The Lord’s Prayer Part 8 – ‘and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil’

I’ve realised with the march of time that ‘as the wind gets a little colder and we’re all getting older[1] that temptation changes with each passing year and is different for every single one of us. I’ve been overweight for most of my adult life and I’ve never had a sweet tooth, when people offer me a cake people comment how disciplined I am. It doesn’t take much discipline for me to not eat a cake. It takes more discipline for me to eat cauliflower rice!

Temptation to sin is personal as well, it comes to us or at us in our own personal flavour making it harder to resist. As I write this it’s Reformation Day, if anyone knew about fighting temptation it was the pre-conversion Martin Luther, he’d made a life of it. Luther referred back to this time and said if anyone suggested that he loved God he would boldly say, “love Him? I hate Him”. He hated the God he perceived because the God he perceived was distant and far away: Holy and just and leaving it all up to Martin Luther to get to heaven. Martin Luther had yet to realise that not all that glitters is gold and there is no way for a person to build a stair way to heaven.

We have nothing in ourselves to resist temptation we need the Holy Spirit to be at work in us to resist it. Yet we still need to pray that God wouldn’t put us in situations where we are tempted. Thomas Watson, The Puritan, said, ‘Those who pray lead us not into temptation, should not lead themselves into temptation.[2] We have a responsibility as those who pray to this Father, who is so Holy that even his very name is sacred, to seek to be holy ourselves. But we can only do this in the power of the Holy Spirit not of ourselves.

At the end of the Robert Louis Stevenson’s short story, The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Dr Jekyll is sitting on a bench, considering the past 12 months where he hadn’t changed into the monster. He looks over the year, he sees his good works, his charitable giving, and he starts to think what a great guy he is, suddenly he looks down at his hands, ‘and all at once he is the monster once again’. Temptation comes at us in many ways. You see our sin has caused us to be socially distanced from God, not two metres away but an infinite gap that any striving on our part cannot impact that distance.

It astounds me that this God we are told to address as Father, who lives in heaven, who is completely perfect would want a relationship with us. That is exactly what we get here, the LORD of glory, who came from heaven teaching sinners to pray. This is a prayer for saved sinners, for only we can call Him Father, yet He knows sin and temptation are something that will bother us all our live long days. So Jesus says we should pray to this Holy Father of ours that He would remove us from temptation. And for our part we should know when we pray this in our better moments, He’ll answer it when He needs to, it might be painful, liking dragging a child out of a sweet shop painful. Yet we should pray it as sin is serious. It’s an offence to God and however appealing it can be, it’s no friend of ours either. However, there is good news for us.

The word ‘but’ in Scripture is always beautiful isn’t it? ‘But deliver us from evil’.

We can be assured that this Father that we approach will answer our prayer for deliverance from evil, almost anyone who calls on Him in the history of humanity has been heard. One of the most profound oxymoron in Scripture is that the man Christ Jesus, God incarnate, is the only person who has ever lived who didn’t need to pray ‘lead us not into temptation’ is also the only person who has ever lived to call out to God earnestly asking to be delivered who wasn’t. Jesus cried out in the garden in such agony for this cup to be delivered from Him and His prayer was answered in the negative. Jesus wasn’t delivered. He was sent to pay the price for all the times all His people gave in to temptation and sinned against God: the offended party paying the price of the offenders. He wasn’t delivered but bore the cost of our iniquity so that we could be delivered so that He would be the Deliverer.

We now have One who is able to be our advocate, who can sympathise with us, who is now seated at the right hand of God, a God who delights to answer His prayers, and through Him ours as well. Because of this we can trust our Father and His Son, our great High Priest and elder brother.[3]

We can say of this God, Like Anna in Frozen goes on to say, ‘I’m holding on tight to you’. More than that He is holding on tight to us. When we’re tempted and when we fail. Knowing that He delights to show grace and mercy.

Stephen Barton


[1]  Somethings Never Change- Frozen 2

[2] Thomas Watson, The Doctrine of Repentance.

[3] Hebrews 4:15

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