Today’s devotion builds on the thoughts from Sunday’s Sermon – Week 6 of the Lord’s Prayer Series “Temptation & Evil” (LISTEN HERE).
Deliver us from evil…
Evil is the result of sin…directly or indirectly.
The news parades evil and its effects on lives daily.
We experience it ourselves.
So we pray, “Deliver us from evil.”
We want to be free from the effects of sin. We want to live without trouble or hardship. Who wouldn’t?
Perhaps as we pray this petition, we may think, “I don’t think God is listening or answering.” On the surface it may be hard to see sometimes, but as we seek to understand God’s way of delivering us from evil, his answer becomes more clear.
Here’s how Martin Luther understood this petition:
What does this mean? We pray in this petition, in summary, that our Father in heaven would rescue us from every evil of body and soul, possessions and reputation, and finally, when our last hour comes, give us a blessed end, and graciously take us from this valley of sorrow to Himself in heaven.
Ultimate deliverance from evil will come when we are with the Lord forever, but how does he rescue us or overcome evil in our lives today. Here’s two.
First, evil is overcome when we do not hang out with evil.
The Apostle Paul quotes one of the Greek poets in 1 Corinthians 15:33 Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.” (For those that listened to my sermon, I incorrectly put this in the Proverbs.) Even secular society recognizes that all too often evil character will corrupt good character. King David penned, Psalm 141:4 “Let not my heart be drawn to what is evil, to take part in wicked deeds with men who are evildoers; let me not eat of their delicacies.” The Lord delivers us from evil when he leads us to not hang around evil! Like Joseph in yesterday’s devotion fled from the temptation of Potiphar’s wife, so at times we need to flee from the people we are with so we are not drawn into and affected by the evil they perpetuate.
Because we have a sinful nature, we need the previous petition as well, “Lead us not into temptation” Delivering us from evil is when the power of the Holy Spirit leads us to distance ourselves from those bent on perpetuating evil.
Second, evil is overcome by good, not more evil.
Too often, we conclude that the way to overcome evil is with more evil. If someone wrongs me, my initial reaction is to “teach them a lesson” and wish or activate evil upon them. Trying to overcome evil with evil is like trying to fight a fire with gasoline. It just makes it worse!
Jesus taught, “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you” (Luke 6:27-28).
The Apostle Paul reiterates in Romans 12:21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. As hard as this direction is, it is the advice the Lord gives to over come evil and be delivered from it.
Remember that the answer to prayer is often in the simple, not supernatural (although it could be that as well). God delivers us from evil when we distance ourselves from evil and repay evil with good. See how that works for you today!
Apply: What situations are you facing that in order to avoid evil you should a) flee or b) repay with good?
Prayer: Lord, deliver us from evil by giving us the strength of faith to walk away and the strength of character to return evil with good. AMEN.