“Lord, Teach Us To Pray” (Pt. 8)
Aug. 23, 2018
We do not have to look very far to find things that deeply disturb, disgust, and make us mad regarding things taking place in this world. Some of these are ongoing problems like abortion, rape, murder, and crime in general. Others are apathy, selfishness, and sexual promiscuity. We see a broken world every which way we look that causes us, as Christians, sorrow and grief. There is an unmistakable coarseness that runs throughout our culture that was not there just a few decades ago.
A few months ago, upon the death of former First Lady Barbara Bush, a college professor expressed joy at her death, and mockingly laughed saying nothing would be done to her for her actions and she was right. We saw similar sentiments shared when Billy Graham died last February as some expressed gladness that this homophobic bigot had finally succumbed to death. Further, we heard of a bill, earlier this year introduced in California that would ban the sale of the Bible labeling it as “hate speech.”
In light of these things, and many others, I ask the question “What is evil?” As believers in Christ we would say yes the things mentioned above are evil, but what about for someone who has a different worldview? Maybe they believe these things are good. Have you noticed, in recent years that there are fewer and fewer things that are universally viewed as evil? It took something on the scale of the 9/11 attacks to get both political parties, for instance, to come together and condemn what happened as evil, but at the same time the Muslim world was largely pleased with what took place referring to it as justice and judgment coming upon America for its greed, immorality, and overall waywardness.
Confusion abounds in this present world, but confusion about such basic things as right and wrong; good and evil are nothing short of astounding! Within the context of God’s impending judgment against sin in Isaiah 5, he spoke through the Prophet saying “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (Is.5:20) Notice what is being said here. Some are so deluded in their thinking/reasoning that they think what is evil is good and what is good is evil; who also think darkness is light and light is darkness; who also think bitter is sweet and sweet is bitter. How can this be? It is probably impossible to understand what is being said here in Isaiah without understanding the sinful human heart that is enslaved by Satan until/unless a person’s heart is controlled by Jesus Christ. Isaiah says in chapter 53 of sinful humanity “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” (Is. 53:6) When we realize who and what we are as sinful human beings we must call out to God for help. When we pray we are to be reminded of our helplessness and utter dependency on God for, among other things, deliverance.
The next phrase in The Lord’s Prayer is “Deliver us from evil.” The evil one exercises control over this world and its system and he manipulates everything for his purposes. He has control over countless lives. In 1974 Heiress Patty Hearst, age 19, was kidnapped by the Symbionese Liberation Army who brainwashed her and she became sympathetic to their cause even engaging in bank robberies. When someone has control of you, it is not unusual, but rather expected, that they will start to manipulate you for their own purposes. Maybe someone would say, I am my own man/woman and no one can control me. My will is strong. Christians, of all people, should understand this pathetic logic. A few years ago a series of articles came out giving statistics about the long-term results of a variety of popular weight-loss products and programs. The report was very bleak. People are overwhelmingly controlled (held hostage) by their desires and the appetites of the flesh and their wills are not strong enough to overcome the power/pull/influence of their flesh. Believers have known about the failing nature of “will power” since Genesis 3 when mankind fell.
The “Evil One” from whom Jesus teaches his followers to seek deliverance, reigns over this broken world and its system. The name “Satan” means “adversary.” He indeed is our adversary and is adverse to anything that will do us good and in favor of that which will do us harm. The name “Devil” means “slanderer.” You get mad when other people talk bad about you behind your back, but it is nothing compared to what Satan does! Revelation 12:10 says “Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, ‘Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down.’” We know what the end will be for Satan (he will be cast down/destroyed) but in the meantime, we need to be wise where he is concerned. Satan loves to fool people and lead them down a path into deeper and deeper sin and further and further away from God and His design. I wonder how many times we have provided joy and satisfaction for Satan because of our sins that we love so much? A. W. Pink writes “Satan’s favorite device is to incite or to deceive us into a prolonged self-indulgence in some one sin to which we are particularly inclined. Therefore, we need to be in constant prayer that our natural corruptions may be mortified. When he cannot cause some gross lust to tyrannize a child of God, he labors to get him to commit some evil deed whereby the name of God will be dishonored and His people offended.” (A. W. Pink; The Lord’s Prayer; 72)
Satan will do whatever it takes to keep you captive and within his control. Second Corinthians 12:14 tells us “For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light.” Jesus was well aware of how Satan worked. He had seen it, and even in His humanity, experienced it when He was tempted in the wilderness (Mat. 4). It is because He knew how essential it was to pray for “deliverance” from the evil one.
Deliverance from the evil one is by God’s grace. Paul wrote to the Ephesians in 2:1-9 explaining the incomparable power of God’s grace and the inability of man’s own strength or power. Satan had a stranglehold on us, but Jesus broke that power at the cross! “To deliver us from the evil one” should be a part of our daily prayers just as Jesus taught. We need to constantly be asking God to put a hedge of protection around us, our family, our church, our pastor/staff/leaders, and others. We must remember victory over Satan (Christ’s victory) only came through the power of God. It was never man’s power. We are to pray (tap into the power of Christ’s victory over Satan). Paul wrote to the Colossian church “Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth; fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.” (Col. 3:5) Romans 13:14 says “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the flesh to fulfill its lusts.” Peter warned in 1 Peter 5:8-9 “Be sober, be vigilant; because you adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.” (1 Pet. 5:8-9) John tells us how we should be living like those who have been “delivered” by God from darkness to light. He writes “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life – is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.” (1 John 2:15-17)
Satan was very real, and particularly obnoxious to Martin Luther. He wrote a lot about the devil and how Satan worked against him every step of the way as he tried to live for Christ. In his famous hymn “A Mighty Fortress is Our God,” most of the song is devoted to this struggle between Satan’s influence and God’s power in life. The first stanza says “A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing; Our helper He amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing; for still our ancient foe, doth seek to work us woe; His craft and power are great and armed with cruel hate, on earth is not his equal.” The second stanza says “Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing; were not the right Man on our side, the Man of God’s own choosing; Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus it is He; Lord Sabaoth His name, from age to age the same, and He must win the battle.” The third stanza says “And tho this world with devils filled, should threaten to undo us. We will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph thro us; the prince of darkness grim, we tremble not for him; His rage we can endure for lo his doom is sure; one little word shall fell him.”
We have been delivered from the evil one in the most ultimate sense (our salvation). Even with the knowledge of this truth, we forever pray, “Deliver us from evil” as we seek to live for God and not for the sins of the flesh.
Dr. Allen Raynor, Pastor