Deliver Us From Evil
“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”
As recorded in the Gospel according to Matthew, the last petition of the Lord’s Prayer is “lead us not into temptation” (6:13). But how can Jesus speak such words? Does not the Bible tell us that God does not tempt anyone (James 1:13)?
This verse has the potential to cause us much consternation, but looking at a couple of different grammatical considerations will help us understand exactly what Jesus is praying in today’s passage. In the first place, Matthew 6:13 need not refer to a direct enticement to sin that we typically associate with the word temptation. If our Savior was implying that the Father can lure us into sin, then He would be contradicting the witness of Scripture. However, this is not what He is saying.
Even though the Lord does not allure us with sin, the Bible is clear He allows His people to go through times of testing. For example, Jesus Himself was tested in the wilderness by Satan as a means to fulfill His vocation as the second Adam (Matt. 4:1–11). In this case, the Creator permitted the Devil to entice the Messiah to sin, but God Himself was not the agent of temptation. When Jesus asks the Father to lead us not into temptation, He is imploring Him not to allow His people to face an insurmountable test in which our enemy tempts us to sin.
The parallel clause “but deliver us from evil” (6:13) further shows this to be true. Poneros is the Greek term lying behind “evil” in this passage, but this word is better translated “evil one.” Jesus therefore shows us that we should pray for protection against Satan. We may thus pray: “Lord, please do not let me be exposed to a time of testing in which I will face the full fury of the Devil’s assault. Protect me from the enemy and deliver me from his hands.”
As those totally dependent on the Spirit (Gal. 5:16), we should pray daily to be delivered from Satan’s assault. The Father may allow testing to come our way, but He promises to sustain us and help us be faithful to Him (1 Cor. 10:13). All we have to do, this prayer shows, is ask Him for help. When we are faced with an onslaught of temptation and evil, let us implore the Lord for rescue.
Satan is called the accuser of the brethren (Rev. 12:10) because he likes to make us feel as if God has not forgiven us. But guilt is an objective reality, and if we have turned to Jesus, we have been cleansed — objectively, truly, and in reality. If you think the Lord holds your past against you, pray for deliverance from the evil one and know that you are forgiven. Pray also for Christian brothers and sisters who are having trouble embracing the Father’s mercy.
Passages for Further Study:
Psa. 71; 109; 144
2 Tim. 4:18