The Lord's Prayer, Part 3Too Cozy with the Evil One
Leslie Basham: This is speaker and author Nancy Leigh DeMoss.
Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Do you really want to be protected from the evil one? Or do you want to be permitted to keep one foot in the world? We say we don’t want to sin, but is there a part of us that wants to have permission to toy with sin, to taste it, to touch it, to get close to it, to cuddle up to it? Do you want to be completely delivered from sin? Is that what you mean when you pray this prayer?
Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Tuesday, November 20.
Nancy's in the series, The Lord’s Prayer. We're going to pick back up where we were yesterday when Nancy unpacked the phrase:
Nancy: “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” (Matt. 6:13) Deliver us from the evil one. I hope you’ve been sobered. This is a serious petition. It’s one we all need to be praying. We need to be praying all these petitions, but this is particularly serious. Because if we fail to pray this, we are more likely to fall prey to the temptation and the attacks of Satan in our lives.
I want to spend one more session talking about this request, “Deliver us from the evil one,” and take us a bit further than we went in the last session. We live in a broken, fallen world. That’s not news to you. We are surrounded by evil. You are. Your mate is. Your friends are. In the workplace, even in our Christian environments, there is a lot of evil around us in our world.
The evil one is relentless in his efforts to lead us into sin. He is tireless. He just keeps going at it. You think, “I’ve been a Christian now forty-some years. Wouldn’t he leave me alone?” No. He’s not going to leave you alone because the closer you get to God and the more effective you become for God, the more reason he has to try to shut you down. He wants to make you dishonor God.
So in this petition, “Deliver us from evil, from the evil one,” we acknowledge our weakness and we acknowledge our inadequacy to resist sin on our own. As Jesus said to His disciples, “The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matt. 26:41). That’s why we have to pray about this. We need to be delivered. We need our Father’s protection and His deliverance. Even the most holy people that you know or can think of need to be kept back from the greatest transgressions.
In Colossians 3 the apostle Paul warns believers against the vilest sins—sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, covetousness, idolatry. He says, “You need to be warned about these things.”
King David in the Old Testament prayed for deliverance. Psalm 19:13: “Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me!” Lord, keep me back. Lord, if You don’t guard my heart, my flesh will run headlong into sin.
Don’t think you’re at the place where you can succeed at the Christian life apart from God’s restraining power.
To be delivered from the evil one, to live a holy life, to live a godly life requires constant watchfulness and vigilance on our part. Guarding our hearts, making choices to deny the flesh and strengthen the spirit, cultivating, tending the soil of our hearts, dealing with those little foxes that can get down underneath and destroy the roots of the vine, the little things.
You say, “It’s not that big a deal.” It is a big deal. It can destroy your fellowship and relationship with the Lord.
In Psalm 39, verse 1, David prays, “I will guard my ways.” I will watch out. I will be on guard. I will be vigilant.
You probably know if you’ve listened to Revive Our Hearts any length of time that Charles Spurgeon is one of my favorite authors. He just has a way of talking about these things. He says,
Fellow pilgrim, you are never so out of danger of sinning as to boast of security.
You never come to a place where you can say, “I’m immune. I’m exempt from temptation, from sinning in that way.”
There is a robber at every turn of the road to rob you of your jewels.
God has given you something precious that everywhere you turn there will be something attempting to steal that from you.
If you ever reach heaven it will be a miracle of divine grace to be ascribed entirely to your Father’s power. So be on your guard.
Having prayed you must also watch. You must guard every thought, word, and action with holy jealousy. Therefore, take heed to thy ways and watch unto prayer. No man ever fell into error through being too watchful.
Don’t get careless. Don’t think you can handle just this one time, just this one taste, just this one touch, just this one experience. Be vigilant, ever vigilant.
Peter says in 1 Peter 5:8, “Be sober minded. Be watchful. Keep alert. Your adversary the devil, he’s real and he prowls around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour” (paraphrased).
