We now arrive at the sixth and final petition of the Lord’s prayer. The conclusion that we often pray in the Lord’s prayer is not included in the two accounts that we find in the gospels (Matt 6:9-13; Luke 11:1-4). We will look at this more next week; where did it come from? Can we pray it? The sixth petition will give us enough to discuss for today. The second portion of the Lord’s prayer focuses on our weaknesses, and the sixth petition is no different. We will be looking at the petition from the defensive and the offensive.
Do not bring us into Satan’s Devices
When we pray “lead us not into temptation,” we are praying to God not to bring us into Satan’s devices. The line creates many questions we have to address doctrinally. The first question is the relationship between God and temptation, is God the author of temptation? The first half of the petition, “Lead us not into temptation,” might imply that God has set a trap for us and we are asking that he wouldn’t. James says that, “God cannot be tempted with evil and he himself tempts no one” (James 1:13). The answer could be addressed by the translation of the word πειρασμός (peirasmos) the word would be better translated, ‘seasons of testing.’ The different translation helps address a portion of the question but not directly. Even in a season of testing, what is God’s part during this season of testing, and does it include temptation? Nowhere in the Bible does God act as the tempter; however, Satan is known for this trait throughout the Bible. From the beginning, he was “craftier than any other beast” (Gen 3:1). To the end of the Bible Satan, “the deceiver of the whole world.” Laced throughout scripture Satan plays the tempter (Matt 4:3; 1 Thess 3:5; 2 Tim 2:26; Acts 5:3; 1 Cor 7:5, 2:10-11). Satan is the author of temptation. God is sovereign over all things; God orders through his providence, things to occur, according to the nature of second causes, either necessarily, freely or contingently (WCF 5.2). Satan is one of the secondary causes that God orders through his providence (Luke 22:31; Job 2:4-5). God is not the author of temptation. Satan is subject to God. Satan is a creature and under the creator, God. Satan is not equal to God. So when we pray to lead us not into temptation, we are praying that God would not bring us into Satan’s devices.
What are Satan’s devices?
Thomas Brooks said, “Christ, the scripture, your own hearts, and Satan’s devices, are the four prime things that should be first and most studied and searched. If any cast off the study of these, they cannot be safe here, nor happy hereafter.” We often might think of studying the first three of Brook’s list, but how often do we think and consider the playbook from Satan himself, his devices. Thomas Brooks has a great book called the “Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices.” In this book, Brooks looks at 12 devices and their remedies. I will briefly give ten devices; these have been adapted from Joel Beeke’s Systematic Theology Book, volume 1, (pg 1148-52).
- Satan promises to make us happy and lies, telling us that God is holding back or hiding things from us.
When Satan tempted Eve in the garden, he asked a simple question, “Did God actually say?” (Gen 3:1). He continues promising that they would know ‘good and evil’ (Gen 3:5). Brooks explains this bitter truth, “Satan promises the best, but pays with the worst! He promises honor; and pays with disgrace. He promises pleasure; and pays with pain. He promises profit and pays with loss. He promises life; and pays with death.” Brooks then explains the sweet truth, “But God pays as He promises; all His payments are made in pure gold!” How often, unknowingly, we trust Satan, a scoundrel, liar, and cheat; we believe his promises and discount God’s. Satan does not care for you.
- Satan knows our greatest weakness
When Satan tempted Jesus in the gospels of Matthew and Luke, both mention in chapter 4 that, he tempted Jesus with three specific things: bread, power, and faith. Satan knows his victims; he is good at what he does. Satan works and plays a great offense; a great offense knows the team’s greatest weakness. However, unlike Jesus, we succumb to Satan’s schemes against our weaknesses. William Spurstowe explains Satan temps a young man with lust, the middle-aged man with an itch for honor and greatness, and the older man with “covetousness and peevishness.”
- Satan leads us to one sin at a time and continues down the path of sinfulness.
Psalm 1:1 explains the vortex of sin that we are familiar with throughout our life. Great sins and wickedness are never the dreams of anyone. Psalm 1 explains that we walk, stand, and sit, slowly making wickedness our home, rather than something we walk by. The smallest of sins will continue to grow into great sins. We think we can live with a cute baby tiger and have it as a pet without it growing into something more dangerous.
- Satan places alternatives to God on equal footing
Satan makes us believe we can be a friend of the world and of God at the same time. James tells us otherwise, “Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God” (Jam 4:4). We believe we can have our cake and eat it too. We believe we can have two masters or a side job that doesn’t affect our chief end. However, this is not the case.
- Satan intimidates through persecution
One of the promises of the Bible is that we will be persecuted (2 Tim 3:12). Satan roams like a lion ready to devour (1 Pet 5:8). A lion does not nibble its prey or is gentle on them but seeks to kill their prey so that they may eat. A lion is vicious. Satan uses the fear of death as a ploy for his promises of pleasure, power, and pride. We often make choices based on what persecution we can avoid compared to what glorifies God.
- Satan swings from one extreme to another; Licentiousness and legalism.
Many of the new testament letters are written to address false teaching, directly or indirectly. The church in Galatia went to the extreme of legalism, while the church in Corinth went to the other end of licentiousness. Both are a false gospel. Sinclair Ferguson addresses this in his book, The Whole Christ. Ferguson says, “They are nonidentical twins that emerge from the same womb. Eve’s rejection of God’s Law (antinomianism) was, in fact, the fruit of her distorted view of God (legalism).”
