Thursday, July 26, 2007

(G) And Lead Us Not Into Temptation

[and Lead Us Not Into Temptation] The 'and' bridges this statement with the previous. After asking for forgiveness, the next thing is to desire to 'sin no more.' It is no use to apologize today, and continue to sin the same ways tomorrow. It mocks the very confession in the first place. It embarasses the one who forgives. It is like dirtying our clothes today in the same patch of mud, when we have been told by our parents not to play with mud again. This is a prayer of confession. Adam & Eve failed miserably. The mighty Samson was defeated because of being victimized by the antics of a cunning Delilah. King David yielded to temptation and suffered dire consequences. Even Jesus was not spared, having led to the dangerous wildernous for forty days and forty nights. Scriptures warn us against temptations. Timothy was urged to flee from temptations. This is a cry for mercy. If God wills, let us not be tempted in any way. We are confessing that we are not strong enough to withstand the full onslaught of temptations. This is a prayer of wisdom. Winning against temptations is not something that we want to trumpet and announce to the world. When we flash out our achievements, we are opening ourselves to other more sinister and insidious forms of temptations. This is a prayer for God's grace. It is a prayer that God will not test our love for him through the channel of temptations. We want to be motivated to love God and be faithful to God on the basis of love, not on the tough path of temptations, like what Job encountered. Let us be ever more eager to love God, and to define a 'temptation' as any attempt to shift our attention from gazing at the cross. The word 'massah' is often translated as temptation. This is a state in which the person fall into moments of discouragement and despair leading to negative heart attitudes like bitterness, scorn and dejection.

The word 'massah' comes from the root word fire, which is used to purify and to refine an object. Like producing pure gold after passing it through a fiery furnace, it tests and it purifies. The Israelites went through waters and fire for the Lord desires to bring their hearts back to him. It was never meant to be something to put them on the road to despair. This prayer is a moment to declare to God, that we do not want to behave like a disobedient Israel of old, but to willingly love and be faithful. God does not need to test us for the purpose of examining our desire to be faithful. Let our life speak. We do not need to rely on temptations to test our faithfulness.

This is a prayer of acknowledgement. All things are under God. God is sovereign. Whatever comes before us, we learn to accept, on the basis that God loves us. It is a statement of faith. It is like telling God, Do whatever it takes to accomplish your purposes of the kingdom, even if it means temptation. But in your mercies, do not choose to let me be tempted for I have already loved you. Spare me.

Remember, Simon Peter who were asked three times whether he loved Jesus. Peter was driven to tears on the third time, even hurt when he feels his love is questioned. Likewise, we do not want the Lord to doubt our desire to love and to be faithful to God. Lord, let us not be tempted in this aspect. Let our love for you be pure and steadfast. Lead us not into temptation.

"Create in me a clean heart, O LORD. And renew a right spirit within me." (Ps 51:10)

καὶ μὴ εἰσενέγκῃς ἡμᾶς εἰς πειρασμόν,

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