As we’ve been talking about this petition in the Lord’s Prayer, “Deliver us from the evil one,” I want us to make it personal by asking, “Do I really want to be protected from evil?” Do you really want to be protected from the evil one? Or do you want to be permitted to keep one foot in the world?
We say we don’t want to sin, but is there a part of us that wants to have permission to toy with sin, to taste it, to touch it, to get close to it, to cuddle up to it? Do you want to be completely delivered from sin? Is that what you mean when you pray this prayer? Or do you do what Pharaoh did?
You remember during the plagues of Egypt when the time came when Moses, as God’s instrument, waved his staff and frogs came out of the water and they covered the land and there were frogs in the houses, frogs outside the houses? Just everywhere covered with frogs. Pharaoh is going nuts and he says, “Get rid of these frogs!”
Moses says to Pharaoh, “When do you want to get rid of the frogs?”
And Pharaoh says, “Tomorrow.”
Tomorrow?! What’s he saying? "I just want one more night with the frogs. Just one more night. I don’t want to give in. I don’t want to surrender." Do you want one more night with the frogs, or do you really want to be delivered from your sin? Do you want to be delivered from evil, or do you just want relief from the consequences of your sin?
Is there something in you that still wants to toy with sin, to skate around the edges of it? As we pray this prayer, say, “Lord, give us a heart that wants to be completely, totally, absolutely delivered from all evil.” Not just a little bit. Not just most of it. But is there a little part of it I want to hold on to; this little, secret part of me; this little, private habit I have? How dangerous can that be?
Do you really mean it when you pray, “Lord protect us, deliver us from the evil one?”
Our hope in this battle is that deliverance is available. The fact that Jesus told us to pray this way means deliverance is available. We don’t have to succumb to sin. We don’t have to succumb to Satan’s power in our lives.
I don’t know about you, but that really encourages me to realize that I don’t have to give in to sin. We sometimes feel like the battle with sin is this very intense warfare, and it is at times. I’ve been in the throes of that at times. We think it’s just this battle between the flesh and the spirit. It’s going on, and I don’t know if I can win. I’ve got to hold on really tight because maybe I can’t win.
No, we’re not fighting from a losing position. We are fighting from a place of hope and the promise of victory! I hope that encourages you that victory is available. You can be delivered from evil, from the evil one.
Paul told the Ephesians in chapter 6, verse 16, “In all circumstances”—when you’re being tested, when you’re being tempted, when Satan is bombarding you, when those desires within you are welling up and overpowering you, in all circumstances—“take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one.”
Wow. I’ve thought about that verse recently at times when my own mind has been bombarded with thoughts that I knew were not from God, when I felt at times like I was going under, giving into wrong ways of thinking.
Take up the shield of faith. Faith—not in myself but in Christ. And with that shield of faith, I can extinguish, by God’s grace, all the flaming darts of the evil one, every one. If you’re a child of God who can pray, “Our Father in heaven,” then you can pray with confidence, with faith, “Deliver me; deliver us from the evil one.”
Where do we get our deliverance? Well, it all goes back to Christ. Christ is our great Deliverer. He can deliver us because He was assaulted by temptation. He bore its brunt. He endured those forty days of relentless bombardment from the evil one there in the wilderness where He was being tempted to shortcut God’s way, to make choices contrary to God’s choices. Relentlessly over those forty days, He was assaulted by temptation. But He overcame it!
And how did He do it? You say, “Well, He was God.” But He endured the temptation as a man. How did He do it? He overcame it by the grace of God and the power of God’s Word. He’s been there. He has overcome. And He lives in us to deliver us from temptation.
The writer to the Hebrews talks about this in a couple of places. Hebrews 2:18 says, “Because [Christ] himself has suffered when tempted,” because He’s been there, “he is able to help those who are being tempted.”
So when I’m being tempted and I’m tempted to think thoughts that I know are not God’s thoughts and tempted to nurse that resentful feeling that I know is going to snowball into full blown bitterness or unforgiveness, I’m tempted to say that thing, tell that piece of gossip that I know God doesn’t want me to tell, I’m battling the temptation, the temptation to be discouraged, to doubt God’s faithfulness . . .
