|But, Deliver Us from Evil
Surely, we pray to be delivered from evil, but from what evil, and how are we delivered, anyway? God further tells us that He is faithful and will protect us from evil, particularly from the evil one. Still how does this happen?
What Is Evil?
Evil is really bad stuff, which emanates from the evil one. Here is how evil is defined in the Greek:
4190. poneros, pon-ay-ros´; from a derivative of 4192; hurtful, i.e. evil (properly, in effect or influence, and thus differing from 2556, which refers rather to essential character, as well as from 4550, which indicates degeneracy from original virtue); figuratively, calamitous; also (passively) ill, i.e. diseased; but especially (morally) culpable, i.e. derelict, vicious, facinorous; neuter (singular) mischief, malice, or (plural) guilt; masculine (singular) the devil, or (plural) sinners.
Aside from the moral opprobrium, evil brings disasters: droughts, floods, wars, and the like, which more often than not are a result of wickedness. Evil includes all the ways the evil one teaches mankind to bend and break the Ten Commandments. All immorality is evil from murder to covetousness. The beginning of evil denies and defies God as the Almighty Creator and Ruler of the world. However, Adam invested the evil one as the god and ruler of Earth, and almost all his progeny followed his example. From this departure from reality and Truth, evil is born and gives rise to its depraved children.
Romans 1 describes the descent into the moral morass evil brings:
Rom. 1:18 ¶ For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,
Rom. 1:19 because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them.
Rom. 1:20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.
Rom. 1:21 For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
Rom. 1:22 Professing to be wise, they became fools,
Rom. 1:23 and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.
Rom. 1:24 ¶ Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them.
Rom. 1:25 For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.
Rom. 1:26 ¶ For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural,
Rom. 1:27 and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.
Rom. 1:28 ¶ And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper,
Rom. 1:29 being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips,
Rom. 1:30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents,
Rom. 1:31 without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful;
Rom. 1:32 and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.
The foundation of righteousness is built into the first commandment: I am the Lord your God
How people see the world determines how they will act, morally or immorally. Those who see the world through the eyes of the evil one will be haters of God and be depraved in all their actions. They descend into a sinkhole, which quickly swallows up any humanity left. In a short lifetime they see to it that they are enslaved to the evil one and its evil practices. Unable to see the clear horizon of freedom from slavery, they believe their slavery is freedom from the constraints of godliness deception and confusion reign.
Evil Is not Believing
When a person does not believe God is the Almighty Creator and His promises of freedom and life more abundantly from obedience to the Laws of creation, including the Ten Commandments, they believe in evil. Even so, when people do not believe that God sent His only begotten Son to die for the sins of mankind, they are evil. When the Israelites did not believe all the signs leading to Passover and afterward in the desert, God refused to let them enter the Promised Land. When people do not believe the sign of Jonah, they will also not enter the Promised Land, the Kingdom of God. What sign of Jonah? Jonah was in the body of the fish for three days and three nights. This sign refers to Jesus being in the grave for three days and three nights. Who believes Jesus was interred for seventy-two hours? No one. Good Friday evening to Sunday morning come closer to thirty-six hours, half the time of the sign. So few professing Christian believe in the sign of Jonah. They are unbelievers. And without faith it is impossible to please God.
Matt. 12:39 But He answered and said to them, An evil and adulterous generation craves for a sign; and yet no sign will be given to it but the sign of Jonah the prophet;
Matt. 12:40 for just as JONAH WAS THREE DAYS AND THREE NIGHTS IN THE BELLY OF THE SEA MONSTER, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
Those who believe in Jesus and the sign of Jonah will be saved. The unbelieving will be condemned.
Mark 16:16 He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.
Faith and obedience obtain and maintain the right relationship with Our Father in Heaven and the freedom only He can provide.
Opening the Door to Sin
We have indicated the foundation of sin and its perversity. But, we ought to know how a person opens the door to allow sin into their minds. Like the uninitiated, who allow Dracula to come into the house and give him free access, the deceived swing the door wide to bring evil into their lives.
