Monday, August 22, 2011

"Deliver us From the Evil One"

“Deliver Us From the Evil One”
Rev. Greg Smith
© 2011
"Cronus Devouring His Children" by Goya

How would you feel if a thief broke into your house and stole your most precious treasures?  You might experience feelings of vulnerability, helplessness, and violation.  But what can a thief take that’s of any real value, anyway?  Things can be replaced.  But what if someone broke into your house and kidnapped one of your children?  It’s hard to even imagine the anguish!  If you knew that a kidnapper was coming, you’d stay up all night with loaded shotgun, alert and sober, waiting to defend your loved ones.

Yet the thief’s methods are usually not so overt, and all too often we aren’t that good at keeping watch.  Satan isn’t a red-suited, horned, pitchfork-carrying monster.  If he looked that way, nobody would find the sin he offers so attractive!  In reality, 2 Corinthians 11:14b-15 says, “Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.  It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.”  Satan is sneaky.  The thief is covert.  Dressing up as an angel of light, he convinces you that he has your best interest at heart.  He smiles broadly and gets you to trust him.  Then he steals what’s most precious to you.

John 10:10 says, ““The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”  Jesus doesn’t want His people ravaged by Satan.  He has come for blessing.  But God’s people must beware.  Satan’s servants “come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves (Matthew 7:15).”  They do not come in overtly, tempting you to do some bad thing.  They come in smiling, tempting you to trust that they have only good in store for you.  Then, once you trust them, they steal away your soul.  

1 Peter 5:8 says, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”  The thief is a silent stalker.  He doesn’t attack in the light, but prefers to hide in the dark.  With tactics like that, how can you defend against him?

Verses 9-11 say, “Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.  And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.   To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.” 

First, stand firm in the faith.  Do not waver or compromise in your reliance on God.  Second, understand that other believers have been through similar battles.  Because they have been there, they can be a support to you.  Third, remember the power and grace of God, who fights your battles for you.  Fourth, trust that whatever you may lose—God can restore.  He will make you strong, firm, and steadfast if you trust in Him.  Then, rest in the final “amen” of these verses.  “Amen” means “so be it,” or “let it be,” or “Thy will be done.”  It is an acknowledgement that God is in control and we’re not.  It also happens to be one of the names of Jesus (Revelation 3:14).  Be alert and sober, but rest yourself in Jesus as well.  Let Him guard your heart as you pray, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one (Luke 11:4).”

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