Good morning! How are you doing today? Thank the Lord for a few days of sunshine this last week! 10 days from now spring arrives and the sun will be on our side of the equator! Today we look at the final petition in the Lord’s Prayer. “Deliver us from Evil.” Or more precisely, “Deliver us from the Evil One.” The Evil One is Satan or the devil.
There’s a lot of interest these days in the devil, the occult and using demonic power for our own purposes. We see it in TV shows, movies, video games. All this attention isn’t new. It goes all the way back to OT times and extends into the pagan religions and New Age today.
Every time people have abandoned God to glorify Satan and chase after demons, it has backfired. Satan and his demons are real. They’re not your friends. They hate you. You cannot use them to your advantage so burn the tarot cards, horoscopes and Ouija board.
So let’s start by looking at what the Bible says about Satan and the demons. Satan is not a god, he’s not worthy of worship, he is a fallen angel. He was created good and beautiful, but he rebelled, he became twisted and depraved. Here’s how Isaiah tells the story…
“How you have fallen from heaven, morning star, son of the dawn!
You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations!
You said in your heart, “I will ascend to the heavens; I will raise my throne above the stars of God;
I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of Mount Zaphon.
I will ascend above the tops of the clouds. I will make myself like the Most High.”
But you are brought down to the realm of the dead, to the depths of the pit.” Isa 14-12-15
The name “morning star” is Lucifer. Lucifer may have been the most beautiful and gifted of all the angels in heaven. He may have been one of the top three along with Michael, the captain of the Lord’s armies and Gabriel, the Lord’s messenger on earth. I wonder if maybe Lucifer was in charge of heavenly worship, choir master, leader of the band.
His name means light bearer or a truth bearer. But he developed an ego problem. He became turned in on himself. Instead of glorifying, serving, and exalting his Creator, he decided to exalt himself into the place of God. That should sound uncomfortably familiar.
The Bible tells us that a third of the angels in heaven followed his rebellion and they were cast out of heaven to the earth. This happened between the end of Genesis chapter 1 when God sees all he had made and it was very good and chapter 2 where we find Satan on earth as the serpent in the garden with Adam and Eve.
What should scare us this morning is that like Satan, we have done the same thing. We’ve decided in one way or another to exalt ourselves to the place of God. Remember what Satan said to Adam and Eve? “You too can be like God.” What an outrageous lie!
So what’s the difference between God and Satan? God is Creator. Satan is created. God is omnipotent. Satan is not and never will be. God is omniscient, he knows all things. Satan does not and never will. God is omnipresent, Satan is not. God is real, Satan is a pretender.
God is just and trustworthy, Satan is not. God is love, Satan is not. Neither are we. Yet we’ve bought into Satan’s lie to Adam and Eve that we, too, can become like God. We can make up our own rules, produce life from within ourselves - that we don’t need God.
Satan is not a god, but he and his demons are formidable enemies. They are spiritual beings and they are powerful and clever. They are masters of deceit, illusion, intimidation. Their aim is to vandalize and destroy as much of God’s good creation as possible.
Satan and his demons are behind all the wickedness and evil in our world. Idolatry, immorality, perversion, addiction, occult worship, war, abortion, greed, bigotry, lies, theft, murder, anarchy are done by people but he is tempting power behind it all.
It’s important to remember that Satan is a spirit and he operates only within the boundaries that God has set for him. He can do terrible things, but only within the boundaries God sets.
Satan primary weapons are lies, intimidation, and enticement. He works to convince us that God doesn’t really exist, and if he does exist, he doesn’t really care about us. He works to convince us that God is going to get in the way of our finding the joy, security, significance we long for, all things that only God can provide.
He works to convince us that we’ve out grown our need for God. He works to convince us that sin isn’t wicked, that we are good people, that we don’t really need God’s forgiveness, that we are just fine the way we are. He works to lull us to sleep spiritually.
And he’s effective at what he does. But he cannot win. God’s love has always overpowered every evil tyrant this world has ever seen. God’s truth has always exposed every lie. So why does God allow him continue to do his thing? Why does God stop him?
Here are two quick reasons. Satan is a liar and a thief. If God were to throw him and all the liars and thieves in this world into hell today, where would you be? Here’s the other reason. God is allowing evil to run its full course so that in the end we will see the full power of God’s mercy and grace. Everyone will know God is in control, has always been in control, and evil is powerless to threaten his love or his sovereignty.
Imagine a two year old throwing a fit, kicking and screaming, and a loving parent patiently waiting, then picking the child up and rocking them to sleep. The child’s rebellion doesn’t change the parents love or sovereignty in the child’s life. Parents aren’t always able to do that. Sometimes we do let our children’s bad behavior pull us in to behaving badly. But God never does that. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Praise God for that!
Those who set themselves against God and the coming of his kingdom may seem to get the upper hand for a while, but in the end their rebellion against God always collapses. On Good Friday, Satan gave it his best shot, but he couldn’t stop Easter Sunday from coming. In the end everyone will see, God alone will be sovereign and he will conquer evil, not with brutality, but with righteousness, grace, and love.
Another reason God may delay in judging Satan is so that the depravity of sin might be seen for what it is. God’s desire is that all people recognize their sin, repent and turn to him.
Have you come to terms with the depravity in the human heart? He loved us and we responded by crucifying him, that’s wicked. But through his death and resurrection, he made it possible for us to be forgiven and restored. Have you come to terms with that kind of love?
On the cross, Jesus stripped Satan of his most powerful weapon. His power to accuse us. Satan reveled in his power to point out our faults before God and demand that our sins be punished. The Bible says the penalty for sin is death. But Jesus took our sin upon himself and paid for it with his death on the cross. In Christ our sin is gone as if it never existed. We have been unshackled from the sins of our past – the mistakes we have made, the mistakes our parents made, personal sin, generational sin no longer identify us. We are forgiven.
Paul puts it this way, “There is no longer any condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Rom 8:1
When we pray, “Deliver us from the Evil One”, we are praying that the Father will keep us tight to Jesus who delivered us and will continue to deliver us. Satan will still throw terrible things at us. He will tempt us, threaten us, intimidate us. He will lie about us and falsely accuse us. He might even kill us, but he cannot separate us from the love of God that is in Jesus Christ our Lord.
What does this mean for our daily life as Christians? Expect evil - don’t be surprised by it. Endure evil – don’t be intimidated by it. Expose evil – don’t be afraid to tell the truth. Overcome evil with love and prayer. Resist the devil in the name of Jesus and he will flee.
Let’s read again what Paul writes in Romans 8:31-39. I encourage you to memorize this.
“What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all - will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those God has chosen?
It is God who justifies! Who then is the one who condemns? No one! Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? How about trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:
“For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Rom 8:31-39