Deliver Us

“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen” (Matthew 6:13, KJV)

“And do not bring us to the time of trial, but rescue us from the evil one” (Matthew 6:13, NRSV).

“And don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one” (Matthew 6:13, NLT).

I love reading different translations mostly because I love words.

My wonderful mom tells me from time to time that I’m very good at finding the perfect way to say things, the most accurate way to express something. And sometimes when I’m talking to someone else who doesn’t know me well, they’ll respond to something I say with, “You mean _______ ?” And I reply, “No. I chose my words.”

The truth is, I read a lot and talk a lot. I try to listen a lot. But I also think a lot, and I think in different ways. One of those ways, obvious as it may sound, is in words. If you’re someone who thinks in images (which I also do sometimes), think of it less as my mental self scanning a dictionary and more of her sitting under a tree looking up at the sky contemplatively. I’ll not deny that God has given me the gift of being able to string words together well, but it’s also that between all of these things, I spend a lot of time with words.

So let’s talk about the words in these three translations. We’ll start with the first part.

Two of our three versions say “temptation” while the other says “trial.” The two words aren’t synonymous, but in a spiritual sense, they might as well be. We have eternal, heaven-bound souls in mortal, sinful flesh. If we’re honest, all of our spiritual trials involve temptation. The temptation to doubt or to return to our former ways or to try something we shouldn’t for one hollow, fleeting moment. So I do feel that these two words are connected in a very specific way.

Trials of other varieties exist too, though, and I don’t want to dismiss that or downplay that. Stuff happens in our lives physically, mentally, emotionally, financially, and in so many other ways, and it can really push us or stretch us thin. But I don’t want to downplay the impact that can have on our spiritual lives either. Hurt, anger, bitterness aren’t contained to one place no matter how hard we try to keep them there. They bleed through to other parts of our lives, sometimes while we’re unaware of them. They climb over the walls we construct in attempts to compartmentalize, and they spread. Trials of all kinds can become spiritual problems if we don’t handle them correctly by trusting in God.

In the KJV, Jesus asks God to “lead us not into temptation”, but the NLT has Him asking God not to “let us yield to temptation.” This is confusing, right? Because in the former, God is wholly active, and in the latter, we are equally active. Confusing as it is, I think these two are saying the same thing; it’s just that the NLT is doing a better job.

James 1:13-15 (NRSV) says, “No one, when tempted, should say, ‘I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil and he himself tempts no one. But one is tempted by one’s own desire, being lured and enticed by it; then, when that desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and that sin, when it is fully grown, gives birth to death.”

James identifies the source of our temptation as our fleshly desires. Our desires are played upon by Satan, not God, hence why each version of Matthew 6:13 either asks God to deliver us from the evil one or from evil itself, which is brought by and personified as Satan.

You know, we give Eve a lot of flack for the whole forbidden fruit thing, but look at all the stuff Satan tempts us with to get us into trouble.

So God does not actively lead us into temptation. I think Jesus is more asking that He not let us be led into trials where we are tempted by Satan proding our desires.

Now, let’s discuss the elephant in the room: why does the KJV have that extra line at the end of the verse?

Alan informed the congregation on Sunday, that this last bit, which isn’t included in more recent and more accurate translations such as the NLT and NRSV, would have been said at the end of prayers in Jesus’s day. This means it would have been a given to Matthew’s peers and audience, which would explain why he didn’t write it down, but it wouldn’t necessarily be a given to the people of King James’s time or ours.

What a beautiful way to end a prayer!

This shifts our focus back to God and who He is. He’s the powerful king who deserves all the glory and who loves and listens to us. We aren’t praying empty words that won’t leave the walls around us. We’re praying to a mighty and caring God.

And it’s important to remember just who God is after talking about our problems because that has the potential to emotionally drain us or give us anxiety. But in turning our focus back to God, we can gather ourselves and see that our problems, regardless of what they are, are nothing compared to God.

