Soli Deo Gloria: For the Glory of God Alone
Posted: Thursday, December 27, 2012 6:00 pm
The Messenger, December 27, 2012
Deliver Us From Evil!
By CAMILLE KENDALL
Special to The Messenger
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Matthew 6:13
A book club I once belonged to read Elie Wiesel’s “Night,” a short account of his experience in the Nazi German concentration camps at Auschwitz and Buchenwald. Discussing the book, one member of the group commented, “I just can’t imagine how anyone could be so wicked. How can a person commit such acts of evil against another?” Today, people ask the same question in light of the school shootings in Connecticut, or in light of the 3000-plus babies aborted in our country every day.
What my friend didn’t comprehend was the depth of the depravity of the human heart, of her own heart. We are all sinners, hostile to God and to His law. Given the right set of circumstances and the right motivation, I am confident any one of us “decent” people could commit similar acts of atrocity.
As a Christian, I find that I am engaged in an internal battle between good and evil. No, I don’t desire to shoot up a school or to kill babies; but still, there is sin lurking in my heart. I really want to sleep with my boyfriend, even though God forbids sex outside of marriage. I make critical comments about someone who has offended me at church. I resent that God hasn’t given me a fat bank account or a fabulous career. I serve myself in my relationships with others, only putting as much in as I think I can get out.
Not only do I find evil in my heart, struggling to express itself through my words and actions, but I find evil in the world around me. Movies and hit songs tell me sex outside of marriage is okay, when scripture tells me it is depraved. Advertisers tell me I deserve more, more, more: if I don’t get my fair share, then I’m being cheated. If I am unhappy or unfulfilled, it is someone else’s fault. The culture we live in will not convict me of sin and call me to repentance; rather, it will feed my selfish desires.
There is evil in my heart, encouraged and fed by the world around me. And then, there is the devil. The Bible tells us Satan “prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (I Peter 5:8). Our enemy, our adversary: Satan is not passive in his opposition to everything that honors God.
My heart is indeed a battle ground.
What hope, then, do we have as we encounter sin — either in our own hearts or on the evening news? How is our faith to be lived out effectively in the midst of so much opposition?
Continuing our study of the Lord’s Prayer, we come to Question 127 of the Heidelberg Catechism: What does the sixth request mean? Answer: “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one” means, By ourselves we are too weak to hold our own even for a moment. And our sworn enemies — the devil, the world, and our own flesh — never stop attacking us. And so, Lord, uphold us and make us strong with the strength of Your Holy Spirit, so that we may not go down to defeat in this spiritual struggle, but may firmly resist our enemies until we finally win the complete victory.
We are weak. Our sinful desires, the world, and the devil assail us constantly. But in the midst of this battle, we have very good news: God is sovereign and He works even in the temptations we face to accomplish His good purposes. First Corinthians 10:13 tells us: “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape…” God is with us in this battle, and He is in control!
We have a powerful ally in this war against sin: the Spirit of God dwelling in us. Chapter 8 of Romans says “the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.” As unrepentant sinners, we were once hostile to God; but as God’s adopted children, we are gifted with the Holy Spirit and our whole way of thinking is transformed. We are called and empowered to “walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4).
We can pray confidently “lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” Given the reality and the intensity of the battle we face every day, this prayer should be often on our lips.
As we celebrate Christmas and move into the New Year, let us cling to Jesus, the only person who can deal effectively with the sin in our hearts: “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29) Let us “proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (I Peter 2:9). Walk in the light. Empowered by the Holy Spirit, endeavor to put sin to death and to live honorably, to the glory of God.
Editor’s note: Camille Kendall, wife, homeschool mom and redeemed sinner, is a member of Grace Presbyterian Church in Troy.