We pray in the Lord’s Prayer, “Lead us not into temptation.” Immediately we are confronted with the need to understand something of Bible interpretation. It is an essential necessity to understand that the Bible does not contradict itself. God is the Author of the Bible and He cannot contradict Himself. So the prayer we pray is not a suggestion that God would tempt us to sin. Scripture interprets itself. It tells us in the bo of James, “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: For God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempts He any man; but every man is tempted when he is drawn away of his own lust and enticed” (James 1:13). In other words, no one can excuse evil by saying, “God made me do it.”
Scripture says, “Out of the heart proceeds evil thoughts, murders adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies” (Matthew 15:19). When Christians pray to the Heavenly Father, “Lead us not into temptation,” they are praying that the Lord would protect them from temptation, give them good judgment to recognize temptation, and the strength to resist the temptation. Scripture tells us, “The Lord is faithful, who shall stablish you and keep you from evil” (2 Thessalonians 3:3). But how does the Lord “stablish” or strengthen us against evil? He has done so by giving us His Word. With instruction from the Word we can recognize evil when we see it. With the Word as our shield (Ephesians 6) we can resist the temptation. With the Word of God we can send the devil fleeing. Three times in His first confrontation with the devil, Jesus used the Word. Each time that He was tempted He said, “It is written” (Matthew 4). The Word of God is both our shield and our weapon against temptation. “And take . . . the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God” (Ephesians 6: 17).
Since the initial fall man has by reason of his sinful flesh fallen again and again. But as there is less and less respect for the Word of God in our day, sin increases and becomes a pleasure to be pursued rather than an offense to be avoided, and when committed, a cause for which to repent. It is a contradiction in our life that, hardly is the prayer for protection against temptation off our lips, than we often flirt with the very temptations from which we ask the Lord to protect us.
The honest Christian will acknowledge his sin and thank the Lord that “Jesus was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15). These clear words, incomprehensible in their depth, are words of comfort, because they tell us that Jesus was indeed innocent and completely free of any evil in thought or deed. He was therefore the perfect and sufficient payment for sin when He died on the cross. Now, most thankfully, when we fall we can go to the Father and find forgiveness for our sin because Jesus has already paid the price. This in turn will make our prayer, “Lead us not into temptation” the more earnest.
To avoid the temptations that are all too ready to play on our own sinful flesh, we will want to avoid as much as is possible those situations and places where temptation lies lurking. We are in the world and interact with many people by necessity, but we will want to be careful about the friends we pick, the entertainment we choose, and the activities in which we engage. Surely we will also want to be the kind of people others can choose as friends without fear of being tempted to sin and evil. Therefore “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary, the devil, as a roaring lion walks about seeking whom he may devour; whom resist steadfast in the faith” (1 Peter 5:8,9).