Thursday, December 30, 2021

The Christian Conflict (Matthew 6:5-14)

"Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one” (Matt. 6:12–13).

The second half of the Lord’s Prayer deals with our warfare against the world, the flesh, and the devil. The fourth petition of the prayer in its Lukan form literally says, “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.”

In the Law, there is a distinction between “sins of wandering” and “trespasses.” When someone sins against us, it means that they did something relatively small, something they were not really thinking about, some manifestation of insensitivity. Such sins we can “excuse.”

A trespass, however, is a deliberate invasion of our lives. It is a rape or murder or slander of our integrity as a person. It is something that causes us deep distress.

Jesus says that our sins against God are of this kind. They are serious violations of His character. We must ask Him to forgive us, but we must also forgive those who commit such sins against us. This does not mean that we do not seek to bring criminals to justice, but it does mean that we are not to let the sun go down on our own wrath. Recognizing God’s good hand in such violations, we must forgive, submit to His providence, and not let such violations cause us to become bitter.

What’s more, we must pray not to be led into temptation, which can also be rendered, “do not put us to the test.” We recognize our weakness, that we might fail the test, and that we might fall before temptation. But we also recognize God’s providential direction of all the events of history: We ask Him, then, not to allow us to come into tests and temptations that we cannot withstand.

Finally, we must pray to be delivered from evil. In Greek, the word evil is personal, and this phrase should be translated, “Deliver us from the evil one.” When we pray this, we recognize that we are in a spiritual war, and that the fallen angels are more powerful than we are. We do not fight this war in our own strength, but by wrestling with God, who alone can deliver us. Jude 9 tells us the same thing, reminding us that even the angel Michael did not attack Satan directly, but said, “The Lord rebuke you,” calling on God to act.

Today use the Lord’s Prayer as your prayer outline. Spend time on each petition. Ask God to make you a more effective warrior against evil and to bring His kingdom more and more to fruition on the earth.