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Author:Rev. Jeremy Segstro
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Congregation:Cloverdale Canadian Reformed Church
 Surrey, BC
 cloverdalecanrc.org
 
Title:The Sixth Petition Cries Out for Deliverance From Sin
Text:LD 52 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:Unclassified
 
Added:2022-05-23
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

Reading: Ephesians 6:10-20

Lesson: Lord’s Day 52 (Q/A 127)

 

THE SIXTH PETITION CRIES OUT FOR DELIVERANCE FROM SIN

  1. Deliverance from the Weakness of our own Flesh

  2. Deliverance from the Schemes of the Evil One

 

  1. Psalm 35: 1, 4, 11

  2. Psalm 141: 2, 7, 8

  3. Hymn 55:1-3

  4. Hymn 1

  5. Hymn 53: 1, 2

  6. Hymn 53: 3, 4

 

Words to Listen For: lazy, key, train, Blondie, leash

 

Questions for Understanding:

  1. What does true faith require of us?

  2. What does the first part of this petition actually mean?

  3. What can the bank tell us about resisting temptation?

  4. What are 3 truths about Satan?

  5. Why do we have know Satan?  Why do we not have to be afraid of him?

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Jeremy Segstro, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


Beloved in Christ our Lord,

Of all the lines in the Lord’s Prayer, which one do you think would gain the most media attention?  Which of the petitions do you think would be popularized in the press?

Maybe the first one, we might think.

          Our Father in Heaven - well, that’s a little sexist…we should be able to pray to Mother God if we want, shouldn’t we?

Or

          Your Kingdom Come - is this an insurrectionist prayer?

Or maybe

          Give us Today our Daily Bread - this isn’t fair to the celiacs and gluten intolerant!

Now, if any or all of these seem rather silly to you, that’s a good sign…you’re thinking clearly, but, believe it or not, they are real headlines.  I didn’t make these up myself.  Each and every one of them has articles and blogposts written about them.

But, then again, anyone can write an article, anyone can start a blog and write whatever nonsense comes into their mind.

And yet.  What if it’s not just a random person on a random blog…what happens when it is the Pope putting out official statements?  Well, THEN we should sit up and take notice!

For both Roman Catholics, and for non-Christians, what the Pope says helps define Christianity for them.  And for Protestants, it can cause us to second guess our position.  The Pope, after all, is not unintelligent!

So cast your mind back with me.  Picture it.  Italy 2019.  June.

Already, 2 years earlier, Pope Francis, a Pope who is a little more unorthodox than previous popes, had expressed his discomfort with the wording of the prayer that Christ taught His disciples.  There was no question about the accuracy of the translation, but it was simply the Pope’s feelings that were all in a twist.

And then, two years later, the change was made.  Get ready to stumble over the words of the Our Father at your next Christmas Mass the article read.  The justification, so said the Pope, was “It’s not a good translation because it speaks of a God who induces temptation.”  Nothing about the Greek original - because that is incontrovertible.  Nothing about a newly discovered papyrus, because there wasn’t one…only about feelings, only about fears over faithfulness.

But we are called, each and every one of us, you, me, and the Pope included, to sit UNDER the Word of God.  To obey it.  To submit to it.  Not to twist it to make it say what makes us feel good.

And what is more sad than all of this…is that the change was never needed.  The original and faithful translation of this petition already speaks of a good God.  A great God.  A loving and faithful God who cares for His children.

The sixth petition doesn’t cry out against a cruel God who encourages people to sin, but rather, 

THE SIXTH PETITION CRIES OUT FOR DELIVERANCE FROM SIN: It cries out for

  1. Deliverance from the Weakness of our own Flesh and 

  2. Deliverance from the Schemes of the Evil One

 

The Sixth Petition cries out for deliverance from the Weakness of our own Flesh

It is, not to press the point too much, one of the weaknesses of our flesh that cause us to sit overtop Scripture, sitting in judgement over it, instead of in submission under it.  You have this weakness, I have this weakness, the Pope has this weakness.

There are Scriptures that are quite easy for us to accept:

  • John 3:16 - For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him may not perish, but have eternal life.

    • That’s an easy one.  That’s a nice one.  I like eternal life.

Or

  • Romans 8:39 - Nothing in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

    • That’s so nice!  I like the eternal love of God.

But true faith requires that we accept as true ALL that God has revealed to us in His Word.  The easy and the difficult.  The verses we understand and the ones that we don’t understand.

But don’t get it wrong, don’t get it confused, this is not an open invitation to never think critically about Scripture, or an invitation to never do any deeper study.  “Well it’s true anyways, there’s no point in seeking a deeper understanding of it.”  This isn’t a holy line of thinking…it’s LAZY thinking!