- Satan sets the bar of holiness from culture or one another, not the Bible
We follow ungodly counsel. Jesus rebukes Peter explains, “For you are not setting your mid on the things of God, but on the things of man” (Matt 16:23). Setting the bar of holiness horizontally on each other shifts the chief end to just be better than the worst person. We should set our minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth (Col 3:2). Often Satan does not tempt us to run past the line but to be as close to the edge as possible and to make our toes creep over the line. We think we are not as bad as others who are over the line from the line. However, the line is not set by God’s holiness but by ourselves.
- Satan throws us unexpected curveballs.
We are prone to wander and wonder in all directions. Satan knows our strongest weaknesses (See point 2), but he also is willing to use any kink in the amour to reveal a new weakness. Satan’s playbook has not changed. Throughout time, he has tempted us to the same sins. Paul warns the church in Corinth, “So the one who thinks he is standing firm should be careful not to fall. No temptation has seized you except what is common to man” (1 Cor 10:12-13). We should be aware of all situations; no man is immune to any sin even if he has never struggled with it in the past.
- Satan strategically retreats to lower our guard.
After Satan tempted Jesus in the wilderness, Luke explains that Satan departed from him for a season (Luke 4:13). The saying is true. Pride comes before a fall. When we often think we have overcome temptation or we have conquered a particular sin in our life, then comes the offensive attack. We should watch and pray; this is the remedy for not falling into temptation (Matt 26:41). Satan knows our greatest weakness and our greatest times of vulnerability.
- Satan burdens our conscience with fear and guilt.
Satan is not only the great tempter of sin, but he also is the great ‘accuser of our brothers’ (Rev 12:10). Satan has his law degree specializing in guilt and condemnation. He is quick to place sin before our eyes and swifter to point out our sin when we fall. He does not knows how to speak of God’s mercy and grace but will often point us to his wrath and judgment. We looked at the great truth that remedies this last week in “forgive us our debts.”
When we pray ‘lead us not into temptation,’ we are asking God to keep us from Satan’s devices. We pray that he would have no opportunity (Eph 4:26-27). That we would not fall into his snare (1 Tim 3:7). We pray this as men and women who have a high priest who is able to sympathize with our weaknesses, tempted as we are, but without sin. We should, therefore, draw near to the throne of grace (Heb 4:14-16).
Rescue us from the evil we face.
We pray ‘deliver us from evil’ that God would support and rescue us from when we do face temptation. We are not like Jesus. Jesus was tempted and did not sin. We are tempted, but we do sin. Two brief comments about this petition. First, some traditions call this the Seventh petition dividing ‘Lead us and Deliver Us’ into two separate petitions. Luther divides this into seven following the Catholic tradition. Luther connects the previous chapter and the sermon of the mount to the Lord’s prayer. However, Calvin and the later reformers saw them as one petition connected with the conjunction ‘but.’ We need to understand Jesus did not lay this prayer out like a blog post and in an outline. We call them petitions to help us understand the prayer better. I follow Calvin and Reformers, believing that it is one request to God, our Father. But even as we look at this petition, I have divided it into two subheadings.
The second comment is the translation of ‘evil or the evil one.’ The Greek can be translated either way. The best arguments for translating it ‘the evil one’ is in other translation of scripture (Cf. Matt 5:39), or the rhetorical question of how can we pray for the deliverance from all moral evil? The best argument for translating it ‘evil’ is that Matt 5:39 does not refer directly to Satan, but to an evil person, and that the devil is never referred to as the evil one in any known Aramaic or Hebrew sources. Again, unsurprisingly, I side with Calvin, who recognized the vagueness of this term. The various translation does not affect the interpretation in a great way. Either it refers to evil as a whole which would encompass Satan and his devices, or it refers to Satan and would encompass evil as Satan is the head/father of evil things.
We pray this petition in our weakness that God would rescue us from the evil within and external of us. God will always provide us with a way of escape from temptation that we would be able to endure it (1 Cor 10:13). We not only pray that we never face difficult or trying times, but when we do, we pray that God would deliver us, rescue us, and redeem us. We not only pray a defensive prayer that we would not face temptation but that we would, through God’s strength, be able to stand firm (Eph 6:10-13). We pray for deliverance because of our weakness and pray to the only one who can deliver us (Rom 7:24-8:1). We need someone who is stronger than us to deliver us; this person is Jesus Christ. Christ delivers us, rescues us and redeems us (Col 1:13; 1 Thes 1:10; 2 Thes 3:2; 2 Cor 1:10).
Satan may tempt us, and he may win the battle, but Christ has won the war. Christ is the one who keeps us from stumbling (Jude 24-25). Christ can keep us from stumbling not because we never stumble, but he never stumbled. God promised to deliver Adam and Eve. God delivered Lot from the city of destruction. God delivered the Israelites from slavery and Pharaoh. God delivered Joshua and his army from their enemies. God delivered the Israelites through the judges. God delivered David from his enemies and himself. God delivered Elijah from Ahab. We pray to deliver us from evil because God can and does deliver his people. We do not listen to the devices of Satan but the promises of God. We pray this petition in our weakness, knowing we are dependent on God, our Father. We are weak and fall into temptation, but God is strong enough to deliver us from evil.
 Some translations (NASB, NKJV, KJV, HCSB) include the conclusion in the text.