in the Lord’s Prayer, you might remember the phrase, “lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” James adds “The Lord does not tempt anyone.” So it has always seemed a bit odd to me that Jesus would say we ought to pray that the Lord lead us not into temptation. Does the Lord lead us into temptation unless we ask Him not to? James would say no. Perhaps the first phrase then is to emphasize the second. While the Lord does not lead us into temptation, we certainly pray He would deliver us from evil. And today’s verse emphasizes this last part.
We are constantly tempted. I know that sounds harsh, but even as I sit here to make this blog post, I am tempted to put it down and walk away. I have many other things I could be doing right now. Sitting here and typing out this comment on a Bible verse is something that I don’t have to do. I want to, but I am tempted not to. Temptation can be subtle. It can overt. But it usually appeals to your sense of self and what you deserve. It’s always like that McDonalds ad, “You deserve a break today.” It always appeals to you, to your sense of fairness and equity, your sense of justice. Temptation never feels wrong at the time. That’s why it’s so hard to spot when you aren’t looking out for it. When you are spiritually weak, temptation comes upon like an armed man and gives no quarter, no mercy.
But God reminds us that temptation is common, meaning don’t beat yourself up over it. Everyone is tempted. Even Jesus was tempted. Temptation is not a sign of spiritual weakness. Spiritual strength is measured by how well we recognize temptation and how well we find God’s offered way of escape. God will deliver us from evil, but we also need to let Him. Sometimes we don’t want to be rescued.
Just food for thought today. God bless you.