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Deliver Us from Evil

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
The Truth Network Radio
March 8, 2024 12:01 am

Deliver Us from Evil

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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March 8, 2024 12:01 am

As Christians face the onslaughts of the devil, we must pray for deliverance not only from Satan's temptations but also from his accusations. Today, R.C. Sproul examines the final petition in the Lord's Prayer.

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Jesus is teaching us, He's saying to His disciples, I had to go through the gauntlet.

I had to go through the test, but I want you to pray that the Father not ever have to make those tests on you. As I pray with family or friends, I often hear people praying for God's provision in many areas and even praying for forgiveness. But I find it's far less common to hear people praying what we read in the final portion of the Lord's Prayer. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

Is that your experience as well? This is the Friday edition of Renewing Your Mind. Perhaps we're slow to pray that because we don't understand what it is and why it is that Jesus instructed us to pray that way.

And that's why a series like this from R.C. Sproul can be so helpful, as he shines a light, as it were, on a familiar portion of Scripture and considers the text deeply. That's why I encourage you to listen to the entire series and read his companion book, The Prayer of the Lord.

Today's the final day, but you can learn how to own both at This portion of the Lord's Prayer is often misunderstood by Christians. So here's Dr. Sproul to help clear away that confusion. It is my earnest hope today to finish our brief study of the Lord's Prayer. We've gone through several of the petitions so far, and now we move to a section of the prayer that is often seriously misunderstood. And we've looked at it in other contexts in our classes as an example of a Hebrew form of literature that is very frequent in the Old Testament, particularly in the poetic books, that feature that is called parallelism, where two statements are made that sound very similar or they could be set in contrast, that they're saying the same thing only with different words.

And to be able to notice the presence of parallelism in the Bible is very important and helpful to us in learning how to understand the text. Well, we read a parallelism in Matthew's gospel, chapter 6, when we're looking at the Lord's Prayer, with these words in verse 13, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. You've all heard that phrase in the Lord's Prayer, lead us not into temptation. You remember the little child who lived in New York and was a little bit confused about the Lord's Prayer and came home and said to his parents, why can't we go to the railroad terminal in the city? And they said, well, why not? And they said, well, in church, they said, we're supposed to pray, lead us not into Penn Station.

I always got a kick out of that, but now we're not concerned about Penn Station. We're concerned about temptation. Now the problem that we meet initially with this couplet, this parallelism, is the words suggest the possibility that God may in fact be engaged in the role of tempting His people. And yet we remember the teaching of the book of James when James says, let no one say when they are tempted that they are tempted by God. Nothing is further from possibility than the idea that God would tempt people to sin in the sense of trying to lure them or entice them into performing wickedness. God never leads us into temptation in that sense. But where the difficulty comes in understanding this, I think, is the way in which the Scriptures use the word temptation. Temptation is not only used to describe an inciting to evil – that's the familiar meaning that we have for the word – but it also has to do with testing.

And we think, for example, of Adam in the Garden of Eden when he was put on probation and God put Adam to the test. Now it wasn't God who seduced Adam and Eve and tried to encourage them to disobey the word of God by eating the forbidden fruit. It was the serpent who did all of that.

The serpent was functioning as the tempter. And when we look at the biblical concept of Satan, we see that one of the chief works of Satan is to tempt people in the sense of inciting them to sin. But what was going on here in the Garden of Eden from God's perspective was not that God was trying to incite Adam and Eve to sin, but He was putting them to the test, and they failed the test. Now we see this kind of test taking place more than once in the Scriptures. Obviously, the most dramatic example of it in the New Testament is when Jesus is driven into the wilderness where He is exposed to the unbridled assault of Satan for forty days in this wilderness. Jesus, we are told, is tempted. That is, He is placed in a position whereby God is putting Jesus, who is the new Adam, the second Adam, to the test. And that test involves Jesus being exposed with no support systems to the unbridled attack of Satan himself. And I think one of the most dramatic segments of all of the New Testament is the record of the Scriptures of Jesus' perseverance in righteousness in the midst of that test.

But where else do we find it? We find it in Genesis 22, when God comes to Abraham and says, Abraham, take now thy son, the one whom thou lovest, thine only son Isaac, and go to the mountain that I will show you and offer him to me there. God puts Abraham to the test, and it is an unbelievable crucible that he has to experience before he comes out the other side. And we have another book in the Old Testament where the whole book centers around the drama of a test, and it is the book of Job.

Remember the story of Job, how that it begins with the prologue in heaven, where Satan comes into the presence of God after roaming around the earth, moving to and fro across the earth, and he comes into heaven to mock God. And he's basically saying, look at these people down here. They're all in my pocket. They all do what I tell them to do. I'm the prince of the power of the air, and these people are by nature my disciples.

Nobody down there is obeying you. And God said, wait a minute. Have you considered my servant Job? Now, how does Satan respond to that? He said, Job?

He doesn't count. Satan says to God, he says, sure. Does Job serve you for naught?

