TEMPTATION AND DELIVERANCE
“This, then, is how you should pray: 'Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’"
In this portion of the Lord's Prayer there are two related requests:
1. Don't lead me into temptation.
2. Deliver me from evil (or, the evil one).
They are separated by the word "but," meaning, "instead." Father, don't lead me in a way that will expose me to temptation; instead, deliver me from evil. Let's see if we can understand how those two things work together . . .
The word "temptation" is used in vs. 13 in nearly all English Bibles. Translations that differ include the Good News Version which reads; "Do not bring us into harsh testing . . .," and the Bible in Basic English reads: "Let us not be put to the test." Actually, the Greek word in the original text means, "the proving of fidelity, integrity, virtue, or constancy," or "being put to the test". So the GNV and BBE may actually have the best rendering of the original meaning. James addressed temptation this way: "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). He goes on to say that our temptations arise from our own sinful desires. And Paul was inspired to write: "No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And 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 Cor. 10:13). Paul's statement here clearly shows us that God's interest is in keeping the tests you must face from making you fall.
Some trials in our lives are unavoidable. They are growing pains. They serve to teach us the right path and they make us spiritually stronger. The troubles we face are often the very things that end up making our lives holy and fruitful. Those trying episodes were not evil, but neither were they enjoyable. In his book The Gospel of Matthew, R.T. France observes that "The point of the petition would be not that the testing is in itself bad, but that the disciples, aware of their weakness, would prefer not to have to face it." We have to acknowledge that the difficult course may also be the godly course. And so James teaches: "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."
We have all had enough school to know that whenever there is a test there has to be the possibility of failure, not everyone is going to make an "A". And you know what? We might fail in our spiritual tests; in fact, we do fail. And that brings us to the second request. Father, if I must be tested and I fall short and fail the test; please keep me safe and protect me from that which is evil. If I am going to have troubles, let my troubles be in accord with Your will and purpose for my life, and not in accord with the designs of the enemy, or even the designs of my own sinful nature. Don't allow anything that opposes Your will to be a motivating factor in my life. Deliver me, Lord, from evil.
--- Pastor Keith Andrews