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Catechism Class. L/D 52A, Temptation

02/03/2021

I am WEAK, but YOU are STRONG!

Lead Us Not into Temptation. 

Read: Matthew 6:13. And lead us, not into temptation, but deliver us, from evil.

Now, I’ve always found the wording of this petition rather ‘challenging!’  It reads,  Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.   Many will ask the hard question, ‘Would God ever lead us into temptation?’  Let’s not gloss over this. God is not capricious, he never changes, he never wants us to stumble and fall, but wants to bring us all to heavenly glory.   Yet there are two parts to this petition, firstly that God in his mercy and grace does deliver us from all evil, but at the same time we are conscious of his sovereignty, for there is nothing that is outside his power and command. Everything that happens to us, whether good or bad, is in some sense ordained by God.  Look at how Moses spoke about the way the Lord brought his people through the wilderness in Deuteronomy 8:2-3.  Job said, in Job 13:15 Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.  Job had suffered greatly in a period of deep testing, and his faith in God had not wavered.   While God ordains all of our ways, and his way is always perfect, is he directly responsible for the temptation in our lives?  Luther didn’t think so.Martin Luther, teaching on the Lord’s Prayer, wrote, God certainly tempts no one to sin… Let’s move on and look a little at what the Catechist teaches us in Q127, and let’s sum it up in one simple phrase, “I am weak, but He is strong!

Temptation! Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay

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1. I am WeakJohn 15:5    In ourselves we are so weak that we cannot stand even for a moment.  

Our instructor reminds us of:-

  • Our human weaknessThis petition is very challenging for us, for it gets right to the heart of our problem, that even as believers we are still subject to temptation and sin.  We are weak, and the Lord knows our weakness.    Psalm 103:14-16 14   But the situation is even worse for…
  • We have terrible enemies arraigned against us. The Catechist lists three of the great enemies of the soul.  Moreover, our sworn enemies, the devil, the world, and our own flesh, do not cease to attack us.   Let’s identify them…
    • The devil! We would expect nothing less. In the wilderness, Matthew 4:1 Jesus was tempted – by the Devil.  God will TEST us, but will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we can bear.  1 Cor 10:13  Yet perhaps the devil attacks us when we least expect it, and comes to us in guises wee would scarcely recognise. 2 Corinthians 11:14 …Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. We need to be exercising some spiritual discernment.
    • The world. The world hates Christianity, and Satan uses the people of the world to further his aims, to trip Christians up.    John 15:18  
    • My own flesh.  Rom 7:23 Isn’t the greatest danger to my soul my own heart, which is deceitful and desperately wicked? We are asking our heavenly father to lead us out of, and away from temptation, to protect us from ourselves, and our own wicked sinful hearts.  Implied in the petition is that when God LEADS us we are safe, whereas when we follow our own lead we go astray and wander into dangerous ways.    

We are too weak to resist temptation, and that’s why we pray this prayer.

2. But He is Strong. Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. ‘Will you, therefore, uphold and strengthen us by the power of your Holy Spirit, so that in this spiritual war we may not go down to defeat, but always firmly resist our enemies, until we finally obtain the complete victory.” 

Despite the fact that we are unable to resist temptation in our own strength, we are required to resist that temptation!  We need to stand firm, for we are engaged in a war.  Paul stresses this over and over again in his ‘armour of God’ passage in Ephesians 6.  Look at how many times he tells us we must stand  in Ephesians 6:11-14.  But standing is hard!  It is relentless, grinding, hard work – yet we MUST take our stand, and remain standing throughout and not fall.  But thankfully we have three Great Resources and the catechist lists them for us in this answer.  They are:-

  • Prayer.  This is why Jesus teaches us this petition in his model prayer.  Matthew 26:41  
  • The Sustaining and Keeping Power of God.  It’s the right prayer to pray when times of temptation comes along, to seek the  help of the Lord who is able to deliver us from evil and from the evil one.  To simply ask the Lord to uphold us, by his love and power.  Deuteronomy 33:26-28.  The eternal God is your dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms.
  • The Indwelling Holy Spirit. Romans 5:3-5  

It is only through use of these resources through complete reliance on the Lord that we are kept and do not go down into defeat.  Instead, with God’s help we overcome, and gain the victory in Christ. ‘H/C but always firmly resist our enemies, until we finally obtain the complete victory.’  It is the final answer to this prayer, that in the future all our enemies will be defeated and we will be victorious in Christ.  So will we be rewarded for our trust in Christ’s preserving grace. On that day our victory in Christ is complete. 1 Thess 3:13 

So we sum up this petition, as a prayer.  “I am weak, but thou art strong, Jesus keep me from all wrong!   

© Bob McEvoy. January 2021

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