“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. Matthew 6:13
Our Lord teaches us to ask the Father to “deliver us from evil. He does not say “keep us from evil, or do not “lead us into evil, as He says about temptation, but He clearly says in the prayer He has given us as a model for all our prayers, “deliver or “rescue us from evil. The simple implication of the Lord’s choice of words is that we are smack dab in the middle of evil. We are not above it. We are not at some safe distance removed from it. It does not require a trip to get there. As Tolkien illustrates: “Remember what Bilbo used to say: It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to. Except in the case of evil you need not even venture out your door to encounter it. Living is indeed a dangerous business! And too many are unprepared to deal with their real world because they mistakenly believe it to be normally good, or at the very least, neutral… certainly not evil. Consequently, there is neither urgency nor priority to pray unceasingly as though it were constantly necessary, “Father, deliver me from evil!
The very nature of evil is that we do not always see evil as evil. It is purposefully amorphous when seen through indiscriminate eyes. In case you do not have your dictionary close by, this means “lacking definite form, of no particular kind of character; indeterminate; unorganized. Most think, “Of course, I know evil when I see it! Do you? Consider the temptation of the Lord by the evil one in the wilderness. The fact that evil is presented in “candy wrappers with a “guaranteed-good seal of approval printed on the side, exposes the very real and personal enemy behind it. Evil is not a static thing that you peruse on shelves as you would various foods in your grocery store. Evil follows you down the aisle when and if you pass it by. It literally dances before your eyes and in your head, until it dazzles you. The evil one did not parade horrific, demonic, heinous images before the Savior’s eyes in the wilderness of temptation. Every one of them was “GOOD. Who would not desire in a hungry world the power to turn stones into bread and feed the starving children and even your hungry self? Is not this a great idea of the devil, which might be a solution to the deepest conflicts of human life?
Or consider his second temptation that Jesus before a massive audience jump from the highest pinnacle around Jerusalem when overflowing with millions of onlookers gathered to participate in one of the great Jewish feasts. The enormous appeal to the nerves and senses of the titillated crowd, who would witness the spectacular rescue by angels no less, would result in a propaganda appeal designed to bring many followers into Christianity’s folds. Wall Street marketing execs or mega-church preachers could not do better. The third temptation is the most magnificent of all. The devil offers Jesus immediate (cross-less) control of all the kingdoms of the world. When you consider the horde of evil oppressors and dictators, the corrupt governments, the pagan philosophies and religions that dominate empires, why not bring them all immediately under the control of Christ and Christianity, so that all might live and grow and thrive under a beneficent rule.
Every offering of Satan is what you and I might at first blush call “good. And so it is as evil is presented to our eyes and senses every day of our life. It looks so right in the moment. It looks pleasurable. It is persuasive and immediately attainable. It even appears to be the best choice we could make. This is good, we think.
But it is so NOT good. It is ruinous as you and I and every sinner have discovered too late, when the consequences inevitably appear and our pain and tears with them. The literal reading of our Lord’s prayer is not only “deliver us from evil, but deliver us from the evil, that is, the evil one. He is a stalker, your stalker. You may not sense his presence, especially if he does not see you pursuing righteousness anyway. But do NOT forget this one thing. Jesus was and is the victor over the evil one. Your victory rests nowhere else. You require Him in your life, in your heart and mind, to see evil clearly, to run from it, to defeat it. Have you yet prayed today, “Father God, deliver me from the evil one, in the name of Jesus?
“Art thou weary, art thou languid, art thou sore distressed? “Come to me, saith One, “and coming, be at rest.
“Finding, following, keeping, struggling, is He sure to bless? Saints, apostles, prophets, martyrs, answer “Yes!
(John Mason Neale’s hymn, “Art Thou Weary, 1862)
Sign up for our monthly newsletter and weekly devotional