Alms, Prayer, & Fasting 6:1-18
Temptation and The Evil One v. 13
Let’s be clear right off the top. God never entices us to do evil. Biblically and historically (until about the 17th century) “tempt” meant “test”. In the Old Testament scriptures we see God testing men and (a non-starter) men testing God. A test was meant to bring out the best (or reveal the evil if there was no best). The temptation Jesus was talking about was probably the enticement to deny God in response to persecution. If we were to paraphrase we might pray, “Lord, keep us from the rack.”
The nefarious designer/operator of the rack is none other than “the evil one”. Satan, the “adversary”, is hard at work “seeking to kill and destroy”. Jesus sees us as sheep fully vulnerable to the ravages of this predator. We need divine protection. Jesus says, “Pray for it.” Later, Jesus’ disciple John reminds us that sometimes we need protection from ourselves — “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life” (1 Jo. 2:16) are often quite capable of seeing us self-destruct. So one way or the other — form the outside or the inside — we are conscious of our weakness. In that critical self-awareness our soul cries for help. Only the divine sailor can keep our ship afloat in threatening seas.