[Jesus said:] “Pray then like this: . . .
And lead us not into temptation.” Matthew 6:9a, 13a RSV
Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. I Peter 5:8
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. I John 2:15-17 ESV
For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. Romans 7:18 ESV
In the 1930s there was a civil war in Spain. In 1936 one side in this war tried to conquer the capital city of Madrid and overthrow its government. An army general of the fighting forces, Emilio Mola, had four columns of soldiers that were marching toward Madrid. While he was moving his soldiers toward the battle, the story goes that he said, ” I have under my command four columns that march towards the capital, not counting the fifth that is inside Madrid.” What General Mola meant was that even though Madrid was under the rule of the government he was trying to overthrow, there were many people in Madrid who were doing everything they could to help his side in the war, and they were as powerful as a column of soldiers. Since then, the phrase “fifth column” means people in a country who are working in some way to help the enemy in a war.
Christians are also in a war, but it’s not the kind of war that’s fought with guns and tanks and bombs. We have enemies who hate us and are trying to turn us away from God. The first enemy we have is the devil and all his evil angels. They do everything they can to destroy the works of God and to turn his people against him. Another enemy we have is the world. God made the world, and he made everything to be good, but sin has corrupted the world, and people don’t follow God’s ways and rebel against him in pride and in wanting things that do not please him. We often hear and follow the voice of the world instead of the voice of the Lord. The devil and the world are the two enemies that attack us from the outside, but we also have a “fifth column” inside us that always tempts us to turn away from the Lord, and that is our own sinful nature. Jesus has made us his own, but there is sin in us that continues to fight and rebel against the good that God has done in us.
Jesus taught us to pray, “Lead us not into temptation.” We know that temptations will come to us until the day we die, but we ask our Heavenly Father to lead us instead of letting our enemies lead us, and to help us not to give into these temptations. We ask him for his strength when we are weak, and we ask him to turn temptations away from us if it is his will. Jesus also suffered many temptations when he lived among us on earth, but he never turned away from his Heavenly Father’s ways. He understands how it feels to be tempted, and he is always ready to help us. His perfect life covers our sinfulness, and his death and resurrection defeated all the forces of evil once and for all. Jesus forgives our sins every day, and sends us his Holy Spirit to give us the strength to follow his lead.
Dear Heavenly Father, please forgive our sins and help us to be strong and not to fall into temptation. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.