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The Evil of Temptation

“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil” (Matthew 6:13).

It is important to understand that the word tempt has a two-fold significance in Scripture: 1) to try the strength of, and 2) to entice to do evil. When it is said that “God did tempt Abraham” (Genesis 22:1), it means that He tried him, putting his faith and fidelity to the test. When we manifest self-righteousness, God may lead us into circumstances something like Job experienced. When we are self-confident, He may be pleased to allow us to be tempted as Peter was (Luke 22:31-34). When we are self-complacent, He may bring us into a situation similar to the one Hezekiah encountered (2 Chronicles 32:27-31). Also, God tempts permissively when he does not restrain Satan. Sometimes God permits him to sift us as wheat, just as a strong wind snaps off dead boughs from living trees.

We are not to pray simply and absolutely against all temptations. Christ Himself was tempted by the Devil, and was definitely led into the wilderness by the Spirit for that very end (Matthew 4:1). Not all temptations are evil, and thus it is from the evil of temptations that we pray to be spared. What we pray for, we must endeavor to practice. We do but mock God, if we ask Him to deliver us from evil and then trifle with sin or recklessly rush into the place of temptation. Prayer and watchfulness must never be severed from each other.

—Adapted from The Lord’s Prayer by A.W. Pink.

“He who carries about with him so much flammable material would do well to keep the greatest possible distance from the fire.” —Unknown