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Sunday, November 13, 2011

Deliver Us From Evil

Deliver Us from Evil

Every time we pray the Lords’ prayer we ask the Lord to “deliver us from evil”. (Matthew 6:9) Some of us have prayed that prayer so much that we just say the words and don’t think much about what we are praying. So what are we praying? And along with that, when we pray the Lords’ prayer we also pray: “Lead us not into temptation.”

Don’t these Biblical warnings in the Lord’s Prayer alert us to watch out for temptations scattered along our way? Temptations to choose what’s wrong – wrong thoughts or wrong actions. We may play with wrong thoughts or actions– joke about them -but never really let them in the door. But they are dangerous just the same. Sin is seductive and addictive and if it is allowed to get a foothold inside our lives it can take hold and grow into real evil -ruining lives and leaving devastation.

Obviously there are truly evil situations out there that we can become involved in if we do not ask for the Lords’ protection. We have all read shocking news in the papers or seen stories on television of normal looking folks like you and me who have gotten themselves into desperate situations just because they gave in to a serious temptation! They said “yes” when they should have said “no”. And crimes were committed, lives torn apart, and things will never be the same again.

We Christians are told that there are things we are not to do, places we are not to go, and even thoughts we are not to think. Jesus says that if we love Him we will keep His commandments.(John 14:15) Sounds difficult, but He promises to help us. It appears that when we walk down the road of life we will have to make our way through a mine field of temptations, doesn’t it? And Scripture tells us that that is true.

Awhile ago the newspaper showed the photo of a man walking out of prison, a free man after twenty-four years behind bars. The innocent man had been presumed guilty for the death of his murdered wife twenty-four years ago and has been behind bars even since. Finally he is a free man! His attorney had worked tirelessly behind the scenes and had proven his innocence from DNA samples. Another man, who had murdered several times, was finally indicted for this crime since his DNA matched the DNA at the scene of the crime committed twenty-four years ago.

The newspaper reported that during the trial so long ago, the district attorney/prosecutor had withheld important evidence in court that might have proven that the husband had not murdered his wife. The district attorney/prosecutor knew the husband was innocent, but in order to win his case, allowed the innocent husband to go to prison for life. For this successful district attorney it was all about winning – winning at any cost.

When the district attorney was tempted with bearing false witness and covering up the truth in exchange for winning another case in the courtroom and bolstering his reputation, he chose winning and looking good instead of doing the right thing. Over the years this powerful district attorney has worked his way up the ladder of success. Now he is a prominent judge in our state; wealthy, a church member and well respected. I wonder if it ever bothered him knowing that his actions were responsible for putting an innocent man behind bars. He will keep his position of power as a judge. Perhaps this judge would not have become as “successful” as he is now if he had not given in to the temptation to bear false witness in order to win.

These same problems came up with the scandal that broke this week at Pennsylvania State. Years ago a young boy was molested by a valued assistant coach of a winning football team: that crime was not reported to the police. The teams’ success and reputation, money and power were all at stake. The temptation was strong to keep quiet so their winning team would not be jeopardized. Several prominent men gave in and said “yes” instead of “no” to the temptation - the temptation to win at any cost! Even at the cost of harming children!

A few weeks ago another story was told in our local newspaper. A husband and father shot his pregnant wife, his little five year old daughter and his father-in-law as they lay sleeping in their home. And then he set their home on fire in hopes of burning up his murdered family members and covering up his crime. He had met a go-go dancer in a local bar and had fallen for her. He wanted to be with his new girlfriend without his pregnant wife and family getting in the way. When temptation knocked, this man opened the door wide. He never got what he wanted -the new girlfriend- and he is in jail now for a very long time. Is this evil or not?

Another part of the Lords’ Prayer reads; “Forgive us our sins as we forgive the sins that others sin against us.” (Matthew 6:9) Probably a temptation that comes to all of us at one time or another is the temptation not to forgive someone who has hurt or harmed us. We may need Gods’ help in forgiving, but God will be there to help us forgive when it is too difficult for us to do on our own.

Sometimes we may want to pay back another person for harming us or our loved ones. But Scripture says that it is not our place to pay another person back for the harm they have done. God did not create to hating or “pay back” another person. Only God is righteous enough for such a job. God is a God of justice and He will take care of us and even out any score His own way. Scripture says: “Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord.” (Romans 12:19) We need to remember that God will even out the score, even if it doesn’t happen until we are on the other side. “Every valley will be exalted and every mountain and hill made low.” (Isaiah 40:4)

We will face temptation as long as we live. But God promises to be there for us and to never let our temptations be bigger than we can handle. He also promises to give us a way out of our temptations. “No temptation has taken you except what is common to everyone else, but God is faithful, and He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you can bear, but when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)

So many Christians have been willing to pay the full price –to die- before giving in to temptation. There have been Christians down through the ages who have been willing to face martyrdom before going along with evil. The Christians in Germany and Holland who risked their lives by hiding Jews during the Holocaust refused to give in to the evil all around them! The Christians in early Rome who were willing to be fed to the lions before renouncing Christ didn’t give in either. Most of us won’t be called on to make that ultimate sacrifice. But there is often a price we pay when we say “no” to temptation! And there is a cost to consider in following Christ! Are we willing to consider the cost and pay the price?

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