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26. Deliver Us From The Evil One (Matthew 6:13)

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And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.

Matthew 6:13 (NET)

The Lord’s Prayer is meant to be our pattern of prayer. Often, we struggle with what to say when coming to God in prayer. Christ’s sample prayer helps us with this. With each of the six petitions, we are called to add our own words and thoughts. The first three are concerned with God: his name, kingdom, and will. The last three focus on our needs: bread—referring to our physical and spiritual needs—forgiveness of sins, and finally, deliverance from the evil one.

In the fifth petition, forgive us our debts, we focused on past sins. In the last petition, deliver us from evil, we focus on future sins. In the fifth, we asked for forgiveness from actual sins. In the last, we ask to be delivered from potential sins.1

In this study, we will consider the last petition of the Lord’s Prayer—lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.

Big Question: What does the final petition of the Lord’s Prayer mean and what are its applications?

Do Not Lead Us into Temptation

Interpretation Question: What does the petition “do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one” mean?

The sixth petition is probably a form of parallelism.2 Deliver us from the evil one is another way of restating do not lead us into temptation. Some versions translate “evil one” as “evil.” Both are correct translations, and there is really no consensus on which is better. There is probably a nuance of both— “evil one” and “evil”—in the word.3 We need to be delivered from not only Satan, but also from evil in our flesh and in the world, and we must recognize that God is the only one who can help us.

This petition provokes some hard questions: How can we ask God to lead us not into temptation? Isn’t that a foregone conclusion? James 1:13 says, “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted by God,’ for God cannot be tempted by evil, and he himself tempts no one.” God does not tempt anyone. He is holy and just. Therefore, why does Christ encourage us to ask God to not lead us into temptation?

People have reconciled the petition in different ways:

1. Some reconcile the petition by translating the word “temptation” as “test.”

In English, the word “temptation” has a negative connotation. It means to “entice to sin.” However, in the Bible, that is not necessarily true. The word is neutral. It also can be translated as “test.”4 When used of Satan’s testing of people, it is translated “temptation.”5 However, since the context is prayer, many would argue for translating it as “test,” since God will not tempt anyone. The Good News Bible actually translates it, “Do not bring us to hard testing.”6

God will not tempt us, but he certainly will test us. We get a good picture of this when God approached Abraham and told him to sacrifice Isaac. Genesis 22:1 begins with, “Some time after these things God tested Abraham.” God tested Abraham to see what was in his heart. Did he truly love God more than his son? Was God truly first in his life? As with Abraham, God often tests us in areas that are closest to our heart—areas that we are most tempted to put before him. Are we passionate about some hobby? Are we consumed with our appearance or some relationship? Often, that is where God will test us. We must always guard our hearts against any type of idolatry—anything that might come before God.

Another prominent test in Scripture is when God tested Israel in the wilderness after delivering them from Egypt. There he allowed them to hunger and thirst. Deuteronomy 8:2 says: “Remember the whole way by which he has brought you these forty years through the desert so that he might, by humbling you, test you to see if you have it within you to keep his commandments or not.”

God tested them for many reasons: (1) He wanted to change them. Moses said that God humbled them through the testing. Pride keeps us from God and his blessing. James 4:6 says, “‘God opposes the proud, but he gives grace to the humble.” Literally, God fights against the proud. Pride shows up in our being independent from God. We don’t rely on his Word, his saints, or his presence. But when God humbles us, we realize that we need him, and we therefore draw near him more faithfully. Humility is the place of blessing. God humbled Israel in the wilderness by their hard circumstances. (2) He also tested them to know what was in their hearts. It is not that God didn’t know. He did. The trials really revealed Israel’s heart to themselves. In the wilderness, they complained, which showed they really didn’t trust God. They desired to go back to Egypt—which showed their love for the world. They also began to worship idols and practice sexual immorality—revealing how they loved sin and not God’s Word. Testing does the same for us. It is gracious of God to show us what’s in our hearts, so we can repent. We need trials to keep us humble and help us rely on God. And when he allows them, Scripture calls us to rejoice because we understand their purpose. James 1:2-4 says:

My brothers and sisters, consider it nothing but joy when you fall into all sorts of trials, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect effect, so that you will be perfect and complete, not deficient in anything.