True faith should never lead to intentional ignorance!  This is not the way.

But rather, we must

  • Believe Scripture

  • Submit to Scripture

  • And then try to understand it more deeply, so that we may do the first two in a purer and stronger way.

Believe, submit, understand.

And the sixth petition is no exception.  Because the Pope does have a point.  This petition COULD be misread in a dangerous way.

But the solution is not to try to change the reality of Scripture to fit our weakness, but rather, to fight against our weakness!  Denying reality, or attempting to change reality, is a futile fight.  If you fight reality, you may have limited success for a time, but reality always wins.

If you refuse to live in reality, reality will come knocking on your door anyways.  Especially the ultimate truths of Scripture.

The confusing Scriptures should be STUDIED, and SUBMITTED TO, not CHANGED.

So let’s get into it.

What is the sixth petition?

Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the Evil One.

There are two aspects of this petition that are related, though they are distinct.  So let’s examine them separately, before bringing them together.

Lead us not into temptation

This is the aspect that the Pope had such a problem with.  “God is not a God who leads us into temptation…when I fall into temptation, it’s ME who falls.”

On its surface, a reasonable argument, no?  Yes, it seems to be quite reasonable.  A desire to shield God from being the author of sin.

And yet...this argument is not airtight.  The Pope IS wrong here.

Lead us not into temptation.

Let’s take this word by word.

Lead

By praying this, we are acknowledging the sovereignty of God.  The God who turns the heart of the king wherever He desires.  God is the One who leads and guides His people.

Us

With this petition, as with all the others before it, we are not praying only for ourselves.  We are praying for and with the church.  God is OUR Father.  WE request OUR daily bread.  WE want OUR debts forgiven.  Though we may pray privately, we never pray alone.  Though we may pray privately, we never pray alone.

Not

Though this is a very small word, it is a very powerful word.  It is a very important word.  If the Apostle Paul were writing this prayer, he may very well have used his popular phrase: By no means!  a very INTENSIVE “not.”  Lead us NOT into temptation.  And the order here is important.  If we pray Do not lead us into temptation, it could be taken as “God, the way you lead might get me intro trouble.  Please let me lead myself.”  But when we pray it this way, in this order, we are acknowledging God’s sovereignty.  “God, as you lead me, please remember that I am weak.  Please do not let temptation, and especially what comes after, to be your plan for me, because then I just might fall.”

Into

As I have told my catechism students, time after time after time, prepositions are KEY to understanding theology.

We are saved BY grace and THROUGH faith.  Do not get those two mixed up!

And the same is true here.  Do not lead us INTO temptation.  This prayer is deeper than we might think at first.  We are not praying that we will never ENCOUNTER temptation - for then how would we grow in our faith?  No.

It is GOOD that each of us encounter temptation on a daily basis - this is how God has arranged our Christian lives.  Whether it is the temptation to depend on someone or something in the place of God, or to hate your neighbour instead of loving him, or any other sin that we might be tempted by…these temptations are all around us.  Temptation is universal and inescapable.  So we are not praying that we would never ENCOUNTER temptation.

But rather, we are praying that we do not step INTO temptation.  That we don’t test the waters and then play around, going deeper and deeper into the temptation until our eyes are blinded to the truth and we sin.

And finally, Temptation

Temptation itself, beloved, temptation itself is not sin.  For our Lord was tempted.  He was tempted in the wilderness, by the master tempter himself.  Our Lord was tempted, just as we are, yet without sin.

The temptations SEEMED to be good, as every temptation seems to be.  The Devil never shows you temptation for what it is - then its power would be destroyed.

He tempted our Lord with BREAD.  Nothing wrong with bread.  In fact, not too long ago, we heard how important it is to pray for our daily bread.  Bread isn’t bad.  God loves to care for His children, and His Son was starving in the desert.  Why not turn the stones into bread?

Bread isn’t bad, the fruit is pleasing to look at….

No matter what God says, it’s wrong to starve in the wilderness!   No matter what God says, you shouldn’t deny yourself this fruit!

If God cared about you, He would have already given you bread.

If God cared about you, He would have allowed you to eat any fruit in the garden!

Take this matter into your own hands.  It’s not a bad thing!

But it was a very bad thing.  For Adam and Eve in the Garden, and for Christ in the wilderness.  But where Adam and Eve failed, Christ succeeded.  His eyes were open to the truth, and so He didn’t fall for the lie.

Temptation is a lie, sent to you by the Father of lies, and you need to see the truth.

It seems that it came so easy for our Lord in the wilderness.  It seems that He had the answer right there.  But we know that He struggled.  But where He was strong, so very often, we are weak.

