Matthew 6 v 13a,b And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
Matthew 6 v 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
A few weeks ago we arrived at this phrase in the Disciple’s Prayer and we discovered that temptations or trials have a purpose in God’s mind.
1. Trials are divinely permitted for the benefit of the one tempted or tried.
They are tests, trials, difficulties sent or permitted by the Lord God in order to benefit us as believers.
2. Temptation also refers to trials that are definitely designed, not by God, to lead to wrong doing, enticements to evil.
The Lord Jesus Christ was assaulted with a spiritual attack by the devil himself who attempted to entice the Lord deliberately to break the commandments.
Matthew 4 v 3 And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.
Putting the two key words together in this Petition – LEAD and TEMPTATION with their meanings – we learn about this phrase in the Disciples’ prayer -“God permits sin, but He does not promote sin.”
On the one hand trials are allowed to do a PERFECTING work in me, but on the other God never tempts me to do evil.
He allows us to be exposed to the world and its assaults; he permits us to be plagued by inner corruptions left over from our unconverted days; and sometimes He lets us suffer like - Job suffered – the devil’s onslaughts. So we cry in this petition - Oh Lord God, when temptation comes do not let us be overcome by it and sin against Thee.
When we came to the second part of the verse “but deliver us from evil” just before the holidays we thought about the word DELIVER. It conveys the thought of rescue, preservation from danger or even salvation as a deliverance.
Then our attention was drawn to the word EVIL and we found that this term refers to the devil himself – the evil one.
But deliver us from the Evil One – Satan.
This diabolical author of evil
1. invented evil.
2. is constantly active in evil.
3. is altogether evil and does nothing but evil.
4. resists those who would be righteous, and
5. provokes believers to do evil.
We identified the Devil as one of our enemies who loves to tempt us – last autumn we thought much about the defensive armour that is ours when we stand up against him, in Ephesians 6. May we continue to use it as the Lord directs us in our spiritual warfare.
There is another enemy of our souls that is described as the WORLD. So our prayer is
But Deliver us from the evil of the World.
There are strategies with which to combat the world and its ever-increasing influence on our lives and we thought briefly about them.
But we must consider this morning the meaning of the Petition “but deliver us from evil” with respect to the third enemy with which each of us who name the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, have to grapple – it is our own inner nature, which the Bible calls THE FLESH. Oh lord, deliver us from the flesh.
Godly Bishop Ryle once said that he prayed this prayer regularly “Oh Lord – deliver me from this evil man – MYSELF!”
But Deliver us from the evil of our own corrupt nature – The Flesh.
Whereas it is necessary that this morning we look at what the scripture teaches us about our sinful natures that remain in our souls as Christians, let us start on a positive note! Two texts can set the scene for us – one is the words of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself and the other from Paul –
John 17 v 15 I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.
We have been prayed for – by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself – that we would be kept from falling into disaster – the snares of the devil, the evils of the world and the consequences of remaining sin within our redeemed souls. Our saviour has prayed firstly that we should be kept from the evil – the same condemnation of the devil – everlasting darkness; secondly that we should be kept from the same condemnation of the unbelieving world – everlasting conscious felt torment; and thirdly kept from the evils lurking within, like a fifth column, ready to trip us at a moment’s notice. What a prayer that was from the lips and the heart of the son of God. How thankful I am that he prayed that prayer for me and for all of His loved saints.
Then in the second text the apostle Paul is convinced of the truth of the keeping and preserving power of the Lord in His own life.
2 Timothy 4 v 18 And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
The promise here is twofold –
1. That in this life of the believer living in an alien world, temporarily until heaven, the Lord will deliver the Christian from every evil work, including that evil work that emanates from within the believer’s own soul and is a throwback to his unconverted days when he sinned with abandon.
2. But also that the Lord will preserve His people until they reach His heavenly kingdom where they will be safe for ever and ever!
How safe and secure we Christians are? How loved and how protected by such a mighty sovereign saviour.