With that said, though we should rejoice in trials and be faithful in them because trials help mature us, we should not pray for them or seek them out. In fact, we should ask God to deliver us from them. One would think this would not need to be said, but at times, throughout history, believers have developed a martyr spirit. In understanding the grace and blessing of trials, they would seek to be persecuted or would create trials that humbled them. I remember meeting a professing Christian in college that walked around with rocks in his shoes, as a way of taking up his cross for Christ. This is not a biblical understanding of trials. We should ask God to deliver us from them—not create them. When God allows them, we should rejoice and persevere in them. We certainly should continue to ask God to remove them, if that be his will, but whether he does or not, we must remain faithful in them.

However, others reconcile the petition of “do not lead us into temptation” in a different way.

Application Question: What things has God revealed about your heart through experiencing certain tests?

2. Others reconcile the petition by recognizing God’s sovereignty over all temptation and evil.

We get a good picture of this in the story of Job. In Chapter 1, God boasted to Satan about how faithful Job was. Satan replies, “Of course he is faithful, you have put a hedge of protection around him” (v. 10 paraphrase). He then challenges God to strike all that Job has, saying that Job would surely curse God because of it. God agrees and says: “All right then, everything he has is in your power. Only do not extend your hand against the man himself!” (1:12). God allows Satan to both test Job and tempt him to curse God. The only regulation was that Satan could not touch Job himself. Job lost his children and his wealth but still didn’t curse God. Chapter 2 is similar: God boasts about Job, and Satan challenges God to strike his flesh and bones, assuming if God did this, Job would curse God to his face. God replies, “All right, he is in your power; only preserve his life” (2:6). In this scenario, the only stipulation was that Satan not kill him.

God Limits Our Temptations

With each temptation/trial that Job went through, God set the limits on Satan—to not touch his body and later to not take his life. Similarly, God holds the temperature gauge on each trial and temptation we may encounter. He will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we are able to bear. First Corinthians 10:13 says:

No trial has overtaken you that is not faced by others. And God is faithful: He will not let you be tried beyond what you are able to bear, but with the trial will also provide a way out so that you may be able to endure it.

The ability to escape or endure often is accessed by taking advantage of the grace available to us, such as: the fellowship of the saints, God’s Word, prayer, serving, etc. For most of us, we will never encounter something like Job, because we would not be able to bear it. God reserves his greatest trials for those he has sufficiently prepared.

It must be noted that in both tests, Job was tempted by the devil to curse God, but only after God gave Satan permission. In one sense, it could be said God “led” Job to temptation by allowing him to be tempted. This reflects God’s sovereignty over evil.

Contrary to Dualism

Sometimes dualistic thought has crept into the church. Dualism teaches that in this universe there are two equal opposing forces—one for good and one for bad. In Christianity, this might reflect an eternal battle between God and Satan. However, Scripture does not teach this. Satan is not equal to God—nor is he eternal. Satan is a created being who depends upon God to exist just as all created things (cf. Col 1:17, Heb 1:3). He is a dependent creature and, therefore, to some extent, must submit to God. This is clearly displayed in the story of Job.

Further Examples

When considering the rest of Scripture, we see other times where God uses Satan for his eternal purposes—including the sanctification of believers. For example, in 1 Corinthians 5, Paul encourages the Corinthians to hand over a man having sex with his father’s wife to Satan. This handing over seems to represent excommunication from the church. When a believer is no longer functioning as part of the body, it opens the door for Satan to attack and tempt him more fully. First Corinthians 5:4-5 says,

When you gather together in the name of our Lord Jesus, and I am with you in spirit, along with the power of our Lord Jesus, hand this man over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.

