And do not lead us into temptation.
It was the Irish playwright Oscar Wilde, who quipped, “I can resist anything except temptation.” It’s humorous because it’s curious—what else is there to resist except temptation? We can understand Wilde’s capitulation to temptation; it’s around every corner in life. Not to have a plan to defeat temptation is to plan to give in.
Step one in such a plan is to pray as Jesus taught His disciples: “And do not lead us into temptation.” The Greek word for temptation can be translated either as “temptation” or “trials.” We know that God never tempts anyone (James 1:13) but He does allow tests (James 1:2) and leads us into situations to prove our faith (Matthew 4:1). So Jesus’ prayer not to be led into temptation probably means, “Don’t lead us into a situation in which we might be overcome by sin.” That is, don’t lead us into something we aren’t mature enough to handle. Fortunately, the Bible promises exactly that: With every temptation God provides a way of escape (1 Corinthians 10:13).
Unlike Oscar Wilde, the Christian can resist every temptation—by relying on the strength God gives and the desire to please Him. When tempted, pray and look for the way of escape.
Each temptation leaves us better or worse; neutrality is impossible.
Erwin W. Lutzer