Why shouldn't he serve you? You've given him every blessing possible, and you've built a hedge around him. You've protected him from any possible danger or pain or loss or illness, and you take away that hedge and let me at him, and we'll see how long it is before he starts to curse you. And so the whole book of Job focuses on what transpires after this challenge in heaven, where God then does remove the protection from Job, and He does allow Job to be exposed and naked before the attack of Satan. Now, there's enough of those incidents in Scripture for us to understand how Jewish people would react to this statement. Jesus is saying here, when you pray, pray like this. Lead us not into temptation. That is, don't put us in the place of tempting.

Don't put us to the test. Don't expose us to the darts of the enemy. But, oh God, put a hedge around us. Protect us.

Be our shield and our buckler. That's what we are asking for in the Lord's Prayer when we say, lead us not into temptation. Jesus is teaching us, He's saying to His disciples, I had to go through the gauntlet. I had to go to the test. But I want you to pray that the Father not ever have to make those tests on you. And so you should ask God to protect us from that testing. But I said at the beginning that this was a parallelism. And in order to understand the parallelism, you have to look at both segments of it because they amplify each other. The second part of this parallelism, lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

Now, again, there's a lot of misunderstanding on that part of the text of the Lord's Prayer, because what does it mean when He said, deliver us from evil? In the Scriptures, in the New Testament Greek, the word for evil is paneram. And if you look at the last two letters, the O-N indicates something particular in the language. In the Greek language, as in many languages, nouns are formed that can be either masculine, feminine, or neuter. And he, she, or it is the way it goes.

Just like we use the word she and he, we talk about ships and call them by the feminine pronouns and so on. Well, it's important that the word that occurs here in the Lord's Prayer is not the word paneram. Poneram means evil in the abstract. The O-N ending is the neuter. And usually when we find the word evil, we find it spelled out in the neuter form, paneram.

But here in the Lord's Prayer, the Greek word is not paneram, but it's paneras. And the O-S ending in the Greek indicates a masculine form of the noun rather than a neuter form of the noun. So, when Jesus is using this, the Greek New Testament is communicating this in a literary form that students of Greek will recognize immediately that this is better translated as some more recent translations handle it, not so much lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil, but the fact that the Greek word is poneras should be translated, but deliver us from the evil one. Evil in general is abstract.

That's the neuter gender. But when the term poneras is used in the New Testament, it is used as a title specifically for Satan. So, that's the thrust of what Jesus is saying. Don't expose us to the place of temptation where we are going to be assaulted by the power of Satan. This part of the Lord's Prayer is a petition and a plea to God that we might be protected from the fiery darts of the devil.

And every day we should pray for deliverance, not in the sense of demon exorcism or that kind of deliverance, but in the sense of protection from the assaults of Satan. We talked yesterday about the petition in the Lord's Prayer with respect to the forgiveness of sins. And I mentioned on that occasion about this survey among Christian college students where so many of the students seem to have this enormous burden of unresolved guilt. And as we think about that and think about that we should have a particular sensitivity to righteousness and so on, and it's not all that unhealthy to have a guilty conscience from time to time. The problem is having our guilt feelings match up with true guilt.

There is a difference between guilt and guilt feelings that we need to understand. I mean, if you go into a courtroom where there's a murder trial in progress and the judge says to the accused, are you guilty or not guilty? How do you plead? And he says, I plead not guilty. And then you ask for the defense, and he said, I can't be guilty because I don't feel guilty.

What kind of a defense is that? We know that it's possible to sear the conscience. We know that there are psychopathic murderers. We know that there are people who are sociopaths who don't feel any particular burden or remorse for the evil that they perform.

And the fact that that feeling is not present doesn't alter the reality of the actions at all. I mean, the purpose of a jury is not to determine whether the person feels guilty, but the purpose of the jury is to determine whether the person is guilty. We need to understand that, that guilt is an objective reality. Guilt feelings are the subjective side of guilt.

Sometimes we don't feel guilty when we should feel guilty, and there are other times we feel guilty when we shouldn't feel guilty because we haven't done anything wrong. Well, where does Satan fit into this? We're familiar with the role of Satan as the tempter, as the seducer. And he does that.

That's his stock and trade. But if anything is his trademark in terms of his work that he does in the life of the Christian, it's not so much the work of temptation as it is the work of accusation, where Satan is the accuser, where he will come to the Christian and do everything he can to paralyze that believer with unresolved guilt. And in that sense, he's standing in direct opposition to the truth of God.

This is his role from the beginning. He contradicts what God says to the Christian who has confessed their sin, who has acknowledged their sin and repented of their sin and come before God and ask for forgiveness. God has promised that he would forgive them, and God says, you are forgiven. But as soon as God says we are forgiven, Satan shows up and says what?

Oh, no, you're not. You are still guilty. And when we listen to him, then we become burdened and weighed down with this terrible load of guilt that paralyzes us. You know, it's in this context that Paul says almost triumphantly, who shall lay any charge to God's elect? It is God who justifies you, Christ who has been raised from the dead. He is our righteousness. And we are supposed to say, as we have thrown ourselves upon the mercy of God's court and have appealed to the righteousness of Christ as the grounds of our salvation, that when Satan comes around and starts his business of accusing us, that's when we say, hey, Satan, yeah, you're right, I sinned, but I'm covered. My sin has been forgiven. Sticks and stones, get out of here.

