Delivered from Evil, Forever!
And there shall be no more curse… Revelation 22:3aNKJV
This morning we continue to study Westminster Larger Catechism Question 195, which asks, “What do we pray for in the sixth petition?” The seventh part of the answer states: “In the sixth petition (which is, And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil,)… we pray… that our sanctification and salvation may be perfected, Satan trodden under our feet, and we fully freed from sin, temptation, and all evil, forever.” Today we consider the Catechism’s final reasons for why we should ask God to not only lead us not into temptation but to deliver us from evil.
First, according to the Westminster divines whenever we pray this part of The Lord’s Prayer we are actually asking God to perfect, which means to complete, our salvation. Too often today salvation is equivalent to justification. Yet theologically, and therefore factually, justification is just one part of the many different aspects of the salvation God has promised to all of His elect. Justification is finished the moment a person believes in Christ but our salvation is nowhere near complete. Sanctification, our being made more and more into the (moral) likeness of Christ, begins the moment we are justified and will not be complete until we are with Jesus. However, when sanctification is finished our salvation is still not perfected. Only when we receive our new bodies and all of our rewards; only when we shine like the stars in heaven and have been fully glorified with all that Christ purchased for us will our salvation be complete and perfect.
Second, God’s plan in sending Jesus included both our full salvation and the crushing of Satan. Such was the prophesy in Gen. 3:15, that the seed of the woman – Jesus – would crush the head of the serpent who had just plunged mankind into ruin. Near the end of the New Testament the apostle John confirmed, “For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil,” (1 John 3:8). Thus, until Satan is fully defeated our salvation cannot be complete. But Christ does not just promise to defeat Satan. Romans reveals that Satan is and will be fully crushed under the feet of God’s elect (Rom. 16:20), meaning that Christ’s victory over Satan will be fully enjoyed and experienced by us. Thus, when we pray for God to lead us not into temptation but to deliver us from evil we are praying for the fullness of our victory over the “evil one.” This fullness God has promised to us. Therefore, we pray for it with bold and expectant faith.
Now as delightful as these first two meanings are I cannot help but think that the last three reasons are the most wonderful. First, that we would be fully freed from sin. What bliss and joy is that condition? How can we express it? How can we describe or anticipate something we have never known. Not since Adam and Eve fell has any human being, other than the God-man Jesus Christ, ever experienced, for one second, what it is like to be without any and all sin. Imagine being without any evil thoughts: no envy, no self-pity, no duplicitousness, no lust, no selfishness, not a single drop of greed or hate or sinful anger or pride. We will be free; fully and forever free of all sin. We will never think evil of anyone ever again. We will never be ungrateful towards or contemptuous of others. We will love all men fully and completely and perfectly – each according to what is proper to his or her station and our relationship to them. But more than this, we will fully and perfectly and without ceasing love God just as we should. We will fully honor Him as we should. We will perfectly fear Him as we should. We will finally be as thankful as we ought to be for all God has done for us. Furthermore, any and all temptation will have no attraction to us whatsoever. We will hate and shun any potential temptation that could arise or we could create. We will not create any or seek it out. And with Satan and all evil beings imprisoned in hell forever, there will be no other source available to create any temptation or any evil. So there will be none. No temptation forevermore. No evil for all eternity. This is what God has promised to us, and this is what we pray for, ultimately, whenever we pray, “And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.” May God be praised! And may He answer and grant this petition quickly!