Tag Archives: temptation

Lead Us Not Into Temptation??

 

Vasili Surikov. The Temptation of Christ. 1872

This summer, my church is doing a “Summer Prayer Challenge,” where we are encouraged to pray the Lord’s Prayer, on a daily basis.

However, I can not keep out of my head the recent decision, some months ago, by Pope Francis to change part of the Lord’s Prayer. For most English-speakers, the controversial phrasing follows the 16th century Archbishop Thomas Cranmer’s translation, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”

The current Pontiff rejects this translation, as it gives the wrong idea, as “it speaks of a God who induces temptation.” Francis contends that God is not pushing me into temptation, to see if I fall, or not.

Back in Thomas Cranmer’s day, King Henry VIII interestingly shared the same view as today’s Pope. Henry probably would approve of the new English version of the prayer from Roman Catholics, “Do not let us fall into temptation,” instead of “Lead us not into temptation.

Francis is not completely without justification for being troubled by the traditional reading. He has in the back of his mind 1 Corinthians 10:13 and James 1:13.

But the Pope’s critics have a strong case to make against him, as the new reading flies against a more strict translation of the original Greek text. The controversy sheds some light on why it is so important to read the Bible more contextually. Daniel Wallace, one of my favorite Bible scholars, who is affiliated with Dallas Theological Seminary, explains why.

Wallace argues that the traditional reading of Matthew 6:13, “lead us not into temptation,” is contextually tied to Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness, just a few chapters prior. In Matthew 4:1, we read that “Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.”

Do you see the connection between Jesus’ prayer that his disciples not be “led” into temptation, and Jesus’ own experience in the wilderness, where he was “led” by the Spirit, to be tempted by the devil?

Perhaps we can just sum up Pope Francis’ decision to try promote the right doctrine, just in the wrong verse…. Well, not exactly the right doctrine, as critics say the change impinges upon God’s sovereignty.

Wallace explains: Leading into temptation is not the same as tempting. God the Holy Spirit led Jesus into temptation, but he did not tempt him. God tests, but Satan tempts.

The new translation decision eliminates the ambiguity and even the apparent absurdity of the text, which makes it easier for some Christians, and inquisitive non-believers, to digest. But in doing so, we miss a very important connection between how we are to think about God’s sovereign rule, and the relationship between the temptation of the Lord, and our temptation to sin, that we experience on a daily basis.

Food for thought.


“Such Were Some of You”: The Language of Christian Identity

Can a Christian ever call themselves a “sober alcoholic?” Or a “non-practicing adulterer?” A “celibate gay” person?

The controversy over the Revoice conference has died down some, but the main topic continues to provoke earnest discussion among evangelicals: Is it ever appropriate to use the terminology of “single” (or “celibate”), “gay,” and “Christian” within the same sentence, to describe some believers? Does such language inherently betray a compromise of a Christian’s identity, as being founded only upon our relationship with Christ? Or even worse, does it wrongly identify a Christian with their sin?

A driver’s license tells us a lot about a person’s identity, but there is a deeper question for Christians: How should a believer “identify” themselves?

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Is the Temptation to Sin, Itself, Sin?

Most Christians know that temptation is what can lead us into sin. However, when we experience temptation, is that experience, in and of itself, sin?

There has been a very lively debate in evangelical theological circles in recent months, on this very question. The occasion for the debate has been the Revoice Conference controversy, the question of same-sex attraction, and how it relates to sexual orientation, lust, and behavior. But the implications are far reaching, as the debate gets to the very heart of how all believers progress in our sanctification.

Sanctification 101: Temptation vs. Sin

As a new believer, back in my teenage years, I struggled intensely, just as almost every high school boy does, with sexual lust. I really needed help in this area, and I got some great advice once at a Christian youth music festival.

The main speaker put it this way: If you see a girl, and you find yourself attracted to her, that is not sin, in and of itself. Instead, that is an opportunity for you to thank God that you can appreciate the beauty of another human being. So, praise God for beauty, but then take your eyes off of that girl, lest you fall into sin! You have been presented with an opportunity to sin, but it is a temptation, for which you can resist, and say no to. In our obedience, God can give us those little victories, as we progress forward in following Jesus, by trusting in the work of the Holy Spirit to transform us.

But if you find yourself drawn to take a second look at that girl, and allow your imagination to run away, then you are in real trouble. That would be lust, and lust would be sin (Matthew 5:27-28 ESV). Resisting temptation at that point is not enough. You must repent of your sin, and seek the Lord’s forgiveness. In other words, there is a clear distinction between temptation and sin, and the two are not necessarily the same. We resist the one, and repent of the other.

That nugget of wisdom has served me well over the years, convicting me at times where I have needed to be convicted of my sin, which is sadly, yet honestly, a continuing difficulty for all Christians, and giving victory at other times, when God gave the strength to say, “No,” and I followed in that obedience.

Sanctification 101 Twisted Around

Strangely though, there are some Christians who seek to turn that simple advice, that I got as a teenager, and flip it on its head. In classic Christianity, marriage between a man and a woman is the sole arena for sexual relations. Any sexual expression, in thought or deed, outside of that, is sin. But a well-intentioned, theological movement, among some Christians, regarding same-sex attraction, in response to challenges from the culture, adds a peculiar, mind-blowing twist.

Apparently, it is not enough for some Christians to reject same-sex relations, either in thought (fantasizing about it) or deed (physically engaging in such behavior). Pay attention to that, as it is important. The teaching goes beyond that.

Consider the words of prominent Baptist theologian, Albert Mohler, (from The Briefing), who gives an otherwise thoughtful, trenchant critique of the tendency to confuse one’s sexual identity with one’s spiritual identity in Christ. He raises some important questions, observations, and cautions, with which I support. Yet despite having a prophetic outlook, and crucial voice in the conversation, in this essay, Dr. Mohler makes this shockingly broad statement: “The Bible identifies internal temptation as sin….We are called to repent both of sin and of any inner temptation to sin.

What are we to make of this?

Repenting of sin, I get. But repentance of temptation?? How does one go about doing that? Was the advice I received as a teenage boy, as applied to thinking about girls, in error?

For such Christians, in a nutshell, the mere presence of same-sex attraction in a person’s life is inherently lust, and therefore, it is inherently sin. Same-sex attraction, awakened by temptation, is surely a disordered desire, a fallen part of human nature, and it can lead to sin, but is it actually sin itself?

Advocates of this view also want to say that all sin is sin, and that same-sex sin is just as sinful as any other sin. But there is a theological inconsistency problem with this view that is very disturbing. You can not have both without twisting what I call “Sanctification 101.”

If you extrapolate that way of thinking out to include all sexual attraction, consistently, outside of marriage, heterosexual as well as homosexual, you reach a very, very strange conclusion. Let me explain, in a few steps, why I believe that this view is misguided at best, a theological error that has far reaching negative consequences, if left unchecked.

It is a lot to unpack, so I will just try to hit the highlights in this blog post, as best as I can. I will put in bold the main points and objections, if you want to skim through first, and come back later to digest. You might put this blog post in the “TL;DR” category. But these are weighty issues where sound bite answers will not suffice. So here we go… Continue reading


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