“Lead Us Not Into Temptation”
Let us pray: O Lord Jesus Christ, we thank You, that of Your infinite mercy You have instituted this Your Sacrament, in which we eat Your body and drink Your blood: Grant us, we beseech You, by Your Holy Spirit, that we may not receive this gift unworthily, but that we may confess our sins, remember Your agony and death, believe the forgiveness of sin, and day by day grow in faith and love, until we obtain eternal salvation; through You, who live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one true God, now and forever. Amen.
Grace to you and peace from God, our Father, and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Dear fellow redeemed,
Sometimes the craving originates with something you see. You see a commercial, or maybe at the restaurant, back in the day when we went to restaurants, you would see a delicious burger, and it seems as though it is calling to you, drawing you to get it for yourself and eat up. Sometimes the craving comes from within. I just love donuts. Gas stations have donuts. It would be quite tasty to pick up some every time I fill up on gas. Maybe I don’t have to wait until the tank is near empty. When it’s half full, I’ll go fill up then, and might as well pick up some donuts.
We have those cravings, and it is unwise for us to follow the desires of our bellies.
Temptations to sin are often compared to the food desires of our bellies. James describes it in his epistle, “Each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed.” St. Paul speaks of those who are the enemies of the cross of Christ. He says “their god is their belly” (Philippians 3:19). They set their mind on earthly things, and their end is destruction. Paul isn’t saying there that they eat whatever they desire, but they follow the desires of their sinful flesh.
We see the beginning of this sinful hunger in the temptation of Eve in Paradise. The devil deceived and lied in order to pervert Eve’s appetite for righteousness into a hunger for that which God forbids. Scripture describes her disobedience, “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate” (Gen 3:6).
Since then, we deal with temptation coming from within and without. Again, James says, “Each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed.” We are enticed. We are enticed by the world. The world tempts us to impatience, anger, vengeance, pride, honor, fame, and power. It tempts us to idolize worldly treasures, relationships, and activities.
And then the devil is stirring constantly stirring our appetites for the unholy. He especially agitates our consciences. On the one hand, he entices us to doubt God’s Word, to destroy faith in God and also hope, and love. He does this by making sin seem desirable and justifiable, so that we may enticed to sin and separate ourselves from God. He seeks to lead us to false security and open rebellion on the one hand, or on the other, he would entice us to despair and unbelief, thinking that God could not forgive and love a sinner such as I.
As bad enough it is having these two sources of temptations against us, we have an evil desire within us. That is our corrupted nature that has an appetite for pride, lust, and selfishness.
And so temptations come. Jesus said, “Temptations to sin are sure to come” (Luke 17:1). This is a fact of life. They come from without and from within. Temptations stir up our appetites to bite and commit the sin, to satisfy the hunger of our sinful nature. They come that we may offend God, become separated from Him and His Word, and lose faith and hope in Him.
Jesus came to redeem us with His suffering and death. He saved us that we won’t be destroyed forever. And so that we may not be overcome with temptation and be destroyed, He gives us His Father’s name to run to for safety. He teaches us to pray, “Lead us not into temptation.” This was His desire for the disciples who were with Him in the Garden of Gethsemane. They were weary, but Jesus told them, “watch and pray, lest you enter in temptation.”
Our sinful flesh still loves sin. It still has hunger for it. But Christ has saved us from our sinful flesh and our sins, and from the separation from God we had because of our sins. We had been drawn away from God because we have fallen into temptation and sinned against Him. But Christ, who was tempted in every way as we were but remained without sin, is our righteous Savior. By His cross He saves us and gives us everlasting life. In the fifth petition, we ask for forgiveness, and He has graciously forgiven our sin!
He has freed us from sin, that by the regenerative work of the Holy Spirit, we are new creatures in Christ our Savior. We are no longer under the power of sin, but are under the grace of Christ, our Lord.
And so being forgiven of our sins, our new creature in us, desires to remain free from sin! We put to death the flesh through repentance, and through the renewing power of the gospel of our risen Christ we live in newness of life, hungering to do God’s will. We deny ourselves and the appetites of our bellies, and seek to do what is good and holy. And one things Christ has given us to help us with this is prayer, “lead us not into temptation.”
We cannot stand on our own. We would surely fall. But, through prayer and faith, we find refuge in God and His Word. To Him we flee when temptation comes. He is the way out. And if, or rather when we tragically and daily fall, God remains our refuge, and we still run to Him, for in Him we have forgiveness and restoration, so that our sins cannot harm us forever. But rather we are cleansed.
And so, we have this new appetite, this new hunger for that which is godly. We have a hunger to do God’s will, but also a hunger for the forgiveness of Christ, because that is the fix for what is wrong in us.
And this is why we also ought to have a hunger for the Lord’s Supper. This Supper is the Lord’s last will and testament. He established it for us, and He will us to partake of it for our eternal good. And so it is our Sin brings us guilt and separates us from God. The Lord’s Supper is a very special application of God’s grace to you. For surely, the holy gospel forgives your sins. And keeping this gospel in faith, you are reconciled to God and made His dear child. Though the Lord’s Supper doesn’t give you anymore forgiveness or salvation that the Word of God gives you. They both give you the fullness of Christ’s salvation, but there is a special comfort given you in the Lord’s Supper
Jesus institutes for His Church the Sacrament of the Altar in the upper room the night He was betrayed. He instituted this meal, giving us as food to eat His true body, and for us to drink His true blood. In these He grants us the remission of our sins that He has won for us by that very same body and blood. The body and blood of our holy and righteous Lord given on the cross, is given for you to eat and drink, to cleanse you of your sinful flesh and of every time that we have fallen into temptation. The Early Church Father Ambrose aptly describes his hunger for the Sacrament, “Because I always sin, I ought always take the medicine.” You can also read Luther’s 20 Christian Questions and Answers and see there too, what hunger we ought to have for the Sacrament.
But also consider the other added comfort in the Supper. The end of temptation is to draw us away from God, but God, in the Sacrament, draws us to Himself forgiving our sins. Christ, our Life, our Light, our crucified and risen Redeemer, gives us His true body and blood for us to eat and drink. He dwells in us, and unites us to Himself intimate communion.
And so, may God grant us all a hunger for the Sacrament, whether you took it last week, or whether you are fasting from it for a time for the sake of safety, or whether you are a child waiting for the day to partake of it.
Thanks be to Christ, our Savior, who out of His abundant grace, has atoned for our sins, and reconciles us to Himself, and gives us the fullness of these blessings not just in one way, but pours out His grace upon us in our baptism, through the Word, and in the Holy Supper. Amen.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, forevermore. Amen.