Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview

DOES GOD TEMPT US?

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Could it be possible that we have gotten this wrong all these years? The prayer known as “The Lord’s Prayer”, the most popular of all Christian prayers, appears in both Matthew 6:13 and Luke 11:4. Many of today’s most popular versions of Scripture (King James Version, English Standard Version, New International Version, New King James Version), translate the text in Matthew 6:13 as “Lead us not into temptation”. But now comes news that “experts” that have been studying the text for 16 years have concluded “from a theological, pastoral and stylistic viewpoint” that our historic English translation of the text is incorrect. According to these “experts”, the text should be changed from “lead us not into temptation” to “abandon us not when in temptation”. But Deuteronomy 31:6 and Hebrews 13:5 tell us that “He will not leave you or forsake you.”  Christ secured that promise for us when He was forsaken on the cross so that we would never be abandoned or forsaken.
The group’s proposal to change the text has been submitted to Pope Francis and he is expected to approve it.  Last year, Pope Francis made news by indicating that “A father does not lead into temptation, a father helps you to get up immediately”. He also added that “lead us not into temptation” is not a good translation because it speaks of a God who induces temptation.  What are we to make of this? Does God tempt us?  No, he certainly does not, but He may put us through times of testing.
Dr. R.C. Sproul in his book The Prayer of the Lord, wrote that nothing could be farther from the realm of possibility that God would entice anyone to sin. Albert Mohler in his book The Prayer That Turns the World Upside Down: The Lord’s Prayer as a Manifesto for Revolution, writes that The Lord’s Prayer might seem to imply that there are times when God does in fact lead us into temptation. Yet when we let Scripture interpret Scripture, we find that God does not tempt his people.” He tells us that while God will never tempt us, he may sometimes test us in order to strengthen our faith, and that we must never allow God’s tests to lead to temptations. James settles the issue for us when he writes in James 1:13 “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.”
Sproul writes that enticement and temptation to sin arise from within us. External temptations also come from others and from Satan. But God Himself does not engage in temptation to sin. He tells us that God will put His people through a trial, test or ordeal ultimately for their own benefit, and sometimes for other reasons not always understandable to us.
God does not tempt people to sin. However, in permitting our temptation, He does test us. The Lord established a test for Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden when He forbade them from eating of the forbidden tree, but He did not tempt our first parents. Satan did (Gen. 3). Similarly, the Lord tested Job by allowing Satan to interfere in his life and tempt him to curse God, but our Maker did not introduce temptation into Job’s life.  What was meant for evil by Satan, God uses for our good.
Jesus himself was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tested as in “to test one’s mettle.”  Although the Spirit put Jesus there to be tested, Satan’s activity was intended to tempt him. To tempt someone is to entice them to commit an evil act. Dr. Sproul tells us that it would be completely out of the character of God to entice someone to sin.
So how should we take this petition of “The Lord’s Prayer”?  Sproul tells us that in this petition Jesus is saying that we should pray that the Father will never cause us to undergo a severe test of our faith or of our obedience. Jesus is not only teaching us to pray for deliverance from testing but is teaching us to seek divine protection from the wiles of Satan.
Have you been confused or troubled about all of the recent confusion about the petition “Lead us not into temptation”? Fear not, though God may test us, He will never tempt us.

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Author: Bill Pence

I’m Bill Pence ~ married to my best friend for more than 39 years and a St. Louis Cardinals fan. Before retiring I served as a manager at a Fortune 50 company; I'm a graduate of Covenant Theological Seminary and in leadership at my local church. I enjoy speaking about calling, vocation and work. I am a life-long learner and have a passion to help people develop to their fullest potential and to utilize their strengths more fully. I am an INTJ on Myers-Briggs, 3 on the Enneagram, my top five Strengthsfinders themes are: Belief, Responsibility, Learner, Harmony and Achiever, and my two StandOut strengths roles are Creator and Equalizer. My favorite book is the Bible, with Romans my favorite book and 2 Corinthians 5:21 my favorite verse. Some of my other favorite books are Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper, The Holiness of God by R.C. Sproul, The Prodigal Son (originally titled A Tale of Two Sons) by John MacArthur and Crazy Love by Francis Chan. I enjoy Christian hip-hop/rap music, with Lecrae, Trip Lee and Andy Mineo being some of favorite artists.

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