Each Year as I prepare for an upcoming confirmation class. I review the six chief parts of Luther's catechism. Since I multitask, I am usually doing other things at the same time. As I read the Sixth Petition of the Lord's Prayer and Luther's Explanation, I was stuck by the timelessness of Luther's Small Catechism. A document that was first published in 1529.
Lead us not into temptation. You all knew that this is the sixth petition. Luther's explanation gives me hope and guidance in these interesting times. "God tempts no one. We pray in this petition that God would guard and keep us so that the devil, the world, and our sinful nature may not deceive us or mislead us into false belief, despair, and other great shame and vice. Although we are attacked by these things, we pray that we may finally overcome them and win the victory." There is great comfort and wisdom in Luther's words.
In the 2017 edition of the Catechism the purpose of this petition is explained this way. "It focuses on the constant attempts of our spiritual enemies to lure us away from God into captivity of sin, and ultimately into unbelief and despair." (Small Catechism, 2017 edition, page 269) The devil, the world, and our sinful nature are always working to destroy faith and hope, which reside in Christ alone. We are bombarded by information from the world that cast doubt on the presence and power of God. We battle with laziness, fear, anger, bitterness, and physical pain which can cause us to isolate ourselves from worship and the study of God's Word. Our nature, steeped in sin, stands as an enemy of the grace of God.
"Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings."
1 Peter 5:8-9
False belief creeps into our life. We are told to be self-reliant. This is a good thing except when it comes to our salvation. We are challenged to question authority. Again, not an evil unless we question the authority of Scripture and the God who reveals Himself through his Word. We are told we need to be tolerant. A good thing unless we start denying the reality and consequences of sinful behavior. We have a God who loves us. He loves us so much He sent His Son to die for us. He gives us guidelines so that we can live in harmony with one another. The commandments of God guide us to richer, fuller, and healthier lives.
Despair leads to destruction of the self. Scripture testifies that there is no hopeless situation. Yet the world tells us that there is no hope. The world teaches that the only thing we can be sure of is our own mortality. God's tells us that the mortal will be clothed with immortality. We have life and hope in Christ our Lord who suffered and died for our sin and rose victorious from the grave. Jesus makes all thing new. We live Christ. This gives each day value. Instead of living in despair we have hope. Our self-worth is tied to the value God has place on your life. You are a redeemed and chosen child of God.
We pray in this petition. The sixth petition is a valuable prayer. God does not tempt us. We pray that when we are attacked by the world, our sinful nature, and the devil that we take comfort in the fact that Christ has conquered the devil. Our sinful nature has been drowned in our Baptism. Christ has overcome the world. He will come again to judge the living and the dead. Jesus has won for us the victory. In Christ we are and always will be victorious.