from it if we pray and stay alert.
“To pray ‘deliver us from evil’, or ‘from the evil one’, is to inhale the victory of the cross, and thereby to hold the line for another moment, another hour, another day, against the forces of destruction within ourselves and the world.” N.T. Wright (The Lord and His Prayer)
“keep us from temptation and deliver us from evil”
Much has been said and written about peirasmos. Should it be translated “temptation” or “testing?” This is a problem only in English. In Greek the same word that is used in the Lord’s prayer is also used in James 1:13 where it says “Let no man say when he is peirazo, I am peirazo of God…” It could be tempting and testing have more in common than we might think. We also need to note that it never says God is responsible for the peirasmos. It merely says that God is doing the leading. I have chosen to translate it temptation because I believe it is directly related to the next phrase “deliver us from evil.” We are asking God to keep us from all temptations and to deliver us from evil if we happen to fall. At the same time I believe we should not be dogmatic about whatever translation we prefer. Perhaps it is best to leave it just as ambiguous as it originally was in Greek.
“Neither the New Testament nor Second Temple Judaism gave much attention to precisely defining who is immediately responsible for life’s testings, and the ambiguity of the Greek word peirasmos made it a perfect tool for conveying ambivalent, real-world struggles of faith. It is no accident that James uses the same word to describe both divine testing (1:2) and evil temptation (1:12-14); deciding how to distinguish the two is finally determined more by our response than it is by the circumstances themselves. Whether a difficult situation is sent directly from God or originates in some wily, demonic stratagem is irrelevant to its final outcome and evaluation…Rather than discerning the ostensibly demonic versus divine origins of every trauma in advance, we are simply called to focus our energies on the final goal of steadfastness, regardless of the circumstances. Granted, this seemingly murky approach to the practical questions of theodicy may not sit well with modern, post-Enlightenment minds, but Jewish (and biblical) theology has never been as driven by the quest for logical clarity as have the traditions of Western, European theology.” David Crump (Knocking on Heaven’s Door)
Job 1:6-12 – This passage in Job will help us to understand how Satan is behind the temptation but God is in charge. What is interesting is that it seems God does lead Job into temptation because he has confidence in Job, but God is not responsible for the temptation.
Matt. 4:1-11 – Again we have God (the Spirit) leading Jesus to be tempted, but God is not doing the tempting. How does one fight temptation in their own life? Jesus simply uses Scripture to defeat Satan. We may not always have a Bible right in front of us, so what we put in our memory is important.
Luke 22:40 – We are to pray that we not enter into temptation. This passage does not tell us that God leads us into temptation, but it certainly implies that he can keep us from it.
1 Cor. 10:13 – God is not responsible for temptation, but he plays a role in temptation. He will not allow it to be more than we can stand. He always provides a way out.
Satan is real and always looking to tempt us, and because of this we must be in constant prayer. We pray that we never face temptation, but if we do then we know God is still in charge. He will not allow temptation to get out of hand. God always provides a way out, and he is able to rescue us when we fall. We can choose to leave the fold of God. It is possible to fall away by succumbing to temptation, but Satan can never snatch us from the hand of God. God will not allow it! We must remain faithful to God, and choose to fight against the Evil One. We have victory in Jesus and we must always remember that God has and will continue to overcome the evils of this world. God is our Deliverer and we must never take our eyes off him.
“We are called…to pray earnestly, ‘Do not let us be led to the Test! Deliver us from Evil!’ This is the part of the prayer for the Kingdom: it is the prayer that the forces of destruction, of dehumanization, of anti-creation, of anti-redemption, may be bound and gagged, and that God’s good world may escape from being sucked down into their morass. It is our responsibility, as we pray this prayer, to hold God’s precious and precarious world before our gaze, to sum up its often inarticulate cries for help, for rescue, for deliverance. Deliver us from the horror of war! Deliver us from human folly and the appalling accidents it can produce! Let us not become a society of rich fortresses and cardboard cities! Let us not be engulfed by social violence, or by self-righteous reaction! Save us from arrogance and pride and the awful things they make people do! Save us – from ourselves…and Deliver us from the Evil One.” N.T. Wright (The Lord and His Prayer)