Revive Our Hearts Podcast

The Day We’re Delivered from Evil

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Watch Nancy teach this message.

Leslie Basham: Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth says that you need protection from sin, no matter how old you are.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: When I was a kid, I somehow had this picture that as I grew in grace and grew in Christ, one day I would be a mature believer who wouldn’t have a heart for sinning, and I would not do things wrong.

I’m telling you, some days the temptation is greater now than it was fifty years ago! And I’m thinking, What’s this?! Well, it’s a reminder that every day I need to be kept from evil and from the Evil One. We will experience that this side of heaven.

Until we’re delivered from this body of sin—from the very presence of sin—we are never immune to temptation or the potential for falling. No one is invincible!

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of Choosing Gratitude, for March 13, 2019.

Did you know that Psalm 121 is considered The Traveler’s Psalm? It’s been a great comfort to believers over the centuries, and Nancy’s here to tell you how you can find comfort in it as well. She’s in the middle of a series called “A Song for the Christian’s Journey.”

Nancy: I got an email yesterday from a friend who was asking for prayer. Her family is leaving today for an overseas trip, and they’re going to a country where there was a recent terrorist attack. She said, “This is sobering!” Well, I’ve been living in Psalm 121, so that’s what was on my mind, and I told her that I was going to be teaching that passage today.

I said to her, “Take these promises with you.” This is a traveler’s song. These were the children of Israel who would be traveling, coming to the temple in Jerusalem three times a year for their feasts and holy days. And they would sing these songs.

In this passage, Psalm 121, we see that there are toils and tribulations and trials. There are things that can trip us up on the way. But we have a God who is our Keeper, who protects us on our journey all the way through life until we get to heaven.

We’re talking about verses 5 through 8 as we pick up in Psalm 121 today, but let me read the entire psalm, just to remind us where we’ve been:

I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber.

Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade on your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore (Ps. 121:1–8).

It’s a great song for those are traveling, literally, to be encouraged as they go out and as they come back, but also for us in the goings and comings of our Christian life—the happenings, the circumstances, the struggles, the trials. It’s great to know that we have a God who cares, who watches, who guards, who keeps, who preserves His people! “The Lord is your Keeper.”

Now, that makes me ask, “Who can claim this promise . . . and the other promises of this passage?” Can anyone who happens to read this passage say, “The Lord is my Keeper; the Lord is my shade on my right hand.” Are these promises that can be applied to anyone? The answer is, if He is your Lord, then He is your Keeper.

If you do not acknowledge Him as your Lord, if you do not have a redeemed relationship with Him, then you cannot count on these promises to apply to you. It’s that simple. Now, God does give common grace, and He does often protect those who don’t know him . . . or nobody would be alive, right?! We’d all be dead. We’d all be under His judgment. So God preserves and protects.

But you cannot look to heaven and claim His preservation, His protection, His guardian care if you don’t know Him, if you don’t have a relationship with Him. You can’t say, “I want to live my life the way I want to live it. I want to be my own lord. I want to be my own god. I want to make my own decisions. But, oops!, when I get in trouble, I want to lift up my eyes to heaven and say, ‘O Lord, help!’”

A lot of people do that, don’t they? God is saying, “You want help? Then you need Me as your Lord. If I’m your Lord, I’ll be your Keeper.”

You see, God didn’t make these promises to the Moabites or the Ammonites or the Egyptians. He does have promises to the nations that if they turn to Him, He will be their God. But those who are following false gods, who are worshiping idols, who are being their own god, they can’t claim these promises.

These promises were given in the Old Testament to the community of faith, the Jewish people who believed in God and followed Him and trusted Him. Now, as they abandoned God, the fact that they were Jews didn’t mean that they could claim these promises if they weren’t following God as their Lord. It wasn’t just a bloodline that mattered, it was their faith. Was it in God?

Were they trusting Him to be their Keeper? So, the fact that you call yourself a Christian doesn’t mean that you can claim these promises. The question is:

  • Are you a Christian?
  • Are you a follower of Christ?
  • Are you putting your faith in Him?
  • Are you trusting Him to be your Keeper, your Preserver?

And we’ll talk more about that in the final session tomorrow on the Lord as our Keeper.

But for those who belong to Him, here’s something I find really amazing as I’ve been meditating on this psalm. The Maker of heaven and earth, the sovereign Lord of the universe, cares for you! The Lord is your Keeper! The Lord Jehovah, the Maker of heaven and earth. Somebody get excited! He cares for you!

What are there, six or seven billion people on the planet today? He cares for you! He cares for me! I mean, how does God do that, for starters? Well, He’s God. That’s what makes Him God. Some of you have six children, not six billion (it sometimes seems like six billion!), and you’re thinking, I can’t even keep track of my six kids and know what they’re doing and be caring for all of their needs. It seems like a lot!

