“Lead us not into temptation.” – Mat_6:13.
If you ask me to show you a wise man, I will ask you to find for me a man who, morning, noon, and night, offereth to God this prayer. You find him, and you say to me, ” Why, this is a poor man, a mean man, an ignorant man, an obscure man; I asked him some ordinary questions, and he could not answer them. In his hand was a book, and he told me frankly that having no wisdom of his own, he was obliged to make use of that book. And yet you tell me he is the wisest of men. His wisdom multiplied ten thousand times would not equal the wisdom of some that are known to me.” To this I rejoin: Your wise man and mine are alike in one respect. They are exposed to a common danger. They have an enemy whose power enables him to laugh at all the wisdom of man, and whose malignity will bring everlasting ruin upon those whom he subjugates. Woe then to him who is foolish enough to trust in any wisdom of his own. He is daily led into temptation without knowing it, and daily succumbs; and day by day the fetters of the enemy are more strongly riveted upon him.
No man was ever so far advanced in the divine life, as not to need to utter these words. In fact the holiest breathe this petition with the most frequency. And if an angel should be sent from heaven into the midst of us, it would be ever upon his lips.
” This is a world of temptation, and it would be difficult so to dispose of ourselves as never to encounter temptation.” True: and many advantages flow to the Christian from the fact that he is exposed to temptation. His graces are thus strengthened. His self-knowledge is increased. He relies more implicitly upon the word of God. But the tempter knows how to combine circumstances, and so to adapt his wiles to the spiritual state of a man, as at times to bring an unexpected and powerful temptation to bear upon him. With reference to such temptations as these the Christian offers up this prayer. God gives a man the shield of faith and the sword of the Spirit with regard to ordinary temptations, those that he is already familiar with; and gives him a spirit of prayer with regard to others, from which in answer to this prayer, he delivers him. There is one way of dealing with present temptations, and another way of dealing with those that are future. If, relying on our strength of faith, we cease to be apprehensive of new and subtle arrangements by which our affections may become entangled, we are almost certain to sustain damage.
If after all it pleases God to bring the petitioner into temptation, he is not brought into it as other men are. God will indicate, in the trying hour, the way of escape.