Friday, March 11, 2016

Protection From Temptation

Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. 
Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. 
Give us this day our daily bread. 
And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.
Yesterday I was pondering in more detail the structure and meaning of this profound prayer, given to us by the Lord Himself. . . .
It begins with an acknowledgment of THE Creator of the universe, the Great I Am--the omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent Being above all beings and things--above and beyond and different than all matter, all creation, eternal-- . . . it begins with calling this supreme entity "our Father"!  The personal, intimate, loving, creative, protective aspect of God as a personality is described as being "our Father" showing at once the relational situation we have with THE transcendent Creator of all that is, was and will be. . . .
Wow.  Just those first two words say so much about the nature of God.  He is not some "force" or energy, nor some impersonal "essence". . . . He is our Father.  We are His children.  He is Someone we can relate to, look to, love, honor, obey . . . personally as One we know that has formed and cared for us.

"Hallowed be thy name". . . . The next thing we see is the holiness of God, a main attribute again and above all beings and things. 
And then "Thy kingdom come--thy will  be done in earth as it is in heaven.". . . . God's sovereignty is acknowledged.

I am always stressing what I (and others of like mind) see as a couple of the leading issues which the modern church and too many so-called "believers" fail to grasp, much to their detriment.  That is, the HOLINESS and SOVEREIGNTY of God.  Jesus wants to clarify these foundational descriptors and points of reference straightaway in His prayer.  

Along with the compulsion towards idolatry . . . there seems also to be a (fallen) compulsion to treat God as an equal, a "buddy" . . . or, as in far too much of "contemporary Christian" music, as a romantic love interest; bringing God down to a purely chummy, fleshly level.  "Jesus is my homeboy", "Jesus is my boyfriend". . . . Whereas, whenever a mortal has actually been in the presence of God's glory or even the reflected glory of one of His angelic servants, the mortal is instantly struck with dumb awe, falling on their face, overwhelmed with His "otherness" and HOLY majestic grandeur.  Yes, the Lord calls us "friends", but note that this somewhat casual relational form is not elevated above God's holiness in the prayer.  In fact, it is not mentioned in the prayer.  While someone may be friends with a king . . . it doesn't mean they are on the same level.

With this, there is the seeming (fallen) compulsion to want to wrest away some of God's sovereignty, to make oneself co-equal in terms of "free will" and autonomy.  No, it is THY will be done in earth as it is in heaven, not "MY will be done in earth, but I will let you (God) have your will done in heaven.

The Lord's pronouncement is clear:  God's will is done in heaven AND earth.  Full sovereign control above AND below. . . .

But I want to to get to what I find is a most illuminating line which I really was thinking about most when I happened to be pondering over the prayer:  "And lead us not into temptation."

I believe it is rarely considered or understand just how much evil God protects us from.  We are prone to look, for instance, at celebrities, politicians, business moguls etc., and react in subtle, judgmental, condescending disgust at the things we see that they do which are so obviously corrupt and compromising.  We scoff and sneer and condemn them as corrupt, weak, perverse. . . . What we don't realize is how, if we were in the same position, where vastly enticing wealth, beautifully seductive women or men, euphoria-inducing inebriants, slight compromises in business deals producing astounding returns . . . etc.,--just how susceptible we ourselves would be to giving in just as they have done and do.

God preserves us from acting out on so much that is secretly lurking in our degenerate, prideful, lustful hearts, that, if it were placed before us, and we thought no one was watching . . . we would succumb to the temptation just as fast or faster as those who disgust us!

It is a great blessing and grace from God that He preserves us from sullying ourselves in action where it is bad enough that our hearts are there already.  While it is true that God sees our hidden hearts regardless of what we end up doing . . . He also will expose all our deeds DONE in the flesh, not just what we thought about doing or not doing.  Our actions do have eternal significance.  While the believer will not be eternally condemned because of his/her works . . . they will nevertheless be revealed and either rewarded or not . . . in the hereafter.  Thank God He leads us not into paths and circumstances where temptation could be realized in the flesh . . . to the degree that He does!  Many, if not most or all of us . . . have a breaking point where we would surely fail if presented at the "right" time, at the "right" place, with the "right" temptation!

We should be praying for this particular protection and blessing a lot!  We should understand that, little doubt, when some of our prayers are not answered in the way that we would like, it is because God is preserving us from some temptation down the line that HE sees is there, where we would surely stumble. . . .

1 comment:

Lee in TN said...

Bro T,
Thank you for this. I too have long thought about the deeper meanings and significance of the Lord's Prayer, and how something so simple and easy that even a child can understand, yet so powerful and complete in its wording and intent that one could meditate on this for a lifetime. I've imagined that if ever given an opportunity to preach a sermon someplace, I would expound upon each line as you did, also putting emphasis on the charge to us to forgive others of their debts and trespasses against us as our Father forgives and forgets ours when He sees Jesus' redemption, blood and grace.

Blessings always - Lee

Brother Thomas ©2015

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