Thursday, November 23, 2017

November 24, 2017

"Don't bring us into temptation but deliver us from the Evil One." Matthew 6:13

I hope you had an amazing Thanksgiving Day!

In my sermon study and preparation this week I came across a sermon on this verse by an Australian Pastor named Lionel Windsor. His interpretation of this Scripture fascinated me and blessed me with a new insight into what Jesus was teaching in this part of the prayer.

When I checked out his exposition of the Scriptures it supported his interpretation. So, I share it with you.

The key is understanding the meaning and background of the word for "temptation". In the original language the word used here can mean "temptation" as in an enticement to sin or "testing" or  a "trial".

We can rule out the "temptation" interpretation in this context because we know James clearly states God cannot nor does not entice us to sin so He could not lead us into that form of temptation:

"Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death." James 1:12-15

So, we know that Jesus is referring to the times of testing or the trials of life that God allows into your life.

Does that mean then we are to ask God not to test us?

No, it doesn't mean that at all. It means that we encounter tests or trying times we are not to test God. So, the prayer is this "when you lead me into times of testing keep me from falling into the temptation of testing you. That will keep me from the Evil One."

This raises the question of, "Why does God test me?"

God allows tests to come into my life that will test my faith and my patience and my wisdom and my trust in His character. But the temptation that often arises when I am suffering under a severe season of testing is to test God by questioning His goodness or His power or His presence or His love.

Praying "Lead me not into temptation" is a prayer to for Him to help me understand the purpose of His testing in my life is for my good not to question His goodness.

A classic illustration of that truth is Job. Why did God subject Job to such a tragic and traumatic season of suffering?

It was to prove to Job what God already knew about him. Job was a righteous man who absolutely trusted God. 

"There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job, and that man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil. There were born to him seven sons and three daughters. He possessed 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, and 500 female donkeys, and very many servants, so that this man was the greatest of all the people of the east. His sons used to go and hold a feast in the house of each one on his day, and they would send and invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. And when the days of the feast had run their course, Job would send and consecrate them, and he would rise early in the morning and offer burnt offerings according to the number of them all. For Job said, “It may be that my children have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts.” Thus Job did continually. Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them. The Lord said to Satan, “From where have you come?” Satan answered the Lord and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.”  And the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?” Then Satan answered the Lord and said, “Does Job fear God for no reason? Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.” And the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your hand. Only against him do not stretch out your hand.” So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord." Job 1:1-12

Did you notice that God was boasting about Job to the Evil Accuser himself. God was absolutely certain Job could endure whatever trial the Evil One would inflict on him. But Job needed to know that conclusively about himself.

And while Job's wife and his friends were questioning Job's integrity, impugning God and encouraging him to "curse God and die". Job's testimony is recorded for eternity is this text from Scripture:

"Then Job arose, and tore his robe, and shaved his head, and fell down on the ground, and worshiped. He said, “Naked I came out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there. Yahweh gave, and Yahweh has taken away. Blessed be Yahweh’s name.” In all this, Job did not sin, nor charge God with wrongdoing." Job 1:21-22

Job was able to bear up under this unimaginable overnight loss of his children and all of his financial fortune because he knew God was testing him and he trusted that God had his best interest at heart.

I will have more examples to further illustrate this insightful truth I want to teach you. But think about what I have shared with you in this blog.

But if you are in the midst of a difficult time of testing I want you to remember, God is testing you to make you better not to inflict your life with unnecessary pain. Remember it is for Him to test you not for you to test Him!

If you are in the midst of a difficult time of testing right now I also remind you of this promise from the Word of God:

"The temptations (tests) in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation (test) to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted(tested), he will show you a way out so that you can endure." I Corinthians 10:13

Will you pass the test today and trust God in your pain? He tests you for your good!