Lead Us Not into Temptation–A Beautiful Protection S1E4

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Transcript


Description

In this episode, we see the beauty of God in what Jesus taught us to pray, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” Today we look at a protection our beautiful God offers us in this prayer––and we see how this kind of protection played out in the life of Jesus. And then we learn what this means for us, and how we can enter into this protection for our own lives. 

For your study this week:

Matthew 1:18-2:23, 3:13-4:1
Mark 1:9-13
Luke 1:26-38, 2:1-20, 40-52, 3:21-22, 4:1-2

Scriptures quoted in this episode:

Matthew 6:13
James 1:13
Proverbs 14:12 and 16:25


Transcript

It’s always time to celebrate God, for God is gentle and loving with us, even when life is not. He pours mercy and grace into our lives. He loves to protect us and longs for us to give Him permission to do so.

Hi, I’m Gail Ruth, and today we’re going to build on the previous two episodes and look at a puzzling Scripture. It comes from the passage that we now call “the Lord’s Prayer”, which was the first lesson on prayer that Jesus taught to His disciples. 

And in that prayer to Father God, He said, “…lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil” (from Matthew 6:13). 

Hmm… If you think about it, you might wonder, Why would Jesus need us to pray this? And if we didn’t pray this, would Father God––our beautiful Father God––actually lead us into temptation? 

That kind of thinking takes all the pleasure out of trusting God. And happily, God is beautiful through and through and absolutely good. James the Elder reassures us that that isn’t what Jesus meant. For he teaches us in the Scriptures that, “God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man” (from James 1:13). 

James here is stating a plain spiritual truth. But Jesus often spoke in mysteries. And so we use the clear teaching of James as a jump-off place, and ask the Holy Spirit to illuminate the words of Jesus, and show us what He was teaching us in this part of the prayer. 

And so we ask the question: What does this prayer mean? The good news is that there is a revelation of our beautiful God waiting for us here. For this part of the prayer holds a protection that God wants to provide for us. And we can see this kind of protection play out in the life of Jesus. 

So now let’s review some of the backstory again and apply it to this Scripture. We start with two players. First, Jesus––the Son of God, fully-God and fully-man, the promised Messiah. He had been born into the earth to fulfill the ancient promises. And He had come on a mission to redeem humanity from evil. 

His coming to earth was disguised as an out-of-wedlock pregnancy. A clue. And His birth was celebrated by heavenly Host, who announced that world-shattering event to a few shepherds in the middle of the night. Another clue. Disguise and hiddenness. These clues tell us that, for some reason, God was keeping all this under wraps and out of the public eye. 

And then we learn why. Magi from the East came to Jerusalem looking for this King, who had been born, and they were not quiet about it. And because of it, those who wanted the Messiah dead learned that He was on the earth, and figured out what region He would be in. And because they didn’t know which youngster this was, they slaughtered every child they thought it could possibly be. But even then they could only hope it had been successful. But Jesus had escaped. 

After that close call, Jesus grew up, hidden away––first in Egypt, and then in Nazareth, which was an insignificant town in northern Israel, far from the centers of power. 

And then there’s player number two––satan, the devil––one of God’s beautiful creations who had twisted itself into evil and now hated God. This devil knew of the promises and of the mission. And it was ready with an array of strategies to neutralize the Son of God when He showed up on the earth. Its own fate depended upon it. 

In fact, this devil was the one that had stirred up the attack that was supposed to kill the Messiah. This being is pure evil, and arrogant in it. But God is infinitely more powerful than it is. And God has blindsided it countless times.

The years passed. And when Jesus was 12 years old, He decided it was time to go live in the temple in Jerusalem. It had seemed like a great idea to Him. But Jesus had no clue how much danger He was exposing Himself to––both from spiritual leaders who would come to see Him as a threat, as they did later in His life. And from the devil itself when it would learn of this spiritual prodigy who was just the right age to be that Messiah who was supposed to be dead. 

But His parents had found Him, and He obediently returned home with them, although He did not yet understand.