It is a lot for us, because we’re humans. But for God, I don’t know how many millions or billions or believers in Christ there are in this world—and through all of the centuries—but He cares for each one. He cares for you! Do you ever start to feel just lost in the universe? Like, everything else that matters, everybody else’s problems, all these world problems that you read about in the news, that God must be really occupied with dealing with all that stuff.

Why would He care about your situation, your wound, your pain, your problem, your inexplicable situation, your mystery that you’re dealing with? Why would God care about that? I don’t know why, but I know that He does! He cares for you! The Lord is your Keeper.

I think that is amazing! It should be a cause for great joy and celebration and thanksgiving: “Lord, thank You that You care for me. You keep me. You are my Keeper.” The passage says the Lord is your Keeper, and then, “The Lord is your shade on your right hand.” That word “shade” could mean a couple of different things.

It could be a shade tree, for example, pictured here or some sort of covering that provides relief from the sun. It could speak to us of the cool refreshing of His presence in a hot wilderness land, a hot desert. He is the shade. He is the shade tree. He’s the covering, the awning that protects us, that refreshes us, that cools us. It could mean that.

This is a word that also is often translated in the Scripture as “shadow.” The Lord is your shadow on your right hand. I’ve been thinking about this, and I realize you can’t get closer to yourself than your shadow. I mean, your shadow never gets separated from you, right? The shadow cannot be separated from the object nor the object from the shadow.

That says that the Lord your Keeper. He’s not distant. He’s right there! He’s close by. He’s closer to you than any threat or danger could possibly be. That’s not to say there won’t be threats or dangers, but it’s to say that He is there! He’s on your right hand, right there. A shade tree fifty feet away doesn’t protect you from the sun’s heat, nor does a shelter that’s a block away.

But God is not fifty feet away or a block away or any distance away. He is at our right hand; He is right here, covering, protecting His people at our side. You can’t go anywhere if God doesn’t go there with you. Think of your shadow when you think of this psalm. You move, your shadow moves. You move, God moves—so to speak—not that God is limited to time or space or place.

But wherever you are as His child, He is there in you, around you, above you, beneath you, behind you, and on every side. Whatever you do . . . You go out to work, you go out to shop, you go out to eat, you go to church, you go to sporting events, you come home to relax . . . whatever you do, He goes with you.

He is there as your protection; He is there as your defender. He stands at our side as a bodyguard. You see these images of the President or the Vice President of the United States, and they have secret service, but they’re not very secretive! (laughter) I mean, you can tell who they are. They’re the men in suits and earpieces.

They’re always there, right there, and they’re always looking around to see what’s going on, to see if there’s anything out of the ordinary or anything to be concerned about. Well, they could fall down on the job, they could miss something, they could not see something, but God is always there. He is El Roi, the God who sees. He’s always attentive, always watchful, always looking out for you.

That should encourage us! It should also give us what Scripture calls “the fear of the Lord,” because everywhere I am, there my “Shadow” is. He is the shadow at your right hand. When I’m watching that thing on TV or surfing the Internet, He’s there; He’s watching; He’s my shadow. Nobody else may see.

He knows what I eat. He knows what I do in the middle of the night. He knows what I do in my thoughts when I’m alone. Even if anybody else were there, they couldn’t see what I’m thinking. He’s there. He sees; He knows, so “the fear of the Lord” is living in the constant, conscious realization that “God is here.”

But it’s also a great encouragement, because anywhere I go, anything I do . . . My friends taking their family to that other country this week, God is with them. Now, that doesn’t mean that bad things won’t happen, but it means if it does, then it got filtered through God’s fingers of love, through His wisdom. He knows. He cares.

And not only can you be assured that God is at your side and caring for you, watching, protecting, but you can assure your mate, your children, your friends who know Jesus of the same promises: that He is with them, that He is watching, that He is protecting, that He is caring.

As you send that son or daughter off to second grade at the beginning of the school year, or you send a son or daughter off to college, or you marry off a child and you realize they’ve left the place where you can be right there with them—holding, carrying, protecting—but you send them with the Lord who cares, who protects. That ought to be a great encouragement to you as a parent!

I remember dropping off a young friend of mine at college when he was a teenager. His parents weren’t able to make that trip. I went in the dorm, and I saw some of the kinds of posters and kind of the atmosphere in college. It wasn’t bad, but my heart began to just be concerned for this young man who was young in his faith.

I began to pray for the fear of the Lord, the awareness of God’s presence to be there in that dorm, in that room, in that place with him. My heart began to relax as I realized (it wasn’t even my child; it was somebody else’s child), “I can trust this child over to the Lord’s care and keeping.” That should be an encouragement!

