Let’s talk about temptation! Everyone likes to talk about what tempts them to sin right? It’s almost as much fun as confessing our sin to one another. I thought about kicking this article off by listing off a bunch of things that we (well, me but we sounds way less personal) find tempting, but I thought that might only be more tempting. I googled the word “temptation” (might be a bad idea for people who don’t want to be led into temptation) but Google’s definition of temptation was spot on; “the desire to do something, especially something wrong.” After Google’s definition of temptation, things kinda go downhill in a hurry, unless you’re into Korean drama tv series. You may not want to click on Google’s images search on temptation, but the first few images were all depictions of Adam & Eve. So Google and I agree, if you want to know about temptation, check out Genesis 3 because Adam & Eve have a powerful lesson to teach us about temptation. However, I don’t think the forbidden fruit was an apple since the apple we know today isn’t what it used to be (much like bananas). I love apples, I eat them all the time and I don’t think I know any more about good and evil after eating an apple. So go ahead and eat your apple a day while praying your daily prayer.
My preferred translation for this last phrase of the Lord’s Prayer as recorded in Matthew 6 is, “may we not be led into temptation but deliver us from the evil.”
What we are not praying is "God don’t tempt me." God doesn’t tempt people to sin. It’s not in his perfect character. There isn’t even a shadow of sin in our Heavenly Father. God is holy and his desires are holy.
“Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.” (James 1:13-15)
We could translate “deliver us from evil” as “deliver us from the evil one” and though it’s a possible translation, it’s not my preference. Part of my translation preference is probably influenced by this, I don’t like talking about Satan, the evil one. Why? It’s not because I’m scared or it's some “the one who shall not be named” thing like Voldemort. No, I don’t like talking about Satan cause I don’t like giving him air time. Satan is not God’s nemesis, it’s not some Ying & Yang dualism kinda thing with all-powerful perfectly good God set against an equally powerful evil satan. Nope. This isn’t a movie where Satan is God’s evil counterpart or the villain in the story. Satan is a poser, he is just another creature with an ego problem (I understand the problem, I have an ego problem too). The devil was created by God as an angel who serves God and then he fell from grace and took a bunch of angels with him. These fallen angels are referred to as demons. The evil one is an arrogant God wannabe and his primary power is deception. And he has been fooling people from the beginning. That’s what happened to Eve, she just got fooled by the deceiver, and ever since Adam & Eve sinned against God sin has invaded our world.
There are three sources of sin that impact people, and if we are going to talk about “may we not be led into temptation but deliver us from evil,” then we better know where evil comes from. Sin in the World, sin in us (or as the Apostle Paul knick names it “the flesh”) and the evil one.
I don’t need to blame anyone for my sin, I don’t need to say, “the devil made me do it,” or, “God tempted me,” or even Adam’s blame game, “the wife you gave me.” I don’t need to blame anyone or anything for my sin, my flesh does a great job sinning all on its own. My flesh does a great job of dragging me off into temptation to sin. So the sin in the world, the flesh, and the evil one are the 3 sources of sin and temptation. I don’t need to say, “the devil made me do it,” because:
(a) the devil is a limited being, he is not omnipresent able to tempt all people at the same time.
(b) I’m not that important. Satan doesn’t need to target me in some attempt to alter salvation history, I’m not that important. I’m just a guy who is loved and forgiven by God, I don’t even think I have my own private demon assigned to tempt me.
“Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” (1 Corinthians 10:12-13)
I didn’t need to list a bunch of temptations because we are all being tempted, it’s common to everyone. Disagree? Talk to your neighbor, you probably share some of the same temptations, you can start an accountability support group (just kidding, don’t do that). We are all going to be tempted, they are common experiences for everyone, but God is with you. As Jesus gave us this daily prayer, He knew what He was doing. Jesus is giving us the encouragement to pray this prayer daily so that we are daily depending on God who is with us to deliver us. God will provide a way out, and escape from temptation. For the believer in Jesus Christ who has been entrusted with the Holy Spirit and has received the promise that Christ is with us and will not abandon us we have this assurance, God is faithful.
Jesus is our sympathizer, our propitiation, and our advocate. We will be tempted but God will provide the way out, the way out is Jesus, the one who died for our sins. As we pray daily that we may not be led into temptation and that God would deliver us from evil, God is faithful. God is with you every day, every step of the way. And if anyone does sin, and we will... "He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (1John 1 & 2)