So very often, we fall for the lie, and we play around with temptation, thinking that we are strong, and then we fall.

That is why our catechism says:  In ourselves, we are so weak that we cannot stand, even for a moment

And then concludes: Will you, therefore, uphold and strengthen us by the power of your Holy Spirit, so that in this spiritual war, we may not go down to defeat

We are SO WEAK.  Where Christ is strong, we are weak, and so we must rely on Him for strength in temptation.  Our eyes are dimmed by sin.  They need to be opened up by grace.  They need to be opened up by regular Bible reading - steeping ourselves in the Word of Truth.  They need to be opened up by constant prayer - communion with the God of Truth.

This is a lesson we can learn...interestingly enough...from the banking world.  This is exactly the way that they train bank tellers to tell the difference between real money and counterfeit money.

You might think that a bank teller should deeply study counterfeit bills.  Handle them and see their weight, their texture.  Learn to see the warped smile, or the blue that is a little too green.

But not.  Bank tellers are trained by spending all their time looking at, handling, examining, steeping themselves in REAL MONEY.  They become intimately familiar with it, bill after bill after bill, so that when something comes in that is counterfeit….immediately something feels wrong.  Something feels off.

Beloved, we do not have to become TEMPTATION-ologists in order to have the victory, spending time cataloguing every area of weakness.  We should be AWARE that we have weaknesses, we SHOULD learn from our mistakes, but, what will truly help us have victory in our fight against temptation and lies, is to spend our time steeped in the truth.

When we know our Bible like the back of our hand, and someone comes with a false teaching, someone comes to try to lead you astray, into temptation, it will just FEEL WRONG.  You will know immediately that something is wrong, and you will be on your guard.  You won’t be like a boat, tossed about by every wave of the sea, for you will be anchored in God.

When you know the truth, and you love the truth, each and every lie will be abhorrent to you.  When you know your Saviour, and you love your Saviour, each and every sin, and opportunity to sin will be abhorrent to you.

When we pray this first part of the sixth petition: lead us not into temptation, we are not “letting go and letting God.”  But rather, we are praying for His supernatural strength to flow through our veins that we may fight and win.

But what we are fighting is not simply an idea.  What we are fighting is not just the disembodied concept of evil, floating around in this fallen world.  But we are fighting a real and true enemy. We are fighting, not just EVIL, but THE EVIL ONE.  Our second point.

How often do we remember, that in our spiritual war, we are fighting against REAL ENEMIES?

To be clear, these enemies are not flesh and blood, but they are the rulers, the authorities, the cosmic powers over this present darkness, the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.  This we heard in our reading from Ephesians 6.

Maybe it’s because we don’t fully understand these different designations - what is a ruler, and how is it different from an authority, or a cosmic power?  Are these different levels of demonic powers?  It seems like it, but we don’t really know.  Scripture isn’t clear on this, but what it IS clear on, is that Satan DOES EXIST.  He IS REAL.  Demons DO EXIST.  They ARE REAL.

Maybe it’s easier for us to read Lord’s Day 52 with a bit of an edit:

In ourselves, we are so weak that we cannot stand even for a moment.

Moreover, our sworn enemies - the world and our own flesh - do not cease to attack us.

This is how we live, so often, don’t we?  If we were pressed on it, of course we would acknowledge the reality of Satan, but we don’t LIVE as though he is real.

In moments of humility and clarity, we recognize the weakness of our flesh.  We confess that we are not as strong as we would like to be.  As strong as we should be.  When we see ourselves clearly, we see ourselves as weak, and needing help.

And we have NO ISSUE in seeing the world as our enemy.  Battle lines are drawn up at the drop of a hat when a politician says something against Christianity.  The fire is fueled when a celebrity is vehemently pro-abortion, or overly sexual.  “Well, that’s the world!”  And we throw up our hands in frustration.

But…somehow we forget about the one behind it all.  The mastermind.  The real schemer behind those who hate Christianity…is the devil.  The vehemence expressed by abortionists and groomers is, when you boil it down, demonic rage.

Just as everything GOOD comes from our God, everything EVIL comes from the Enemy.

And it is important to note, even briefly, what this petition actually says.  You will have seen other versions of the Lord’s Prayer where this petition reads: Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

Where does this come from?  Can we blame this on the Pope too?

Well, no.  This one doesn’t come from the Roman church, but from a very understandable translation choice.

Literally Jesus said “Deliver us from THE EVIL.”

And, with the way the language works, this COULD be understood as “deliver us from evil.”  But a better understanding is that this is what is known as a substantive.  Now, because grammar isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, think instead of a classic western movie.

Think of the classic western movie: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.  These aren’t just 3 categories here, these are three people.  The Good (One) is Blondie - Clint Eastwood.  The Bad (One) is Angel Eyes, and the Ugly (One) is Tuco.

