We are reaching the end of the prayer our Lord gave us and have reached the portion most everyone likes to think of: Deliver us from evil!
Our Father in heaven,
let Your name remain holy.
Bring about Your kingdom.
Manifest Your will here on earth,
as it is manifest in heaven.
Give us each day that day’s bread—no more, no less—
And forgive us our debts
as we forgive those who owe us something.
Lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil (Matthew 6:9-13)
As Albert Barnes wrote:
Deliver us from his power, his snares, his arts, his temptations. He is supposed to be the great parent of evil, and to be delivered from him is be safe. Or it may mean, deliver us from the various evils and trials which beset us, the heavy and oppressive calamities into which we are continually liable to fall.
In his first letter, John wrote:
Dear children, don’t let anyone deceive you. Whoever does what God approves of has God’s approval as Christ has God’s approval. The person who lives a sinful life belongs to the devil, because the devil has been committing sin since the beginning. The reason that the Son of God appeared was to destroy what the devil does (I John 3:7-8)
You know, when we read or say the Lord’s Prayer, it should provide a view of life in God’s family. It comes in three dimensions: devotion, dependence, and danger. When we say, “deliver us from evil” we are asking for protection in the face of the danger that threatens us; and if we are to believe that this plea is to be part of our regular pattern of prayer, then we can presume that our danger is continual. Tome of the Churches prayer books think so:
“O God, who knowest us to be set in the midst of so many and great dangers, that . . . we cannot always stand upright: Grant to us such strength and protection, as may support us in all danger and carry us through all temptation.”
Wow! A little too heady for me, but when you read that, you can almost see an expanded version of ending of this prayer: “For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen!”
Now let’s be honest. In our comfortable routines of life, resting in our La-z-boy sofa with our feet up, we don’t think of ourselves as being in any danger. But we should because we are. Let’s turn back to the Prayer Book again:
“From sin, from the crafts and assaults of the devil . . . from all blindness of heart; from pride, vain-glory and hypocrisy; from envy, hatred, and malice, and all uncharitableness . . . from fornication, and all other deadly sin, and from all the deceits of the world, and flesh, and the devil . . . from sudden [unexpected, and unprepared-for] death . . . from hardness of heart, and contempt of thy Word and Commandment, Good Lord, deliver us.”
Yeah, a tad graphic, but it gets the point across. These are our deepest dangers. The deliverance we need is not only from our horrible circumstances but from the spiritual evil within us which makes both adverse and favorable circumstances a springboard for attack.
The sin in our hearts create all kinds of desires, inclinations, impulses to do other than fulfill our Father’s will and to love something or someone more than Yahweh Himself. This is the source of our danger. We are continually in the danger of being led astray by the evil inclinations that live within our hearts.
This is what Paul was saying in the seventh chapter of Romans:
I am a creature of the flesh, worldly, self-reliant—carnal and unspiritual, and sold into slavery to sin and serving under its control. For I do not understand my own actions, I am baffled and bewildered by them. I do not practice what I want to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate and yielding to my human nature, my worldliness—my sinful capacity.
Now if I habitually do what I do not want to do, that means I agree with the Law, confessing that it is good. So now, if that is the case, then it is no longer I who do the disobedient thing which I despise, but the sin nature which lives in me. For I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my flesh, my human nature, my worldliness—my sinful capacity. For the willingness, the desire to do good is present in me, but the doing of good is not! For the good that I want to do, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. But if I am doing the very thing I do not want to do, I am no longer the one doing it, that is, it is not me that acts, but the sin nature which lives in me . . . (Romans 7:14-20)
Oh man, we do love to quote that! We treasure those words to excuse our surrendering to the dangers we face. However, Paul did not end there:
[T]he law of the Spirit of life which is in Christ Jesus, the law of our new being, has set you free from the law of sin and of death. For what the Law could not do: which is to overcome sin and remove its penalty, its power, being weakened by man’s nature without the Holy Spirit, God did: He sent His own Son in the likeness of sinful man as an offering for sin. And He condemned sin, subdued it and overcame it in the person of His own Son, so that the righteous and just requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us who do not live our lives in the ways of the flesh, guided by worldliness and our sinful nature, but live our lives in the ways of the Spirit, guided by His power (Romans 8:3-4)
There you have it! We so much prefer to think of words in chapter 7 as being BC days (Before Christ). But Paul was not discussing that. He was saying that you, as a believer and disciple of Christ, can surrender to the fear and danger you face, or you can rely on, trust in and fully surrender to the power and influence of the Holy Spirit. Because it is only those who are living according to the Spirit who will set their minds on the things of the Spirit (Romans 8:5). They will pray, “deliver me from evil,” then realize, He already has!
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