DEVOTIONAL INSIGHTS

INSIGHTS ON PRAYER

The Lord's Prayer (Part Five)

MORE ELEMENTS IN THE LORD'S PRAYER


Lead Us Not Into Temptation

This request on the surface is quite stunning--the idea that God would lead us into temptation. In fact the Greek version of this clause means "Don't EVER lead us into temptation." Jesus may have prayed this first in order to correct the wrong theology of some people. Some people may actually claim that God does lead us into temptation. If your view of God is that He is in such control that He controls everything, then you probably think that the evil which comes into your life is from God. Second, Jesus may be introducing this clause because whether they claim this to be true or not, in their hearts people may feel it to be true. Sometimes the theology of our hearts does not match the theology of our minds.

I definitely believe in the sovereignty of God. It's just that I do not believe God exercises His sovereignty the way some believe He does--dictating that some go to heaven and others to hell even before they had a chance to be be born and hear the gospel. (It's wild that they believe this but that they don't believe that this sovereign God is responsible for the evil people do in addition to the good that people do. They claim that we should do good deeds. Why? If God is sovereign in the way they explain sovereignty, then it doesn't matter what I do because I can only do what God is forcing me to do.) Rather I believe that God's sovereignty is seen in the fact that God takes the worst and uses it for the best. The cross is the ultimate example of God's sovereignty. Man at the cross does his worst, and then God uses man's worst for the salvation of billions. That kind of sovereignty is impressive.

Two prime examples of God's sovereignty are seen in C. S. Lewis' The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe and The Lord of the Rings. In The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, the White Witch invokes (legitimately) the Law that all traitors (especially Edmund) must be put to death. When Aslan (Jesus) her enemy offers to take Edmund's place, she ecstatically agrees, thinking that Aslan's death will render all of Narnia to her. Little does she realize that Aslan's death means nothing less than her ultimate defeat and the elevation of the 4 children to the status of kings and queens over Narnia. In the LOTR except for Sauron, the last person you want to get a hold of the ring is Gollum; yet Gollum's finally getting the ring results in its destruction, the destruction of Sauron, and the salvation of Middle Earth.

We need to appreciate the fact that God is not limited by our choices (which some of our friends seem to imply). God is so creative that the Bible itself begins "In the beginning God CREATED . . ." No matter what we do, God is so creative that He can work around us, through us, in us, or even in spite of us. The sad thing though is that when we reject God and God still carries out His plan, we do not get to enjoy what God did in our situation.

Just a little historical theology here. All of us look at the Bible through a certain grid. We just need to find out if the grid we're using agrees with the Bible. For example, most Calvinists will tell you that they are only using the Bible whenever they promote their theology. Little do they realize that they are actually promoting Plato's view of God. Calvin brought back into the church the view of the early Christian father Augustine who happened to be a Neo-Platonist. Find out what grid you're using, and then see if it agrees with the Bible.

The fact that God is sovereign raises 2 questions: how can a loving God order the mass destruction of a people in the OT and why do innocent children die? First, the mass destruction of people in the OT is due (1) to the belief that the people executed were beyond redemption and (2) to the belief that God is a righteous judge. God did not wipe out this nation after they committed one sin. In fact God told Abraham that He would wait for another 430 years before He destroyed them so that their sin would then be filled to the fullest. At that point if God is a righteous Judge, He had no option but to destroy them. You see, you would really have a problem with a judge if he let a mass murderer off scot free. The next time at the ballot box you would vote him out of office. Well, if we expect our local judges to act righteously, how much more should we expect the Judge of the universe to act righteously?

Second, with regards to innocents being harmed, you need to respect the principle that "we are all in this thing together." One of the big lies of the 60's was that what I do affects me and me only; therefore, you shouldn't be telling me what to do. Well, as the AIDS epidemic proved, we don't live in a vacuum. Children with hemophilia died from AIDS just as much as people who consciously engaged in promiscuous sex. You and I may not like this system; however, it is the system God has created, and we need to respect it. You can't change the system; therefore, honor it and don't be the cause of innocent people being harmed.


James, the half-brother of Jesus, deals with this very topic. According to James does God tempt people (James 1:13)?


According to James why doesn't God tempt people (Jas. 1:13)?


Can God be tempted according to James (1:13)?


James appears to be saying that tempting people is the furtherest thing from God's mind. In His world and mindset tempting others just simply does not compute. Evil is so far from God that it does not even enter His mind.

Some Christians claim that verse 13 teaches that since God cannot be tempted, then Jesus Himself (who is God) did not really suffer temptation when He was on earth, that even if Jesus was tempted, He could not have sinned since He was God. There are 2 problems with this claim. First, whenever the Bible uses the word "God" in an absolute sense without any qualifier, such as Son of God or the Spirit of God, then it is referring to God the Father. For James to say that God cannot be tempted means that the Father Himself cannot be tempted. Second, if Jesus' temptations were not real while He was on earth, then the whole Christ story was a joke. If He was not tempted, then He didn't really defeat temptation, sin, and Satan. How can He give us strength to overcome sin when He never realized what temptation was? The sweat drops of blood of the Garden in Gethsemane indicate Jesus really struggled during His prayers to overcome sin--rejecting the Father's will concerning the cross. The fact that He did legitimately suffer temptation makes His victory all that more impressive and makes His help for us more viable.

