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Can God Lead us into Temptation?…

April 13, 2011

“Lead us not into temptation…” Matthew 6:13

Temptation will come in the life of every believer and non-believer alike.  There are few days and if we’re honest few hours in our lives that are devoid of temptation.  Christ instructs us to pray to our Father in Heaven and ask the He lead us not into temptation, but that begs the questions Can we be tempted by God?

We have to understand what the word temptation means here, if temptation means “to sin” then no there is no way that God will lead us into temptation.  The key text about God’s blamelessness in regards to sinful temptation is James 1:13 “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘ I am being tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone.”   John MacArthur writes,  “God’s holiness and goodness will not allow His leading anyone, certainly not one of His children, into a place or experience in which they would purposely be induced to commit sin.”[1]

But of course the “temptation” in view here is not temptation to sin, but rather a time of trial, where if one fails, sin might result.  God frequently in Scripture ‘tries’ and tests those he loves, testing their faith and faithfulness. The perfect model of grace under the fires of temptation is Christ.  Christ was subject to temptation in everyway that we are, “yet without sin.” (Heb. 4:15)  Christ was “led by the Spirit” into the wilderness to be tempted by Satan (the Evil, or evil one from whom we ask to be delivered).  Satan tempted Christ’ appetite in His hunger (Matt 4:3 bread); He was tempted Christ’s obedience to God (4:6); and He tempted Christ’s pride with the kingdoms of the world (4:8-9).  Christ prevailed in each, for He knew that appetites are not satisfied in bread alone (4:4); Obedience is greater than sacrifice, He would not test God through sin (4:7); And His kingdoms are not of this world, He bows the knee to the Father alone ascribing Him glory, “For thine is the Kingdom and the Power and the Glory Forever” (Matt 6:13).

God tempts, or tries, those whom He loves knowing that through trial we learn to rely on him.  He uses the fires of trial to refine us, and we are blessed if we persevere. (James 1:12)  When we are faced with a time of trial, or are tempted, we face a choice, we can choose to sin or we can choose to flee temptation, run to God and rejoice.  Abraham prevailed through the temptation with faith; and it was by that faith he was justified.Hbr 11:17

God allows us to experience temptation, but provides us with the strength to resist, “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; an God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.”(1 Corinthians 10:13)  When we are in Christ, we pass through the fires of temptation and rather than being burnt up, we are refined, “so that the proof of your faith, being more precious that gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Christ.” (1 Peter 1:7)  Our faith is bolstered when we pass through temptation, after-all “unless a ship can ride a storm, what good is it.”

Without God’s help through Christ, when we face temptation and times of trial, we inevitably fail.  When we fail we become anxious and fearful.  We find that rather than being refined we are run-down; rather than being delivered we are demoralized.  Thanks be to God that He provides us with strength and has given us this prayer and this petition; so that when times of trial come we walk not in fear but in faith knowing that He will lead us in the path of righteousness for His namesake and for His glory.


[1] MacArthur, John MacArthur NT Commentary Matthew 1-7. Pg. 395

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