Sunday February 20, 2022 | Greg Boyd
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And do not bring us to the time of trial,
but rescue us from the evil one.
What does it mean to pray that God won’t bring us to times of trial and to be rescued from the evil one? Greg explores the answers to this question and how it applies to our daily lives.
Greg provides an extended interpretation of the final two lines quoted above, where he argues that the word peirasmos is best translated as trial instead of temptation, as God does not tempt (James 1:12-13). But God does test his people. When God puts us to the test, he hopes we will pass and grow stronger from it. When Satan or anyone else tempts us, they’re hoping we’ll fall and be more enslaved because of it.
In Matthew 4, we read about the testing of Jesus in the wilderness for 40 days. This is a parallel to the testing of Israel in the wilderness for 40 years. God tested Israel to see if they would prove themselves trustworthy covenant partners and to help them grow in having a trustworthy character. While Israel consistently failed, Jesus succeeded. By undergoing this trial and withstanding the devil’s temptation, Jesus demonstrated that he was God’s one faithful covenant partner.
This leads us to ask two questions. First, why does God need to test his people at all? God tested his people to know what they would choose, to know what was in their heart. He wanted to see if his covenant people would prove themselves trustworthy or not. He hoped that they would succeed and knew that if they did, they’d grow stronger for it.
The second question is this: If we need to be tested to demonstrate and to strengthen our covenantal faithfulness, why would we ask the Father to not lead us into such trials? The two lines about trials and deliverance from the evil one are best interpreted as Hebraic parallelism, where there are two connected phrases or sentences and the second restates and/or further defines the first. Therefore, we should interpret “lead us not into trials” in light of “deliver us from the evil one.”
The Bible depicts God’s people as warriors on the front lines of a cosmic battle where we face testing and trials. This is a prayer to be delivered from “the evil one,” against whom we’re always battling.
After this interpretation, Greg explores the significance of asking the Father to deliver us from the evil one. This is important today when many don’t take the “evil one” seriously because they view the idea of such as being silly. Instead, we get a glimpse of the evil one when we consider the worst, most unthinkable, twisted, nightmarish things some people have inflicted on others, both today and throughout history.
According to the New Testament, the “evil one” isn’t only at work in the most heinous people in history, he is at work at all times and in all places. We must accept that there is an ever-present dark force who schemes against us and is always trying to pull us in the direction of death, loss and destruction.
In this war zone world that is ruled by Satan, we can’t help but be tested. We can better see this reality if we see things through a conflict worldview, an awareness that there is a dark poison mist that is present whenever we are tempted.
Greg concludes the sermon by introducing Lent, which is a 40-day period of saying no to something for the sake of pursuing God. This is a practical way of living into this prayer of being rescued from the evil one.