Deliver Us from the Evil One (Matt 6:13)
Deliver Us from the Evil One
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.
The Lord’s Prayer is meant to be our primer and pattern of prayer. Often, we struggle with what to say when coming to God in prayer. Christ’s sample prayer helps us with this. With each of the six petitions, we are called to add our own words and thoughts. The first three are concerned with God’s name, kingdom, and will. The last three focus on our bread—referring to our physical and spiritual needs—, forgiveness of sins, and finally, deliverance from the evil one.
In the fifth petition—forgive us our debts—we focused on past sins. In the last petition—deliver us from evil—we focus on future sins. In the fifth, we asked for forgiveness from actual sins, in the last we ask to be delivered from potential sins.
In this study, we will consider the last petition of the Lord’s Prayer—lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.
Big Question: What does the final petition of the Lord’s Prayer mean and what are its applications?
Lead Us Not into Temptation
Interpretation Question: What does the petition “lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one” mean?
“Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one” is probably a form of parallelism. Deliver us from the evil one is another way of restating lead us not into temptation. Some versions translate “evil one” as “evil.” Both are correct translations, and there is really no consensus on which is best. There is probably a nuance of both—“evil one” and “evil”—in the word. We don’t need to only be delivered from Satan, but also from evil in our flesh and in the world, and we must recognize that God is the only one who can help us.
This petition provokes some hard questions: How can we ask God to lead us not into temptation? Isn’t that a foregone conclusion? James 1:13-15 says, “When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone.” God does not tempt anyone. He is holy and just. Therefore, why does Christ encourage us to ask God to not lead us into temptation?
People have reconciled the petition in different ways:
1. Some reconcile the petition by translating the word “temptation” as “test.”
In English, the word “temptation” has a negative connotation. It means to “entice to sin.” However, in the Bible, that is not necessarily true. The word is neutral. It also can be translated “test.” When used of Satan’s testing of people with a view to their failing the test, it is translated “temptation.” However, since the context is prayer, many would argue for translating it “test”, since God will not tempt anyone. The Good News Bible actually translates it, “Do not bring us to hard testing.”
God will not tempt us, but he certainly will test us. We get a good picture of this when God approached Abraham and told him to sacrifice Isaac. Genesis 22:1 begins with, “Some time later God tested Abraham.” God tested Abraham to see what was in his heart. Did he truly love God more than his son? Was God truly first in his life? As with Abraham, God often tests us in areas that are closest to our heart—areas that we are most tempted to put before him. Are we passionate about some hobby? Are we consumed with our bodies or some relationship? Often that is where God will test us. We must always guard our hearts against any type of idolatry—anything that might come before God.
Another prominent test in Scripture is when God tested Israel in the wilderness after delivering them from Egypt. There he allowed them to hunger and thirst. Deuteronomy 8:2 says:
Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands.
God tested them for many reasons: (1) He wanted to change them. Moses said that God humbled them through the testing. Pride keeps us from God and his blessing. James 4:6 says, “‘God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” Literally, God fights against the proud. Pride shows up in us being independent from God. We don’t rely on his Word, his saints, or his presence. But when God humbles us, we realize that we need him, and we therefore draw near him more faithfully. Humility is the place of blessing. God humbled Israel in the wilderness by their hard circumstances. (2) He also tested them to know what was in their hearts. It is not that God didn’t know. He did. The trials really revealed Israel’s heart to them. In the wilderness, they complained against God, which showed they really didn’t trust him. They desired to go back to Egypt—which showed their love for the world. They also began to worship idols and practice sexual immorality—revealing how they loved sin and not God’s Word. Testing does the same for us. It is gracious of God to show us what’s in our hearts so we can repent. We need trials to keep us humble and help us rely on God. And when he allows them, Scripture calls us to rejoice because we understand their purpose. James 1:2-4 says:
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
With that said, though we should rejoice in trials and be faithful in them, as they are maturing us, we should not pray for them or seek them out. In fact, we should ask God to deliver us from them. One would think this would not need to be said, but at times, throughout history, believers have developed a martyr spirit. In understanding the grace and blessing of trials, they in, one sense, would seek to be persecuted or would create trials that humbled them. I remember meeting a professing Christian in college that walked around with rocks in his shoes that caused him pain to remind him that he was called to suffer for Christ. This is not biblical understanding of trials. We should ask God to deliver us from them. When God allows them, we should rejoice and persevere in them. We certainly should continue to ask God to remove them, if that be his will, but whether he does or not, we must remain faithful in them.
