Tag Archives: temptation

The Pope Made A Mistake With The Lord’s Prayer

The Pope says we should change the Lord’s Prayer.  Pope Francis is the world leader of the Roman Catholic Church. News reports say that he believes our English rendering of one phrase in the Lord’s prayer is wrong.

The phrase in question is this: “Lead us not into temptation.” Jesus taught his followers to ask God in prayer not to lead them into circumstances that would tempt them to sin (to disobey God).

The Pope takes issue with this because he believes a loving Father is never “pushing” his children into temptation (note: the prayer says “lead” not “push”). The Pope endorses the following rendering: “Do not let us fall into temptation.”

Apparently Pope Francis thinks that his version makes God sound more friendly. Did Jesus reveal an unfriendly God? Was Jesus having a bad day when taught the Lord’s Prayer? Should we listen to the Pope over Jesus?

First, the Pope’s suggestion finds zero support from the thousands of ancient Bible manuscripts. Matthew’s Gospel is clear and has been faithfully rendered for generations. The Pope has no linguistic leg to stand on. The word is “lead,” not “fall.” His view sounds more like a surrender to popular opinion than a scholarly treatment of the biblical text.

Second, the Pope’s suggestion is out of step with the rest of the Bible. From Genesis to Revelation we find clear examples of God testing his people by leading them into temptation.

Job would be surprised by the Pope’s understanding of God. God allowed Satan to wreak havoc in his life. As a result, Job’s wife tempted him with this advice, “Curse God and die!” Job refused.

Peter would be surprised by the Pope. Jesus told him, “Satan has asked to sift you like wheat.” What did Jesus do? He said that he would pray for Peter, not that the temptation would be removed, but that Peter’s faith would not fail.

Jesus would be surprised by the Pope. The Bible tells us that God’s Holy Spirit led him into the wilderness. Why? To be tempted by the devil!

True, in the book of James we read that God cannot be tempted by evil and he never tempts anyone to do evil. Is this a mixed message? No. A clear distinction exists between temptations meant to cause defeat and tests meant to encourage growth.

Testing is a teaching tool meant to identify strengths and weaknesses. God sometimes tests his people by leading us into temptations. His desire is to reveal our weak spots and inspire us to trust his word and to walk in his ways.

Satan is the Tempter. He tempts us to destroy us. God’s plan for us is not doubt and destruction, but faith and deliverance. God trains us to walk in the power and wisdom of his Spirit.

The Pope’s suggestion misrepresents God. Wrong expectations about God are dangerous. If we believe that God will never lead us into temptation, we may have a crisis of faith when he does.

Better to accept the Bible’s clear testimony about God’s ways and live accordingly. In other words, let’s build our lives on God’s truth, not on popular opinion.

May the Spirit of God not lead us into temptation,

Brother Richard Foster

 

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Identifying God’s Favor

Joseph, the great-grandson of Abraham, was remarkable from his youth. At age 17 he received a word from God in the form of two dreams. Those dreams predicted a great future for Joseph, but they also infuriated his family. As a result, Joseph found himself sold into slavery and dragged away to a foreign country.

Far from home and unfairly enslaved, Joseph was seduced by his earthly master’s wife. A lesser man would have given in to the temptation. After all, it seemed as if nobody cared about Joseph. Why shouldn’t he take advantage of the situation?

Now Joseph had a choice. He could despise the people who treated him unfairly and allow hate to embitter his soul. He could withdraw or become aggressive, trying to hurt the people around him because of the pain he was forced to endure. He could be angry with God and forget about any effort to obey or to serve him.

Or, Joseph could remember the word that he got from God in those dreams. He could believe that God’s word would surely stand, somehow, someday. He could look for signs of God’s favor despite his unfair circumstances. He could choose to continue living in a manner that was pleasing to God and that reflected well on God.

Joseph refused to indulge in sexual immorality. He did so because he knew that adultery would be a sin against God. It is amazing that Joseph would be concerned about God when God seemed to have forgotten about Joseph. Couldn’t God have protected him from being sold as a slave in a foreign land? Wasn’t it God’s fault that he was in this foreign land facing this seductive woman?

In spite of his difficult circumstances, Joseph could see the hand of God working in his life. Yes, his own brothers had turned against him and sold him as a slave, but God made sure that Joseph ended up in a household where he would be treated with respect by his master.

Yes, he was still a slave, but his master noticed that God’s favor rested on Joseph and so Joseph was entrusted with almost the entire household. Even the pagan slave owner could see that Joseph was special.

Unfortunately, Joseph’s trials were not finished with that test of sexual temptation. Even though he did the right thing, Joseph was accused of wrongdoing and found himself in prison. Nevertheless, Joseph did not give in to despair or bitterness.

Joseph chose to believe God’s word and to serve God faithfully. It took years, but the word that he got from God was fulfilled. He was humbled for a time, but God lifted him up.

Like Joseph, we have a word from God that includes great promises. Our Lord promises to walk with us and show us his favor even in the difficult times. And our Savior assures us that a day is coming when we will be lifted up and blessed in amazing ways.

God has promised that if we humble ourselves before him, keeping his word and obeying his commands, then he will lift us up! (see James 4:10). The Apostle Paul put it this way: “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18, NIV).

May the God’s Spirit enable us to serve him well until he comes,

Brother Richard Foster

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