“If God were not my friend, Satan would not be so much my enemy.”
The sixth and final petition found in the Lord’s Prayer reveals to the believer the majesty of God and the malice of Satan. Jesus instructs us to pray, “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” (Matt. 6:13, some translations “from the evil one”) Prayer’s surest foundation is the truth of God’s sovereignty. The will of God directs both the hearts of kings (Prov. 21:1) and the hands of their subjects. (Prov. 16:9) It is the Holy Spirit that leads us both to the green pasture to rest and to the battle to wage war.
The Gospel of Matthew records Jesus’ experience, “Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.” (Matt. 4:1) Note that the Spirit led Jesus but did not tempt Jesus. God is not a participant in the act of tempting. James writes, “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.” (James 1:13) Thomas Watson explains and illustrates, “He [God] permits sin, but does not promote it. What king will tempt his subjects to break laws which he himself has established?” (The Lord’s Prayer, 258) Why then do we suffer under the scourge of temptation? For what purposes do temptations exist?
Temptation is Satan’s only hope to undo us and is God’s sure tool to true us. God allows and uses those times of tempting to show us where our true allegiances lie. He sharpens us and refines our graces in the fire of temptation. John Trapp notes, “Reading makes a full man, prayer a holy man, temptation an experienced man.” God wants experienced soldiers in his army and so off we go to the front. Temptation also allows God an opportunity to show his faithfulness to us. We do not serve a General who commands from the back but one who leads the charge and accompanies his soldiers throughout the conflict. When the enemy encompasses us, it is the Captain of our faith who is sympathetic to our plight and is able to make a way of escape for us. (Heb. 2:18; 1 Cor. 10:13) Are you being troubled by various temptations? Do you find yourself in the desert beset by some deadly foe? Then turn to God and use these tough times to prove his love and faithfulness. Have a blessed week and we will see you on Sunday.
Love in Christ,