Eve listened to the serpent tempt and deceive her, but once she looked at the fruit, thought about what the serpent said and how the fruit seemed so inviting, she fell under the irreversible spell and sinned against her Creator. Having the choice of disobedience and the promise, the false promise, of something apparently better, she dwelled on the deceptions and lies of the serpent and therefore could not stop from sinning!
Specifically, whatever thoughts a person ponders on, eventually translates into action. Sometimes a very short period of reflection, as in the case of Eve, leads to deeds. Naturally, the seed of disobedience, to eat the forbidden fruit, was planted in her mind by the serpent and his lying deceptions; so just seeing that the fruit seemed innocuous, but the lust put into her head by the serpent made her reject Gods injunction and act on the serpents cleverly devised con.
On the other hand, if a person thinks about good and righteous things, he will more likely act in a righteous way. In todays world, in any age in fact, the mind is pummeled with evil, salacious images, and self-centered pleasures, that a person has a major battle to control his thoughts.
James 1:13 Let no one say when he is tempted, I am being tempted by God; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone.
James 1:14 But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust.
James 1:15 Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.
Here is the perfect explanation of what happened with Eve and Adam; their perfidy brought sin, sickness, pain, and death into the human family. James continues to explore how the deceived open the door to sin: he says it is acceding to pleasure:
Gen. 3:6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, and he ate.
Notice the words referring to selfish pleasures: good for food, delight to the [her] eyes, and to be desired to make one wise. To be desired (a craving) to make one wise. How could a human resist this mode of thinking? Without the serpents deceptions, Eve might look at the tree and see leaves, branches, a trunk and some green or purple fruit. Its her foul desire, put into her mind by the demon for pleasure and wisdom that led to her fateful and disastrous wickedness.
James goes on to explain the nature of evil to which people readily open the door of their precious minds. People want their pleasures so powerfully that they would do anything to get them, even stealing and murder. Can you say covetousness? That is what James is talking about, that inordinate desire that drives a person to any means to acquire the thing beloved like the ring (The Lord of the Rings) Sméagol aka Gollum craved, his precious.
Possessing the Ring, it corrupted him in such a way that Smeagol even became an outsider and, hating the sun and its warmth ever more, took refuge in a cave under the Misty Mountains. His constant telling of lies became one of his main qualities, which he wouldnt part with throughout the story. Only fear and Saurons tortures made Smeagol say something close to the truth. Here what Gandalf says about Gollum: Gollum is a liar, and you have to sift his words.
Being a hobbit, Gollum got a kind of absolute power which entirely seized his thoughts. He found that no one in his family could see him, when he was wearing the Ring. He was very pleased with his discovery and he concealed it; and he used it to find out secrets, and he put his knowledge to crooked and malicious uses. Because of this, his relatives were not too fond of him. His grandmother, desiring peace, expelled him from the family and turned him out of her hole. After that Gollum lived in a cave, dreading the sun light. The Ring made him its slave.
Gollum is a self-centred and egoistic creature. This is proved not only by the above-mentioned facts but also by his betrayal of Frodo and Sam. Gollum swore on his precious and broke his oath.
Lord of the Rings Fantasy World © 2001-2002, web site.
Participating in and living a life of evil makes one a slave of the demon.
James 4:1 ¶ What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members?
James 4:2 You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask.
James 4:3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures [or give you pleasure].
James 4:4 You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.
Close the Door on Evil
But, the prayer says that Our Father in Heaven will deliver us from evil. Let us see how this happens. First, the planet Earth needed a person who never sinned, that is, put himself under the rule of the evil one. Unlike Adam who bowed down and worshipped the evil one by disobedience to Our Father in Heaven, Jesus refused to give in to the evil one, even when tempted, and never disobeyed Our Father in Heaven. Thereby, Jesus became the new ruler on Earth under God. For the first time Earthlings were free from the slavery of the evil one through the extreme efforts of Jesus, the Savior. By accepting Jesus as the new Lord of the Earth, people become citizen of the Kingdom of God. With a new Constitution (the New Covenant) and Laws (the Ten Commandments) to govern the aliens in a foreign land, for the Kingdom of God is still in a far country, the children of God have all the resources of the Holy Spirit, the Words of God, and the direct intervention of Jesus in the lives. Now, it is possible to be delivered from evil.
