“Lead us not into temptation . . .” (Matt. 6:13a). I rest assured that I am loved by a holy God. His will for me is always right, good, and true.
“But why, Dad, why can’t I? All the others kids are doing it. I just don’t understand why you have to say no all the time. I don’t get why this is such a big deal. Can’t I do it just this one time?” I can’t tell you how many times we had this conversation. Sometimes it was a quick plea, thankfully followed by submission. At other times it disintegrated into a major, volume-raised debate. But each time it was an instructive reminder.
It’s a sad but obvious fact—sinners don’t like boundaries. Sinners tend not to esteem rules. Sinners don’t like to be told what to do. Sinners don’t tend to love authority. Sinners tend to want to author their own moral codes. So you can’t even pray this prayer, “Lead us not into temptation,” unless grace has visited you. Only powerful, rescuing grace can take you from “Let me do what I want to do” to “Guard me against the temptation to do what you know is best for me not to do.” If you’re a parent or can honestly reflect on your childhood, you know that one of the biggest and most important battles children have with their parents is the battle of authority. The same is true of our relationship with God. You don’t have to read any further than the third chapter of the Bible to see that battle break out and alter the entire course of human history.
In this request, there are three recognitions that only grace can produce. The first recognition is that there is One of ultimate authority who rules over this world and knows what is best. In this recognition is the acknowledgment that I am never ultimate, that even if I am the most powerful human being on earth, I am still a person under authority. The second recognition is that the One who is the ultimate authority has clearly communicated to me how I should live. There is a God-originated, God-communicated set of boundaries that I have been designed to live within. Real life is found inside these boundaries, not in discovering and experiencing what’s outside of them. The third recognition is that on this side of eternity, I live in a world of moment-by-moment temptation. The world I live in does not operate as God intended, and because it doesn’t, it whispers seductive lies into my ears every day. It works to deceive me into thinking that what is ugly in God’s eyes is really beautiful and that what God has said is wrong is really all right after all. So pray that these three recognitions will rule your heart today—that you’ll remember God’s authority, that you’ll love his law, and that you’ll have the desire and strength to resist temptation. There is ample grace for all of these things!
For further study and encouragement: Psalm 93
Taken from New Morning Mercies: A Daily Gospel Devotional by Paul Tripp, © 2014, pp. 132-162. Used by permission of Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, www.crossway.org.