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Deliver Us from the Evil One

The Lord's Prayer  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  29:19
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The sixth petition of the Lord's Prayer

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If you could choose to be born at any time you choose, when would you want to be born and live. I ask because some people just don’t fit their times. There are great thinkers, people like Nikola Tesla, Thomas Edison or perhaps Elton Musk, who are born before their time. All three of them could have been born a generation or two later and still be ahead of their times. Others are born too late, they seem to belong to an earlier time. When I was a much younger seminarian, I fell in love with a TV personality called Gene Scott. He was a pastor in California, a Ph.D. in something other than theology, a colorful and fully eccentric person who was on for several hours every night in the middle of the night. You never knew whether he would be talking about theology, American history or alien landings and UFOs. He was just too eccentric for the 1980 and for an urban center like Los Angeles. Had he been born in the south in the 1930 and he would have been a major religious figure in the life of some denomination.
I sometimes find the times in which we move to be frustrating, confusing and difficult to navigate. There was a time when a church put up a sign and in flowed all the Presbyterians, or Roman Catholics, or Baptists or whatever. Those times have long since past. There was a time when our culture and the church had broadly the same worldview, when the language of the church and the language of the culture were drawn from the same dictionary. Today, the language of faith must be translated and put into different words to be understood. Gone are the simple days when there was a single culture in which the church existed. Today, we’re fragmented and siloed, broken into little camps that don’t interact well and have their own unique language and perspective. What the Good News of the gospel means must be carefully crafted for each particular group. We didn’ t necessarily choose this time and this place, but we were made for this time and place.
I sometimes find the times in which we move to be frustrating, confusing and
The Lord’s Prayer encourages us to ask a slightly different question: not of time but of allegiance. To whom are we willing to pledge our loyalty, our devotion; who will be our model, our leader, our example, our Lord. In clear language, who’s kingdom is our kingdom and who’s will gives us our roadmap. Some of the people who pray the Lord’s Prayer, who are followers of Jesus and citizens of God’s kingdom move through times that are more perilous than others. The fifth petition of the prayer is about those who move in dangerous times, who are a part of God’s kingdom wrestling with the kingdoms of this world. When we pray “lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil” we are asking for God’s help, God’s protection during those times when we find ourselves in times and places of danger. “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one” reminds us that even when we journey through the darkness, even when we can’t really see the way forward Christ is still our guide and God our protector.
There were two times in Jesus’ life when he found himself in a time of “temptation” or “trial.” There were two times when Jesus journeyed through darkness and had to depend on his relationship to God to choose his steps. This morning I would like to look back at the temptation of Jesus and forward to Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane to see how Jesus lived this fifth petition and how we can live it this and every week.
lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil
In , right before he becomes a public figure, Jesus fasted for 40 days then he met underwent three different temptations. In , the character opposing Jesus is simply called “the temptor.” Eventually we’re told this is Satan or the devil. God is never the instrument of our testing, but sometimes those things opposed to God’s wholeness and God’s kingdom are the instruments of our temptation, our testing. Think for example about :
James 1:13–14 NRSV
No one, when tempted, should say, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil and he himself tempts no one. But one is tempted by one’s own desire, being lured and enticed by it;
Think for example about
But one is tempted by one’s own desire, being lured and enticed by it;
But one is tempted by one’s own desire, being lured and enticed by it;
(NRSV)
James 1:13 NRSV
No one, when tempted, should say, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil and he himself tempts no one.
James tells us that temptation is something that involves things that are both interman and external to us. Our own desire lures us out from safety into the open, then once in the open we’re easy game for the temptation. The first temptation is in
Matthew 4:3–4 NRSV
The tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But he answered, “It is written, ‘One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ ”
Matthew 4:3–4 NRSV
The tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But he answered, “It is written, ‘One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ ”
Matthew 4:3–4 NRSV
The tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But he answered, “It is written, ‘One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ ”
Matthew 4:3 NRSV
The tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.”
