“Pray then like this: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” Matthew 6:9-15
Trials vs. Temptations
"Temptation” has a double meaning in the scripture. The Father brings trials into our lives in order to humble, strengthen, build, and equip us to care for others. The devil seeks to bring temptations in order to destroy and rob us of joy.
Q 127: What is the sixth petition?
A: “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. That is: In ourselves we are so weak that we cannot stand even for a moment. Moreover, our sworn enemies--the devil, the world, and our own flesh-- do not cease to attack us. Wilt Thou, therefore, uphold and strengthen us by the power of Thy Holy Spirit, so that in this spiritual war we may not go down to defeat, but always firmly resist our enemies, until we finally obtain the complete victory.”
Q 195: What do we pray for in the sixth petition?
A: “…that we and all his people may be providentially spared from being tempted to sin; or, if tempted, that his Spirit would powerfully support and enable us to resist during the time of temptation; or, should we fall, that we would be raised again and restored, with the experience being thereby sanctified and used for our spiritual growth…”
1. I must continuously come to terms with my need for the empowering grace of Jesus.
“Each of us must be so stung by the consciousness of his own unhappiness as to attain at least some knowledge of God…we recognise that the true light of wisdom, sound virtue, full abundance of every good, all rest in the Lord alone…we cannot seriously aspire to Him before we begin to become displeased with ourselves…accordingly, the knowledge of ourselves not only arouses us to seek God, but also, as it where, leads us by the hand to find Him.” (John Calvin, The Institutes 1.1.1)
2. When trials/temptations overwhelm us, I am resolved to “get up off the mat with repentance and renewed focus.” (See Larger Catechism #195) The Father uses our failures and our sin to build us and push us into his forgiving embrace. While the devil wants to use our failures to push us to despair and isolation.
“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” Luke 22:31-32
3. I take seriously the depths of my sin and the heights of the Lord’s mercies. (Psalm 26)
4. I am prepared to not be surprised.
“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.” 1 Peter 4:12
5. I must taste the superlative joy that is found in Christ.
“How sweet did it suddenly seem to me to shrug off those sweet frivalties (fruitless joys), and how glad I now was to get them-I who had been loath/slow to let them go! For it was you who cast them out of me, you, our real and all-surpassing sweetness. You cast them out and entered yourself to take their place, you who are lovelier than any pleasure…more lustrous than any light…loftier than all honor…” Confessions of Augustine: Vintage Books 1997, page 170
“Batter my heart, three-person’d God, for you
As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;
That I may rise, and stand, o'erthrow me, and bend
Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.”
John Donne, Batter my heart, three person’d God
1. How does “temptation” have a double meaning in the scripture? (Matthew 4:1, Luke 4:1)
2. How does the Lord use our failures (see Luke 22:31-32) to build, strengthen, and equip us to bless others?
3. What is one of the chief ploys of the devil in discouraging God’s people? (Answer: despair and isolation) How does that happen in our lives?
4. What do we do to taste the superlative goodness found in Christ?