Lead Us Not Into Temptation



Dr. John Hoole – May 21, 2017





In the last several lessons on the Sermon on the Mount, we have been looking specifically at what is often called the “Lord’s Prayer.”  We will continue our examination of this model prayer this week.  In part one of our study on the Lord’s Prayer, we noted that there are 7 key phrases in it.


1 - Our Father in heaven


2 - Hallowed be thy Name


3 - Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done


4 - Give us this day our daily bread


5 - Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us


6 - Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil


7 - For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory. 


As we have studied the Lord’s Prayer, I believe we have seen that it contains much more truth than we commonly think it does.  It not only is a model for our prayers, but also teaches us about Christian living.  It demonstrates that prayer and Christian living are two sides of the same coin.  Our Lord is giving fundamental teaching about prayer, but, he is also giving us fundamental teaching on those things for which we are chiefly to live.


A moment ago. I showed you how the Lord’s Prayer could be divided into 7 key phrases.  It can also be divided into 6 petitions or requests, which then can be further divided into two equal sections.


The first Section can be labeled, “Knowing God,” and includes three requests.


1.  We need to know Him as our heavenly Father, and that we need to know what it means to hallow His name.


2.  We need to seek His kingdom


3.  We are to seek His will in everything, so it is done here on earth as it is in Heaven.



In the light of these truths about God, there are three things we need to know about ourselves.  This section could be labeled, “Knowing Ourselves.,” and also includes three requests.


1.  The request for our daily bread is an acknowledgement of our utter dependence on God for everything in this life.


2.  We recognize our need for forgiveness because, as yet, we are not without mistakes.  Also, there is our recognition of the need for us to forgive others.


3.  Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil is our desire to have safeguards against Satanic assaults.


Another way to describe the three parts of “knowing ourselves” could be Provision (bread), Pardon (forgiveness), and Protection (against temptations).


Nearly all wisdom we possess, that is to say, true and sound wisdom, consists of two parts: The knowledge of God and of ourselves.


Every part of this prayer is designed to ensure that we live the kind of lives God intends for his children.  In a world that has its complications, a reminder that there are only three things I ultimately need in order to live God’s glory is what this prayer teaches us.  It is the last item – that of protection from temptation and evil – is what we discuss today.


In our last lesson time, we concentrated our study on the second phrase, “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors” (Matthew 6:12).  Today, we will look at the third major phrase – “Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.”.  This is the only petition of the Lord’s Prayer that is stated IN THE NEGATIVE.


Temptation is a common theme in marketing and advertising techniques.  Temptation was the title to a movie in 1998.  We even have perfumes labeled “Temptation.”  And most of you will probably remember a MOTOWN singing group called “The Temptations.”


David Jeremiah, in his book on prayer (Prayer – the Great Adventure), says, “This section of the Lord’s Prayer has caused more head-scratching than any other.  It has promoted more commentators to suggest more possible interpretations than any other part of the prayer.”  And the reason this verse perplexes so many people is because, whereas we understand that it is God’s nature to feed us to give us our daily bread, and we know that Abba Father loves us and longs to forgive us our debts and sins, we are sometimes confused about the next part of the prayer.  We think, “Surely God would never lead us into temptation, so why do we have to ask Him not to?


James 1:13 comes to mind.


13     Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am tempted by God"; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone.


At first glance, this part of the Lord’s Prayer that Jesus has given us seems to contradict texts like this one from James’ letter.  Why would we have to ask God not to do something that His Word already says He does not do?


“Lead us not into temptation” part of the prayer goes hand-in-hand with the next part, “deliver us from evil.”  We will look at the meaning of “temptation” first, then look at the meaning of “evil,” from which we are asking God to deliver us.


Have you all heard of Mark Antony.  He was known as the “silver-throated orator of Rome.”  He was a brilliant statesman, magnificent in battle, courageous, and strong.  And the record shows that he was very handsome. As far as personal qualities are concerned, he could have become a world ruler.  But he had a very vulnerable and fatal flaw of moral weakness.  So much so this was the case that on one occasion his personal tutor shouted in his face, “Oh, Marcus,, oh, colossal child!  Able to conquer the world, but unable to resist a temptation.”


Unfortunately, I am afraid that indictment applies not just to Mark Antony.  And even more unfortunately, neither does it apply only to the people of the unsaved world.  Probably all of us have at least one area where we are weak when tempted in that direction.




Temptation is the enticement or desire to engage in an urge to do, or have something, that should be avoided.  It is the desire to engage in short-term urges for enjoyment that threatens long-term goals.  Some anonymous person is quoted as saying: “Opportunity may knock only once, but temptation leans on the doorbell.”


Some examples would be: 1) deliberant disobedient to God’s command, and 2) avoidance of a duty God desires for you to do.  This kind of temptation is spoken of in:


James 1:14, 15“each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed.  Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin…”


1 Timothy 6:9 – “People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction.”


Galatians 6:1“Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently.  But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted.”


