Friday, March 13, 2009

March 13- Lead Us Not Into Temptation

3/13- The Lord’s Prayer- 6th Petition- Lead us Not into Temptation But Deliver Us From Evil

By this we are instructed that we need not only the grace of the Spirit, to soften our hearts within and to bend and direct them to obey God, but also his aid, to render us invincible against both all the stratagems and all the violent assaults of Satan. Now
the forms of temptations are indeed many and varied. For wicked conceptions of the mind, provoking us to transgress the law, which either our own inordinate desire suggests to us or the devil prompts, are temptations, as are things not evil of their own nature yet which become temptations through the devil’s devices, when they are so thrust before our eyes that by their appearance we are drawn away or turn aside from
God. (III. 20.46)

Calvin talks of the temptations from the right (the haves) and the temptations from the left (the have nots). On the one hand, we may be tempted when we have riches, honor, and power. We are tempted in our pride to forget God and think we no longer need Him. On the other hand, we may be tempted by poverty, disgrace, contempt, afflictions, which may keep us so depressed that we feel like it is no use to call on God. Both are wrong, and both are forgetting God. One because of plenty or the other because of thinking God has forgotten us in our poverty. Both ways of forgetting God are fueled by pride and allowing circumstances to control our lives. In the last six months, we may have been tempted both ways- by the pride of having, and the despair of losing. We need to pray that God would deliver us.
Calvin said our understanding of “evil” in “deliverance from evil” could be Satan or sin, it makes no practical difference. We are delivered from evil when we are filled with the Holy Spirit. It makes sense- when we are filled with good, there is no room for evil. Another key to deliverance from evil for Calvin is simply to believe that God will help us through our afflictions. “While we petition, then, to be freed from Satan and sin, we anticipate that new increases of God’s grace will continually be showered upon us, until, completely filled therewith, we triumph over all evil.” (III.20.46). In general, Calvinists did not focus on the devil or Satan nearly as much as other branches of Christianity (or Islam). Calvin beleived if we are filled with love for God and focus on Him, then there is no room for the devil or evil.
In our day, people are shocked to call anything "evil." Everything is a gray area- always a mixture of right and wrong. Postmodernism is the philosophy of the day- and that philosophy lends itself to thinking that the only wrong is to call something "wrong" (or worse- "evil"). But, it does matter. Child sacrifice is wrong. Murder is wrong. Stealing is wrong. There are always mitigating circumstances, and we all do bad things- but that does not erase that sin is sin and we need to be delivered from evil. Because we are all in the mix of sin- and our hearts are deceived and blinded to our own sin- we need God (the outside force) to deliver us.
The hymn confirms this teaching: “Breathe on me breath of God, fill me with life anew, that I may love what Thou dost love, and do what Thou dost do.”

On a practical side, it is helpful to know which things are the most tempting to you. It is not that we want to dwell on the temptation, but rather to be filled with good in its opposite area so we may triumph.

Prayer: Father, we are tempted by many things today. Evil is all around us- tv, internet, and there is a lack of morality around us. Help us, O God, to resist temptation. Lead us into quiet places during harsh times.

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