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Where Does Temptation Originate

Question: Hey Pastor, I have a question!!? In the 6th Petition of the Lord?s Prayer, we pray:? ??and lead us not into temptation.? What exactly is meant by that?? I thought that God NEVER leads anyone into temptation; yet, when you look at these words on their own, it appears that He
would indeed lead us into temptation were it not for our praying of this petition!? What gives here?

Answer: This is another fine question!? Thanks for asking.? We must consider this question in light of James 1:13-14 where Scripture tells us:? ?When tempted, no one should say, ?God is tempting me.?? For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed.? (NIV)? Here we are told without qualification that God DOES NOT tempt anyone.

So where does ?temptation? originate?? It has three sources:

  1. Mankind is tempted by his own lust and ?evil desire? [the Old Adam] James 1:14;
  2. Satan, himself tempts us? Lk. 8:12; Jn. 13:2; Mt. 27:3-5; James 4:7; Lk. 22:31-32; Gen. 3:1-5
  3. The ?world? is a third source of temptation? Prov. 1:10; Mt. 18:6-7; James 4:4; 2 Tim. 4:10; Jn. 15:19; Mt. 26:69ff

In Dr. Martin Luther?s Large Catechism he writes:? ?We dwell in the flesh, and the Old Adam is always astir in us.? The Old Adam exerts himself and daily incites us to unchastity, indolence, gluttony and drunkenness, to avarice and deceit, to acts of fraud and deception?? Then comes the world with word and deed to offend and drive us to anger and impatience.? In short, there is in it nothing but hate and jealousy, violence, slander, pride, arrogance, with fondness for luxury, honor, fame and power; where no one wishes to be least, but everyone desires to sit at the head and to be seen before all men.? And in addition to these comes the devil, who worries and harasses us on all sides, but especially occupies himself with things pertaining to the conscience and spiritual matters.? His main object is to tear from us faith.?

With all that said, we rightly conclude that the source of temptation CANNOT be put upon God.? So what, exactly, is being asked of God in the 6th Petition when we pray:? ??and lead us not into temptation??? In this petition we humbly ask God to preserve us from these sources of temptation.? When He gives us power and strength to resist temptation, even though it might not be removed, that is ?leading us not into temptation.?

Since we live in the flesh and have the devil ?prowling? around us (1 Pet. 5:8) no one can escape temptation.? We cannot help but have temptations all around us.? So in this prayer, we humbly beg our Father to preserve us from falling into them or otherwise become entangled and overwhelmed by them.

Pastor Rock