1482) Deliver Us From Evil

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     In the final petition of the Lord’s prayer we ask God to deliver us from evil.  Martin Luther’s Small Catechism also refers to such protection from evil in Luther’s explanation to the First Article of the Apostle’s Creed where he says God, “defends me against all danger and guards and protects me from all evil.”  That sounds good, but anyone with two eyes can see that God does not always protect believers.  We are obviously not delivered from all evil.  Christians also get killed in terrible accidents, Christians also suffer and die from all kinds of painful diseases, Christians also face wars and famines and persecutions and all sorts of evil.  What does it mean to say that God guards and protects us from every evil?  

     In his Large Catechism and also in sermons on this petition, Luther says much more about how we should understand the word deliver in the petition.  Luther teaches that we must remember that God can deliver us in two ways.  One way is to guard and keep and protect us in this life, delivering us in the here and now from whatever threatens to harm or destroy us.  God often, but not always, does this.  The second way is to deliver us out of this whole world of evil.  Many things threaten us here, and someday, one of those threats will do us in and we will die.  But even then, God will keep His promise of deliverance, as death itself then becomes the deliverer, becoming for us the doorway to God’s eternal home in heaven.  Luther says in the catechism: “We pray here that our Father in heaven may deliver us from all manner of evil, whether it affect body or soul, property or reputation.  And then we can know that even when the end comes, and the hour of death comes to us, God will grant us a blessed end and graciously take us from this world of sorrow to himself in heaven.”  Therefore, Luther says, in the end God indeed delivers us from every manner of evil, because even when we die, death itself becomes the method of our deliverance.

     The petition ‘deliver us from evil’ can therefore be for us a either a huge PROBLEM or a wonderful PROMISE.  It becomes a ‘problem’ when we take the short term view, because then we will see all kinds of problems with such a belief.  Everyone could make a long list of things, saying, “Well, the Lord did not deliver me from this and he did not deliver me from that, so what is the matter with the Lord?  He does not seem to be very good at keeping his promise.”  But when we choose to take the long term view, we choose to have the faith that in the end, God will indeed deliver us from every evil for all time, when in death we join him in his heavenly home.

     The entire Bible is written with this long term view, this eternal perspective.  This is the hope in which we put our faith.  In the end, we will be delivered.  In the meantime, we pray that we may keep the faith; or, in other words, that we may not give in to temptation (as we pray in the sixth petition).  In his Large Catechism explanation to the sixth petition, Luther says that one of the most dangerous temptations is the temptation to lose the faith, and to fail to trust God.

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Matthew 6:13  —  (Jesus said), “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”

Galatians 1:3-5  —  Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory for ever and ever.  Amen.

Revelation 21:1a…3-5  —  Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth… and I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them.  They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.  He will wipe every tear from their eyes.  There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

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The Seventh Petition

But deliver us from evil.

What does this mean?

We pray in this petition, as in a summary, that our Father in heaven would deliver us from all manner of evil, of body and soul, property and honor, and at last, when our last hour shall come, grant us a blessed end, and graciously take us from this vale of tears to Himself into heaven.

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