                  Some would also include, in this definition, the temptations of Jesus Christ in Matthew 4 and Luke 4.


The Greek word, peirazo (pi-RAD-zo) is the root word that is translated temptation.  This refers to a trial to prove or test something or someone.  Here the temptation is that which brings out one’s true colors, something that proves where we really stand and what our true commitment is.  It is a testing, a trial.


The Greek word has both a positive and a negative aspect to it.  Positively, it proves the worth or integrity of something, like conducting a taste test of the stew to see if it needs more salt.  Negatively, it is destructive and hurtful in its intent, like a schoolyard bully teasing a child to see how much it takes to make him crumble.


In this way, the Israelites were frequently said to have “tempted” or “tested” God.  Their persistent disobedience push God to the limit of his patience at times.  This can be seen in the following Scriptural Passages.


Exodus 17:2, 7 NKJV


2       Therefore the people contended with Moses, and said, "Give us water, that we may drink." So Moses said to them, "Why do you contend with me? Why do you tempt the Lord?"


7       So he called the name of the place Massah [meaning=Testing] and Meribah [=Quarreling], because of the contention of the children of Israel, and because they tempted the Lord, saying, "Is the Lord among us or not?"


Numbers 14:22 NKJV


22     because all these men who have seen My glory and the signs which I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and have put Me to the test now these ten times, and have not heeded My voice,


Psalms 78:18, 58 NKJV


18     And they tested God in their heart by asking for the food of their fancy.


58     For they provoked Him to anger with their high places, and moved Him to jealousy with their carved images.


Their actions were, in effect, shouting, “We’ll find out if He really means what He says about punishment,” or, “Let’s see how far we can go before He does what he says He will do.”  How often have you heard some say, “It is easier to ask for forgiveness than for permission.”  I gave you the word, Peirazo as the root word for the topic of “temptation.”  The derivative of this word that is used in the Lord’s Prayer is PEIRASMOS [pi-RAS-mos].  And this word can be translated two ways.  It can mean “a test or a trial” or it can equally mean, “enticement or temptation.”  The proper translation depends on the context in which the word is used.


We have words in our English language that have multiple meanings.  Words such as “nail,” “jam,” and “bark” all have at least two meaning.  The word, “bolt” has at least three meanings.  It is a type of fastener, a single ray of lightning, and a verb, meaning to run very fast.


In some cases, you can use a word twice in the same sentence, each with a different meaning.


•   I left my phone on the left side of the room.

•  The committee chair sat in the center chair.

•  She will park the car so we can walk in the park.


Earlier, we read from James 1:13.  Let’s read it again.


13     Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am tempted by God"; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone.


The same root word, as in the Lord’s Prayer, is used here four times.  And here it represents being tempted to sin.  In other words, none can say “God tempted me to sin,” or that “God can be tempted to sin.”


The book of James also speaks strongly about the temptations that are tests of our character or to help us grow in our walk with the Lord.


The verse directly in front of the verse we just read is James 1:12 NKJV


12     Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.


And we read earlier in the same chapter in James:


James 1:2 (NKJV) – My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials [peirasmos].



We need to keep in mind the distinction between the actual temptation/testing and our response to that.temptation or testing.  It is inevitable that we will be confronted both by temptation to commit sin and by a wide variety of situations that test or prove our claim to be followers of Christ.  We should also understand that “trials” and “enticements” are closely related because usually when you face a trial or ordeal, you are almost always tempted to do the wrong thing.  We will sometimes do the wrong thing if it means it will get us through the test.


In any case, with the understanding we now have of the different meanings of the same word, when it comes to the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus is not saying God would ever lead us to sin.  No, in Matthew 6:13, Jesus is teaching us to ask God to help us in our response to the trials of life in ways that will further His kingdom.  We need to say, “Abba, Father, I am too weak on my own.  I need your help when I encounter trials and tests.


I do like The Message paraphrase of this part of the Lord’s Prayer.  Matthew 6:13 reads: “Keep us safe from ourselves and the Devil.  You are in charge.”  God promises to help us deal with this form of temptation. 


Psalm 37:23-24 read:


“The steps of the godly are directed by the Lord.  He delights in every detail of their lives.  Though they stumble, they will not fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand.” (TLB)


Let’s move to the second statement of this request in the Lord’s Prayer.


Deliver us from evil.


There are some theologians who say that this statement is actually a restatement of the first part of this request.  It is called PARALLELISM.  There are many uses of biblical parallelism in the Hebrew Old Testament.  Before getting into how parallelism is used here, let me give some biblical examples.


Psalms 24:1-3 NKJV


The world and those who dwell therein.

And established it upon the waters.

Or who may stand in His holy place?


