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Connecting with God (Part III) - Understanding forgiveness and temptation through the Lord's prayer


For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you don’t forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. Matthew 6:14-15

In our last post we promised to continue with a discussion of this verse. When we come to Jesus for our salvation, the forgiveness of our sins is a part of that. But this never, ever means that unconfessed sin is forgiven whether we believe in Jesus as our Savior or not.


If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us the sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:8-9.

Confessing our sin is the first step to repentance. Since "repent" means to change our minds and then turn from, the first step in doing this is to admit or confess sin. This is where Christian teaching has gone wrong. Sin has become pretty unpopular even in the church. Many Christians balk at the idea of calling themselves “sinners." Instead we have turned to words that are not as unpleasant. For instance, mistake has replaced the word sin today. This change has made it much easier to place the blame on anything else but ourselves. When we do this, we are actually canceling out what Jesus did. When we confess—or take responsibility for our sins—it is only then that we are cleansed from them.


So what happens when a believer in Jesus does not repent from their sin which includes the sin of unforgiveness? The simple answer is that we are judged for it. Believe it or not, there is a judgment of Christians. It is called the “Judgment Seat of Christ."


For we must all be revealed before the judgment seat of Christ that each one may receive the things in the body according to what he has done, whether good or bad. 2 Corinthians 5:10

Again, this teaching has been lacking, but God lets us know repeatedly that He will judge His people.


For we know Him who said, “Vengeance belongs to Me. I will repay,” says the Lord. Again, “The Lord will judge His people.” Hebrews 10:30.

The prevalent teaching today is that having a relationship with God requires nothing of us except to be loved by God. This is very sad. There is no healthy relationship that I have ever seen that is so one sided like that! Since our relationship with God is compared to marriage in the Bible, we can easily see how bad this one-sidedness really is. Who would ever want to be married to someone with the attitude that all they need to do in that relationship is receive love? Even governmental programs that give out free stuff have certain requirements that must be met. If this is true, why wouldn’t God require anything from us?


Jesus lets us know that God indeed does require things of us, and one of them is to forgive others. If you struggle with this, God already knows and asking Him to help you forgive is a sure way to overcome the problem. In fact, if confession and repentance are a regular part of our relationship with God, we have no reason to fear His judgment.


But if we judged ourselves rightly, we would not be judged. 1 Corinthians 11:31 NASB

When we understand that we truly are sinners and confess our sins as we come to know them, then humility begins to replace pride and we can walk rightly with God and better understand what He has done for us through His Son, Jesus Christ.


Bring us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the Kingdom, the power, and the glory forever. Amen. Matthew 6:13.

This is the last of the requests that Jesus instructs us to ask of God, and this one seems to be the most confusing. Why would we have to ask for this? Does God lead us into temptation? Yes, it is possible that God will lead us there, but He will never do the tempting Himself. But He does let the devil tempt us!


Let no man say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God,” for God can’t be tempted by evil, and He Himself tempts no one. James 1:13

So if God does not tempt us, why would He allow the devil to do so? In order to understand this, we have to look to Jesus and what He did for us.


Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. Matthew 4:1

And,

For we don’t have a high priest who can’t be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, but One who has been in all points tempted like we are, yet without sin. Hebrews 4:15

Just as Jesus took our sin, He also took our temptations and overcame them. He never gave in. Our prayers to God need to include asking for deliverance from our temptations. We need to ask that we don’t give into them. This is something that I would never have thought of asking before studying the Lord's Prayer. It only makes sense that God will lead us into temptation to see where our hearts are. God will test us. He even says that He will.


You shall remember all the way which Yahweh your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, to test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not. Deuteronomy 8:2

It all comes back to faith. Do we trust what God says about sin? Do we believe that it is bad for us even if it doesn’t feel like it? We need to pray that our hearts are right with God so that we don’t need to be tested by being led into temptation.


After asking to be delivered from evil, Jesus then brings it all back to what really matters. It is all about God’s kingdom and power and glory.


This one little prayer contains everything we need in order to connect with God on His terms which in turn leads us to transforming our lives into one that is focused on what really matters—our relationship with God.


Question:

In what way have you been trying to connect with God on your terms instead of His?



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