The passage goes on in verse 6 to say, “The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night.” Now, this is all because the Lord is your Keeper. The Lord is your Keeper, so He’ll be your shade at your right hand, or your shadow, and the sun shall not strike you by day nor the moon by night.

This could picture several different things. The “sun by day” could remind us of the danger of sunstroke while these Jewish pilgrims were traveling during the day in the hot Eastern desert. He’s going to be your protection, “your shade,” your refreshment. So, if that’s true, what does the “moon by night” mean? People have speculated as to what it might mean.

Some say that it could mean cold nights in the desert—the danger of frostbite—He’ll protect you there. It could speak of mental or emotional illness. Ancient writers sometimes call that “moonstroke.” The word “luna”—Latin for “moon”—”lunacy,” “losing your mind.” Mental or emotional illness or disease sometimes were associated with the moon.

You hear about crazy things happening under a full moon, or women having babies, things that can happen under the moonlight. It’s saying whatever you face, day or night, the Lord is going to be with you. He is going to be your Keeper; He is going to be your protector. It could talk about dangers real or imaginary.

Sometimes the things we fear are things that are real, and sometimes the things we fear are just in our imagination, but they feel real to us. So whether it’s sunstroke or moonstroke—if that even exists—whatever it is, day and night, around the clock, all dangers 24/7, He is going to be our Keeper as we walk through that journey

Verse 7 just summarizes that, “The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life.” Or as some translations say, “your soul.” Listen, it’s the soul of man and woman, more than the body, that is in the greatest need of being kept!\.

Because, if you preserve your body but you lose your soul, what have you gained? But you can lose your body, but if you’ve kept your soul, then you are safe. He will keep your life. He will keep your soul. He will keep you from all evil. It’s just a sense of complete protection. Nothing can come into our lives that is not filtered through His will, through His sovereignty, through His hand, through His design.

There’s nothing random in this universe; there’s nothing chance happening in your life. We talk about having “an accident.” I have a brother who was killed in a car accident, but I don’t call it a car accident. I call it a car wreck. It was a wreck, but it was not an accident. There was no chance about this. God was not asleep that day. He was still on His throne.

He was my brother’s Keeper; He was our family’s Keeper—He is. Now, He took David to heaven after that car wreck, but He kept his soul, and he kept him from all evil. He took Him to heaven where he is now free from all evil influences and circumstances.

And here we enter into the realm of mystery. God doesn’t author sin; He doesn’t instigate evil. But He does overrule it, and He does use it for His purposes, for our good, and for His glory. We’re not saying that affliction will not come, that temptation will not come—when it says the Lord will keep you from all evil—these things will come.

But we need to remind ourselves, first of all, the things we view as calamities are not necessarily evil as God views them. Those circumstances that seem evil to us—things we would not script, we would not choose—may be instruments that God wants to use for greater good in our lives, to make us more like Jesus.

What He is promising is not that we will avoid all of that, but that we will be kept in the midst of it and that we will not be overcome by evil, if we are His children. And there’s protection that God gives us from what we might call natural evil circumstances. But, by far, the greater protection is from moral evil, from sin.

Tim Keller says it this way:

An ounce of sin can harm us more than a ton of suffering! Sin can harden our hearts so we lose everything, but suffering—if handled rightly—can make us wiser, happier, and deeper.

So we trust God as we’re saying, “Why did this happen to me? This is an evil circumstance!” It may not be.

It may be a circumstance that God is using to deliver you from the evil in your heart, to make you more dependent on Him, more loving, more compassionate, more merciful, more holy. God is using that circumstance—if you’ll let Him—to preserve you from all evil. So we pray, “Lord, lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil” (Matt. 6:13).

That’s in the Lord’s prayer, and we’re praying to be delivered—not just from circumstances that are not to our liking. But we’re praying to be delivered first and foremost from the evil within our own hearts. “Lord, set me free from evil I don’t even see and I’m not even aware of—hidden sin. Yes, keep me from presumptuous sin, but keep me from hidden sins. Keep me from things I wouldn’t realize.”

You know, we never get to the place where we don’t need God’s constant watchcare and protection from sin, from evil and from the Evil One. When I was a kid, I somehow had this picture that, as I grew in grace and grew in Christ, one day I would be a mature believer who wouldn’t have a heart for sinning; that I would not do things wrong.

I’m telling you, some days the temptation is greater now than it was fifty years ago! And I’m thinking, What’s this?! Well, it’s a reminder that every day I need to be kept from evil and from the Evil One. He doesn’t stop coming after us. Even when the Devil tempted Jesus in the wilderness, Scripture says after forty days and nights of this, he left Him “for a season” (Luke 4:13 KJV).

