And Lead Us Not into Temptation

Steve Kurtzahn
August 28, 2022

If you’ve had the opportunity to do any driving during the summer, it’s possible you’ve seen mirages on the road. You look far enough ahead and it looks like pools of water are ahead of you. But when you reach that point on the highway, there’s no water—you simply saw a mirage!

We have all heard stories where travelers have been stranded in the desert without water. Because of the heat coming off the sand, it appears as if there are ponds of water in the distance. Because they are so thirsty and not thinking straight, such travelers stray off the path to safety. They think they’re going to find water; but instead they just get lost. 

Just as mirages lead travelers in the desert away from the path to safety and the end result is certain death, temptations try to trick us into going off the path to heaven marked out for us in God’s Word. That’s why we pray in the Lord’s Prayer: And lead us not into temptation.

There’ve been many songs composed about temptation, and a number of movies and even cartoons made about the subject. Some may recall a singing group called “The Temptations.”  Comedians have made people laugh when they’ve said things like: “The devil made me do it!”

The Bible defines temptation as being deceived into a false belief, or being led astray into despair or into great and shameful sins. When it comes to being led astray into false belief, we’re not just talking about superstitious ideas such as bad things happening on Friday the 13th or it being unlucky to walk under a ladder, or break a mirror. What the Bible’s referring to is being tempted to hold beliefs that disagree with God’s Word. Such temptations could very likely lead people to eventually lose saving faith in Jesus as their Savior.

Temptation can also lead people into despair. Think of some of the disaster movies you may have seen. Maybe a character in a movie who’s lost says something like, “Oh, no! They’re never going to find us! We’re lost forever!” Such a movie line might sound corny, but despairing over never having God’s love is no laughing matter. 

Temptation can also lead us into great and shameful sins. The apostle Paul wrote, “Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs,” 1 Timothy 6:9, 10.

We need to understand that it’s not our loving, heavenly Father who sends us such temptations. It’s the devil, the world and our very own sinful nature that try to deceive us and lead us astray. 

When I was a child I liked to listen in on the conversations my parents had with their friends and relatives. Many of my father’s acquaintances were veterans of World War II and the Korean War. My ears would open wide as they would swap war stories. I’ve known men who fought in Vietnam. Maybe you know more recent veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. I think we all know what’s currently happening in Ukraine.

It’s not a pleasant thought, but I’d like you to think of Christians as an army trapped in the most desperate situation—airplanes are dropping bombs on us from above, ground troops are advancing all around us and traitors are in our own camp. The attacks of temptation from above are coming from Satan, the advancing ground troops with their temptations are made up of the unbelieving world around us, and the traitor within our own camp is our own sinful flesh with its own temptations.

So we come to our heavenly Father asking him to guard us and keep us safe, so that we finally overcome and win the victory. Lead us not into temptation, we pray. We’re asking our heavenly Father—if it is his will—to keep the devil, the world, and our flesh from firing a single bullet or dropping a single bomb of temptation on us. And if the bullets of temptation are flying and the bombs of temptation are being dropped, we’re asking him to shield and protect us.

Unfortunately, we sometimes make ourselves sitting ducks in the gun-sights of Satan. There are ways we can help avoid making ourselves such easy targets of temptation. One is to stay away from places or situations where we know people will be acting in ways that are not God-pleasing. Whether we’re young or old, we should always be asking ourselves: “Can I take Jesus with me to this movie, or invite him to this party, or have him come along with me to this concert, or have him sit alongside me on this date?” If the answer is “no,” we should stay away.

The reason we ask our heavenly Father not to lead us into temptation is because he alone has the power to guard and keep us. Our spirit may be willing to do God’s will, but our body is weak. But God will not let us be tempted beyond what we can bear. When we are tempted, he always provides a way out so we can stand up under it. And when we do suffer temptation, we can always come to our Lord Jesus in prayer, “because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted,” Heb. 2:18.

After World War II, our victorious soldiers came home to ticker-tape parades and lots of celebrations. Our Lord Jesus showed his victory over sin, death and hell by physically rising from the dead. Satan was defeated when our Lord Jesus paid for our sins on the cross. He still barks and growls and tries to cause us a great deal of harm—along with the world and our own flesh—but we await our final judgment on the Last Day when Jesus comes again. We will then march in our own eternal victory parade in heaven with our Lord. Until that time, may we always have this petition on our lips: Lead us not into temptation!

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