(The Lord's Prayer - Part 5)
The third of the four main petitions that are requested of God in the Lord's model prayer (Mat 6:13) is "Lead us not into temptation". It's a plea to not be tested as to whether we can maintain God's standards by ourselves. You'll also notice it too is linked to the previous verses by the conjunction "And" so the inferance is that we need to ask for this protection specifically every day to be at all safe from Satan.Mat 6:13 And lead us not into temptation,.....
In other places we are told that God does not tempt anyone, but interestingly this prayer does not ask God not to tempt us but rather not to lead us into temptation.
This may at first seem to be just a matter of semantics but I think it's actually an important bit of semantics. Here's the thing. God does not tempt anyone but if someone or a group claims that they can do without God, then I believe God retains the right to test their claim! So he may lead them into a situation or three where they will be made to see if their claim stands up to scrutiny.God knows that we need him - we don't always recognise this though!
Take the case of the "Children of Israel". God rescued them from Egypt and took them towards a land he had it in mind to give them.
As they travel onwards they get to Mount Sinai and God sets out to make a covenant with them like he made with their ancestors Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and he tells Moses what to say to the people.Exo 19:3-6 And Moses went up unto God, and the LORD called unto him out of the mountain, saying, Thus shalt thou say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel; Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles's wings, and brought you unto myself. Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me from among all peoples: for all the earth is mine: and ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.
Now bear in mind that the Children of Israel have not up to this time kept any of God's statutes, simple though they were, faithfully or ceased to murmur and moan against him. They consider that they were better off in Egypt and maybe God has brought them out of Egypt to kill them in the wilderness! This is how they have consistently thought. So what is their response to God's offer?Exo 19:7-8 And Moses came and called for the elders of the people, and set before them all these words which the LORD commanded him. And all the people answered together, and said, “All that the LORD hath spoken we will do”. And Moses reported the words of the people unto the LORD.
They boast that “All that the Lord has spoken, we will do!”
We know from Heb 11:6 that “Without faith it's impossible to please God”. So have the Israelites been displaying faith in God? Based on their actions so far should they boast that they can do whatever God commands? How does God respond to their boasting?Exo 19:9-13 And the LORD said unto Moses, Lo, I come unto thee in a thick cloud, that the people may hear when I speak with thee, and may also believe thee for ever. And Moses told the words of the people unto the LORD. And the LORD said unto Moses, Go unto the people, and sanctify them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their garments, and be ready against the third day: for the third day the LORD will come down in the sight of all the people upon mount Sinai.
And thou shalt set bounds unto the people round about, saying, Take heed to yourselves, that ye go not up into the mount, or touch the border of it: whosoever touches the mount shall be surely put to death: no hand shall touch him, but he shall surely be stoned, or shot through; whether it be beast or man, it shall not live: when the trumpet sounds long, they shall come up to the mount.
God puts them on a new footing in relation to himself! Now they are to be fenced off from him. Since they rely on their own righteousness which are like dirty rags to God, they have separated themselves from him. He is holy and they cannot approach him. There were no boundaries before but now God sets boundaries. And these boundaries cannot be crossed on pain of death. Before God would speak to them through Moses in a soft voice. Now when he speaks there is thunder and lightning and the exceedingly loud voice of a trumpet and the people in the camp tremble. Before, there was no restriction on approaching God in the cloud or in the pillar of fire but now God says that if they break through to gaze on him many will perish.
And with this new regime in place God makes a covenant with the Children based on their boast. If they obey as they claim they can then they will be blessed. If they don't they will be cursed even having the iniquity of the fathers visited on the third and fourth generations!
They boast that they can do it on their own and so God set out the laws of the Covenant he was now going to make with Israel and in effect says, "OK, let's see if 'Whatever the Lord says you will do!"
Having made the boast it had to be tested or people would live with a false opinion of themselves. Paul tells us how this comes about in Rom 7:7...Rom 7:7 What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known lust unless the law had said, "You shall not covet."
The Law Covenant is a test covenant. The law lets you know what you have to do. It lets you know what is wrong that you have to avoid doing. It provides the information regarding the test. Now that the law has given you knowledge of good and evel, you can see the test, but can you pass it? If you do what the Children of Israel said they would do, you'll reap all the benefits. If you don't...
God promised to show mercy to the thousandth generation of those who kept his commands in the covenant, but we know from Rom 3:10 that with regard to the Law Covenant the Israelites brought on themselves "There is none who is righteous, no, not one!"
The only person who ever lived a life worthy of receiving and passing on that blessing was Jesus the Christ!