With that said, others reconcile the petition of “lead us not into temptation” in a different way.
Application Question: What things has God revealed about your heart through experiencing certain tests?
2. Others reconcile the petition by recognizing God’s sovereignty over all temptation and evil.
We get a good picture of this in the story of Job. In Chapter 1, God boasted to Satan about how faithful Job was. Satan replies, “Of course he is faithful, you have put a hedge of protection around him” (v. 10 paraphrase). He then challenges God to strike all that Job has and that Job would surely curse God because of it. God agrees and says: “Very well, then, everything he has is in your power, but on the man himself do not lay a finger” (1:12). God allows Satan to both test Job and tempt him to curse God. The only regulation was that Satan could not touch Job himself. Job lost his children and his wealth but still didn’t curse God. Chapter 2 is similar: God boasts about Job, and Satan challenges God to strike his flesh and bones, and if God did this, Job would curse God to his face. God replies, “Very well, then, he is in your hands; but you must spare his life” (2:6). In this scenario, the only stipulation was that Satan spare his life.
God Limits Our Temptations
With each temptation/trial that Job went through, God set the limits on Satan—to not touch his body and later to not take his life. Similarly, God holds the temperature gauge on each trial and temptation we may encounter. He will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we are able to bear. First Corinthians 10:13 says:
No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.
The ability to escape or endure often is accessed by taking advantage of the grace available to us, such as: the fellowship of the saints, God’s Word, prayer, serving, etc. For most of us, we will never encounter something like Job, because we would not be able to bear it. God reserves his greatest trials for those he has sufficiently prepared.
It must be noted that in both tests, Job was tempted by the devil to curse God, but only after God gave Satan permission. In one sense, it could be said God “led” Job to temptation by allowing him to be tempted. This reflects God’s sovereignty over evil.
Contrary to Dualism
Sometimes dualistic thought has crept into the church. Dualism teaches that in this universe there are two equal opposing forces—one for good and one for bad. In Christianity, this might reflect an eternal battle between God and Satan. However, Scripture does not teach this. Satan is not equal to God. Satan is a created being who depends upon God to exist just as all created things (cf. Col 1:17, Heb 1:3). He is a dependent creature and, therefore, to some extent, must submit to God. This is clearly displayed in the story of Job.
When considering the rest of Scripture, we see other times where God uses Satan for his eternal purposes—including the sanctification of believers. For example, in 1 Corinthians 5, Paul encourages the Corinthians to hand a man having sex with his father’s wife over to Satan. This handing over seems to represent excommunication from the church. When a believer is no longer functioning as part of the body, it opens the door for Satan to attack and tempt him more fully. First Corinthians 5:4-5 says,
So when you are assembled and I am with you in spirit, and the power of our Lord Jesus is present, hand this man over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved on the day of the Lord.
What was the purpose of handing this man over to Satan? It was redemptive, as all discipline should be. This would allow for the destruction of flesh—physical suffering (cf. 1 Cor 11:30) or experiencing the consequences of unbridled sin (cf. Lk 15:11-32)—so that the offender would ultimately be saved—representing repentance.
Another example of this would be the Holy Spirit leading Christ in the wilderness to be tempted by the devil (Matt 4:1). Again, God’s purpose in allowing this temptation was not for Christ to fall into sin, but for Christ to be made strong through persevering through it. Hebrews 2:10 says Christ was “made perfect” through what was suffered. To be our faithful high priest, he had to be able relate to us and understand our suffering and temptations (cf. Heb 4:14-16). Therefore, his experience of temptation by the devil was necessary for him to save us completely (cf. Heb 7:25).
Application Question: What can we discern about God’s purpose in allowing temptations and trials?
(1) God purpose in allowing temptation and trial is never for us to fall into sin. That is Satan’s desire, but not God’s. Again, God cannot be tempted, nor does he tempt anyone (Jam 1:13).