BUT – and it’s a big but – the truth of our security does not mean that we will be able to avoid being given a hard time by these evil persons that we are, our own selves. We began as rebel sinners, but our souls have been saved. We use an expression sometimes, “He is his own worst enemy.” This is how it is with every believer – we can often be our own worst enemies.
It may not have escaped our notice that these redeemed souls are being carted around the world by a body – a transporter, a carrier, a tent to house the persons that we are. It is the mind and body that carries the remnants of our old nature, our sinful nature – and we need our bodies!
One day they will be left behind in a grave – or they will be miraculously transformed as we wing our way upwards to heaven carried by the Lord Jesus Christ in the air when He comes again.
Until then – death or rapture – we will have to be in constant contention with our old selves.
So we have to make progress in our souls. Paul says to Titus in chapter 2
11 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, 12 Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;
Denying ungodliness and worldly lusts. When we pray “deliver us from evil” we pray that we will be delivered from indwelling sin and the evil of sin. The Bible describes our hearts, yes even redeemed hearts, as EVIL HEARTS.
Hebrews 3 v 12 Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.
This text is to believers not to the unregenerate – Christians can have an evil heart of unbelief that will lead to a departure from the living God, from devotion to Him and from following in His ways.
How does this evil heart present itself and how will we know that it is present in our souls?
Surely we do not need to have it spelt out what sin is – surely each of us knows what it is. Yet it is right to be reminded that sin is the transgression of God’s law –
I John 3 v 4 Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.
It is, as one of the Puritans said, High treason against heaven.(Thomas Watson.)
What is sin?
1. Sin is rebellion,
flying in the face of the Holy God.
2. Sin is foolish
in that a sinner prefers the pleasures of sin which are short-lived rather than the pleasures of God that are at His right hand for ever.
3. Sin is satan’s invitation
to join him in his rebellion against the creator.
4. Sin is an act of ingratitude towards God.
God feeds us, and shows us His mercy – but we forget His mercy and all the blessings that He gives us. He did not give us life so that we should squander it in sinning against Him!
5. Sin is a self-inflicted injury.
It was a chargeable offence in the services for any serviceman or servicewoman to deliberately endanger their health and render themselves unfit for duty. Sunburn was such an injury. Sin incapacitates us from serving God in the way that we should.
Proverbs 1 v 10 My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not. 18 And they lay wait for their own blood; they lurk privily for their own lives.
Only man has the capacity to willingly kill himself – sin kills the soul – and man sins willingly.
6. Sin pollutes the soul.
Watson again “It makes the soul red with guilt and black with filth.” Pollution is an inward thing. Most skin cancers can today be dealt with surgically – they can be removed. But if there is a cancer hidden deep inside the body then unseen it can grow and grow until it is too late, it will kill the whole body and no surgery will be able to deal with it. Inward pollution of sin has to be thoroughly investigated. A polluted conscience needs drastic treatment – the powerful investigation of the Holy Spirit, which is more powerful than an x-ray, or a CAT scan or ultrasound.
7. Sin enslaves the soul.
Sin makes men and women into the devil’s slaves. What does this mean? It means that when Satan tells a man or woman to do something, to sin against God, they do it! Satan told Judas Iscariot to betray the Lord Jesus Christ – and he went ahead and did it. He told Ananias the believer to tell a lie – and he did, costing him his life.
8. Sin is a painful thing.
Jeremiah 9 v 5 says –
Treacherous men … will deceive every one his neighbour, and will not speak the truth: they have taught their tongue to speak lies, and weary themselves to commit iniquity.
In the long run is costs us to sin – it is hard work to sin. Look at the hard work that it was for Judas to betray the Lord – planning, negotiating, subterfuge, the kiss of betrayal and the exercise of conscience.
Yet does not your experience in the Christian life teach you that it is easier on your soul to be involved in virtue than in vice? To serve God than to follow sin? Oh what a tangled web we weave, when we determine to deceive – it is hard work covering your tracks!
Do these things shock you my believing brother or sister? Are you surprised that sin can still lurk like this in these redeemed souls of ours? It should not surprise any of us – so the next question is
What is to be done?
