Sunday, July 13, 2008
Lead Us Not IntoTemptation
This morning Rev. Tony preached what he said will be his final sermon on the Lord's Prayer. His text, of course, came from the Sixth chapter of the Book of Matthew, verse 13. "And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil..." (KJV) Actually, there is another sermon in that verse, as it goes on to say, "for Thine is the kingdom and the glory and power forever. Amen." (KJV) However, Tony ends it here.
Today's premise is that the word temptation is defined in this situation as "test." When temptation comes our way, it is not from God, because God cannot lead us into evil. He can, however, allow tests that will shape our character. We can be tested during emotional highs and extreme lows. When we fall into one of these tests or "traps" (my word,) we do so because of the lusts in our own lives, as he paraphrased Chapter 4, Book of James.
From here, the good reverend explained that there is a very real adversary working against the children of God, and we need rescuing. "Deliver us from evil," is a cry for rescue from that which causes pain and trouble in our lives. When we pray, we are to pray for individuals. The church is brick and mortar, but the people in it make up the body of Christ. He said that when we ask God to keep us safe from those tests of evil, we "win," because through Christ Jesus, we have been delivered.
I told Rev. Tony, coming out of church today that I thought his sermon was concise and to the point. I had to think about it for awhile to really be able to comment, and believe it or not, the only comment I have is as follows:
I agree wholeheartedly with Tony that as Christians we will go through tests, and as such, we learn lessons from resisting temptation, and sometimes greater lessons when we don't.
The Apostle Paul is very clear in the Book of Romans that the Spirit will help us with our prayers. Romans, Chapter 8, verse 26, "Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered." (KJV) We have to be very careful not to burden our brothers and sisters in Christ with expectations of perfection that are not manifest to our human eyes. We should not instill a "fear" into our congregation that if they should "fall prey to any test because of their own lusts, then they would be out of the will of God." That is simply not true. To suggest otherwise is to negate the entire redemption story.
Case in point. When Peter walked on water, where was he in this test? When he took his eyes off Jesus, was he suddenly out of God's will? The answer is clearly "NO." Didn't the Savior reach out His hand for Peter and tell his disciple that he should have more faith? Clearly, the result of this test was Peter learned a valuable lesson about who commands the seas and who is worthy of his service and worship. Most tests that we face are like this. They are tests of faith, and we are reminded over and over that the source of our faith is God.
Sometimes we stumble publicly in ways that embarrass us and call our character into question. Once again, Peter denied Jesus three times. He was, however, never "out of God's will," as Jesus had already told him he would be the rock upon which His church would be built.
We have to remember that God has called us to Him. He will qualify us according to His plans, and even though we may stumble, forgiveness is available to us. Every Sunday, and today is not different, Tony talks about standing in judgement. We cannot say to our fellow Christian, "you will have to answer to God for your sin," for if he is saved (and only God can truly know,) then Romans 5:9 states that the believer is "...now justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him." (KJV) Our mortal lives may face the consequences of our missteps, but our eternal lives are never on the line when we are covered in the blood.
Rev. Tony was absolutely correct when he proclaimed, "We win!" Those headlines have been written in RED.