(2) God’s purpose in allowing temptations and trials is to make us stronger and more faithful. If we resist temptation and persevere through the trial, we will grow closer to God, be more faithful to him, and be more equipped to help others (cf. James 1:2-4, Rom 5:3-4). God desire through trials is to bless us and not curse us. After Abraham passed the test of offering his son, Isaac, God confirmed his previous promises and promised to bring the messiah through his lineage. After Job passed his test, God blessed him with double. When Christ past the test in the wilderness, God empowered him through the Spirit, in order to begin his ministry.
(3) God purpose in allowing temptation and trials is to reveal what is in our hearts. Do we love God more than sin? Will we obey him no matter the situation, even if it leads to our pain? What do our responses to trials say about our heart and devotion to God?
Application Question: How do you understand the controversial petition of “lead us not into temptation”? How should we reconcile this petition with God’s goodness and holiness? Share a trial that God allowed in your life and how God used it to mature you and bless you.
Deliverance from Evil
Application Question: How can we be delivered from evil or the evil one?
The word “deliver” is a very aggressive word in the original language. It can also be translated “to snatch.” We are asking God to snatch us from the clutches of evil. As with praying for our daily bread, God’s usual way of providing is not by miraculous means. When we pray for our daily bread, God may choose to provide food by ravens or to multiply bread, but not normally. God provides opportunities and strength to work, and through working and earning a wage, we provide bread for ourselves. It’s the same with being delivered from evil. Sometimes, it may be miraculous, but most times, God works through our prudence and diligence, as we take advantage of his means of grace. Therefore, we must ask, “How can we be delivered from evil?”
1. To be delivered from evil, we must consistently pray for it.
Before Christ went to the cross, he told Peter and the disciples that Satan had asked to sift them like wheat (Lk 22:31). He also told them that they would all fall away from him. But after this, Christ takes Peter, James, and John—the leaders of the disciples—to pray with him in the Garden of Gethsemane. He says to them, “Pray lest you enter into temptation” (Luke 22:39 paraphrase). Christ told them they were going to deny him, but he provided a way of escape (1 Cor 10:13)—prayer. In fact, they needed to not only pray, but they needed to have an intense and fervent time of prayer. Christ told them to pray for an hour (Mk 14:37). They needed both quality and also a significant quantity of time with God. No doubt, we often fall into temptation because we are not faithful in prayer. Like the disciples, we sleep, work, or entertain ourselves, when we should be praying. This is part of the reason the Christian church, in general, is so weak and ineffective. In large, prayer meetings are being removed from the church or sparsely attended. The church no longer prays. If we are going to conquer evil in our lives and in society, we must be people of prayer. We must pray for protection from the evil one, to be set free from besetting sins, and to be kept from trials that might overwhelm us.
Application Question: In what ways do you incorporate petitions for spiritual protection into your prayer life?
2. To be delivered from evil, in humility, we must recognize our weakness and vulnerability to it.
On our own, we cannot defeat the pull of sin in our flesh, the attraction of the world, and the power of the devil. These temptations are too strong for us—we need God’s grace.
Again, this is where many Christians fail. They unwittingly think they are too strong or live as though they are. Because they are so “strong”, they open the door to sensual music and TV shows. They surround themselves with those who are not serious about God and aren’t seeking to obey him. They are “too strong” and therefore that makes them weak.
Part of growing in spiritual maturity is recognizing our weakness. Paul said that nothing good dwelled in his flesh (Rom 7:18), and he called himself the chief of sinners (1 Tim 1:15). He recognized his great weakness and that is what made him strong.
It was Peter’s boast, “Though everybody else deny you Lord, I will never deny you,” that made him weak (Matt 26:33 paraphrase). He boasted in his strength to withstand temptation, and then he not only denied the Lord but began to swear like the world to prove he didn’t know him (Matt 26:74). First Corinthians 10:12 says, “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!”
There is nobody who is not vulnerable. Before Moses died, in his anger, he disobeyed God and was not allowed to enter the promised land. The last story we read about Noah, the man who walked with God and was saved from the flood, was him being drunk, naked, and shamed by his son. David, a man after God’s own heart and the ideal king of Israel, in a moment of weakness, committed adultery and then had the husband, one of his best friends, killed. These stories are included in the Bible as warning for us—everybody is vulnerable to the temptation of sin! That is why Scripture commonly calls us to “flee sexual immorality,” “flee youthful lusts”, and “avoid all appearance of evil.” We are extremely vulnerable and that is why we must constantly pray, “Lord, deliver us from evil.”