Leave me alone. Now, that's such an integral part of the Christian life that it doesn't surprise me at all that Jesus incorporates it in the Lord's Prayer. Lead us not into temptation.

Lead us not into the place of testing, and deliver us from the evil one, not only from the evil one's temptations, but also the evil one's accusations. Martin Luther, you know, used to have these fits of struggle where he sensed an inordinate, acute awareness of the presence of Satan. And I can't imagine Satan focusing his energy on anybody more ardently than he would have on Luther in the 16th century, that Luther would have such a sense of the presence of Satan. And one time he picked up his inkwell and threw it across the room.

People thought he was nuts. He was throwing it at Satan. And he would speak of what he called the relentless anfectung, again, the unbridled assault of Satan against him to try to get him to compromise, to try to get him to fall into despair, to try to get him to deny the faith. And so Luther would be on his knees every day praying the Lord's Prayer, you know, lead us not into the place of testing, deliver us from the evil one, paneras. It's every Christian's need and should be part of every Christian's prayer. Now, the conclusion of the Lord's Prayer returns the focus again to God. Do you remember we saw that in the first petitions, hallowed be Thy name, Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done. The focus was on the glory of God. And only after we go through that process of praying that we turn the attention now to our needs, our daily bread, to keep us from the place of tempting, forgive us of our sins, now that we see the focal point has shifted from God to ourselves. But it doesn't stay there. It comes full circle so that the prayer ends with another reaffirmation of the sovereignty of God, of the excellency of God, and of the majesty of God where the summary statement is made, for Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.

What does that mean? It means that the power, the kingdom, and the glory belong to God. I said the first and most important rule of prayer is to remember who it is with whom we are speaking. We are speaking in prayer to the one who possesses all power, to the one whose kingdom it is in which we are privileged to live, and the one who has said he will share his glory with no man, and about which we are taught in the New Testament that if we are to glory in anything, it is to be in the Lord, because he deserves the glory.

He has the glory. And we are to remember that in every prayer that we pray, that we attribute to God what is his intrinsically, what is his eternally, the power, the kingdom, and the glory. And this attribution of these things to God is not simply an occasional thing or a temporary thing. It is an eternal dimension, for Thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever. Sometimes when I hear Christians pray the Lord's Prayer, they get a little carried away at the end, and they'll say, forever and ever and ever and ever.

Amen. One of the most difficult things that we have to discern in the Christian life is the difference between the conviction of the Holy Spirit and the accusation of Satan. When we sin, it is part of the ministry of the Holy Spirit to convict us of sin and of righteousness.

And in a real sense, the Holy Spirit comes to us and troubles our consciences. And yet Satan comes also with the same charge. It's not that Satan just makes up charges.

Though he does that, he'll slander us and bring false charges against us. But much of the accusation of Satan is designed to call attention to those things for which we are really guilty. And the Holy Spirit does the same thing. So, what's the difference? How can we discern the difference between the conviction of the Holy Ghost, which is redemptive, and the accusation of Satan, which is destructive?

I don't think that's an easy question to answer. My existential response to it is this. I have discovered experientially that when the Holy Spirit convicts me of my sin and guilt, as painful as that may be, there's always an element of sweetness to it. Because when the Spirit comes and convicts us of our sin, awakens us to our guilt, He always at the same time points us to the cross and points us to the place where we can have relief from this guilt. And so, though we may be moved to mourning over our sin, we are never moved to despair over it, whereas Satan comes relentlessly and tries to render us hopeless, tries to get us to focus upon our own efforts to redeem ourselves. His purpose in his accusation is to drive us away from Christ, away from the cross rather than to Christ.

And I don't know of any other way to discern the difference. And all I can say is that when you feel guilty, when I feel guilty, we know where we have to go. We have to go to the cross. We have to go to Jesus.

That was R.C. Sproul on this Friday edition of Renewing Your Mind, closing our week examining and learning the practical lessons from the Lord's Prayer. If you'd like to hear more practical and insightful teaching moments from Dr. Sproul, then follow the podcast Ultimately with R.C. Sproul. Three days a week, you'll hear short nuggets of wisdom and biblical teaching from his decades-long ministry.

Simply search for Ultimately with R.C. Sproul wherever you listen to podcasts. As I mentioned earlier, today is also the final day to request this series and the companion book when you make a donation of any amount at or when you call us at 800-435-4343. Re-listen to this series when you find yourself struggling to pray or perhaps read the book with friends to encourage more times of prayer together. Give your gift at while there's still time as this offer ends at midnight. Church history really is our family history, and next week, W. Robert Godfrey will join us to share lessons from several centuries of church history here on Renewing Your Mind.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-03-08 03:03:19 / 2024-03-08 03:11:56 / 9

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