Deliver us from evil
- Here we are, brothers and sisters, on the first Sunday of the final month of 2020. It’s December, and the Christmas season now begins.And as God would providentially have it, we are going to be looking at the final petition of the Lord’s prayer,
Matthew 6:13 – And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
- If you might recall, we did a 4 part series last year, around this same time on Fighting Temptations, when we studied Matthew 4 where Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.
And in that series, we covered much about how we must fight temptation. You can find it on the RHC website if you want to go back and listen to that series sometime.
Now, one of the questions that we asked when reading Matthew 4:1 – Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil – was, “How then, can we possibly pray this sixth petition when we know for a fact that the Spirit led Jesus to be tempted?”
And I briefly mentioned then, that this prayer does not mean that we will not be tempted or tested, but that in our temptation, Christ is our deliverer. Today, I will try and answer this question to a greater degree.
The word used for temptation (which is the negative meaning of the word) can also mean testing (in the positive sense). However, in the context of this prayer, the word specifically refers to the negative meaning of trial or temptation, and James 1:2-4 tells us to 2 Count it all joy, my brothers,2 when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
- The aim of my sermon today is to reconcile these two verses, namely Matthew 6:13 and James 1:2 – Do not lead us into temptation & Rejoice when you meet the trial.
- And lead us not into temptation
- James 1:13 – Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one.
The Scripture is clear, God tempts no one. And we must recognise that the first part of this sixth petition is not saying otherwise. As Charles Spurgeon points out, the Lord’s prayer does not read, ‘tempt us not’, but it reads, ‘lead us not into temptation’.
That brings us to a careful consideration of the word – lead. We will start here, but do not forget that the first word of the verse is ‘and’. And ‘and’ is important. But we will come to that in a bit.
lead – to bring, or to carry inward. God is able and often does bring us into a situation where we may be tested or tempted. He Himself tempts no one, but in His sovereignty can ordain and allow for circumstances that can bring a lot of temptation.
And the prayer is that the Lord would not lead us into such situations.
- us again, this petition is not offered for the self but includes your brothers and sisters in Christ. And so, all of the petitions in the Lord’s prayer that caters to my needs, are meant to be prayed for each other.
- temptation – the word, as I mentioned earlier, can mean testing or temptation, or both depending on the context. Now, the reason one is considered to have a negative meaning, and the other positive is because a test is not necessarily an enticement to do evil. A test is more of a way to prove something. Whereas, temptation, is always an enticement to do evil.
For example, I am tested today morning in preaching this word, to see if I will be faithful with the sound teaching and interpretation that is pleasing to God. Here, I’m not particularly tempted to twist scripture, though there may be circumstances where that might not be the case.
Whereas, when I am tempted to spend lavishly on things that do not benefit me, or to lie to my boss, or to steal, or to watch porn, I am being enticed to sin.
And in our context here, it is specifically referring to dangerous situations where we are might do evil.
- So, the one thing that we can establish for certain is that this petition is an appeal to God to refrain from leading us into such temptation.
- And – Going back to the first word of the verse. Like the earlier petition, this too begins with the conjunction ‘and’. So, from asking for the ‘daily bread’, to ‘forgiveness’, and now to not ‘leading us into temptation’ are all petitions leveled in priority in the Lord’s prayer.
In other words, the first three petitions (of the preeminence of God) of the Lord’s prayer lead into the last three petitions of human needs.
Again, Spurgeon is very helpful here when he says that the focus on the preeminence of God awakens in us a recognition of our needs in the provision, mercy for our sins, and preservation from evil.So, ‘and’ is a conjunction here that levels the last three petitions on the same level of human priorities, all in response to the sight of God’s preeminence.
- Now, to answer the question, “Why must we pray this petition when we know for a fact that God can lead us into such situations?”, recognising the nature of the last three petitions joined together by this conjunction ‘and’ might help.Every one of these petitions is contingent upon the reality of the first three – Thy name, Thy kingdom, Thy will.We can pray for a physical need (daily bread) that the Lord may not provide for us, for our good. What we categorise as a specific need may not be something God, in His sovereign will, wants for us. In a similar sense, not everyone whose forgiveness you pray for is forgiven. For, true repentance and forgiving others are vital to be forgiven by God, as we saw last week.And in much the same way, God does not lead us away from every temptation, but He allows His children to go through certain circumstances, but only for our good.How can leading to temptation possibly be for our good? Well, before we go there, let us take a look at what leading into temptation looks like.
