PFOA: "Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil"

"And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil." Matthew 6:13 (KJV)

Ten persons, armed with knives, rushed into the crowded Kunming Railway station and started slashing indiscriminately, killing 29 and wounding over a hundred more. Kunming is far away from restive Xinjiang or the major political and commercial centres of Beijing and Shanghai. One can usually walk around safely in that city. We are reminded again that evil can strike anywhere and at any time.

We live in a fallen world and constantly face the reality of sin and its consequences. All around us we read and hear of the lost of lives caused by tsunamis and earthquakes; of sufferings inflicted on innocent civilians in wars, revolutions, ethnic conflicts and terrorism; of the scourge of diseases; and the exploitation of the poor, neglected and marginalised. At a more personal level, there are road or work-related accidents; illnesses like cancer or stroke; and of course death itself.

When we plea "deliver us from evil", we may just be thinking of these external situations. So we pray for journey mercies when we travel, for healing and relief from pain for the sick, and peace and comfort for the bereaved. Sometimes the hurts result from broken relationships, from jealousy, bitterness or resentment. We can pray for deliverance from such evils as well. The pain is real, and we must not discount or trivialise it.

But as we walk closer with God, we find that we have to struggle with evil internally. Paul recognised this when he wrote, "When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God's law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am!" Romans 7:21b-24a (NIV). In this struggle, many times we will have to cry out, "Deliver me from evil!"

The source of evil is the Satan, so in later translations we have "deliver us from the evil one" (NIV). Satan rebelled against God, and it was he who tempted Adam and Eve, who challenged God over Job, and was soundly defeated when he tried to distract Jesus from fulfilling His purpose on earth. Even though Satan has lost the war, he continues to try to frustrate God's purpose of redeeming and reconciling the world to Himself.

The Holy Spirit is in us to help us in this battle. We are to resist the devil, and he will flee from us (James 4:7), but have we not sometimes done the opposite? In disobedience we resisted the Holy Spirit, grieved Him and instead chose that which is evil.

"Lord, deliver us from the evil one".