After 40 days of fasting, if ever there was a temptation that could appeal to a desire and lead to sin, it was this first temptation. Jesus reply echos the third petition of the Lord’s Prayer. God’s word to us is bread for today. Either we learn to rest in that word, or our anxiety and doubt tempt us out from where we’re safe. The second temptation follows in :
Matthew 4:5–7 NRSV
Then the devil took him to the holy city and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written, ‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and ‘On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.’ ” Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’ ”
Matthew 4:4–5 NRSV
But he answered, “It is written, ‘One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ ” Then the devil took him to the holy city and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple,
The first temptation is about the weakness of our bodies, what 1 John calls the “lust of the flesh”. The second temptation is about pride. The temptation is about demonstrating just how important we are. In the Old Testament, God is our measure; that never is inverted. When we try to manipulate God or draw God on to our side, then we put the Lord to the Test, something strictly forbidden in the Old Testament. Its about God’s kingdom, not us. The temptation is about our pride of life.
The third temptation is in :
Matthew 4:8–10 NRSV
Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor; and he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! for it is written, ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.’ ”
This is the lust of the eyes. Jesus sees all the kingdoms of the world, they can be his if only he worships the tempter. But the question is God’s kingdom. To worship the tempter would be to show allegiance to his kingdom.
Jesus keeps his focus on God’s kingdom as the tempter does his work. When we pray “lead us not into temptation” its only after we’ve prayed “your Kingdom come, your will be done.” It is the pursuit of God’s rule in our world that guides our steps in times when we’re being tempted, when the lust of our eyes, the lust of our flesh, the pride of life attempt to draw us away from the safety of God’s path.
But “lead us not into temptation” isn’t just about temptations. Its also about trials, about the times we find ourselves in the crossfire where God’s kingdom and the kingdoms of this earth are in conflict. So we look forward to the night that Jesus was arrested. That night he took his disciples with him to Gethsemane and there he found himself caught between God’s kingdom and the kingdoms of this world. As he poured out his heat to his father, he asked his disciples to pray. He came back to them and found them asleep. Jesus said to Peter in :
Matthew 26:41 NRSV
Stay awake and pray that you may not come into the time of trial; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
The “time of trial” was the upcoming arrest, trial and death. Each of them would come to their own time of trial, time where they were at the place where God’s kingdom was in conflict with the kingdoms of the earth. But, Jesus tells them to pray that that time doesn’t come this day. Its interesting to look at Jesus prayer in Gethsemane. Look first at verse 39:
Matthew 26:39 NRSV
And going a little farther, he threw himself on the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not what I want but what you want.”
A few minutes later, we get another prayer:
Matthew 26:42 NRSV
Again he went away for the second time and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.”
Matthew 26:41 NRSV
Stay awake and pray that you may not come into the time of trial; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
When you see the two prayers together, Jesus starts with the fifth petition, “God, don’t make me enter into this time of trial, of testing.” But, Jesus qualifies that with the second petition of the Lord’s Prayer: “God, may your kingdom come.” In this instance, God’s kingdom was about Jesus journey to the cross. Sometimes God can deliver us from a time of testing and trial, and sometimes God’s kingdom is served by our journey through darkness and hard times. It isn’t about us and about what we want. Its about God’s kingdom coming, about God’s will shaping our world like it shapes the heavenly world.
I know people who live in fear of making a mistake, of coming into a time of temptation or trial. If the Lord’s Prayer teaches us anything, it is that disciples of Jesus are passionate about their pursuit of God’s kingdom being expressed and known in our world. A biographer of Dietrich Bonhoeffer summed up a passionate kingdom-seeking life in this way:
By giving us this prayer, then, Jesus invites us to walk ahead into the darkness and discover that it, too, belongs to God. But, once we have entered the dark night, the fact that we have done so with the Lord’s Prayer on our lips means that, when the darkness breaks it will be (not mere good cheer, but) glory itself that wakes . . . the hope and promise that God will triumph over fear, will deliver us from evil, and will bring in his Kingdom at last.
the hope and promise that God will triumph over fear, will deliver us from evil, and will bring in his Kingdom at last.
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