Does God “Lead Us Into Temptation”?

“Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” (Matthew 6:13).

James 1:13 says, “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God,’ for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one” (James 1:13).

That’s true. But the Bible also says, “Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil” (Matthew 4:1).

So God does not do the tempting—he does not put evil desires in our hearts (for he can have no evil desires in his heart)—but he does bring us into the presence of many tests and temptations. “A man’s steps are from the Lord” (Proverbs 20:24).

In fact, every step we take is a step into the presence of temptation. There is no moment of your life that is not a moment of temptation—a moment when unbelief and disobedience is not a possibility.

The Lord’s prayer does not teach us to pray against that kind of sovereign guidance.

What it teaches us to pray is that the temptation does not take us in. Don’t lead me into temptation. Deliver me from this evil that is set before me.

Today I will stand before innumerable temptations. That’s what life is: endless choices between belief and unbelief, obedience and disobedience. But, O mighty God, forbid that I would yield. Hold me back from stepping inside the temptation.

John Piper (@JohnPiper) is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is author of more than 50 books.