by Andrew Consiglio, leader and director of Youth Fellowship
We are living in a world where not only do people follow the path of least resistance, not only are they sailing down the river and going with the flow, but they are building boats, ships, cabin cruisers to get there with more style.
The only problem is that the message from the Son of God is this: if you go with the flow, you will lose God in the present and for eternity. This flow is what we call sin, godlessness and we are navigating the same river, the same currents – but the question is: in which direction will we go?
“I can resist everything except temptation” is a quote from a character in one of Oscar Wilde’s plays. He is also reputed to have said “The best way to deal with temptation is to yield to it!” Temptation was originally used in a negative way for sin and bad actions; however it is today also used in other ways ‘I was late for my meeting and was tempted to postpone it’.
It is not the way we are using when we pray in the ‘Our Father’, ‘lead us not into temptation.’ So let us ask some questions.
Q 1 Does it mean that God tempts us?
Unless we understand it, this part seems troubling because ‘lead us not into temptation’ somehow seems to imply that God is leading us to be tempted. However it is not like that at all!
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. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. James 1:13-15
And this sin is serious stuff, more dangerous than cancer!
The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. Gal. 5:19-21
Q 2 What are the sources of our temptations?
Temptation comes from 3 sources, the flesh, the world and the devil – all urge us to turn away from God and His goodness. The devil always makes us doubt God’s goodness and intentions and leads us to believe in the prospect that sin will make me happier.
Q 3 I want to be a good Christian so why do I get tempted ?
Don’t be surprised that you are still tempted – to be asked to have no temptations at all is to be asked to be removed from the world. Remember that temptation is not sin, or a sign that there is something wrong with you.
Q 4 So what are we really praying when we pray this part of the Our Father?
This petition goes to the root of the preceding one, for our sins result from our consenting to temptation; we therefore ask our Father not to “lead” us into temptation. It is difficult to translate the Greek verb used by a single English word: the Greek means both
“do not allow us to enter into temptation” and “do not let us yield to temptation.” Catechism of the Catholic Church 2846
So we are praying
- Lord let me not be stupid and place myself into temptation. So for example, if you know a particular group of friends are going to effect you badly just don’t join them.
Don’t sit near the fire if your head is made of butter (Martin Luther)
- ii. Lord when I am tempted give me the grace to resist it. Which leads us to the next question.
Q 5 What is the key to resisting temptation?
Prayer for God to protect us – isn’t that what we are praying in the Our Father? Of course, first of all we need to recognised that what we are tempted to whether in thoughts or actions is sinful – otherwise we will never ask for the grace to resist it.
Personal and communal prayer is the key
Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. On reaching the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.” Luke 22:39
When he rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow. “Why are you sleeping?” he asked them. “Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.” Luke 22:45
Look what the Word of God promises:
No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it. Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry. (1 Corinthians 10:12-14)
Q 6 What other good can come out of temptation?
God has promised that good will come out of it when by His grace we overcome it.
Temptation reminds us that we are vulnerable. The obstacle to God within us is our pride, wanting to do without God. Temptation proves it is not true.
Temptation can be a moment of experiencing grace:
Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. James 1:12
Ships are safe in harbours but that’s not why ships were built. We sail in life towards heaven, but with a mission of bringing more people there! But we sail together and against the current