But there were other times in Jesus’ life when He experienced temptation. We will experience that this side of heaven. Until we’re delivered from this body of sin—from the very presence of sin—we are never immune to temptation or the potential for falling. No one is invincible. No one is immune from falling into, potentially, the worst of sins, apart from His keeping, preserving grace and power.

To be protected from sin requires that we stay dependent on Him, trusting Him to keep us from falling. That’s what Jesus prayed for us in John 17:11–12 as He was getting ready to go to the cross and then leave this earth,

Holy Father, keep them in your name . . . While I was with them, I kept them in your name . . . I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction . . . I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them [in the world] from the evil one(vv. 11–12, 15).

We do have God’s promise that one day we will be completely eternally delivered from evil and the Evil One. Are you looking forward to that? I am!

This is what the apostle Paul says in 2 Timothy 4:18, with assurance!

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.

I love that benediction. I love that promise. I claim it. “The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom.”

That’s a New Testament version of Psalm 121. And so it says in verse 8, back to Psalm 121: “The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.” This gives us a sense of the thoroughness, the completeness, the scope of His protection.

And you see the contrasts in this passage: He’ll keep us day and night; He’ll keep us from all evil; He’ll keep our whole life—every part of us: body, soul and spirit. He’ll keep our going out, our coming in—our going out to work, to shop, to carpool, to play, to church and our coming back to our homes, our public duties, our private life. He’ll keep us in all of that whole range of experience on our journey—our going out and our coming in, now and forever, in life and in death.

As the great missionary statesman Adoniram Judson, who went to Burma as a missionary, said,

He has not led me so tenderly thus far to forsake me at the very gate of heaven.

So He leads us in our going out and in our coming in. That coming in could be when we come into our heavenly home, at the point of our death.

He will lead us. He will care for us. He will guide us. He will protect us. People fear that transition from this life to the next, and it can be painful. Some of you have loved ones who are in that transition right now. The Lord is your Keeper. “[He] will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.”

There’s another psalm that’s familiar to many of us that reminds me, in many ways, of Psalm 121. I just want to wash our hearts with these words from Psalm 91 as we close this session:

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, "My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust." For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.

You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness, nor the destruction that wastes at noonday. A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. You will only look with your eyes and see the recompense of the wicked. [And some of this, of course, is talking in the ultimate sense.]

Because you have made the Lord your dwelling place—the Most High, who is my refuge—no evil shall be allowed to befall you, no plague come near your tent. For he will command his angels concerning you to guard [to keep] you in all your ways. On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone” (vv. 1–12).

The hymn writer put it this way:

The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose
I will not, I will not desert to his foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I'll never, no never, no never forsake!

(How Firm a Foundation” by John Rippon)

And Father, we trust You, our Keeper, in this life and in the next, now and forever, in our going out and our coming in, in our waking and in our sleeping, in the day and in the night, at all times, now and forever. You are the Lord our Keeper, and for that we give you thanks in Jesus’ name, amen.

Leslie: That’s Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth. She’s been reminding us of the promise we have in Jesus, that one day we will be completely and eternally delivered from evil. That message is part of the series called “A Song for the Christian’s Journey.” And will you stick with me on the journey theme for a minute?

When you’re on a long trip, a lot of times you just keep going mile after mile. That’s kind of like us connecting with God day by day. That’s why Revive Our Hearts is here for you each weekday for that daily reminder. But sometimes on a journey you get to an oasis. It’s time to stop and be refreshed. And that’s what the conference Revive ’19 is going to be like.

Instead of just that daily reminder, it’s a time to pause and be saturated in God’s Word. Nancy, I know this conference is going to encourage a lot of women to keep going in their journey.

Nancy: Yes, Leslie, the theme is Seeking Him, and we’re basing that theme off of Hosea 10:12 that says, “It is time to seek the Lord.” I think all of us would agree that now is the time to seek the Lord on behalf of a world that is desperately needy of His truth.

My friends Dannah Gresh, Mary Kassian, Damaris Carbaugh and others will be at this conference helping me explore this theme. I hope you’ll join us September 27 and 28. You can do that in person in Indianapolis, or you can gather in your own community, watching the livestream with a group of women in your area.

To get more details on Revive ’19 or how to sign up your group to watch, visit ReviveOurHearts.com. And keep in mind, the early registration discount ends soon, so make your plans now by visiting ReviveOurHearts.com.

Leslie: Imagine a small child’s hand lost in their father’s strong hand. Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth says that’s a picture of our security in Jesus! She’ll explain more tomorrow. Please join us for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth is reminding you that God is with you. The program is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

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