The petition we are looking at tonight is what we might call the Superhero petition. It’s just like the Bat signal. When someone is in need of help from Batman, the commissioner turns on this giant spotlight to let Batman know that his help is needed to stop evildoers. If you’re more into realism, then think of it as the 911 petition. It’s what we call to get the police to help when evil is happening.
Of course – the One we’re going to for help is more powerful than the Batmobile and has a better response time than the first responders to an emergency scene.
It’s God. God to whom we pray, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”
I. What is Evil?
The question we need to answer first is: “What is evil?” Of course, there are certain things that immediately pop into our minds when we hear the word “evil.” Things like terrorism. Things like sex trafficking. Things like kidnapping. Things like mass shootings, serial killers and drunk driving.
Earlier today in the UK a police officer was stabbed near Parliament. Believe it or not – CNN and Fox News are in agreement. It’s bad. It’s evil.
But then there are the things we consider evil that are a little closer to our hearts. The coworker who consistently bad mouths us to the boss. The friend who betrays us. The guy at the coffee shop who is just plain rude to us.
What do these smaller evils have in common with those bigger evils? They are sin. Sin done to us. That’s the first thing that we are asking in this petition. To deliver us from Sin Done to Us.
But right before the seventh request is a request that ties closely to it: Lead us Not Into Temptation.
The reality is that if you are asking for protection from some sin that your coworker might do to you – Don’t you think there are people asking for protection from some sin that you do to them?
The Bible tells us, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)
That includes you. That means you sin. That means you do evil.
What’s interesting about the sixth petition is that it recognizes this. “Lord, lead us not into temptation,” means, “Lord, deliver me from doing evil. Protect me from my struggle with pornography. Keep me from raising my voice at my spouse. Stop me from gossiping about my friends. Lord, protect me from…me.”
That’s the second things we ask in these petitions: To deliver us from Sin Done by Us.
But this sin – the sin you and the sin done to you – comes from somewhere. There’s a bigger bad guy. A source of evil.
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 6:12)
They aren’t the things of fiction. They aren’t myths. They are very, scarily real.
To put it simply – If we believe the Bible and we believe Jesus is our Savior and we believe angels are protecting us (the comforting things) – We also need to believe the scary things. That the devil is real. That evil angels are real. That long ago – the devil and the fallen angels rebelled against God and have been fighting against God’s plans ever since then.
God’s plan is to have you in heaven.
The devil’s goal is to have you in hell.
Look at how much the devil wants it: The devil is prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8)
He stalks. He prowls. He pounces. And if you’ve ever seen National Geographic, perhaps you know how brutally violent it is when the lion catches the antelope. That’s nothing compared to what happens when the devil catches ahold of you and me.
So, we pray a third thing – Deliver Us from The Evil One. Deliver us from the devil.
This all sounds scary. You might have gone into this night thinking, “It’s a pretty scary world.” But after recognizing the reality of the devil and his legions of demons – it only gets scarier. It’s like a horror movie come true.
But I’m not scared.
Not of the devil.
Not of his demons.
Not of evil.
Neither should you be.
Galatians 1:4 says this, “Jesus gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age.”
Which sounds strange.
You might have expected Jesus to fight him one on one. To go fisticuffs with the devil. To shoot powerful lightning bolts from his hands.
But the Divine knockout punch was much different:
It started on a Thursday evening. Jesus had gotten done eating a special celebration supper with his closest friends. It was a night that was supposed to be filled with joy. A night that was supposed to be a great connection between friends.
But there was something about that night that was off. About halfway through the meal, Jesus looked up to his disciples. His expression was sorrowful. He explained, “One of you will betray me.” (Matthew 26:21) “One of you will be tempted by evil and fall. One of you will do evil to me.”
Later that night as they were in a beautiful garden praying – the mood shifting again. Torches and clanking of metal preceding a mob of people led by Judas – the betrayal – hell-bent on killing Jesus.
Jesus approaches them.
Jesus sizes them up.
Jesus offers them his hands for arrest.
He says, “This is your night. The night when darkness reigns.” (Luke 22:53)
And it was.
Evil arrested Jesus.
Evil mocked Jesus.
Evil slapped Jesus.
Evil condemned Jesus.
Evil killed Jesus.
But the night when darkness reigned – was only one night.
Three days later, Jesus came back to life.
Three days later, Jesus defeated sin.
Three days later, Jesus defeated death.
Three days later, Jesus defeated the devil.
Three days later, Jesus delivered us from evil.
And he has the same promise for us. One day – at just the right time – he will take us home to heaven – a place apart from this evil world. A place apart from sin. A place apart from the devil.
A place of peace.
A place of love.
A place with the victor of life itself – Jesus.
Lord, deliver us from evil now until you deliver us from evil then. Amen.