Part 4 of the Bible study series Teach Us to Pray
"And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil" (Matt. 6:13).
After a petition for the forgiveness of past sin (v. 12) comes one for protection from future sin. We need to remember that there are spiritual forces of darkness in this world. Every morning we should ask for God’s protection throughout the day.
The Greek word translated “temptation” (peirasmos) can mean either “temptation” or “testing.” “The meaning here most likely carries the sense, ‘Allow us to be spared from difficult circumstances that would tempt us to sin’” (ESV Study Bible, p. 1832). How can difficult circumstances both test and tempt us?
Read 1 Peter 1:6; 4:12. Why are trials that test us sometimes necessary?
Read Matt. 4:1. In the wilderness, Jesus was both tested by God and tempted by the devil. The Greek phrase translated “evil” can mean either “evil” or “the evil one” (i.e., Satan).
Read James 1:13-14. “God ‘tests’ his people (e.g., Abraham, Gen. 22; Israel, Ex. 16:4; Hezekiah, 1 Chron. 32:31) so that their character is strengthened, but he never tempts (i.e., lures people into sin). Since ‘God cannot be tempted with evil,’ and he is unreservedly good, he would never entice human beings to sin or seek to harm their faith” (ESV Study Bible, p. 2392).
Read James 1:2-4. If trials are good for us, why should we pray, “Lead us not into [temptation/trials]”? “We know that trials are a means for our growing spiritually, morally, and emotionally. Yet we have no desire to be in a place where even the possibility of sin is increased. Even Jesus, when He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, first asked, ‘My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me,” before he said, “yet not as I will, but as Thou wilt’ (Matt. 26:39). He was horrified at the prospect of taking sin upon Himself, yet He was willing to endure it in order to fulfill the will of His Father to make possible the redemption of man. Our proper reaction to times of temptation is similar to Christ’s, but for us it is primarily a matter of self-distrust. When we honestly look at the power of sin and at our own weakness and sinful propensities, we shudder at the danger of temptation or even trial. This petition is another plea for God to provide what we in ourselves do not have. It is an appeal to God to place a watch over our eyes, our ears, our mouth, our feet, and our hands—that in whatever we see, hear, or say, and in any place we go and in anything we do, He will protect us from sin” (John MacArthur, Matthew 1-7, pp. 395-96).
In the KJV, verse 13 ends with a doxology: “For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.” This doxology “is evidently a later scribal addition, since the most reliable and oldest Greek manuscripts all lack these words, which is the reason why these words are omitted from most modern translations. However, there is nothing theologically incorrect about the words, nor is it inappropriate to include these words in public prayers” (ESV Study Bible, p. 1832).
Read Eph. 6:10-20. Prayer is essential in our battle against evil. In what ways can we specifically pray that we would have victory over the evil one?