“After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. 10 Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen” (Matthew 6: 9-13)
“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil”
The second part of this two-fold petition –“deliver us from evil” is a cry to God for deliverance. The phrase, “the evil” in the original text literally means “the evil one” – Satan or the Devil. Many commentators generally agree that the term includes the world and the heart because of the evil therein. Let us look at the three sources of evil:
o The Devil
The Bible records many of the devil’s characteristics and warns us of his wiles and devices. Satan or the Devil is known as “the wicked one” (Matt. 13: 19). In Hebrew, “Satan” means “opponent” or “adversary”. Satan is a cunning, dangerous and restless foe – “your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (I Pet. 5: 8). He is also a powerful enemy; in Luke 11: 21, he is likened unto “a strong man”.
Thomas Watson elaborates: “The devil’s work is to angle for men’s souls; he lays suitable baits; he allures the ambitious man with honour, the covetous man with riches; he hooks his bait with silver; he allures the lustful man with beauty, he tempts men to Delilah’s lap to keep them from Abraham’s bosom. The devil glories in the damnation of souls” (The Lord’s Prayer).
As God’s children, we have been delivered from the bondage of sin and the Devil. Knowing that he is a defeated foe, Satan makes every effort to entice us to sin. Even as we seek God’s help for deliverance, let us be sober and vigilant against the Devil and his wicked devices. Heed the exhortation of the apostle James to “submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (Jas. 4: 7).
o The world
We live in a wicked and ensnaring world. Many things in the world tempt us to sin – the snares of riches (I Tim. 6: 9) and high position, the allurement of pleasure and ungodly company. Because of our depraved nature, we are easily drawn away by the world – “we have a corrupt principle that suits the temptation, and that makes us always in danger” (Sword & Trowel 1998 No. 4). None is spared from the allurements of the world. Demas, one of Paul’s fellow labourers, fell prey to them. Though given honourable mention in Colossians 4: 14 and Philemon 1: 24, he forsook the apostle for the world: “For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus unto Dalmatia” (II Tim. 4: 10). Knowing therefore the snares of the world, let us “love not the world, neither the things that are in the world” (I Jn. 2: 15).
o The flesh
When praying this petition – “deliver us from evil” – we are also asking for deliverance from the evil of our sinful heart. Although we have been saved by grace, there remains in us the old Adam with all its fleshly lusts (Jer. 17: 9). In careless or unguarded moments, we can fall into the snare of sin: “But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. 15 Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death” (Jas: 1: 14-15).
Knowing the weaknesses of our flesh, and our sinful tendencies, we ask God for determination and strength to fight the battle and to resist sin. On our part, we must resolve to “put off the old man with his deeds” and “put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness” (Col. 3: 9; Eph. 4: 24).
In our walk with the Lord, we may sometimes yield to the flesh and sin against Him. We may neglect our spiritual duties, backslide or fail to do His will.
“The best of God’s children need chastisement. They have their faults and follies, which need to be corrected. Though God may let others alone in their sins, He will correct sin in His own children; they are of His family, and shall not escape His rebukes when they want them. In this He acts as becomes a father, and treats them like children; no wise and good father will wink at faults in his own children as he would in others; his relation and his affections oblige him to take more notice of the faults of his own children than those of others. To be suffered to go on in sin without a rebuke is a sad sign of alienation from God; such are bastards, not sons” (Matthew Henry).
In this prayer, we are asking God to teach and correct us as He deems fit. We express our willingness to come under His fatherly chastising hand. We also seek a right response to the divine rod (Heb. 12: 5-11).
Brethren, let us be mindful of the sources of evil – the Devil, the world and our depraved nature. In our petition, let us seek God’s strength and help to overcome them. On our own, we can do nothing, but when we lean upon the Lord, He gives us the victory. May we look to the Lord to keep us strong in the faith and obedient to His Word.