What was the purpose of handing over this man to Satan? It was redemptive, as all discipline should be. This would allow for the destruction of flesh—probably referring to physical suffering (cf. 1 Cor 11:30) or experiencing the consequences of unbridled sin (cf. Lk 15:11-32)—so that the offender would ultimately be saved—representing repentance.

Another example of this would be the Holy Spirit leading Christ in the wilderness to be tempted by the devil (Matt 4:1). Again, God’s purpose in allowing this temptation was not for Christ to fall into sin, but for Christ to be made strong by persevering through it. Hebrews 2:10 says Christ was “made perfect” through what was suffered. To be our faithful high priest, he had to be able to relate to us and understand our suffering and temptations (cf. Heb 4:14-16). Therefore, his experience of temptation by the devil was necessary for him to save us completely (cf. Heb 7:25).

Application Question: What can we discern about God’s purpose in allowing temptations and trials?

(1) God’s purpose in allowing temptation and trial is never for us to fall into sin. That is Satan’s desire, but not God’s. Again, God cannot be tempted, nor does he tempt anyone (Jam 1:13).

(2) God’s purpose in allowing temptations and trials is to make us stronger and more faithful. If we resist temptation and persevere through the trial, we will grow closer to God, be more faithful to him, and be more equipped to help others (cf. James 1:2-4, Rom 5:3-4, 2 Cor 1:3-6). God’s ultimate desire is to bless us and not curse us through trials. After Abraham passed the test of offering his son, Isaac, God confirmed his previous promises and promised to bring the messiah through his lineage. After Job passed his test, God blessed him with double blessings. When Christ passed the test in the wilderness, God empowered him through the Spirit to begin his ministry.

(3) God’s purpose in allowing temptation and trials is to reveal what is in our hearts. Do we love God more than sin? Will we obey him no matter the situation, even if it leads to our pain? What do our responses to trials say about our heart and devotion to God?

Application Question: How do you understand the controversial petition of “do not lead us into temptation”? How should we reconcile this petition with God’s goodness and holiness? Share a trial that God allowed in your life and how God used it to mature you and bless you.

Deliverance from Evil

Application Question: How can we be delivered from evil or the evil one?

The word “deliver” is a very aggressive word in the original language. It can also be translated “to snatch.”7 We are asking God to snatch us from the clutches of evil. As with praying for our daily bread, God’s usual way of providing is not by miraculous means. When we pray for our daily bread, God may choose to provide food by ravens or to multiply bread, but not normally. God provides opportunities and strength to work, and through working and earning a wage, we provide bread for ourselves. It’s the same with being delivered from evil. Sometimes, it may be miraculous, but most times, God works through our prudence and diligence, as we take advantage of his means of grace. Therefore, we must ask, “How can we be delivered from evil?”

1. To be delivered from evil, we must consistently pray for deliverance.

Before Christ went to the cross, he told Peter and the disciples that Satan had asked to sift them like wheat (Lk 22:31). He also told them that they would all fall away from him. After this, Christ took Peter, James, and John—the leaders of the disciples—to pray with him in the Garden of Gethsemane. He says to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation” (Luke 22:39). Christ told them they were going to deny him, but he provided a way of escape (1 Cor 10:13)—prayer. In fact, they needed to not only pray but to specifically have an intense, fervent time of prayer. Christ told them to pray for an hour (Mk 14:37). They needed both quality and also a significant quantity of time with God. No doubt, we often fall into temptation because we are not faithful in prayer. Like the disciples, we sleep, work, or entertain ourselves, when we should be praying. This is part of the reason the Christian church, in general, is so weak and ineffective. Increasingly, prayer meetings are being removed from the church or sparsely attended. The church no longer prays. If we are going to conquer evil in our lives and in society, we must be people of prayer. We must pray for protection from the evil one, to be set free from besetting sins, and to be kept from trials that might overwhelm us.

Application Question: In what ways do you incorporate petitions for spiritual protection into your prayer life?