When I’m battling the temptation to eat something I know God doesn’t want me to eat or go some place or spend my time in a way that I know is going to make me more vulnerable in the midst of that temptation, I need to lift my eyes up and look at Christ because He Himself has suffered being tempted. He is able to help me when I’m being tempted. He’s been there. He succeeded. He passed the test with flying colors.
That’s what Hebrews 4:15 says. “We do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.”
He’s been there. He’s been bombarded. He’s been attacked. He’s been assaulted. And yet at every point He said “yes” to the Father and “no” to what might have been the tempter’s plan for Him. Yet without sin.
So what is the very next verse? “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace” (Heb. 4:16). Don’t run from the throne. Don’t run from the presence of God when you’re in the middle of temptation. Run to it! Run to the throne of grace so that you may receive mercy and find grace to help. When? In time of need. That’s the place to go.
Why is it such a throne of grace? Because seated right there at the right hand of God is our great High Priest, the Lord Jesus, who has been tempted, yet never failed to obey God. He’s my Deliverer. He has overcome the evil one by His death on the cross. His death is the means of my deliverance, not just from ultimate judgment, not just for eternal salvation, but it becomes my means of deliverance from every attack of the evil one.
What does Hebrews 2:14 say? “That through death he might destroy [render powerless] the one who has the power of death, that is the devil.” Satan had the power to hold us hostage to death until Christ went and bore our death on the cross.
What did Christ do at the cross? At Calvary He rendered the devil powerless to overcome our lives. He did it to deliver all those who, through fear of death, were subject to lifelong slavery. I don’t know what sin you may have been subject to maybe for all of your life.
I’ve talked with women or read their stories or listened to them share their stories in the not too distant past who have dealt with all kinds of issues of bondage. I’m seeing God set people free as they get their eyes on Christ and the cross, as they believe there really is deliverance available.
I don’t have to live in bondage to this. I don’t have to live overcome by these wrong thoughts. I don’t have to give in to this sin again and again and again. I may have given in a hundred times before, but I don’t have to do it this time. Not because I’m so strong, not because I leave this place and I say, “Okay, I’m going to get a grip, and I’m going to fight temptation.”
We do need to resist the enemy. We need to resist temptation. But the greatest strategy is putting our eyes on Christ and realizing He has paid the price for our deliverance. He succeeded at obeying the will of the Father when He was under temptation, and He will deliver us. Whatever your lifelong slavery may be, whatever you may struggle with, the hope for your deliverance is Christ.
Now that doesn’t mean that He will deliver us out of the temptation or the test. He doesn’t always remove the conflict. He doesn’t always take us out of the conflict. We pray, “Deliver us from the evil one.” That doesn’t mean that God is going to necessarily extricate you from that painful marriage, from that difficult work environment, from that situation with a son or daughter who has caused grief to your family and is bringing evil into the family. It doesn’t mean you won’t face evil anymore.
I think about those three Hebrew young men in the Old Testament. God delivered them, not from the fire but in the fire. They actually had to walk into it and walk through it. But they never got any closer to Christ than when they were in the middle of that hot fire.
So Christ will walk with you into that place of temptation, into that place of testing, into that fiery test. He wants to take you through the fire as a conqueror.
Listen, surrender to Christ, love for Christ that’s never been tested isn’t tested. You don’t know what it’s made of. I mean, anybody can love God and obey God if their will is never tested, if they’re never confronted, if they don’t ever have a tough choice to make.
It’s when God said, “Don’t eat the fruit of that tree.” God set up a requirement. God set up a standard and then Eve found herself subject to temptation because there was something to be tempted over. That’s where she had a chance to demonstrate her loyalty, her allegiance. Is it to God or is it to myself?
