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September 6, 2011 / Daniel

Lead us not into temptation? The Lord’s Prayer

One of the more difficult statements in the Lord’s Prayer is the petition, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil” (Matt 6:13).

This creates a theological problem.   Is it actually possible for God to lead his people into temptation?  James 1:13 answers with the negative.

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.

So what should we make of this petition in the Lord’s Prayer?  In his commentary on the Sermon on the Mount, D.A. Carson suggests that this is an example of a litotes, “a figure of speech which expresses something by negating the contrary” (70).    In other words, it is a double negative.

Here are some examples.

  • Not a few people went to the game.
  • She was not unattractive.
  • Tom Osborne is not unlike Joe Paterno.

If Carson is right, then the emphasis is on God’s protection of the believer in the midst of temptation.  He delivers his people from the power of sin.

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3 Comments

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  1. A. Amos Love / Sep 7 2011 4:05 pm

    Daniel

    You ask…
    “Is it actually possible for God to lead his people into temptation?”

    Today I would answer – Yes. And here is why.

    1 – The Holy Spirit (God) led Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.

    Matthew 4:1
    Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness
    to be tempted of the devil.

    Hebrews 2:18
    For in that He himself hath suffered being tempted,
    he is able to succour (help) them that are tempted.

    2 – God tempted Abraham.

    Genesis 22:1
    And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham.

    Seems we need a different understanding from God about James 1:13,
    when James says “he himself tempts no one.”

    James also says – “for God cannot be tempted with evil,” BUT…

    Ex 17:2 …Why chide ye with me? wherefore do ye *tempt* the LORD?
    Ex 17:7 …because they *tempted the LORD, saying, Is the LORD among us, or not?
    De 6:16 Ye shall not tempt the LORD your God, as ye *tempted* him in Massah.
    Ps 78:18 And they tempted God in their heart by asking meat for their lust.

    etc., etc….

    And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold:
    them also I must bring, and they shall “hear My voice; “
    and there shall be “ONE” fold, and “ONE” shepherd.
    John 10:16

    One Fold – One Shepherd – One Voice – Jesus

  2. Daniel / Sep 7 2011 5:51 pm

    Amos,

    Thanks for commenting. I actually was thinking about Matthew 4 a bit when I was writing this.

    Part of the difficulty is the meaning of the word “tempt.” Does it mean to “test” or does it mean to tempt? The difference is the goal of the one who brings the temptation/test. Is the goal to refine us? Then it’s a test. Or is the goal to destroy us? Then it is a temptation.

    I don’t think that God wants to destroy a believer.

    How do you understand James 1:13?

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  1. Lead us not into temptation? The Lord’s Prayer « Anchor for the Soul « sharin' His love

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