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Westminster Shorter Catechism Project

An Exposition of the Assembly's
Shorter Catechism

by John Flavel

Of Godís Leading Us into Temptation.

Q. 106. What do we pray for in the sixth petition?
A. In the sixth petition, which is, [And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil:] we pray, that God would either keep us from being tempted to sin, or support and deliver us when we are tempted

Q. 1. Why is this petition joined to the former with the copulative and?
A. Because it will be but little advantage to have former sins pardoned, and to be left to the power and practice, to the love and trade of sin for the future; Ezekiel 18:26. When a righteous man turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and dieth in them; for his iniquity that he hath done, shall he die.

Q. 2. What is meant by temptation?
A. In general, a trial or probation of what is in us, or of what we will do.

Q. 8. What is meant by temptation here?
A. Temptation to sin and wickedness.

Q. 4. How may we be said to be tempted to sin?
A. (1.) Effectually by ourselves, and our own hearts; James 1:14, 15. But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin; and sin when it is finished, bringeth forth death. (2.) Formally, with an intention to draw into sin; and so we are tempted of the devil; 1 Chronicles 21:1. And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel. Matthew 4:1, 3. Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness, to be tempted of the devil. And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. (3.) Innocently, and blamelessly; and so God is said to tempt; 2 Samuel 24:1. And again the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel; and he moved David against them to say, Go number Israel and Judah.

Q. 5. How many ways may God be said to tempt evil?
A. (1.) By withdrawing his grace, either common or special; 2 Chronicles 32:31. Howbeit, in the business of the ambassadors of the princes of Babylon, who sent unto him to enquire of the wonder that was done in the land; God left him to try him, that he might know all that was in his heart. (2.) By permitting Satan, and wicked men, to tempt; 2 Samuel 34:1. He moved David against them, to say, Go and number Israel and Judah. With 1 Chronicles 21:1. Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David. Matthew 4:1. Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness, to be tempted of the devil. (3.) By presenting occasions in his providence, which he knows will be abused to sin; as in the fall of Adam, the hardening of Pharaoh, &c.

Q. 6. What do we beg in this petition?
A. We beg, that we may not any of these, or any other ways, whereby the holy God may be said to lead into temptation, be led thereinto; Psalm 141:1. Incline not my heart to any evil thing, to practise wicked works with men that work iniquity; and let me not eat of their dainties, Psalm 19:13. Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me: Then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression.

Q. 7. What is meant by evil?
A. Some understand of the devil, but the best meaning is sin, which is the evil of evils, and makes the devil evil, and is the worst of evils the devil can bring upon us, and is usually so understood in scripture; Psalm 97:10. Ye that love the Lord, hate evil, Isaiah 1:16. Cease to do evil. Amos 5:15. Hate the evil, and love the good. Romans 12:9. Abhor that which is evil.

Q. 8. What is meant by deliverance from evil?
A. That if God sees meet to permit us to be tempted by Satan, and the wicked without, or by our own hearts within, to sin; or occasionally, by his providence; that he will not leave us, but undertake for us, that we may not be led into sin thereby, but by his grace be made more than conquerors. Psalm 51:10. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Psalm 119:133. Order my steps in thy word and let not any iniquity have dominion over me. According to his promise; 1 Corinthians 10:13. But God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able. 2 Corinthians 12:9. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee; for my strength is made perfect in weakness.

Q. 9. What is the first inference?
A. T hat sin is the worst of evils.

Q. 10. What is the second inference?
A. That without Godís grace we can never withstand, but shall be overcome by every temptation; 2 Corinthians 3:5. Not that we are sufficient of ourselves, to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God, John 15:5. For without me ye can do nothing.

Q. 11. What is the third inference?
A. That we must do all we can to keep ourselves from temptation, and to engage the grace of God with us in temptation, by prayer, by pleasing the Spirit of God, by looking to Jesus, &c.

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