February 2018 Newsletter Article – Lead Us Not into Temptation

From the Pastor: Lead Us Not Into Temptation

 

We are familiar with this prayer, because the Lord taught it to us.  But what are we really asking for?  Is there a chance that God actually would carry us into temptation?

 

Luther explained it well in the Small Catechism: “God tempts no one. We pray in this petition that God would guard and keep us so that the devil, the world, and our sinful nature may not deceive us or mislead us into false belief, despair, and other great shame and vice. Although we are attacked by these things, we pray that we may finally overcome them and win the victory.”

 

Jesus teaches us to pray this, because He knows that there will be no shortage of temptation for Christians.  “Woe to the world for temptations to sin! For it is necessary that temptations come, but woe to the one by whom the temptation comes!”  “See that you are not led astray!” “Watch and pray!”[1]

 

But these temptations are not always easy to identify.  It’s not like a devil appears with a pitchfork and a pointy tail and sits on your shoulder like in the cartoons.  Satan comes into your day to day life to tempt you.  Most often, he tempts you, not with obvious blasphemy and sin, but with doubts and reasonable-sounding arguments.

 

Each of us has times when Satan will offer a substitute for God’s clear command.  The Word of the Lord says that we should love our enemies and do good to those who abuse us (Luke 6:27-28), but there are so many reasons why some people don’t deserve the time of day from us.  God tells us that we should give back to Him a portion of what He gives us (Malachi 3:8-10; 2 Corinthians 9:6-10), but boy if our budgets look tight and it sure is hard to give with so many demands on our limited income.

 

Christian congregations as a whole are also under attack.  Satan would have us exchange the truth of God for what seems to “get results.”  He puts the lie in our heads that church is about the externals: the building, the music, and how many pews are filled.  When Satan is at work, the things which God actually commands—being salt and light to our neighbors (Matt. 5:13-16), giving to missions (2 Cor. 8:1-7), and providing a living for the pastor (Galatians 6:6-8)—are sacrificed in the name of what’s more appealing.  Thus Satan subtly turns our eyes (and our prayers) from God, and worries a congregation about “keeping the doors open.” The devil would have us believe the life of a congregation runs under human power.

 

Pastors, too, are tempted in a variety of ways.  Remember that the devil’s goal is to get them out of the pulpit or make their word ineffectual.  So, Satan attacks pastors’ families and is quick to point out the pastor’s inadequacies.  He points out all the places that their sowing seems to only sprout weeds or die.  He plays the gripes and grumbles of people on repeat in the pastor’s head and is sure to connect every departed member with something the pastor did wrong.

 

Beloved in the Lord, this is honestly what we’re up against.  Satan is an enemy too powerful for any of us, yet One fights for us who holds the victory.  Jesus is our great Deliverer who crushes the Ancient Serpent’s head (Gen. 3:15, Rev. 20:2-3).  Therefore, pray that He would defend you, your congregation, and your pastor against such spiritual assaults.  And the Almighty Lord will come quickly to your aid!

 

“Although we are attacked by these things, we pray that we may finally overcome them and win the victory.” Amen, Lord!  Yes, yes, it shall be so!

[1] Matthew 18:7; Luke 21:8; Matthew 26:41

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