2. To be delivered from evil, in humility, we must recognize our weakness and vulnerability to it.

On our own, we cannot defeat the pull of sin in our flesh, the attraction of the world, and the power of the devil. These temptations are too strong for us—we need God’s grace.

Again, this is where many Christians fail. They unwittingly think they are too strong or live as though they are. Because they are so “strong,” they open the door to sensual music and TV shows. They surround themselves with those who are not serious about God and aren’t seeking to obey him. They are “too strong” and therefore that makes them weak.

Part of growing in spiritual maturity is recognizing our weakness. Paul said that nothing good dwelled in his flesh (Rom 7:18), and he called himself the chief of sinners (1 Tim 1:15). He recognized his great weakness, and that is what made him strong.

It was Peter’s boast, “If they all fall away because of you, I will never fall away!” that made him weak (Matt 26:33). He boasted in his strength to withstand temptation, and then he not only denied the Lord but also began to swear like the world to prove he didn’t know him (Matt 26:74). First Corinthians 10:12 says, “So let the one who thinks he is standing be careful that he does not fall.”

There is nobody who is not vulnerable. Because Moses disobeyed God, he was forbidden from entering the promised land and died outside its boundaries. The last story we read about Noah, the man who walked with God and was saved from the flood, was him being drunk, naked, and shamed by his son. David, a man after God’s own heart and the ideal king of Israel, in a moment of weakness, committed adultery and then had the husband, one of his best friends, killed. These stories are included in the Bible as warnings for us. Everybody is vulnerable to the temptation of sin! That is why Scripture commonly calls us to “flee sexual immorality,” “flee youthful lusts,” and “avoid all appearance of evil.” We are extremely vulnerable, and that is why we must constantly pray, “Lord, deliver us from evil.”

Application Question: How can we know if we are “too strong,” which ultimately makes us weak and vulnerable to spiritual attack? How have you experienced pride coming before the fall?

3. To be delivered from evil, we must understand that we are not alone.

The “us” implies that Satan is not only attacking us individually but also others. First Peter 5:8-9 says,

Be sober and alert. Your enemy the devil, like a roaring lion, is on the prowl looking for someone to devour. Resist him, strong in your faith, because you know that your brothers and sisters throughout the world are enduring the same kinds of suffering.

Peter says that one of the ways that we resist Satan is by remembering that other believers are undergoing the same sufferings. We must understand that we are not in this battle alone and, therefore, must rely on other saints. We must seek their counsel, accountability, and prayers. When Christ was weary unto death before going to the cross, he called his most trustworthy disciples to pray with him for an hour. We should similarly ask others to continually pray for us and with us when going through difficulties or struggling with sin. This means we must be transparent and open with others. Sadly, many are not. They are too ashamed to share their struggles, and consequently, their struggles only deepen.

In addition, we must not only seek support from other believers but also provide the same for them. We should pray for hedges of protection around our friends, family members, churches, and nations. We must constantly pray for other believers. After stating the various parts of the armor of God that believers must put on to stand firm in spiritual warfare, Paul calls believers to always be alert and keep on praying for all the saints (Eph 6:18). This is part of our duty in warfare. Christ prayed this way in John 17:15, “I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but that you keep them safe from the evil one.” We must continually pray this way for others as well.

We must understand that it is the Christian who is all alone—unsupported and not supporting others—who is most vulnerable to the evil one. They attend church but have no accountability, no mentorship, no one to be transparent with, and the enemy has a field day with them. Let this solo spirit not be in us.

Application Question: Why is supporting others and receiving support so important in being delivered from temptation and evil? Share how someone supported you and helped you get free from some besetting sin.

4. To be delivered from evil, we must be committed to God’s Word.

Though not referred to in this petition, it certainly must be practiced if one is going to conquer temptation and evil. David declared, “I have stored up your word in my heart, so I will not sin against you” (Ps 119:11). It was by studying, understanding, and memorizing God’s Word that David conquered sin and temptation in his life. Similarly, when Christ was being tempted by the Devil in the wilderness, he always responded with Scripture (Matt 4). We must do the same when tempted. If we don’t know God’s Word, we won’t be able to recognize or conquer temptations that come our way.