Every test you face, every temptation you face, is a chance. It’s an opportunity to demonstrate your love for Christ, to test your faith, to say, “Do I really believe that Christ is my Deliverer and can set me free from this?”
Jesus prayed, “Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will” (Matt. 26:39). And then He went to the cross. The cup didn’t pass from Him. God didn’t deliver His Son from going through the cross. He had to die.
But on the other side of the cross, there was a resurrection. He was delivered by passing through the test. We are delivered by being given grace to endure the test, grace to submit to God’s will. For God to deliver us from the evil one, He will lead us; He will carry us through the test so that His kingdom will come, so that His will will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Let me close with this word of encouragement. We have God’s promise that one day we will be completely, eternally delivered from the very presence of evil and the evil one. Does that excite anybody here? Do you want that day to come quickly?
In 2 Timothy chapter 4:18, as Paul was getting ready to be martyred for his faith, he said, “The Lord will rescue me.” He’s getting ready to be probably beheaded. He said, “The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.”
“The Lord’s going to rescue you? You’re about to get killed!”
“The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed.” Beyond the cross, there’s a resurrection. Beyond this life with its hurt and its pain and its temptation and its vulnerabilities and its failures, there is eternity, free from the very presence of evil and the evil one.
In the last chapter in the book of Romans, chapter 16, verse 20, the apostle Paul says, “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.”
You say, “When will that be?” Soon. “How soon?” I don’t know, but soon. And you know what? In the meantime, you’ve got the second half of that verse.
“The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.” In the meantime, while Satan’s still out there, you’ve got God’s grace to deal with it from here till heaven.
So do you believe that God can deliver you when you’re tempted? Do you believe that He can enable you to say “no” to sin? Or do you still believe in your heart, are you holding onto that deception that you have to continue in sinful patterns and bondages?
Ladies, the truth will set you free. That’s where you need to counsel your heart according to the truth. Thank You, Lord, that when I am tempted I do not have to sin. By Your grace I can say “no” to sin.
Do you believe God can grant you victory over the wiles, the schemes, and the attacks of Satan? Do you believe God can keep you from falling? Are you looking to Christ to deliver you from sin? Or are you somehow striving, struggling to win the battle in your own efforts? You can’t. Your striving will be losing.
Jesus Christ is our great Deliverer. He is our hope. He is our "knight in shining armor." So when we pray, “Lord, deliver us from the evil one,” we’re saying, “Oh, Christ, I look to You. I lean on You. I trust You to be my great Deliverer.”
Would you just pray from your heart right now? “Oh Lord, lead me not into temptation. Keep me from the places and the situations where I would in any way be prone to dishonor You. Don’t lead me into a temptation that will be beyond my ability to resist by Your grace. Lord, would You deliver me from every attack, every assault of the evil one? Would You deliver me from the evil that lurks within my own heart? Thank You for Christ who is my Rescuer. He is my Deliverer. May my life glorify You as others see how I have been rescued from evil.”
Then would you pray for others that you know or love who may be in the snare of the evil one right now? You see that Satan is having a heyday in their life. They are habitually giving over parts of their life to the evil one. They’re caught in bondage of sin.
Would you pray, “Oh Lord, deliver us. Deliver that person. Deliver Your people. Deliver us from the evil one that our lives may bring glory to You, that Your name may be reverenced and Your kingdom will come and Your will will be done on earth as it is in heaven. We pray it in Jesus’ name, amen.”
Leslie: Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been unpacking the phrase in the Lord’s Prayer that says, “Deliver us from the evil one.” And she’s been asking a great question, “Do we really want to be delivered?”
Today’s program is part of a series called The Lord’s Prayer, Part 3. The entire series invites you to ponder important questions about your prayer life.
You can get a copy of the series on CD, or listen to the audio for free at our website or read the transcript. You’ll find all the details at ReviveOurHearts.com.
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American history teaches us about patriots who won freedom from a king. But the Bible teaches us to submit to the ultimate King. Find out how living for God’s kingdom affects your life, tomorrow on Revive Our Hearts.
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