Psalm 61:3

Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer; for You have been my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Deliver Us from All Evil



 

Jesus teaches us to pray, finally, “Our Father…deliver us from evil.”  

                What is the evil from which we are to pray to be delivered?  We have already prayed for deliverance from evils that plague and attack the body.  This happens when we pray for daily bread.  So that is included here.  We pray that God would take away all sickness, poverty, and hardship that harms our human flesh. 

                Theft, war, bad leaders, angry neighbors, hurricanes, tornadoes, droughts, heat, and more.  There are so many bodily dangers in this world that it is impossible to name them all.  That is why Jesus summarizes them under the heading of daily bread.  These are evils from which we need to be delivered.

                We have also prayed for deliverance from evils that attack and assault the spirit.  Forgive us our trespasses.  Lead us not into temptation.  Your greatest spiritual need, contrary to popular wisdom, is forgiveness.  We are sinful through and through, and because of it God should completely ignore us. 

                It is this fact—that God will not hold our sins against us—which enables us to pray.  All our evil deeds, our trespasses and transgressions, are forgiven for the sake of Jesus and His cross.  If they were not we would not dare to pray.  But because there is forgiveness, we dare to pray as sons.  We need to be delivered from our own evil.   

                Perhaps, following on the heels of yesterday’s sermon, it is obvious that we need to be delivered from the “evil one” who brings temptations.  Peter describes the devil as a roaring lion ready to devour us.  He is ready and willing to drag us from the hand of God and down into the pits of hell.  We certainly need to be delivered from his evil power.

                Jesus enacts all of this during His earthly ministry.  Jesus never encounters a physical evil that He cannot heal.  Disease, paralysis, hunger, even death.  Jesus heals it, fixes it, raises it.  There is no earthly, physical evil that He cannot overcome.

                Jesus also overcomes all manner of spiritual evils.  Obviously He forgives sins.  He says those words all the time and backs them up with miracles.  He combats false faith with right teaching.  He strengthens faith and love with His Word and presence.

                And He drives back the power of the devil.  Demons cower in fear at the feet of Jesus.  He resists the devil in the wilderness.  Devils and demons are no match for the Son of God.

                Yet all of this would have had very little impact if it were not for what happened on Good Friday.  Think about it.  

                All those who were healed of their physical ailments would eventually get sick again, from something.  Those whom Jesus fed with miracles will grow hungry again in a few hours.  Those raised from the dead will die again.  These are not permanent.

                Those who were forgiven will sin again.  Those whose faith is strengthened will struggle with trust.  Those who have been taught will forget.

                Demons and the devil will continue to operate in the world.  You could be exorcised of your demons only to have them return.  The devil can be turned down today only to poke his head back up tomorrow.

                These solutions that Jesus offers, these miracles that He graciously performs, will all eventually be undone if He does not do something far greater, something much more drastic.  Think of it this way.  With His miracles Jesus is putting a bucket under a leak in the roof.  That may take care of the immediate problem, but a larger issue remains.  The roof must be fixed.

                Humanity, this sinful fallen world, must be fixed.  The miracles were a kind and loving gesture, but the real solution is much more significant, much more drastic.

                Jesus must die.  

                To deliver us from the evils that plague the body, Jesus must submit to those evils and suffer greatly.  To deliver us from the power of sin and temptation, Jesus must submit to the punishment for them.  To deliver us from the devil, Jesus must make it look like the devil won.

                It is only here, at the cross, that ultimate deliverance is possible.  This is the cure for all our physical needs, because everyone who looks to the cross of Christ will have eternal life.  

This is the total solution for the needs of the spirit because here the forgiveness of sins is purchased and won.  The cross opens a flowing fountain of forgiveness that will never run dry.  It strips the devil of all his power, exposing him for the liar he truly is.

The death of Jesus is God’s cure for the ills of the entire universe.  And it exposes the ministry of Jesus, not as a temporary failure, but as a foretaste of the glory to come.  One day there will be total healing and no more disease.  One day there will be no more temptation and no more need for forgiveness.  And all because Jesus died to pay for it.

When we pray, “Deliver us from evil,” we can have complete confidence that not only will this petition be answered, it is already answered.  God has delivered us from all wickedness in the death of Jesus.  The cross has purchased for us a destiny free from all evil.  We pray knowing that even if evil things happen now, they will not happen then.

So we pray, confidently as sons, “Father in heaven…deliver us from evil.”  He has.  And He will. 

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