According to Heb. 2:18 because Jesus did suffer temptation, what can He do for us?


But Deliver Us From the Evil One.

Most of our versions of the Bible translate this verse: "deliver us from evil," making evil an abstract concept. The only problem with this translation is that the Greek literally says: "THE Evil" or "THE Evil One" not simply "Evil." You simply cannot interpret the history of the 20th century in terms of evil being an abstract concept. You may be able to explain away Hitler's insanity psychologically; however, you cannot explain away what happened in all of Germany, Japan, and Italy psychologically. The gas ovens of the Holocaust are the results of serious demonic forces at work in the world. Even many of the Germans could not believe what they had done after WW2 was over.

Most of us have been suckered into the modern myth that reality consists of only what you can see, touch, taste, hear, and smell. We believe that scientists are the ultimate gods of the universe, that they inform us about what is real and what is not real. Well, if our 5 senses could encounter all reality, then scientists would justifiably have this status in our society. Yet there is more to life that what is observable or measurable. One of the major contributions of Lewis and Tolkien has been to reintroduce the dimension of the supernatural back into our lives. They use fantasy to tell their stories because the modern novel which explains everything in psychological terms dismisses the supernatural dimension in our lives. Only fantasy and myth can express that supernatural dimension.

The Bible itself speaks of evil in personal terms. According to the Bible the evil in the world is energized by a personal demonic force named Satan ("the Adversary") or the devil ("the Slanderer"). This Satan is not the counterpart to God or even to Jesus and the Spirit. Unlike the 3 members of the Godhead, Satan is a created being. Because evil and God simply don't mix, God did not create Lucifer evil. As a result Satan is counterpart to either Michael (the only angel called an archangel in the Bible) or to one of the other lesser angels, possibly Gabriel, etc. He for some strange reason chose to become evil, to rebel against God.


According to Job 1:6-12 can Satan do anything he wishes to do? How does this passage illustrate this?


How do I know that Satan is working on me? Have you ever done something bad and then felt like a heel afterwards? Did that feeling persist? Did you begin to think that you were a real low life? Did you feel like you were a bad person? If so, that probably was not God talking to you. God does not make you feel guilty about who you are but for what you have done. When Satan attacks us, he blasts away at us with either a machine gun or a 12-guage shot gun, splattering us everywhere. When Christ convicts us, He uses the bow and arrow, getting right at the sin we have committed. Christ does convict us; however, His conviction is specific, not global.

Once more we try to psychologize away these kinds of things. (To be sure, psychology, especially Christian psychology, is an important vital discipline; yet it is not the end-all in dealing with people's problems.) In his space fantasy Perelandra Lewis describes a scientist who is going mad. He cannot see it; however, perched on his shoulder is a demonic creature which has learned to mimick the scientist's grammar and voice inflexion. Whenever the creature speaks, he imitates the scientist so precisely that the scientist thinks that he is the one actually speaking to himself and not another. I don't want us to start looking for demons under every rock and behind every stump; however, I do believe that if we are going to experience victorious lives, we are going to have to respect this part of reality and respond to it the same way Jesus responded to it--by praying to the Father regarding it.

Some have asked for more information about Satan. Although the Bible respects Satan, it does not obssess about Satan. In fact notice that Jesus does not mention Satan until the very end of the Lord's Prayer. Two passages in particular may give special insight into Satan. The first passage (Ezekiel 28:12-19) speaks about the arrogance of the Prince of Tyre. As you read, you see that Ezekiel describes him in terms which indicates that he is probably speaking about Satan. (If he is not speaking about Satan, then he is describing the Prince of Tyre in terms which definitely are characteristic of Satan.) The satanic description in Ezekiel says that this person "had the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God; Every precious stone was your covering; The ruby, the topaz, and the diamond, . . . You were the anointed cherub who covers, and I placed you there, You were on the holy mountain of God . . . Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; You corrupted your wisdom by reason of you splendor. I cast you to the ground. . ."

The other passage (Rev. 12) speaks of the conflict between Satan and God before, during, and after the ministry of Jesus. Prior to the birth of Christ, how many of the angels (stars) did Satan take along with him in his rebellion against God (Rev. 12: 4? (The stars most likely refer to angelic beings; see Rev. 9:1.)


After his attempt to destroy Jesus at His birth and His crucifixion fails, he assaults heaven where Michael the archangel defeats him. What happens to Satan after Michael defeats him (Rev. 12:7-9)?


He wages war against God's people since he can no longer attack Christ in heaven. The second coming of Christ puts an end to his war against the saints.