Would God Lead Us Into Temptation?

During the Lord’s Prayer, which the Savior gave as an example of how we should pray, He makes the following request:

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil (Matthew 6:13, Luke 11:4, 3 Nephi 13:12).

The words are the same all three times this prayer appears in the scriptures: twice in the New Testament and once in the Book of Mormon.

Nephi taught us that God “doeth not anything save it be for the benefit of the world” (2 Nephi 26:24). Mormon taught that God invites us to do good continually and that it is the devil, not God, who entices us to do evil (Moroni 7:13, 17). Since we know that God loves us and will only lead us to do good, why would we ask Him not to lead us into temptation?

Earlier this year, Pope Francis reportedly authorized a change in the wording of this prayer to be used in Catholic services. Instead of saying “lead us not into temptation,” the new version would say, “do not let us fall into temptation” (“Led not into temptation: pope approves change to Lord’s Prayer,” The Guardian, 6 Jun 2019).

The prophet Joseph Smith made a similar emendation. In the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible, the passage in Matthew reads:

And suffer us not to be led into temptation, but deliver us from evil. (Matthew 6:14, JST).

And the Luke passage reads like this:

And let us not be led unto temptation; but deliver us from evil; (Luke 11:4, JST).

President Russell M. Nelson has commented on Joseph Smith’s revisions:

The clarification on temptation is helpful, for surely we would not be led into temptation by Deity. The Lord said, “Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation” (“Lessons from the Lord’s Prayers,” General Conference, April 2009).

I like President Nelson’s characterization of this change as a “clarification.” The King James Translation is not incorrect, but it could be misunderstood.

For example, when President Henry B. Eyring was a child, he learned a number of principles from the Lord’s Prayer including the following:

I had been taught and found it true that we can be warned of danger and shown early what we have done which displeased God. “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil” (Matt. 6:13) (“Write upon My Heart,” General Conference, October 2000).

Today, I will be grateful for a loving God who wants what is best for me and who is committed to my success and happiness. I will be grateful that His prophets can help me better understand the principles behind scriptural texts and apply them correctly in my life.

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