And the answer is to pray as the Lord taught us – “but deliver us from evil” – the evil that resides in our flesh. Because when we pray like this we demonstrate our attitude to indwelling sin. We will have such a disgust and hatred for sin, knowing what it is like and what it can do – that we will do anything – anything, rather than sin!
Moses the man of God had a choice. He could stay with the Egyptians in a life of luxury and sin – or he could leave the royal palace and seek to be amongst the people of his birth – God’s people. This is what Hebrews 11 v 24 means –
By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; 25 Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; 26 Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompense of the reward. 27 By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible.
Moses renounced the riches, status, prospect of power and everything associated with a godless Kingdom – including the idolatry of Egyptian false worship – and exchanged it for suffering with the Israeli untouchables – the slaves – his people. Egypt has ever been a picture of sin – and Moses left it behind when he left!
The early Christians had a saying. “We would rather be eaten by lions on the outside than by lusts and sins on the inside.”
So great an evil is sin, when we are aware of it, that the truly godly person will not sin despite being promised the greatest things that life can give him. The godly person would rather die in order to be rid of sin. This is why death holds no fear for the true believer – we are looking forward to getting rid of and leaving behind the “Body of this death.”
Cruel men have done some wicked things in the past. There is an account of one tyrant, named Mezentius, who in order to torment believers used to tie a dead man’s body to a Christian’s. One does not need to spell out the awfulness of such an experience as the decay and corruption gets worse and worse as the days go by.
But my friends that is our state! We are living souls who have been blessed with salvation and forgiveness of sins and a future wonderful hope of heaven forever. But while still in our bodies it is as if we have a dead body tied to our living souls – with all of its decaying corruption still there! Corruption is joined with grace. It is no wonder that we want to die and to be with Christ, which is far better – because death will free us from sin and the corruption that still clings to us! A Puritan said “Sin brought death into the world – and death will carry sin out of the world.”
But we cannot get out by death until the Lord God calls us to come to Him. We are not permitted to end our own lives. We have to wait for that day known only to the Sovereign Lord God when we shall see Him.
What are we, the people of God to do in the mean time?
1. We are to pray - but deliver us from evil.
We are to pray against sin – our sin – indwelling sin – corrupting sin – dangerous sin.
We are not to play with sin. We dare not call any sin just a little sin. Every sin strikes out at God. Have you ever noticed Job 22 v 5? Hear what it says –
Is not thy wickedness great? and thine iniquities infinite?
The tiniest, smallest sin against God is infinite – why? Because it is committed against an infinitely holy majestic and perfect God.
And when we consider what it took to bear away our sin – the sufferings and atoning death of the perfect man Jesus Christ on the cross – then we realise what infinity means – His death is of infinite value for he died for the billions of sins of all His elect people. Think of how many sins you and I have committed in our lifetimes – both since we were born and since we were born again? In this room there are between 40 and 50 Christians. Most have been living for more than 30 years – call it 1500 Christian years. If during those years we each committed only ONE sin per day, do you know how many sins that would come to? 547,500 – over half a million sins in this one room – and that is a very conservative estimate – for we tend to sin more than once in a day!
Now consider the millions of dear sinners who have been saved by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ – and add up all their sins – we will run out of noughts and can easily be heading for infinity!
Let us not be foolish enough to treat sin lightly, to consider one sin less heinous than another – because one sin that is not forgiven and purged away by the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ is enough to sink us to the pit of hell. The second thing we are to do in the light of our prayer – “but deliver us from evil” – to the Lord is
2. We are to hate sin.
It is not difficult to love sin! Our forebears used to give some of our habitual weaknesses a name – they called them darling sins – because they are very dear to us. We keep them in secret pockets in our souls. No one else knows that they are there – only the Lord. Those closest to us may suspect, but they do not know – usually because our close ones have their own darling sins! We are infatuated with these little foxes that can so easily spoil the vine. We delight in them and try to minimise them even arguing with the Lord that they are not really sin, they are not against His word, and that He won’t mind an occasional indulgence. But the pleasure of sin is soon gone, yet the sting remains behind! And if someone has the temerity to challenge us – or if in a, moment of extreme guilty conscience we find ourselves vowing that we will never commit that sin ever again, what happens? A new sin rises to take its place – the sin of pride! The sin that says, “What a good Christian I am – I have conquered that sin and it will beset me no more.” Oh how the Lord will humble us when we speak like that – and how easily that darling sin comes back again.