This is how the Lord’s Prayer is understanding EVIL here as well.  Not just the concept, but the one who is evil.  The evil one.  The one from whom evil originates.

Deliver us from SATAN HIMSELF.

Our Lord seems to confirm this interpretation in what is known as His High Priestly Prayer in John 17 when He prays - I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.  I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one.

The only way for us to be delivered from ALL EVIL would be to take us out of the world.  And besides, evil serves its purpose in this world.  The evil that is not prevented by God is worked out for our good and for His glory.

But we MUST pray, often, and passionately, for us to be delivered from Satan.  Do not think that he doesn’t know you.  Do not think that he doesn’t want to harm you.

Because, even though we don’t know what he ACTUALLY LOOKS LIKE (he disguises himself as an angel of light), even though we don’t know exactly WHEN he was created, or exactly WHAT his rebellion looked like…we do know 3 things:

  1. He is real

  2. He knows your name

  3. He hates you

So do not be ignorant about Satan - know your enemy.  We are in the middle of cosmic battle.  God versus Satan.  The most powerful being in the universe fighting against another very powerful being, who is His direct opposite.  God creates, loves, and offers us life, and life abundantly.  Satan destroys, and hates, and wants to see us die, and die eternally.  Do not underestimate your enemy, and the war in which you are a part.

But also, at the very same time, do not be AFRAID of him.

It seems like a contradiction, doesn’t it?  There is a supernatural being, far stronger than us, far more powerful than us, far smarter than us, who seeks our doom.  He has explicitly said that he wants to cause you pain and suffering, but his power is such that he disguises himself and his schemes so that you don’t know until it’s too late.  Oh! And by the way, most of the time he’s invisible.

What a contradiction!  Your enemy is better than you in everything, his death toll is in the billions, but fear not.

And why?

Well, YOUR enemy might be far stronger than YOU…but HIS enemy is infinitely stronger than HIM.  And he has been revealed, his schemes brought into the light.  He has been defeated and made to look like a fool, orchestrating his own downfall with the cross.

I know what I’ll do!  I’ll KILL the Messiah!  Then He won’t be able to defeat me!

But at the moment he thought he had won, it was then that he had lost.  Definitively.  For by the death of Jesus Christ, Satan’s grip on humanity was broken.  By His death, death itself was transformed.  By His death, sins were paid for, and there was no chance that any believer would ever spend a second in hell.  

Oh to hear the screams, the wailing and gnashing of teeth when Satan realized his doom had been sealed!

Satan is a beast on a leash.  He is angry, he is powerful, he is hateful…but he has been de-fanged.  There is no poison in his bit anymore.  The worst that he can do is kill your body, promoting you to heaven.

This is the comfort that we can have in Jesus Christ.

And yet, despite this historic victory, we still need to pray this prayer.

And why?

Because, though Satan has been weakened, his power broken, his chain tightened…though he is a neutered toothless lion…he is still far more powerful than you.

The only weapons that have any power against him are spiritual weapons.  The only weapons that have any hope of success are the weapons given to us by God.

          The shield of faith, to extinguish his arrows - worked in our hearts by the Holy Spirit.

          The helmet of salvation - accomplished for us on the cross

          The sword of the Spirit - God’s Word.  Given to us that we might fight against the lies and live in the truth.

And, and Paul adds,  praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.

Since, in ourselves, we are so weak, that we cannot stand even for a moment…

Our sworn enemies, the devil, the world, and our own flesh DO NOT CEASE TO ATTACK US…

Uphold and strengthen us so that in this spiritual war, we may not go down to defeat, but always firmly resist our enemies, until we finally obtain the complete victory.

We are to fight, and fight hard.  But not in our own strength.  Never in our own strength.

This was put very simply and powerfully in a quotation by an unknown author.  It goes a little something like this: Whenever the devil knocks at the door, I send Jesus to answer it.  Then the devil says “Oh! I’ve come to the wrong house” and goes away again.

You might scoff, you might chuckle, but it really is as simple as this.  Our troubles come when we tell Jesus “you stay right there, I’ll get the door.”  We fall into temptation, we test the water and then jump right in…when we are alone.

So in this prayer, and always, depend on your God for help and for strength.

Temptations are all around, and we are not asking for deliverance from them, but rather, for strength to defeat them.

Satan is all around us, and we are asking for Jesus Christ to defeat him in the little fights, as He defeated him in the cosmic war.

Please God, change our life to match your truth.  To match reality.  Give us strength, give us power, give us the victory, now and forever.

AMEN.




* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Jeremy Segstro, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright, Rev. Jeremy Segstro

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