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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions
The Small Catechism – part 179

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From the Word: 12 …giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you in that portion of the inheritance of the saints in light. 13 He has delivered us out of the domain of darkness, and transferred us into the kingdom of the Son of his love, 14 in whom we have full redemption: the forgiveness of sins. (Colossians 1:12–14)

From the Confessions: The Small Catechism

The Sixth Petition

And lead us not into temptation.

What does this mean?

God indeed tempts no one to sin, but we pray in this petition that God would guard and protect us from this, that the devil, the world, and our sinful nature may not deceive us or lead us into false belief, despair, and other great and shameful sins, but pray that when we are tempted in these ways, we may finally prevail and gain the victory.

Pulling It Together: It is tempting to merely ask God to deliver us from urges to rebel against authorities, to hurt someone, commit adultery, steal, lie, or desire what belongs to others. Those are petitions for help against temptations to break the second table of the law; but what of the first? We are in danger of breaking the first table when we put another god before the Lord. That false god is self, when we do not fear, love, and trust God above all things.

It is a temptation to imagine we can do something to alleviate God’s wrath for our sin. Who has not feared his retribution, and then tried harder to be good. There is nothing wrong with that, in a general sense. We should try to be good. However, in a specific sense, if we think human efforts appease God, then we have been tempted in the worst possible way. For we are altogether unfit for the task of storming heaven; we are unqualified to a person. God alone qualifies us to receive a share in the eternal inheritance of his kingdom. We do not redeem ourselves; we are redeemed. We are passive in the work of redemption. It is God’s action upon us. To believe that we have a hand in the matter means we fear there is something we must do, that we place at least some level of trust in ourselves. That is tantamount to a violation of the First Commandment. The Father qualifies each of us for Christ’s sake—his only, with no help from you and me. Do not be tempted otherwise.

Prayer: Thank you, Father, for fully redeeming me by means of your Beloved Son. Amen.

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