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

What is 'evil'?

The word "evil" here is being translated from the Greek word πονηρός (ponēros), which means, according to Strong's lexicon, "full of labours, annoyances, hardships;" and "bad, of a bad nature or condition." The latter definition is further defined with 1) in a physical sense: diseased or blind; 2) in an ethical sense: evil wicked, bad."

In other words, the appropriate meaning of this word in this context is "wickedness." This is when we do something based upon greed - self-centeredness. This is confirmed by Jesus in the Gospel of Mary:
Peter said to him, “As you have told us regarding everything, teach us about the other one: What is the sin of the world?” The Savior said, “No sin exists outside of you: It is you who makes sin. When you do those things such as adultery, this is called sin." (Gospel of Mary 4-5)
Evil is ultimately born from self-centeredness. And self-centeredness is the core root of evil. Self-centeredness is what causes us to act for our own pleasure. For our own reputation or our own wealth or our own future. Self-centeredness is also the root cause of activities that hurt others. The root of evil is self-centeredness.

What is 'temptation'?

The word "temptation" is being translated from the Greek word πειρασμός (peirasmos).

The word πειρασμός (peirasmos) means, according to the lexicon, "an experiment, attempt, trial, proving" and "the trial of man's fidelity, integrity, virtue, constancy."

Thus we can see that Jesus is speaking of being tested. And being tested means having a choice. While the word temptation often elicits the notion of responsibility to someone else - as though someone else is tempting us and we are innocent victims, the reality is that the original word relates to being tested. "trial" and "proving" relate directly to this.

And this is elaborated on by "the trial of man's fidelity." In other words, if a married man is presented by a beautiful woman, this might prompt "the trial of a man's fidelity."

And certainly, one might refer to this as the man being tempted. But what it really is, is a test. The man is being tested. His fidelity is being tested.

This is precisely what Jesus is referring to here - being tested - translated to "temptation."

Why are we tested?

And what is the source of being tested - or temptation here? Why are we tested and what will it accomplish?

For example, children are tested in school. Why? Because they are learning. They are tested for their comprehension of the subject. If the teacher didn't test the kids, the teacher wouldn't know whether the kids were learning anything.

But why are we tested? Surely God knows everything. He knows what we know and what we've learned.

Rather, we are tested to show ourselves where we stand. The tests of this world are meant to show us where we are with respect to our expectations.

Whatever we think of ourselves - these will be tested. When these tests arrive, we will have to make a decision that will ultimately test our self-determination and our level of strength.

Ultimately such tests provide clear indications of where we stand.

The goal of being tested is to help us grow. They also let us know that we aren't as strong as we think we are. They let us know we need God's strength. We can't go it alone.

The fundamental basis of being tested is freedom. We were each given the freedom to love God and live for God, or not. Having such freedom necessitates being tested in order to measure where we are.

This is because love requires freedom of choice. A person cannot be forced to love.

And because of this, the Supreme Being constantly gives us the option not to love Him, and to live for ourselves.

Being tested is a manifestation of this freedom. Temptations are testaments to our freedom. If we did not have the freedom not to love God, we would never be given the choice.

How can we survive 'temptation'?

There is no devil standing on our shoulders tempting us. Temptations are simply consequential expressions of the freedom we have with regard to our relationship with Him.

Jesus' teachings tell us that our only sure safety net is to submit ourselves to the Supreme Being. We can take shelter of Him as our only Refuge from the onslaught of materialism and self-centeredness. Only He can help cure our self-centeredness.

The reason we are here in this physical world of testing in the first place is our rejection of our relationship with God. We chose to be independent of Him. That independence has consequences.

 So we landed in the physical world and took on a temporary physical body.

The entire material dimension, including all the tests here, is the result of this primary, original rebellion.

In other words, we brought this situation upon ourselves. We have no one to blame but ourselves, and the decisions we have made in the past. We must now decide whether we are finished with our rebellion or wish to continue it. Every individual test we are faced with measures our current decision: Do we continue our rebellion or submit to Him?

By praying to God that He lead us not into temptation, Jesus is recommending that we take shelter of the Supreme Being as we are being tested. He is confirming that we cannot do this alone. We cannot avoid or pass through the tests of this world without His help.

When we do take refuge in God, we find that God comes to our rescue.

It is from our humble submission to God that we find our refuge from the storms of this world, and uncover His mercy and His unconditional love for us.

This is the meaning of Jesus' prayer, "but deliver us from evil."