And lead us not into temptation./Save us from the time of trial.~The Small Catechism 1:17-18
What does this mean?
It is true that God tempts no one, but we ask in this prayer that God would preserve and keep us, so that the devil, the world, and our flesh may not deceive us or mislead us into false belief, despair, and other great and shameful sins, and that, although we may be attacked by them, we may finally prevail and gain the victory.
Grace to you and peace from the Triune God,
Here we learn about the well-known Sixth Petition of the Lord’s Prayer: And lead us not into temptation/Save us from the time of trial. The two variations reflect the old school, King James language and the other a contemporary translation in the English. We are, of course, as baptized Christians commanded to pray at our every time of need. If even the thought of trouble enters your mind you have before you the promise that God will hear your trouble even before or apart from your prayer—at the same time, he asks for and delights in hearing your petition from your own lips, as the gracious heavenly Father that he is. In this petition of the Lord’s Prayer we learn of our three great enemies that daily tempt us—the devil, the world, and our own flesh. And we learn what their aim is—to mislead us into false belief, despair, and other shameful sins.
In this petition we ask and implore God to preserve us from these things. So what is false belief? Believing something about God that is not true. A false belief is anything that would lead us away from trusting in God and his word. Many fall prey to the temptations of our own flesh (trusting in our own word before God’s word). The flesh will tell not like what the word has to say, and so will twist it to be more amenable to its desires—at the expense of God and his Word. Next, the world will tell us that there is nothing fundamentally wrong with it or us, that we don’t even need a God, nor does he even speak. Thirdly, the devil comes in and badgers us on all sides so that we come to doubt the Word and turn aside from it. The other issue at hand is despair. Despair is the nauseous reality of giving up on God and no longer trusting in his forgiveness or any of his other promises.
As great and terrible as these are, we pray that God preserve us and keep us from false belief and despair. God’s word does not come from within us or from the sound of sheer silence—God’s word comes from beyond ourselves. And what a wonderful thing that that is. God saves us absolutely by his own power and without even the slightest contribution from. God’s word does what it says, we can trust it. For in the word, God plucks us out of ourselves and into Himself. And now our life is hidden with Christ in God. Nothing can snatch us from him, not the devil, not the world, not our sinful flesh. He will preserve you. He will prevail against all his enemies with you untarnished.
Peace and joy,
Pastor Levi Powers