In Hebrew parallelism like shown in this passage, indicates that the second phrase of each verse is saying the same thing as the first phrase, but it is stated in a different manner and sometimes providing a broader understanding.


Proverbs 3:11 is another instance:

“My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline
and do not resent his rebuke.”


At times in parallelism, the second phrase repeats the thought of the first, then adds a conclusion.


Psalms 95:6 NKJV


6 Oh come, let us worship and bow down;

Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.


                   The Lord our Makers in the second phrase also applies to the first.


Lead us not into temptation…    But deliver us from evil.


The second phrase is a repeat or an expansion of the first.  This is one reason I like the way The Message paraphrase reads.  Matthew 6:13 reads: “Keep us safe from ourselves and the Devil.  You are in charge.”  We need God’s help with the temptations we go through, as well as help and safety from the Devil.


But deliver us from evil


First, I think when it says, “deliver us from evil,” it probably does mean, “deliver us from the evil one.”  In the opposite, this wording is much like that of the key passage of the book of Proverbs.


Proverbs 9:10 KJV


10     The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.


                   The phrase, “the knowledge of the holy,” should be, “the knowledge of the Holy One.”


With regard to Matthew 6:13, about two thirds of the 28 Bible translations of my Bible software have it translated as: But deliver us from the evil one.  But in either case, it still works, because evil has its origin in the evil one.  He is the one who is behind every temptation.  One good reason for translating it as “evil one,” is that the Greek word, Ponerou, is in the form of an adjective, not a noun.  And an adjective is a descriptive word and needs an object about which it is describing.


We have another prayer in the Bible, interesting enough, besides the Lord’s Prayer.  It is a prayer of Jesus, and this prayer makes a statement similar to the phrase in the Lord’s Prayer that we are addressing today.  Compare John 17 to the Lord’s prayer.


John 17:15 NKJV


15     I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one.


                   The precisely same Greek word is used in this verse as in Matthew 6:13.


As Christ is praying to His Father to keep his followers from the evil one, see what He says only two verses later.


John 17:17 NKJV


17     Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.


This verse actually tells us how God is going to deliver us from the evil one,.  “Sanctify” means “help them be holy and conquer temptation by being holy.”  How?  By truth – God’s truth – more specifically, your Word.  “Your Word is truth.”  The antidote to every falsehood of the evil one is the Truth of God – His Word.  Without the truth of God’s Word, we are susceptible to the devices of the evil one.


However you slice it, the Lord’s Prayer acknowledges our human predicament, that is, evil is present in our world.  Evil in the form of a serpent was present in paradise, and evil is with us in the age of the risen Christ.  Evil is here and there is no escaping it.  There is no removing it.  There is no overcoming it ourselves.  Our only hope is for God to DELIVER us from it.  Yes, we all need to have God deliver us from EVIL.


The prayer, “Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one,” is an admission not only of our weakness but also a declaration of the power of the evil one.  And this prayer statement to deliver us is the acknowledgment that God’s power is greater than that of Satan.  We are also saying that the power of sin and the power of Satan is limited.  Only our Lord is all-powerful


Dietrich BONHOEFFER wrote that there are really only TWO temptation stories in the Bible.  That of Adam and Eve, which led to the FALL of MAN, and that of Jesus in the wilderness, which led to the FALL of SATAN.  “All other temptations in human history,” Bonhoeffer wrote, “have to do with these two stories of temptation.”  Either we are tempted in Adam or we are tempted in Christ.  Either the old nature, Adam, in me is tempted – in which case, without God’s help, I fall.  Or the new nature of Christ in us is tempted – in which case, with God’s help, Satan is bound to fall.


It is good to remember the Lord’s Prayer does not say, “O God, remove the test, remove the trials and temptations of life.”  Life without tests is not life at all.  The prayer rightly acknowledges that such tests exist, and are even desirable for building faith and developing character.


Though tests are useful, we nevertheless ask that they stay away from us, simply because we recognize our limitations, and we don’t presume to be up to the test.  This should not surprise us because we don’t pray for temptation any more than we pray for adversity.  On the contrary, we say emphatically in the second part of this petition, “deliver us.”  It could be translated as “rescue us!” from such a situation because we dare not come close to evil.


Actually, we need only change this petition into its opposite to realize what pride would be implied if we prayed otherwise.  “Go ahead, Father, put us to the test!  After all, we know we can pass it.”  Humility requires that we pray instead to be rescued.  In short, “Lead us not into temptation” is a confession of our weakness without God.


We can only pray, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the Evil One,” because we already know that through the cross of Calvary and the empty tomb, we have been delivered from the evil one.  On the cross, the enemies power has been broken.  Because of this, the Lord’s Prayer is not to be repeated in a tone of cringing defeatism, but to be prayed with a note of triumphant hope.


Final chart


         Test – Grow/stretch in faith


         Trial – Endure with God’s help


         Temptation – Lures us from God will.