In the Sixth Petition, we pray that God would not lead us unto temptation. At first glance, that’s a head scratcher. Why would God want to lead us into temptation? Isn’t He all about giving us the strength to resist temptation? And to ask the good Lutheran question, “What does this mean?”
Luther answers, “God indeed tempts no one; but we pray in this petition that God would guard and keep us, so that the devil, the world, and our flesh may not deceive us nor seduce us into misbelief, despair, and other great shame and vice; and though we be assailed by them, that still we may finally overcome and obtain the victory.”
In their book, “Telling Yourself the Truth”, William Backus and Marie Chapian identify “misbeliefs” as the ridiculous things we tell ourselves. They suggest that misbeliefs are the direct cause of all kinds of emotional turmoil and destructive behavior. Examples of misbelief statements include:
• Nobody really cares about me.
• I can’t be happy unless this or that happens.
• That co-worker is driving me crazy,
• Things have to go right.
• I want it, therefore I should have it.
Jesus would remind us today that if we will know His truths, and if we would speak those truths into our hearts, those truths will set us free. In Proverbs 23:7, the Spirit teaches, “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.”
Paul writes to the Philippians, “Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
The rhythm of Christian living is that day after day we remember that we are the baptized and loved people of God, we look ourselves in the mirror and admit that we have fallen short of the glory of God, and then the Spirit of God floods our hearts and minds with truths that set us free.
Truths that counteract the misbeliefs stated above include:
• God has loved me with an everlasting love.
• I can do all things (that God is asking me to do) through Christ Who strengthens me.
• The blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from every sin.
• Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
• How much more valuable are we than the sparrows, and yet not one of them falls to the ground without God’s permission.
Gracious God, we praise you for who you are, all that you have done, all that you are doing, and all that you promise. Help us in these days to rest in your forgiveness, to live our lives in a way that honors your name, and to do all things you are asking us to do through Christ who strengthens us. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.