And there Jesus lived until He was 30 years old. And that’s when Father God called Him out of that hidden place and down to the Jordan River where He was baptized. And there… Ta da! The Holy Spirit came upon Him, filling Jesus. The Helper had now joined forces with Jesus, making Him ready for His ministry as Messiah. 

And this was where Father God announced from heaven into the earth, for all the spirit realm to hear, that Jesus of Nazareth was His beloved Son. 

And the devil heard that voice. And it went hunting for Jesus. This time, it was packing an arsenal of temptations. It knew that Jesus had come to destroy this evil one’s hold over humanity. But if it could corrupt this Son of God as it had corrupted the first humans, Jesus would no longer have any right at all to threaten its authority. 

While the devil had been blindsided by God many times, the Father had never once been caught off-guard. And so the master plan rolled on. He had been protecting His Son from this confrontation until Jesus had been made ready. And now that it was time, the Spirit hustled Jesus out into the place in the wilderness that had been prepared with everything the beloved Son of God would need for this time. All this to ensure that the evil that was hunting Jesus would find Him ready and perfectly positioned for the confrontation. 

But what if Jesus had stayed at the temple when He was 12? What if His parents had let Him? Jesus knew He had come to earth to fulfill a mission, and He was eager to embark on it. This temple thing was not rebellion or sin; it was simple inexperience. And in His naiveté, He didn’t understand that He needed to be protected. 

And not just from outside forces, but even from His own yearning to step into the work that He knew He had been born for. For at that tender age, Jesus would not have been able to face a confrontation with the evil one. And He could never have fathomed that He would need to spend almost two more decades before He would be fully ready. 

So, what does all this mean for you

Have you ever longed for something with all your heart, and got it? And later wished with all your heart that it had never happened? Or have you ever desperately wanted something and couldn’t bear it when you didn’t get it? But then, when you were older and wiser, were so very glad that you had been saved from that desire? 

God hears our hearts and our prayers as we cry out to Him––as we beg Him for what we think we can’t live without––and as we plead with Him for breakthroughs that we can’t wait another day for. And He has compassion on our hearts and our longings. 

He knows how caught up we get in this. How certain we are that this is good for us, even necessary. But the Scriptures teach us, “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death” (Proverbs 14:12, 16:25). And it says that in two places. Which tells us that this is really serious. “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” 

So because we pray for these things with such passion, Jesus taught us to also pray, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” Which is the same as saying, “Father God, please don’t do what we ask You to do if You know it would lead us into more trouble than we could handle. And deliver us from the evil that we don’t realize we’re trying to get ourselves into.” 

So that, when the time comes––when we are charging full steam ahead toward a place that will devour us, Father God will already have the permission in hand that will allow Him to step in and stand in our way, and abort our attempts to fulfill the desires of our hearts––desires that would lead us into disaster. Until He is able to cleanse us from dark desires. Or until He knows that we will be safe with the good things we long for. Just like He did with Jesus. 

But… He has to have our permission, for God will never force Himself on us. He will woo us with His love, and draw us with His kindness, and offer this protection to us, but He leaves the choice in our hands. 

So if we want God to see ahead for us, and to protect us from ourselves, we need to do two things. First, we have to make this choice in our hearts. And once we have chosen, then we have to tell Him about it. And that’s what we do in this prayer. Not just by speaking the words. But by telling Him from our hearts that we want Him to provide this protection for us. 

And Jesus wants us to renew this choice and speak it in prayer often. That way, we are praying it ahead of time. For that’s when it’s easiest to pray for something like this. 

I have a prayer that the Holy Spirit taught me to pray many years ago, “Father God, don’t give me what I think I want; give me what I’m going to be glad I got.” 

And now I’ve learned––that’s just another way of praying, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” I invite you to make my prayer your own. “Father God, don’t give me what I think I want; give me what I’m going to be glad I got.” 

Glory to our entirely beautiful God––Father, Son, and Holy Spirit––who loves to protect us and longs for us to give Him permission to do so!