In a video in December, 2017, Pope Francis claimed that “lead us not into temptation” is a bad translation of the sixth petition of the Lord’s Prayer. However, this is a very accurate rendering of the words of the Lord Jesus in the original Greek.
The Pope made this outrageous statement because he cannot reconcile Christ’s teaching with his own base view of God’s sovereignty. Semi-Pelagianism, which is akin to Arminianism, is Rome’s historic position. However, contemporary Romanism and its Pope have degenerated such that they are more accurately described as Pelagian, which is even further from the truth than the heresy of Semi-Pelagianism.
Francis and the Roman Church believe that man is not totally, but only partly, depraved and so is able to do good works that please God (contra Rom. 3:9-20). According to them, Jehovah loves and wants to save everybody, and so Christ died for all head for head (contra Matt. 11:25-27; Eph. 5:25). Every pleasant thing is grace to all men absolutely and is proof that God loves everybody (contra Rom. 11:7-10).
This is a wicked denial of the biblical and Reformed truth of God’s particular grace and love in His election, Christ’s redemption and the salvation applied by the Holy Spirit (John 17; Rom. 9:6-24; Eph. 1:3-14; I Pet. 1:1-12). It should not be too much of a surprise to Christians that this is the heretical papal position. Even more disturbing is that the views in the previous paragraph are also the teaching of most of Evangelicalism!
For the Roman church and its pontiff, God’s sovereignty is an extremely meagre thing. According to their position, Jehovah could accurately be presented as the great spectator who watches the earth (and weeps!). He does not govern everything in the world and thus He is not truly sovereign at all!
So the Pope reckons that, when Jesus taught us to pray, “lead us not into temptation,” He is wrong, for only the devil leads into temptation. Thus Francis opts for the recent French Roman Catholic false retranslation of the sixth petition, which in English would read, “do not let me fall into temptation.” Thus the alleged vicar of Christ corrects the true Christ! The papal antichrist thinks he knows better than the biblical Christ!
The truth is that the Triune God is absolutely sovereign over all things, including every sin and every temptation. Absolutely everything, including every sin and every temptation, was included in God’s eternal decree
. Yet Jehovah does not approve of sin and is not soft towards it. Instead, He hates it—always, infinitely! Absolutely everything, including every sin and every temptation, occurs in God’s providence
in time. The Most High orders, bounds and disposes all things, whilst always hating sin and punishing it, either in the impenitent sinner or in Christ, the gracious substitute for all those the Father eternally gave Him (John 17:2, 6, 9, 11, 12, 24).
Note carefully that God does not sin or engage in any evil activity. Instead, it is man and fallen angels who sin and break Jehovah’s commandments. Contrary to extreme hyper-Calvinists, God is not the author or doer of sin, for such is blasphemy (Belgic Confession
I:15). Men and demons are the authors and doers of sin.
The Westminster Confession
provides a superb summary: “The almighty power, unsearchable wisdom, and infinite goodness of God so far manifest themselves in His providence, that it extendeth itself even to the first fall, and all other sins of angels and men; and that not by a bare permission, but such as hath joined with it a most wise and powerful bounding, and otherwise ordering and governing of them, in a manifold dispensation, to His own holy ends; yet so, as the sinfulness thereof proceedeth only from the creature, and not from God, who, being most holy and righteous, neither is, nor can be, the author or approver of sin” (V:4).
We need to distinguish carefully. There is a difference between tempting and trying. The devil and his angels (and other sinful human beings) tempt us: they want us to sin because they love evil and wish to ruin us. On the other hand, God tries and tests His people. He does not love sin; He hates it. He does not hate us; He loves us. He uses difficult circumstances to try and test us for our good and to purify us by His grace.
To put it slightly differently, of course, it is God the sovereign Lord who leads us into temptation
, for everything is under His control. On the other hand, Satan tempts us
, wanting us to fall into sin and desiring to destroy us.
Do you have this straight, believer? First, as regards God, He does not tempt anyone (James 1:13); Jehovah tries us and tests us and leads into temptation. Yea, He leads us into temptation in order to try and test us. Second, Satan tempts us, as the one who loves evil and wants our ruin in sin. Third, the authors or doers of sin are fallen angels and fallen humans, who wickedly yield to temptation.
Only in Christ crucified and risen is the believer free from the guilt, punishment and dominion of sin. Only by the power of Jesus’ Word and Spirit is the child of God able to overcome temptation. Thus we pray the sixth petition: “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil;
that is, since we are so weak in ourselves that we cannot stand a moment; and besides this, since our mortal enemies, the devil, the world, and our own flesh cease not to assault us, do Thou therefore preserve and strengthen us by the power of Thy Holy Spirit, that we may not be overcome in this spiritual warfare, but constantly and strenuously may resist our foes, till at last we obtain a complete victory” (Heidelberg Catechism
, A. 127).
Rev. Angus Stewart, pastor of Covenant PRC, Ballymena, N. Ireland