This failure of everyone else should make one realise the need we have for God and a different way to please him! We cannot go it alone and achieve real success.
We can see this whole scenario played out on the small stage by looking at the period when Jesus was training the disciples.
As an example, when Jesus was about to be betrayed and put on trial he told his disciples that Satan wanted to have access to them to sift them as wheat. But, He had prayed to the Father that they would be kept safe and loyal.
Peter though had other ideas! He didn't need God to stop him deserting Jesus. The others might, but not him!Mat 26:33 Peter answered and said to Him, "though all shall be offended because of You, I will never be offended".
It's a boast that God has the right to put to the test. And He does. Jesus actually gave Peter warning that he would be tested!Mat 26:34-35 Jesus said to him, "Truly I say to you that this night, before the cock crows, you shall deny Me three times".
Peter said to Him, "though I should die with You, yet I will not deny You". All the disciples also said the same.
And if you know the history of the event, it happened just as Jesus foretold.Mat 26:69-75 And Peter sat outside in the court. And a girl came to him, saying, You also were with Jesus of Galilee. But he denied all before them, saying, I do not know what you say. And when he had gone out into the porch, another saw him and said to those there, This one was also with Jesus of Nazareth. And again he denied with an oath, I do not know the man. And after a little while those who stood by came and said to Peter, Surely you also are one of them, for your speech betrays you. Then he began to curse and to swear, I do not know the man. And immediately the cock crowed. And Peter remembered the word of Jesus, Who said to him, Before the cock crows, you shall deny Me three times. And he went out and wept bitterly.
Peter failed in his boast, but this was not meant to be the end of the matter. The aim was to show him that he needed God's mercy and help to fulfill what God had in mind for him; and it's the same for us today.
There was someone else who said that he would do God's will but this was as a prophesy from God. That person was Jesus.Heb 10:5-7 Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said, "Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body have you prepared for me; in burnt offerings and sin offerings you have taken no pleasure. Then I said, 'Behold, I have come to do your will, O God, as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.'"
Now just as others who made such claims had to be tested, Jesus was no exception. God would have been branded as playing favourites had this not happened. So we read in the book of Matthew.Mat 4:1-11 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, "If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread." But he answered, "It is written, "'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.'"
Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, "If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, "'He will command his angels concerning you,' and "'On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.'" Jesus said to him, "Again it is written, 'You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.'"
Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, "All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me." Then Jesus said to him, "Be gone, Satan! For it is written, "'You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.'" Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.
The devil threw everything that he had at Jesus and Jesus, full of the Spirit passed all the tests.
From the time at Sinai to the death and resurection of Jesus all were living according to the boast made by the Children of Israel. If you kept it you would get the promises made by God; if you didn't you were due the curses.
They were self reliant rather than living under grace so God's help and protection were not automatic. They had to acknowledge that they could not do it on their own, throw themselves on God's mercy and daily ask for his help and protection that they would not be led into areas of temptation to test their boasting and that they would be delivered from Satan because he had authority over the earth since Adam ceeded it to him.
Christians though are not like this. We have acknowledged our need for God and have accepted Jesus' sacrifice for all our sins. We are under grace and come under God's automatic protection. We have been given, through Jesus, authority and power over all things.
Jesus has all authority in heaven and earth, and he has granted to us all things that will bring abundant life and godliness.Mat 28:18 And Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 2Pe 1:3-4 His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.
Because we live by the faith of Jesus (We all have the faith OF Jesus) and not by our own strength we do not have to be tested. To test us in the spirit is to test Jesus Christ and He has already passed all tests! Since we boast in Jesus Christ, his death and resurection, we have no pride in our own strength which God has to show is worthless.
Our God is an awesome God who through the Holy Spirit guides and protects us 24/7. He has said that He will never leave us or forsake us. We don't have to ask him every day not to lead us into temptation.
Since our new spirits are perfect and sealed by the Holy Spirit, they cannot be tempted anyway! God knows that your mind is being renewed and that you are bringing your body into subjection to the word and this is a work in progress. The Holy Spirit is doing the work of perfecting you until the return of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, but already, in your spirit, you are sin free.1Jn 3:9 No one who has been born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God. 1Th 3:12-13 And may the Lord make you to increase and abound in love toward one another and toward all men, as indeed we also do toward you, so that He may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints.
It seems to me that there is no point in this age and dispensation in asking God
NOT to do something he has no intention of doing anyway! Rather we should be
thanking him that we live by the faith OF Jesus and under his grace. We can
then follow the basic prayer sequence of -