Lord Buckbeak 03/02/05 (prepared for Bible study at a local Church)
Matt 6:13 ‘And Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’
Hebrews 2:18 Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.
Hebrews 4:15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin.
The question is why would Jesus tell us to pray, ‘Lead us not into temptation’?
The answers have been:
1) His words really meant, ‘Suffer us not to be led into temptation.’
2) It was just a way of asking us to be delivered from temptation and evil.
3) It should be interpreted, ‘Lead us not into trials rather than temptations’.
These are all attempts at evading the plain meaning of this admonition given by Jesus as He teaches us how to pray.
Jesus Himself was led or driven by the Spirit of God into the wilderness expressly to be tempted by the devil. After 40 days of fasting and prayer, in a physically and emotionally weakened state, He was tempted by Satan. Hebrews tells us that Jesus was tempted in every way just as we are. It was a full, real testing of Jesus’ character, resolve and faith. Even though Jesus could not sin (this is the doctrine of Christ’s impeccability – because it is impossible for God to tempt or be tempted by sin and His flesh was not corrupted by the Fall) His humanity still bore the force and pull of temptation to its fullest extent.
As an aside we should note the contrast between the tempting of the first Adam and that of the second Adam. The first Adam was tempted and fell over nearly nothing while the second Adam stood faithful when tempted with nearly everything. Adam had all of his needs meet. He had food, sex, and security. He lived in an ideal environment in fellowship with both God and another human. He lacked nothing that this world could offer except a knowledge of evil. In contrast Jesus was hungry, exhausted and alone – with no outward assurance of His unique calling, position and power.
Both Adam and Jesus were in an uncorrupted state of the flesh. After Adam sinned his whole being: body, soul and spirit – or his heart, mind and will – became corrupted and began to war with God. This corrupted nature is referred to as the flesh and is sometimes translated in modern versions as ‘the sin nature’.
Jesus was God in the flesh, Immanuel, or as John tells us, ‘the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.’ Jesus did not inherit the legacy of Adam’s sin because he was not conceived in the line of Adam but of the Holy Spirit and Mary. So he started a new race of men and as such is called by Paul the second Adam.
But the most significant difference between Jesus and Adam, who were both born of uncorrupted flesh, is that Adam did not have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and Jesus did. In point of fact John tells us that Jesus was filled with the Spirit without measure (Jn 3:34). The full indwelling of the Spirit of God (in the form of a dove) after His baptism ensured that Jesus could neither be deceived by nor fall into sin.
In addition to this James tells us we are tempted by our own evil desires. Jesus had no corruption of the flesh and no evil desires. Satan, in the Garden, appealed to what Adam lacked, that is knowledge of hidden spiritual things – especially evil. But unlike Adam Jesus knew all things. There was nothing Satan could offer Jesus that He did not already possess, nor could Satan deceive Jesus about this truth.
As the Law without faith condemns so the flesh without the Spirit is death. Even uncorrupted flesh, as with Adam, cannot withstand the assaults of the Tempter. And as the Law with faith is the Gospel so the flesh with the Spirit is to truly become as God, not just the knowing of good and evil, but the possession of a new and incorruptible life. In the new creation the new flesh, the incorruptible flesh, filled completely with the Holy Spirit and possessing all things, being in complete harmony with God, can never again sin.
Now Matthew 4 tells us that Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. Mark 1:12 is even more forceful: Jesus was driven by the Spirit into the wilderness and suffered temptation from the devil. Hebrews tell us this was a full and complete testing of Jesus. He felt and experienced the seductive power that Satan has over the flesh. All men would have fallen before such power, yet Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, rebuked the devil and commanded him to leave – and so he did.
The extreme trial that Jesus underwent in the wilderness, with the wild beasts, tempted of the devil was real. So real, that Jesus as our great high priest, is telling us, warning us, that when we pray we should remember to ask God to lead us not into temptation, as God led Him, because there is great danger and we will fall. Do not tempt the Lord your God with your own righteousness. There is no boasting before God. Ask instead to be led into paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.
Peter boasted before Christ that he would never forsake Him and then denied Him three times.
While Paul tells us to be imitators of Christ we must never think we can be our own savior. Do not boast before God saying, ‘God I thank thee that I am not like other men’, but rather say, ‘God have mercy upon me a sinner.’ This is the Gospel, this is salvation.