The Lord’s Prayer teaches us how to pray, but it also shows us a lot about God and His heart for us. It proves to us that a relationship with God is exciting and requires our effort. God is infinite, and we can only discover new things about Him by engaging Him in His word and in prayer.

By Carrie Prevette

More Than You Can Handle

Everyone has a rough time. No one’s life is perfect and golden and immaculate all the time. It doesn’t matter what someone’s social media looks like. It doesn’t matter if they never volunteer a prayer request at Bible study. It doesn’t matter if someone is always happy and doesn’t stress out easily. Everyone faces difficulties.

I’ve been through things that people have said I was strong for handling well. And I’m sure there are people who wish their worst days were like mine, which are much milder in comparison. People face addiction, poverty, broken relationships, health problems, the passing of loved ones, depression, and so much more.

No matter where you’re at in your journey – be it a mountain top, a valley, or a plateau – the reason you are where you are is because you were given more than you could handle at one point.

Otherwise there wouldn’t be ups or downs, right? Everyone’s life story would be exactly the same. We’d all just float through life until the end. We’d never be overwhelmed by grief or sadness, but we’d never be overflowing with joy or peace either. In a sense, we’d all be stuck in ruts without knowing it or caring that we were.

But doesn’t the Bible say that God won’t give us more than we can handle?

It actually doesn’t. Out of all the twisted verses we’ve discussed, I think this twist is the one I understand the least. You don’t even have to read around the verse to see its full truth. You just have to read all of the one verse.

“The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.” (1 Corinthians 10:13, NLT)

It’s very clear that Paul is talking about temptation, and when we use our twisted version of this verse, we talk about trials. These two are not the same.

I like a good theological discussion as much as the next Philosophy and Religion minor, but that’s not what I want to get into here. Let’s dog ear that conversation to save for some other time. Let’s operate under the Biblical ideas that God is omnipotent (meaning He is all-powerful), is omniscient (meaning He sees and knows everything), and gave us free will.

Some trials I go through are from my own doing. If I get paid once a month and spend all of my money frivolously in the first week, it’s my fault that I’m starving for the rest of the month. Or if a friend of mine stopped talking to me because I was mentally abusive and took advantage of them, that’d also be my fault. Those trials would be mine because of me.

But a hurricane sweeping through and destroying someone’s home is not that person’s fault. Nor is a family member dying of cancer or being a victim of rape or assault. Those awful circumstances are no fault of the person on the receiving end or who is left to deal with everything in the wake of the tragedy.

Temptations always leave us with choices. If I liked to steal stuff, I would be presented with a choice to steal or not every time I went into a store. It might be legitimately hard to resist. Maybe the only employee working hates his or her job and isn’t even around. Maybe there’s a pack of something already open, and who would buy or miss that anyway? Regardless of which way it goes, it’s up to me. It’s the same with every form of temptation.

Although this verse doesn’t mean what we so often say it does, it is a comfort. It’s encouraging to know that God wants us to draw close to Him, so much so that He’ll make a way for us to resist or escape temptation.  It’s encouraging to know that whatever we’re facing is the same as what other people are facing. It’s nice to know that we are loved and not alone.

The next time you’re tempted, know that God empowers you, and because of that, you’re greater than what you face. And if you’re going through a hard time, a trial, know that it may be more than you can handle, but it isn’t more than you and God can handle together. No matter what temptation or trial is in front of you, rely on God because He is faithful.

By Carrie Prevette

Temptation, Lies, and Destruction

One of the smartest things I’ve ever done is take lower level classes as a senior in college. I took a 100-level class for my Philosophy and Religion minor, and I took a 200-level class for my Literature minor. They made my work load lighter and easier to say the least.

The English class I took was British Literature and Criticism (I called it “Brit Lit and Crit”). Basically, we covered research papers, which was admittedly useless in the last semester of my academic career, and all of the famous, dead, white guys a lot of people dread to read.

