Jesus was teaching His disciples to pray: ‘Deliver us from evil’ (Matthew 6:13). Does this cause us to wonder, or make us consider what is evil and how can we be delivered from it? Surely this is just a reminder for us to avoid doing bad things, to keep our path straight and look to God in times of temptation.
No. ‘Deliver us from evil’ is not a negative concept. Most modern versions of the Bible translate the phrase as ‘deliver us from the evil one.’ That puts it in a totally different perspective. Even then this is not someone we can blame for our bad behaviour, but a living entity continually at work searching for every opportunity to pull us down. Jesus identified him as the ‘Prince of this world’ (John 14:30). He is the one who deceived Adam and Eve in the Garden and has been working tirelessly ever since interfering with God’s purposes. ‘Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour’ (1 Peter 5:8). James tells us to ‘resist the devil, and he will flee from you (James 4:7). But can it be that simple?
‘Deliver us from the evil one’ is calling upon God to be our protector and our shield, to keep us safe. We must remember that the enemy uses all that is ungodly in our lives to keep us from fully entering into the protection of God. He looks for loopholes and weaknesses in our armour, to penetrate beyond our guard and to undermine all God’s good work within us. He is subtle and clever and will use our weaknesses for his own ends. That is why we are told, ‘Do not give the devil a foothold’ (Ephesians 4:27).
God can and does deliver us from the evil one, but He can only use that which is fully submitted to Him. Otherwise, we are walking on sinking sand and vulnerable to the enemy’s plans. Every part of us not fully submitted to the Lordship of Jesus Christ is exposed and unprotected.
However, ‘The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. They have divine power to demolish strongholds.’ (2 Corinthians 10:4). And as we stand fast on that which has already been achieved, that is the shedding of the blood of Christ, we have a firm foundation and an eternal covering through which the enemy cannot penetrate. ‘Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage’ (Galatians 5:1).
God’s plan has already been accomplished in Christ. The prayer that Jesus taught was fulfilled by Christ Himself. We just need to consolidate this victory and stand firmly on the truth. ‘Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you’ (James 4:7). The Kingdom of God stands untarnished. ‘For Yours is the Kingdom and the power and the glory for ever.’
Prayer: Father You call upon us to put on the full armour of God. Help me not to take this lightly, but to bring before You everything that would hinder me from wearing Your armour with confidence, so that I may stand firm and secure in Your presence. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
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