Being in a Bible preaching church that teaches the whole counsel of God is a great protection for believers. Daily meditating on God’s Word gives believers power to stand against the evil one. Studying the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, understanding its major doctrines, and memorizing it, and not just skimming Psalms and Proverbs for encouragement, is a tremendous grace for believers. It will enable them to stand in trials and temptations.

Application Question: Why is the Word of God so important in spiritual warfare? In what ways have you experienced conquering sin and temptation as you have faithfully studied and internalized God’s Word?

Doxology

Most older versions of the Lord’s Prayer add the doxology, “for thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.” Newer versions typically add it in brackets or place it in the footnote section, as it lacks manuscript support—being that it was not included in the earliest and most reliable manuscripts.8 Since Jews typically ended prayers with a doxology9 (and probably because “deliver us from evil” seems to be a rather abrupt ending), a scribe most likely modified David’s doxology in 1 Chronicles 29:11 and added it to the Lord’s Prayer around the second century, as a part of the church’s liturgy.10 First Chronicles 29:11 says, “O Lord, you are great, mighty, majestic, magnificent, glorious, and sovereign over all the sky and earth! You have dominion and exalt yourself as the ruler of all.”

It is a beautiful and biblical doxology worth praying, as it focuses on God’s preeminence—though it was probably not in the original.

Application Question: Did you grow up memorizing the Lord’s Prayer with the doxology attached? Should people pray it, even if it is not in the original?

Conclusion

In line with the final petition of the Lord’s Prayer, Jude 1:24 says, “Now to the one who is able to keep you from falling, and to cause you to stand, rejoicing, without blemish before his glorious presence.” God is able to keep us and present us without fault; however, much of this grace is only given when we faithfully cry out, “Lord, do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” Prayer is key to spiritual protection and spiritual victory. It’s a recognition of our weakness and God’s strength. As we pray this, may the Lord aggressively snatch us out of the clutches of habitual sin, the draw of the world, and the traps of the devil. May we faithfully pray this for our own good and that of others.

Copyright © 2019 Gregory Brown

Unless otherwise noted, the primary Scriptures used are taken from the NET Bible ® copyright © 1996-2016 by Biblical Studies Press, L.L.C. All rights reserved.

Holy Bible, New International Version ®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®) Copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, Copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

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All emphases in Scripture quotations have been added.

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1 Towns, Elmer L. Praying the Lord's Prayer for Spiritual Breakthrough (p. 167). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

2 R.C. Sproul. The Prayer of the Lord (Kindle Locations 797-800). Kindle Edition.

3 Green, M. (2001). The message of Matthew: the kingdom of heaven (p. 101). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

4 MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1985). Matthew (p. 395). Chicago: Moody Press.

5 Morris, L. (1992). The Gospel according to Matthew (p. 148). Grand Rapids, MI; Leicester, England: W.B. Eerdmans; Inter-Varsity Press.

6 Morris, L. (1992). The Gospel according to Matthew (p. 148). Grand Rapids, MI; Leicester, England: W.B. Eerdmans; Inter-Varsity Press.

7 O’Donnell, D. S. (2013). Matthew: All Authority in Heaven and on Earth. (R. K. Hughes, Ed.) (p. 172). Wheaton, IL: Crossway.

8 O’Donnell, D. S. (2013). Matthew: All Authority in Heaven and on Earth. (R. K. Hughes, Ed.) (pp. 172–173). Wheaton, IL: Crossway.

9 Morris, L. (1992). The Gospel according to Matthew (p. 149). Grand Rapids, MI; Leicester, England: W.B. Eerdmans; Inter-Varsity Press.

10 Biblical Studies Press. (2005). The NET Bible First Edition; Bible. English. NET Bible.; The NET Bible. Biblical Studies Press.

Related Topics: Christian Life, Kingdom

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