2Cor. 1:10 who delivered us from so great a peril of death, and will deliver us, He on whom we have set our hope. And He will yet deliver us,
1John 5:18 ¶ We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the one who was born of God keeps him safe, and the evil one cannot harm him. [RSV]
Think on This
Still what James says is true; even the saved and delivered from evil can let their minds dwell on the things of the past, the things of evil, therefore, slip and fall again. So, believers must harness their thoughts and turn them from evil to good, for it is not good enough to just give up evil thoughts but leave an empty place in the mind to be filled in by ancient and deadly enemies and sins. No, a person must change his mind and think on the good things. And, once a person begins to meditate and think on the things of God, He will greatly increase the power to overcome.
Phil. 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!
Phil. 4:5 Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near.
Phil. 4:6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
Phil. 4:7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
We are not alone in the fight against evil and the evil one. Our Father in Heaven gives all the weapons we need to achieve victory, our faith.
Eph. 6:12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.
Eph. 6:13 Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.
Eph. 6:14 Stand firm therefore, HAVING GIRDED YOUR LOINS WITH TRUTH, and HAVING PUT ON THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS,
Eph. 6:15 and having shod YOUR FEET WITH THE PREPARATION OF THE GOSPEL OF PEACE;
Eph. 6:16 in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.
Eph. 6:17 And take THE HELMET OF SALVATION, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
Notice all the terms that refer to using our heads and godly language: truth, righteousness, the gospel, faith, and the Word of God. Think on Gods Way, not the ways of the evil one, and dont give evil a minute space in your mind or it will grow like thorn bushes.
James further enjoins believers to humble themselves before Our Father in Heaven as they shuck off the tares and weeds of evil.
James 4:7 Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.
James 4:8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
James 4:9 Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom.
James 4:10 Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.
Practice the Truth
Indeed, until thought become words and actions, nothing has happened. And good thoughts will turn to good actions. But we do not need to wait until the thoughts overwhelm us into doing good. We can reinforce righteous thinking by righteous actions. The more we act righteously the more we think about Gods Words and Way. Each righteous thought inspires righteous actions and each righteous action inspires righteous thoughts.
I had a student, a ten or eleven year-old black boy, some years ago, who had a vicious temper. He was constantly getting to fights. Finally, I took him aside and explained how his temper controlled him. I made the argument even stronger; I told him he was a slave of his temper. Being black, the boy knew slavery was abhorrent to him. He just stared off into space without saying a word, with that look of a person really considering what was said.
Years later, he was fourteen or fifteen and in eighth grade. I had had lunch duty. I watched as some kid pulled the seat out from under him as he was about to sit down. He fell on the floor with the laughter of the nearby students. As I walked over expecting to see a fight, the boy got up with fury written over his face. He clenched his hands at stared malevolently at the boy who pulled the chair. That poor kid is going to be killed I thought, for now my former student was big and stronger, one of the strongest in the school. Suddenly, he turned and raced out of the lunchroom. The teacher in charge was ready to have him suspended for leaving the lunchroom without permission. I told him that the boys leaving saved a bad fight and I would talk to him. He agreed.
I found him in the boys bathroom; hot tears rolled down his face as he paced the tiled bathroom.
He asked me what I wanted. He said he should have killed him. And bemoaned the fact that they laughed at him.
I waited a few moments. Hay, kid, I said to him, you did great.
He looked up at me and remembered. He smiled and stood up tall.
He knew and I knew he was delivered from the slavery of his personal demon.
So with a combination of Jesus deeds, Gods love and grace, and our effort to use our precious minds rightly and righteously as we do good, we can and will accept the deliverance from evil and the evil one!