Application Question: How can we know if we are “too strong,” which ultimately makes us weak and vulnerable to spiritual attack? How have you experienced pride coming before the fall?
3. To be delivered from evil, we must understand that we are not alone.
The “us” implies that Satan is not only attacking us individually, but others as well. First Peter 5:8-9 says,
Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.
Peter says that one of the ways that we resist him is by remembering that other believers are undergoing the same sufferings. We must understand that we are not in this battle alone and therefore must rely on other saints. We must seek their counsel, accountability, and prayers. When Christ was weary unto death before going to the cross, he called his most trustworthy disciples to pray with him for an hour. We should similarly ask others to continually pray for us when going through difficulties or struggling with sin. This means we must be transparent and open with others. Sadly, many are not. They are too ashamed to share their struggles, and consequently their struggles only get stronger.
In addition, not only must we seek support from other believers, we must also provide the same for them. We should pray for hedges of protection around our friends, family members, churches, and nations. We must constantly pray for other believers. After stating the various parts of the armor of God that believers must put on to stand in spiritual warfare, Paul calls believers to always be alert and keep on praying for all the saints (Eph 6:18). This is part of our duty in warfare. Christ prayed this way in John 17:15, “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.” We must continually do the same.
We must understand that it is the Christian who is all alone—unsupported and not supporting others—who is most vulnerable to the evil one. They attend church but have no accountability, no mentorship, no one to be transparent with, and the enemy has a field day with them. Let this solo spirit not be in us.
Application Question: Why is supporting others and receiving support so important in being delivered from temptation and evil? Share how someone supported you and helped you get free from some besetting sin.
4. To be delivered from evil, we must be committed to God’s Word.
Though not referred to in this petition, it certainly must be practiced if one is going to conquer temptation and evil. David declared, “I have hidden your word in my heart, so I will not sin against you” (Ps 119:11 paraphrase). It was by studying and understanding God’s Word that David conquered sin and temptation in his life. Similarly, when Christ was being tempted by the Devil in the wilderness, he always responded with Scripture (Matt 4). We must do the same when tempted. If we don’t know God’s Word, we won’t be able to recognize or conquer temptations that come our way.
Being in a Bible preaching church that teaches the whole counsel of God is a great protection for believers. Daily mediating on God’s Word gives believers power to stand against the evil one. Studying the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, understanding its major doctrines, and memorizing it, and not just skimming Psalms and Proverbs for encouragement, is a tremendous grace for believers. It will enable them to stand in trials and temptations.
Application Question: Why is the Word of God so important in spiritual warfare? In what ways have you experienced conquering sin and temptation as you have faithfully studied and internalized God’s Word?
In older versions of the Lord’s Prayer, it adds the doxology, “for thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, forever. Amen.” Newer versions typically add it in brackets or place it in the footnote section. It is a beautiful and biblical ending, as it focuses on God’s preeminence, but it lacks manuscript support, as it is not included in the earliest and most reliable manuscripts.  Since Jews typically ended prayers with a doxology (and probably because “deliver us from evil” seems to be a rather abrupt ending), a scribe most likely modified David’s doxology in 2 Chronicles 29:11 and added it to the Lord’s Prayer around the second century, as a part of the church’s liturgy. Second Chronicles 29:11 says,
Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, Lord, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all.
Application Question: Did you grow up memorizing the Lord’s Prayer with the doxology attached? Should people pray it, if it is not in the original?
In line with the final petition of the Lord’s Prayer, Jude 1:24 says, “To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy.” God is able to keep us and present us without fault; however, much of this grace is given when we faithfully cry out, “Lord, lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” Prayer is key to spiritual protection and spiritual victory. It’s a recognition of our weakness and God’s strength. As we pray this, may the Lord aggressively snatch us out of the clutches of habitual sin, the draw of the world, and the traps of the devil. May we faithfully pray this for our own good and that of others.
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