Jacob’s wife Rachel stole some of her father’s images and took them with her when she left Haran to go to Jacob’s land of inheritance. When her father caught up with Jacob’s family party he asked for his images back. Jacob knew nothing about them – but Rachel had hidden them under her and she sat on them, out of sight. The details are in Genesis 31 v 34. Once the family were in Canaan we find that Jacob, who had been teaching his wives and children about the dangers of idolatry, insisted that they get rid of all their idols, charms and other stuff to do with their old religion. He gathered them all together and buried them –
Genesis 35 v 4 And they gave unto Jacob all the strange gods which were in their hand, and all their earrings which were in their ears; and Jacob hid them under the oak which was by Shechem.
That is what to do with the precious darling sins that we bring with us into our Christian lives from our old lives. Get rid of them – bury them and don’t go back for them. That is how much we are to hate our sins.
There is only one thing to do! Divorce that sin – throw it out. No more can it be your darling – you must hate it with an extreme hatred because it is so exceedingly sinful. Solomon describes the foolishness of minimising sin in Proverbs 14 v 9
Fools make a mock at sin:
It is only fools who make light of sin that grieves the Holy Spirit. Let us hate sin with all the energy that we have and at the same time Love the Lord Jesus our saviour with all of our hearts. This leads us to the third thing that we must do –
3. We are to mortify sin.
There are two parties involved with a believer’s sanctification – God the Holy Spirit and the believer. And whereas the Holy Spirit is the person who sanctifies us and makes us more like the Lord Jesus Christ, we ourselves are commanded to mortify our sins.
Colossians 3 v 5 Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection (sinful appetites), evil concupiscence (lustful desire), and covetousness, which is idolatry:
The Greek can be read like this – Mortify your members – that is your bodily and mental habits and affections by avoiding fornication and the list of things that follows.
We have to do it – we have to avoid sin – we have to walk away from it when it appears; we have to refuse to be sucked into it when it presents itself; we have to refrain from listening to sin’s suggestions when they come. To mortify is to put sin to death in our bodies. We have to destroy sin’s remnants. Which implies that we must be sensitive to sin; serious about sin and be ready to crucify our sin. Paul exhorts in Romans 6 v 6; us to
crucify the old man within us
and in Galatians 5 v 24 he makes this bold statement –
24 And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.
There is not one of us who are Christians that are exempted from this command – all of us have to crucify, mortify our indwelling sins.
“Deliver us from evil” is our heartfelt cry to the Lord Jesus Christ for His help and encouragement as we regularly and strenuously engage in the process of putting to death our sins and inward corruptions.
“Deliver us from evil” means that we pray for each other in this – deliver US from evil – Lord deliver, not only me in my own personal struggle, but also my brothers and sisters in the church, who each have their own struggles with sin too!
Do we pray like this, my friends? Are we concerned enough about our own sins and the sins of others around us to increase our prayer about this?
We started by reminding ourselves of the Lord Jesus Christ who has prayed for us in John 17. As we close hear some more of the Lord’s prayer for us His dear disciples – and be encouraged –
9 I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine.
17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. 18 As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. 19 And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth. 20 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; 21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.
Oh my dear brothers and sisters – pray this prayer often – “deliver us from evil” – and when you pray it, remember what you are praying for – for hatred of and crucifying of all your sins, and your fellow believer’s sins. Oh may we know of Christ’s victory in this every day – until He calls us to enjoy complete freedom from sin in all its ugliness – and to gaze upon His glorious face in all its loveliness.