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TEMPTATION
Question from GERALD BRAUD on 9/22/2001:

dear father:forgive me if i may have the wrong forum and if so please direct me .my question is in "the our father"when we say "lead us not into temption but deliver us from evil amen."would you please explain what this means? i believe that God tests us but not tempts us.Thanks and may God Bless All and EWTN.

Answer by Fr. John Echert on 9/23/2001:

The RSV records the Lord’s Prayer as follows:

6:9 Pray then like this: Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. 6:10 Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, On earth as it is in heaven. 6:11 Give us this day our daily bread; 6:12 And forgive us our debts, As we also have forgiven our debtors; 6:13 And lead us not into temptation, But deliver us from evil.

The Greek text is accurately rendered by the RSV, "Lead us not into temptation" with God understood as the subject. However, we should not understand this to mean that God actively tempts us to sin but that He allows us to undergo testing, including at the hands of the Tempter. In fact, this is precisely what happened to the Son of God who was driven or led by the Spirit into the wilderness, wherein He was tempted by Satan. As we read in the Gospel of St. Mark:

1:12 The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. 1:13 And he was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered to him.

The Father knew that the Son would successfully face down these temptations and in the process, in His humanity, grow stronger by testing and obedience. The same is true for us; God does not allow us to be tested or tempted beyond what we can endure and He allows it only for the greater good that it may occasion, if we remain faithful.

St. Augustine comments upon the Lord’s Prayer and makes a distinction between being tempted and being led into temptation. He understands being led into temptation as meaning temptations which we are not able to resist and so we are asking that we may not, deserted by His aid, either consent or yield to any such temptation. But as to being tempted or tested, he notes that without temptation none can be approved and so we do not seek to avoid all temptations which we may successfully face with God’s grace. By these temptations, one is approved and made stronger in the process. Or, as one author correctly notes, “He who refuses the combat renounces the crown.” Of course, God knows each of us personally and so for one who sincerely prays “and lead us not into temptation” will not be abandoned by God to a test to which one would succumb. ©

Thanks, Gerald

Father Echert

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