Perspective Fail

Our pursuit of righteousness is not only a personal pursuit. Paul urged his disciple, Timothy:

Flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. (2 Timothy 2:22)

We are in a battle against the world, the devil, and the sinful flesh (see Ephesians 2:2-3). There are “opponents” within and without (see 2 Timothy 2:25). Each soldier must do his part, fight in his part of the field, but it is because he is part of something bigger.

I bring this up not only to remind us that we’re supposed to fight, or even that we’re supposed to fight together (instead of against one another). We need to see the context or we’ll inevitably have a perspective fail.

Our problems seem bigger when we are the end of our concerns. We increase our burden if we think we’re the only ones struggling. Then we’re found to be adding the sin of pride onto whatever the first sin is, acting as if our sin is the worst or that no one else understands. On the other hand, our problems, our trials and temptations, seem smaller when we remember that we’re part of something bigger. That doesn’t mean our problems don’t exist or that we can ignore them and don’t need to confess when we sin, but it does mean that it would probably be easier if we stopped thinking we were so special.

“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man” (1 Corinthians 10:13). That includes the temptation to isolate ourselves in the battle against temptation. We fight along with all those who call on the name of the Lord.

Their Website Address

The final two petitions in the Lord’s prayer are closer in concern than any other two petitions. “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” are certainly related, but standards, as defined by His will, can be obeyed by individuals without defining a whole group. His kingdom is broader and includes much more than personal observance of His law, it includes corporate ceremony and festival of His lordship.

Verse 13, though, presents two sides of the same coin. “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” The second line clarifies the first.

If we have sinned against God, we ask Him to forgive us. He reveals the standard, and He bestows forgiveness. We also ask Him to keep us out of sin. Likewise, only He has the power to do so.

Because we have the rest of the New Testament, we know that the Lord’s brother, James, wrote, “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God,’ for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one” (James 1:13). However, it does not follow that we cannot be tempted at all. We are in a battle against evil. There are tempters. And God knows their website address.

We pray that He would not cause us, as His sheep, to enter into a place with devouring wolves. Instead, “deliver us from evil.” We pray for divine rescue. This assumes that we want to do His will, that we want to have fewer debts of sin, that we recognize and reject enticements to serve someone other than Him.

And it may be very personal. “Deliver us from evil” could be translated “deliver us from the evil one,” as ἀπὸ τοῦ πονηροῦ specifies a definite evil, perhaps a singular evil. Even if we are not tempted by the Tempter, by the devil himself, He is the prince now at work in the sons of disobedience. We ought to resist him, and that begins in prayer.