Reproclaiming the Everlasting Gospel
Let no one say when he is tempted, 'I am tempted by God.' For God cannot be tempted with evil and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desires. (James 1:13-14)
All through this prayer, Jesus has been painting a picture of his Father, a picture that is at complete variance with the "normal" conceptions of deity.
Our Father, who can tolerate no evil, redeems out of evil up to the status of sons and daughters those who are willing. He establishes his will and his kingdom within them that they might live lives pleasing to him. He feeds his people on the bread of life instead of sucking the life out of his people. He provides the foundation from which his people act as he acts, even to the extent of forgiving our enemies. He is not the dispenser of temptations to prove his people's strength and constancy, rather he is the power that turns us away from our own desires. To those who are willing, He is the proof, not the prover; the advocate rather than the vengeful judge.
I know people who use the preceding phrase, "Forgive us our trespasses…," As proof of the moral imperfectability of man. But here, we are asking for, and expecting, deliverance from the evil one, from Satan. We are asking, "Don't carry me into the test, but remove me from the influence of Satan." We are asking to be renewed into the image of God as in the beginning.
This is not a contest of my strength, my perception of when I am being tempted, my wisdom to determine the way out of temptation. The enemy of my soul is greater than I in all these respects. If I am to depend upon me in this matter, I am sunk. If I am to depend upon the strength of the group, then we are all sunk together. But there is a way out, a way forward.
We all know and we must confess that we have been subject to the man of sin, whatsoever we are now. We have seen the reign and government, the rage and tyranny of the wicked one, that hath led us into rebellion and disobedience to the Lord our maker…they that are under the tyrannical government of satan, have many cries and wishes in their soul, that they were freed and delivered from it, and brought under the government and obedience of Christ Jesus…But may not some say, how shall this great work be wrought?...I am of this mind that nothing but the Almighty Power of God can do it; and when you have come to my experience, to know this as I have done, then I hope you will seek after that and you will see good reason for it; and you will come to this profession, if the Lord puts not forth his Almighty Power, I must then perish, for there is no other power can deliver me. When you come to know this, what must you do? Why you must wait for the revelation of that power that will take you off from all trust and confidence you ever had in anything else…When a man or woman comes to this pass, that they have nothing to rely upon but the Lord; then they will meet together to wait upon the Lord…(Scripture Truths Demonstrated, in thirty two Sermons or Declarations of Stephen Crisp, 1787, p. 150-151, Sermon 14)
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