The Song of the Mountains – Verse 39 – Resisting Arrest
Hollywood often depicts the enemy of our souls as an omnipotent being, too powerful and persuasive to resist. He’s not. The enemy is crafty. He knows the weaknesses common to all men, and how to stir up temptation. The disciple of Messiah can resist him, the Word promises this. We can resist the arrest of the enemy; and Messiah taught us how to pray for this deliverance.
With the final petition of the Lord’s Prayer, we find in the second clause of Matthew 6:13, “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” This petition concludes what came before it, “lead us not into temptation.” In my previous article on the Lord’s Prayer it was presented that Messiah is teaching us to pray in such a way that will enable us to avoid unnecessary pitfalls in life, or enduing trial, testing, and even temptation when we are not prepared, or spiritually mature enough to resist it.
What do we learn?
The immediate lesson of this petition is that evil exists – specifically a source of evil – the “evil one.” This does not have to be proven, rationalize, or argued. Evil exists. The question of evil, however, has caused many to reject faith; leading some to embrace atheism, or to question the existence of God as an agnostic – the apostle Paul has much to say on that subject.
Admittedly, the existence of evil is difficult to fathom in light of the existence of a loving God. Nevertheless, the existence of evil does not disqualify His existence as He is presented in the Bible. Here I rely on the eloquence of C.S. Lewis, who wrote in his book The Case for Christianity,
“God created things which had free will. That means creatures which can go wrong or right. Some people think they can imagine a creature which was free but had no possibility of going wrong, but I can’t. If a thing is free to be good it’s also free to be bad. And free will is what has made evil possible. Why, then, did God give them free will? Because free will, though it makes evil possible, is also the only thing that makes possible any love or goodness or joy worth having. A world of automata – of creatures that worked like machines – would hardly be worth creating. The happiness which God designs for His higher creatures is the happiness of being freely, voluntarily united to Him and to each other in an ecstasy of love and delight compared with which the most rapturous love between a man and a woman on this earth is mere milk and water. And for that they’ve got to be free.”
By adding “and deliver us from the evil one” to “and lead us not into temptation,” Yeshua is acknowledging that evil is present. After all, He resisted and withstood the enemy to his face (Lk. 4:1-13). He knows the difficulty we presently face.
We have witnessed.
We have all witnessed bad things, or to amplify, “evil things,” happening in or around our lives. Some have witnessed the perils of war. Others the effects of abuse, discrimination, or the apparent absence of kindness and compassion for someone in great need, by one able to help. Evil, sadly, is well-known to all of us.
What’s the point?
Part of faith is not knowing why God allows suffering, and yet believing despite this. The apostle John wrote of Yeshua’s coming, “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work” (I Jn. 3:8). Yeshua acknowledged that evil was present, and that there was a need to be delivered from it. As followers of Messiah we are at war with evil, the evil one, and with, as Paul wrote, “principalities, powers and world-rulers of the present darkness” (Eph. 6:12).
The heart of this petition is a prayer for deliverance. That Messiah taught us to pray in this manner, acknowledges that the Father is willing and able to deliver us. Paul personally prayed in such a way, as he wrote, “The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever” (II Tim. 4:18).
Know your weakness.
Bottomline: we are weak, but He is strong. The disciple who does not know his weakness can, therefore, neither pray this prayer nor experience God’s strength – he will always fall for the enemy’s schemes. The disciple who knows his weakness, and is a person of prayer, will be garrisoned by the Lord’s strength.
It’s not an offensive.
Unfortunately, some disciples believe this to be an offensive battle – that we seek the battle out. It is, however, entirely defensive. Paul tells us in that when we have done all, putting on the armor of God, truth, righteousness, the Gospel of peace, faith, salvation and prayer, that we are to stand against the wiles, the schemes, of the devil (Eph. 6:11). The Kingdom of God will burst-forth, but under its own power, and momentum.
The devil attempts to overcome people with temptation, suffering and disbelief. He is called “the tempter” (I Thess. 3:5) in Scripture; therefore, we would be remiss if we considered this petition without considering both the evil propagated by man through the influence of the tempter and the tempter himself. The tempter loves: 1) to terrorize, 2) to tempt, and 3) to cause fear.
How are we delivered from evil and the evil one? 1) recognize that evil is at work, 2) refuse to dignify negative, self-defeating thoughts, and 3) resist temptation. The apostle James explains, “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). All we need to do is resist – he is not as strong as we have imagined him to be.
Lesson from a hymn.
Martin Luther wrote lasting words of wisdom regarding this subject, in his hymn A Mighty Fortress is Our God, “And though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us, we will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us. The prince of darkness grim, we tremble not for him; his rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure: one little word shall fell him.”
As Luther wrote, evil is doomed. This is part of the eschatological promise of the coming of Messiah Yeshua. Yet, while we are here on this earth, let us spread the light of Messiah over and against the evil that seems to surround us: the depression that so easily ensnares, the anger that so willingly reaches out, and the indifference that so frequently blinds us.
There is much that can discourage us. Discouragement often looks for remedy in all the wrong places – doors opened by the schemes of the enemy. Therefore, as we are filled with the hope of Messiah, let us shine in our homes, our relationships, our congregations, and in our communities in order to illuminate the hope that is found in Yeshua as the remedy for the evil of these days. This, in turn, will help to close the doors of the enemy, as the door of hope opens for those in need of rescue.
Shalom. Be well.