Series: Student Ministry: The Sermon on the Mount

I read an interesting headline this week. It was fascinating for a number of reasons. The Pope is wanting to change the exact line of the Lord’s Prayer that we are discussing today. You know, if you know me at all, that I really care little concerning the doings of the Papacy. Rome has little to do with true belief. Those who trust in Christ in the midst of that system do so despite the Papacy and its teachings.

Now, it is not the wording of Scripture that he wants to change, it is the prayer that is recited in Catholic Churches every Sunday. He wants them to understand the meaning differently than they understand it now. They currently say “do not submit to temptation” and he wants them to say “do not let us enter into temptation.”. To this, I would agree, at least in part. Had the prayer been based on the Greek text, as our Bibles are translated, this would have been the conclusion they reached a long time ago. The part that I disagree with is the word “lead”. It is there, it can’t be ignored. It is εἰσενέγκῃς. It means to lead or to be carried into. It is a prayer asking God not to lead us into temptation and deliver us from evil, and if only the Catholic Church would translate from the Greek and not the Latin Vulgate they would get there. But they don’t, so they don’t.

I believe that this gives us a little bit of insight into what Jesus is telling us we need to do and why. I also think that Jesus’ telling His disciples to do this very thing at the Garden of Gethsemane informs our understanding of this as well.

What we find is that evil is in the world, in Satan, and in us and our only hope of escape from this evil.

Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.


The Problems Are Great

The first thing that we do when we pray this phrase is realize and consider the evil that lurks around us and within us. In the world there is great evil and we see it often. Human trafficking is a crime that generates an estimated 32 billion dollars every year with over 21 million people being trafficked. It is a modern form of slavery that occurs even today. We know that abuse of spouses and children are things that happen in our world today. You probably know someone who has been abused. This world is full of wickedness. And this wicked world tempts you and I every day.

The world may not tempt us to enslave people or abuse people, but it does tempt us to lie, to cheat, to hurt people, to watch things we shouldn’t watch, to do things that we shouldn’t do. This world that is filled with so much evil draws us into wickedness. And the wickedness is such that we are commanded not to “love the world or the things in the world” and loving the wickedness of this world is proof that “the love of the Father is not in” whoever loves these things (1 John 2:15). There is much wickedness in this world and we are drawn in by it. We are drawn by the world to sinfulness and we all feel this drawing.

Having to be faithful in a dark world is hard enough, but we also have to contend with Satan. He is the great enemy of Christ who blinds people (2 Corinthians 4:4), he steals, kills, and destroys (John 10:10), He is the Father of lies (John 8:44), he disguises Himself as an “angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14). And Peter says that Satan is “prowling around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).

As modern people, we tend to overlook or dismiss the spiritual reality of the demonic. Our modern way of thinking discredits the spiritual in our world. We don’t tend to give demonic activity even a second thought, but that’s not how Scripture views it. Satan and his demons are a reality that have to be considered. And their wickedness combined with he wickedness of this world system is almost too much to bear.

These two obstacles to holiness are bad enough but we haven’t even discussed our own sinfulness. We have a personal problem that needs prayer as well. We are, within ourselves, sinful. Augustine used to say that we are “turned in upon ourselves”. We don’t have a tendency toward living a life of holiness, we tend toward serving our own desires of the flesh. This is overwhelmingly what Scripture says about our own nature. For instance, read Romans 3:10-23 and consider what this says about us as people. It doesn’t claim that we are inherently good, far from it. The claim is that we are wicked in every part of our being: what we speak, our actions, our thoughts are filled with wickedness. And though you might object to it, you know it to be true. You would run out of this room screaming in terror if I were about to play your every thought over the last 2 hours to the group on a projector. We are sinful by nature. Like David we can say that we were “brought forth in iniquity” (Psalm 51:5) and cry out concerning the weakness and sinfulness of our own flesh.

Christ Has Overcome

When start to consider our response to such great obstacles let us begin in the right place. Let us begin by looking at how Christ has overcome the world, Satan, and our own sinfulness. Christ has conquered and so we have hope.

How is it that Christ has overcome the wickedness of this world, the wickedness of Satan, and our own sinfulness? He overcame all of these by living a perfect life, dying on a cross as a sacrifice for sin, and rising from the dead.

The corruption of evil came when sin entered the world. Death and corruption have been a part of this world ever since but Christ has conquered sin and death through His perfect sacrifice and resurrection. The message of the Book of Revelation is one of Christ having already conquered evil and the eventual completion of that conquering that will one day take place.

The conquering in Revelation is oftentimes discussed as a complete conquering. Jesus has conquered the world, Satan, and our own sinfulness and it is cause for great rejoicing.

“Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that He can open the scroll and its seven seals.”—Revelation 5:5 ESV

Jesus has conquered sin, our own sin and sinfulness. By doing so He has also conquered the entirety of this world system. Everyone opposed to Christ has been conquered.

“And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This He set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in Him.”—Colossians 2:13-15 ESV

Jesus has conquered all things, including Satan through His death on the cross and resurrection.

“Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death He might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.”—Hebrews 2:14-15 ESV

I hope you are seeing it even now, but the point is that we can have hope of overcoming temptation because Christ has conquered.

Only By God’s Work Will We Overcome

Why is it that we are to pray? Why don’t we just make sure and work hard not to sin when tempted?

I think these are good questions to ask. Asking questions like this will help us to understand things about ourselves and aid us in actually doing what Jesus has here told us that we need to do.

Evil seems to reign in the world we live in. Satan is attempting to devour us. And, we are sinful, and this causes us to want to participate in the sinfulness of this world system and the sin that Satan wants us to participate in. What are we to do? Well, we must understand that it is only by the grace of God that we will be separated unto Him for holiness.

There is an even in Jesus’ and the Disciples’ lives that illustrates this weakness well. At the Gethsemane Jesus was praying about the upcoming event: His sacrificial death. It was late and while Jesus was in prayer and the disciples were supposed to be in prayer, they fell asleep multiple times. Jesus plead with them to pray and His reason was worded close to what we find here.

“Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”—Matthew 26:41 ESV

Why is it that the disciples needed to be praying? So that they would not “enter into temptation”. There were trials coming. And they would need God’s aid in order to make it out of this time of temptation.

So, what happened to the disciples?

They did not pray and these are the things that occurred as Jesus was being beaten and crucified. Peter denied Christ three times and all the disciples except John scattered. When we get a picture of what is going on at the cross only one of the 12 Disciples is still there and that is John. They needed God’s aid not to fall into sin as they were tempted. But they did not pray and they did not receive that aid. They slept instead.

God is the Sovereign ruler of the Universe. He is the Creator of all things and He in control of all things. He has the power and cares for you. He has the ability to help keep you out of sin in the midst of temptation and the lesson here is that we need to trust Him and pray for His aid.

I wonder what your excuse is. Jesus tells us to pray and ask God to “lead us not into temptation”. We see the great need for it in the world that surrounds us. We see that we are sinful and so cannot do this on our own. But, like Jesus’ Disciples, most of us are sleeping instead of praying. You might be spending so much time on your phone that you don’t have any time to pray. Put it down so that you do not enter into temptation. You might be watching so much television or YouTube videos that you don’t have time. Stop watching it so that you do not enter into temptation. You may not be physically sleeping but you are sleeping through life and the temptations of this world, Satan, and you own sinful flesh are more than you can bear on your own. You need to spend some time in prayer.

Pray that you may not enter into temptation.

R. Dwain Minor