One of those guys was Milton. We read a few pieces of Paradise Lost, which is about the Fall of Mankind, Eden, and Lucifer. I don’t think the newbies in the class understood the liberties that Milton took in making the story of the fall his own. There’s more about Lucifer and his squad, Eve’s feelings on her role in the grand scheme of the garden, etc., and you won’t find that sort of stuff in Genesis. When I overheard a girl say, “You can just read the Bible instead,” I felt bad for her in regards to how difficult the rest of her English classes would be if that was what she really thought.

I still haven’t read all of Paradise Lost. It’s one of those that I own but haven’t gotten around to yet. From what I have read of it, I do like Milton’s additions and flourishes. They’re thought provoking and make the characters more rounded and interesting. Milton’s take on the fall provides more information on why Eve ate the fruit – how she was feeling and why she was feeling that way, the fact that she did find a talking snake peculiar, and just how cunning and smooth Lucifer is.

I like it because I imagine the temptation had to be strong and crafty for Eve to disobey her Creator, which is exactly how it’s presented in Paradise Lost.

When I think about it, the first temptation was probably the hardest. Imagine the confusion of Eve and the persuasiveness of Lucifer. She went from “Whatever, talking snake. God said no,” to “Hmm. This fruit tastes sweeter than it looks,” in just one conversation.

Satan’s first attempt at temptation was award-winning, and he’s had nothing but time and energy fueled by hatred to perfect his craft.

Temptation isn’t his only livelihood. There’s also lying. Lies played a part in the fall, so Satan knew their power from the start. He knew that when said the right way and at the right time, his lies could hold us back from going down the right path or send us speeding down the wrong one, beat us down so that getting up seems impossible or set us up on such a high pedestal that everything else fades away altogether.

Then there’s destruction. Heaven itself was divided and torn over Satan. If you flip to the last book of the Bible, you’ll find that he’ll leave many things in ruins. At no point between the two events has he taken or will he take a vacation.

Using these three elements, Satan hopes to stop you from living the great life God has for you.

Just as God’s designed an outstanding, amazing life for you, Satan’s developed a plan to try and stop it. Roadblocks and misdirection and strongholds all along the path. Aches, insecurities, doubts, and desires strategically placed to turn you around or make you stop entirely.

It’s the same dilemma Eve faced long ago. Who are we going to believe? What are we going to pursue?

It’s so much easier when we put it like that, right? “Don’t do this,” or “Obviously, do that.” But there’s a big difference between theory and reality in this case. The temptation is pulling at us. The lies are convincing. The destruction can be subtle. It’s easy for me to say one thing when the context of how badly I want something or how truthful it felt or how messy it really is can’t seem to be put into words.

I’ve heard people give Satan too much credit, and I’ve heard people not give him enough. The truth is that Satan is very good at what he does, and what he does is never good. Another truth is that Satan is only as good at his job as we let him be. He only has power if we give it to him.

Those temptations to turn back to the substance that enslaved you to itself and left you alone? They’re compelling, but they’ll ease off if you cling to God.

That voice that whispers how disgusting you are, how irrelevant you are, how you should give up every time you look into the mirror can be silenced if you keep searching for God and finding your worth in Him.

The shambles your life has become can become a masterpiece. You just have to keep your eyes and ears on the Master.

It all takes practice, but that’s what life is for. Practicing for eternity. Taking time to learn what’s right and then taking time to get it right.

I often say that I think John 3:17 is just as lovely (if not lovelier) than John 3:16. It tells us that Jesus didn’t come to condemn us, but that He was sent so that we would be saved. God isn’t condemning you for giving into temptation or listening to the lies or continuing down a destructive path. That’s not His goal or His mission. He wants to save you from it because He loves you, and He hates what all of that is doing to you.

God can make it better. He can help you avoid all of the hurt and terror that Satan wants to put you through. If you stay with Him, you’ll be more than alright; you’ll be great. And there won’t be a single thing Satan can do about it on his own.

By Carrie Prevette

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