- One clear example we have, was when Jesus was led into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.
But temptation, in general, is something we associate with a direct and clear enticement, like pornography, lust, greed, pride, etc.,Here again, Spurgeon is so clear in his exposition that it is so immensely helpful when he draws out some practical scenarios. He begins with poverty. Have you ever thought of poverty as being led into temptation? It’s a perfect example.
Imagine you’re working hard but are unable to make ends meet. You go hungry for days, you and your family, and the tempter brings a lucrative opportunity. An acquaintance of yours runs a really good scam. Someone else suggests that prostitution is a small price to pay to provide for your family. These are not distant stories, beloved.
Poverty does not make one godly, love for God makes one godly.Suffering. Job’s suffering. Yet he went only so far to curse his own birth, but never heeded his friends or his wife, to curse God and die.Prosperity. The afflictions of the rich.Sabbath work.
- In all this, your constant prayer is to be, “Oh Lord spare me from such trial, lead me away lest I am tempted to fall”
You see, brothers and sisters, this is a prayer that recognises the fragility of human resolve. There is no confidence placed here in our strength to overcome sin. We are not to pray, “Bring it on! I’m ready for temptation.”
Instead, we are to constantly desire the path of no temptation.Oh, beloved, I wonder how many circumstances we would be spared from if we constantly offered this petition. One of the ways we overcome temptation is by praying this petition and the Lord leading us away from such situations.
- But deliver us from evil.“Oh Lord, spare me from the kind of affliction Job had. Keep my family safe. However, if it be Your will to give me a similar affliction, be ever-present to deliver me from the evil of denying Your name and Your glory.”“Oh Lord, sustain me in my work. Help us be financially stable. However, if it be Your will to test us in this area today, may your strength preserve us to walk in Your ways and not to sinful gain.”“Oh Lord, do not give me more money than I can handle. Make me neither rich nor poor. But if it be Your will to bring either, holy my hope in your hands that I may not turn to worldly comfort.”“Oh Lord, my friends, and family are planning a trip. Keep me from such situations where I am mocked for my faith, that I may not sin by becoming angry and resentful or faltering in my faith. But if it be Your will to test me here, bring words and grace in haste to rescue me from evil”This is how the sixth petition works. It is the desire of the justified to be kept from evil at all costs. If given the option, the heart of the Christian wants the path of least temptation because he knows what lies in his flesh. The flesh is a beast of hostility toward God, that wages war against the warrior spirit that was made alive in Christ.
He wants to put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires (Romans 13:14).
We do not desire temptation. We desire God.
- One of my favorite words in the English language is the word, ‘deliverer’. I don’t know if it’s the way it sounds when we say it, but it has an air of strength, of power, of victory, of assurance and confidence – Deliverer!The word befits no one better than our Lord.The word ῥύομαι (rhoo’-om-ahee), translated here as deliver basically means to rescue or deliver from danger. However, more literally the word means to “draw to oneself”, or even “to snatch out for oneself”.
In other words, there is a certain way in which this deliverance happens. It is by the Lord drawing us unto Himself. So more correctly, this sixth petition asks the Lord to rescue us from evil by drawing us unto Himself, for Himself.
- Evil – here specifically referring to the pain-ridden consequence of evil, not good.
- Why then, does God allow temptation and test? How can leading to temptation possibly be for our good?
- James 1:2-4 – 2 Count it all joy, my brothers,2 when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
- Jesus taught us in Matthew 18:7 – 7 “Woe to the world for temptations to sin for it is ‘necessary’ that temptations come, but woe to the one by whom the temptation comes!
- Temptations are necessary! Because it is a means by which God tests the faith in order to sanctify the believer, to produce steadfastness and make him perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
Joseph’s words in Genesis 50:20 – As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.
- God entices no one to do evil. Yet He uses the circumstances that tempt us, to sanctify us. Therefore, we are to rejoice when we meet trials.
Our desire is to be free of temptation and to serve the Lord without hindrance. And so we pray, ‘lead us not into temptation’. However, God will allow certain situations to arise where we will be tested. And when we meet those trials, we are not discouraged. We rejoice. For we know the hand of the Lord is at work.
And so, we exercise faith. In that way, we are made perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.