The Lord’s Prayer, Part 5

10.20.2019 Rev. Jennifer Hageman
(please click on the link above to view the sermon on Facebook)

I was tempted by a piece of chocolate-mint poke cake tonight. I completely gave myself over to it, body and plus-sized soul. Now this is not a serious deliver-me-from-evil kind of situation, especially if I eat it in moderation and not too often, but I know it’s not as good for me as the low-cal, low-fat popsicle in my freezer. I know though, as sure as I am writing this newsletter, that the pleasure I gained (and it was soooo yummy!) will be weighed (pun completely intended) in equal measure with the pain I will feel the next time I step on the scale or try to put on my favorite jeans.

Pastor Jen speaks of true temptation Sunday as Christ gives us example to pray for God not to lead us into temptation but rather deliver us from evil, and she answered questions I have long had about the topic. Temptation, she begins as she speaks with the children, is having an urge to do something we should not do, like having a candy bar instead of an apple for a snack. God, she teaches, does not actually entice us into sin, but because the Greek term for temptation is used interchangeably with trials or testing, there is often confusion. God cannot be tempted, nor does he tempt us, as temptation leads to evil, and those evil thoughts and actions come from within a person, revealing our thoughts and character. God initiates or allows trials and/or testing to bring endurance, help us grow spiritually, and fortify and strengthen our faith. He is not up in heaven trying to trip us up so he can yell, “Gotcha!”

Different than these times of trial or testing, temptation is not from God, but comes from within. “Evil desire is conceived and gives birth to sin,” observs Pastor Jen. As in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve failed their test of obedience as they succumbed to the temptation to be all-knowing like God and consumed the forbidden fruit, we also give ourselves over to our evil, ungodly desires. Our loyalty to God and His will are tested daily, and we are tempted to choose what is right and good in our own eyes rather than God’s. As Jesus asked God’s protection over His disciples when he prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, we must daily ask for protection from the evil forces within us that will allow us to be taken over by temptation, for Him to remove the desire or source of the temptation from doubt, forsaking our faith, or even cursing God. There is nothing that forces us to do anything, just as the serpent only enticed Adam and Eve, but promising the pleasure they might experience without revealing the pain that would result in the form of their eventual physical death and the relational death they experienced from God.

We are told that evil is the force that opposes the will and purposes of God. It taps into our evil desires, sheds doubt, contradicts God’s Word and impugns God’s character by withholding His gifts from us. Evil is anything that does not hallow God’s name, prevents God’s kingdom coming on earth as it is in heaven, or is contrary to God’s will. We can resist evil by knowing God’s Word so we can know His character and will for us, and by praying daily for His protection so we can live the triumphant and fruitful lives He wants for us. Jesus gives us a prayer, not full of empty phrases to recite, but one that will help hone and fine-tune our vision to God’s perspective.