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A Commentary Upon The Gospel According To Saint Luke -St. Cyril

And lead us not into temptation.

O ALL ye who love the divine will, and are enamoured of a blameless life, draw near unto God over all, and say, “Shew me Thy ways, O Lord, and teach me Thy paths.” For all wisdom and understanding is from Him; and the knowledge of all good cometh unto us from above from the supreme throne, as from a fountain; and no man can accomplish any thing praiseworthy, unless he receive the ability from Him. And this He teacheth us Himself, saying, “Without Me ye can do nothing.” He therefore Who giveth to every man all things whatsoever wherein they can justly glory, now leadeth us on to another of those things which are necessary to salvation. For He commands us when we are instant in prayer to say, “Lead us not into temptation.”

With these words Luke concludes the prayer; but Matthew is found to add, “but deliver us from evil.” And there is a certain close connection in the clauses: for plainly it follows from men not being led into temptation, that they are also delivered from evil; or perchance, were any one to say, that the not being led into it is the same as the being delivered from it, he would not err from the truth. But let us consider this: Does the Saviour and Lord of all wish His friends to be cowardly? Are they to be lazy and abject, and in earnest rather in avoiding the contest than in winning; renown? And yet the Spirit said in the book of Psalms, “Be strong, and let your heart be firm, all ye who trust in the Lord.” And the Saviour Himself somewhere saith, “Blessed are they who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” If then He crown with such splendid honours him who is persecuted, and to be persecuted is undeniably a temptation, in what sense does He command them to avoid temptation? For certainly it is not inactivity, and an unprofitable dilatoriness, and a thankless sloth, which render those trained for gymnastic contests successful, and worthy of honours, and the clapping of hands, but, on the contrary, severe toil. Moreover, it is not in time of peace that one sees the man who is well acquainted with the tactics of war, and bold withal, and tried in battle, but he must have shewn himself a hardy combatant against the enemy. And why then does Christ, so to speak, even hamstring those who love Him, by making them say, “Lead us not into temptation.”

To this we reply, gathering after our manner those ideas which are best, that He does not wish His followers to be abject, nor yet indolent in any other way; that He even incites them to courageousness in all things praiseworthy, saying. “Enter in at the strait door: for narrow is the door, and strait the way, that leadeth unto life, and few are they who find it.” There must therefore be in us an unchangeable and manly spirit of ardour: and a mind patient in endurance, such as was that of the blessed Paul, who said, “Who shall separate me from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or the sword?” But even though we be thus minded, and attain to these measures of manliness, yet we must think humbly of ourselves, being “poor in spirit,” according to the Saviour’s word, and not imagine that always and necessarily we shall conquer all temptations. For sometimes an unendurable alarm falling upon the mind of a man terrifies it into abject fear; as also does Satan, who hates whatever is good; and the severity of the temptation unbends sometimes even the most courageous mind. So do the violent and unendurable blows of the waves dash to pieces a firmly built and well-manned ship: and so does a dense mass of darts shot from the hands of the enemy put to flight the most steadfast soldier. No one therefore ought to be over-confident, or rash in encountering temptations, even though he be brave in mind: but rather let us reflect upon the infirmity of our mind, and fear with soberness, lest perchance we prove a cause of ridicule to our tempters, by not being able to bear the brunt of the battle.

Let us therefore pray that we may not be tempted: for it is a thing difficult to escape from, and difficult to most men to endure unto the end. But when the conjuncture summons us of necessity thereto, then indeed, exerting all our strength, we must enter the conflict, and struggle for our souls, nothing fearing, but, on the contrary, calling to mind what Christ the Saviour of all said to us; “Fear ye not them who kill the body, but cannot kill the soul; but rather fear Him Who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” As also that holy apostle who thus wrote, “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: who, when he is proved, shall receive the crown of life, which God hath promised to them that love Him.”

There are however many kinds of temptation; of which two are of universal occurrence, and common and very general. And what these are it behoves us to tell. There are in the world many heresies; false apostles, and false teachers, who gathering the wearisomeness of frigid inventions, and glorying in the arts of worldly wisdom, adulterate the language of the sacred proclamations, and multiply blasphemous words against their own pates: and as the Psalmist saith, “they set up their horn on high, speaking iniquity against God:” yea, and against God the Word the Maker of all, Who, they say, is to be reckoned among those things that were made by Him; and is a servant, and not a son; and a creature, and not the Lord. These, resisting the champions of the truth, persecute those whose choice it is to hold sound doctrine, and who defend the divine glory, and endeavour to crown the only-begotten Word of God with incomparable praises. When therefore any temptation arrive on this account, be not thou found one who throws away his shield, nor a soldier who runs from the battle, nor an athlete destitute alike of skill and courage. Wish not an unseasonable peace, the cause of future ruin; but remember that Christ the Saviour of all said, “Think not that I am come to bring peace upon earth; I am not come to bring peace, but a sword.” And if perchance it happen that the persecutors possess worldly power, fear not the harm they can do thee, nor the danger even of blood, and the risk of life; but remember again the exhortation of the holy apostle, who says, “Therefore let those also who suffer according to the will of God commend their souls to a faithful Creator.” And again, “For let no one of you suffer as a thief, or as an evil doer, or as one busy with other men’s things; but if as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but glorify God on this account.” For it follows as a matter of course upon having to suffer, that we shall justly be accounted worthy of eternal honours. The struggle is not unrewarded; the labour is not in vain; for as Paul said, “God is not unrighteous to forget your labour and your love, which ye have shewed in His Name.” These then are the conflicts ordained for all who fear God, to give the proof of him who knoweth how to endure patiently. For the blessed martyrs are crowned, as “having fought a good fight, and finished their running, and kept the faith.”

Furthermore, other kinds of temptations there are besides this, common, so to speak, to every one, but which happen to each one differently. For as one of the holy apostles said, “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God; for God doth not tempt with evils: neither doth He tempt any one. But every one is tempted, when he is drawn away and enticed of his own lust. And afterward lust, having conceived, bringeth forth sin: and sin when it is consummated bringeth forth death.” A struggle therefore and great danger is laid upon every one, lest he fall into sin, and be led away from that which is seemly, wandering into wrongful deeds. Violent is the force of passions, and there wars against the mind of every one a motley crowd and furious multitude of base pleasures. For some humble men into fleshly lust and filthy lewdnesses; while others lead them to the desire of gain, making their victims lovers of sordid hoards, and drawing them on to every blameful crime. Well therefore does it become us who are exposed to such serious evils, even though as yet we have not fallen into them, to pray, saying, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” For it were good for a man to run his course apart from evil: but if temptation assail, then be brave and unconquerable; rebuke the flesh, put a bridle on the mind, ask aid of God, the safety vouchsafed by power from on high. Be established and confirmed, not feeble, not easy to be ensnared; rather be cautious, and a lover of God more than a lover of pleasure: for then He will aid thee and grant thee victory Who is Saviour and Lord of all: by Whom and with Whom, to God the Father be praise and dominion, with the Holy Ghost, for ever and ever, Amen.








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