Matthew 6:9-15 Part 8

You remember what a doxology is, of course.  It’s a combination of two words – DOXA, which means glory; and LOGOS, which means word.  Words of glory.  Or praise.

And, at the end of the Lord’s Prayer, in later versions what we find is a doxology.  And we want to deal with that first, this morning, before finishing the prayer itself.

But let me read a couple of verses of Scripture for you, as we just mention this doxology in passing.  And these are such powerful portions of God’s Word – if you don’t have them written down and stuck on your refrigerator somewhere, then maybe you ought to.   Listen:

This is First Chronicles twenty-nine, verse ten. 


“Wherefore David blessed the Lord before all the congregation; and David said, ‘blessed are You Lord God of Israel our Father, forever and ever.  Thine, O Lord, is the greatness, and the Power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty; for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is Thine; Thine is the Kingdom O Lord, and Thou are exalted as Head above all.  Both riches and honor come of Thee, and You reign over all; and in Your hand is power and might; and in Your hand it is to make great, and to give strength unto all.  Now, therefore, our God, we thank You, and praise Your glorious Name.’”


Most people don’t think you can find stuff like that in the OLD Testament.

Now listen to Paul as He writes to Timothy from jail.  Second Timothy four, verse eighteen:

  “And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto His heavenly Kingdom; to Whom be glory forever and ever.  Amen.”


As I said, both of these passages are memorable portions of Scripture.  And we would do well to memorize them.  At least have them available to read – and to remind us of the purpose of our being, which is to give glory to God.

But the point is, here, that these are both strangely familiar, aren’t they?  Listen again:  “For Thine is the Kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.  Amen.”  That’s the doxology attached to the Lord’s Prayer in the King James version – and others as well.

It seems as if – and this is only speculation.  I don’t really know how it happened. But it seems as if the doxology was added when the prayer came to be used so routinely in the Church.  And it was then inserted, with some variations, into copies of Matthew’s Gospel.

I can see how that might happen very well, can’t you?  Through decades, and centuries of preaching and teaching and worship, as the Gospel of Matthew was read aloud in church, and the Lord’s Prayer was recited in liturgy, someone, somewhere along the way, decided that the prayer would read smoother in the liturgy if there was a decided and glorious ending to it!  So he inserted it into the next copy of the Greek text – or the Latin text – in order to make next Sunday’s worship service a little smoother!  And then somebody else, a hundred years later, picks up the fragment of parchment and reads it; and he says, “that sounds pretty good.  I wonder why I haven’t seen that before!”  And he puts it in his text and he copies it for his congregation. And so it goes until it’s an accepted insertion.  And then the King James translators pick it up in their Greek texts and translate it into English.

And the theology’s good!  It’s right out of First Chronicles twenty-nine – and Second Timothy chapter four!  There’s nothing wrong with it at all!  And it fits the prayer so beautifully, doesn’t it?  And if everyone is aware that it isn’t original to our Lord Jesus, then it might be used without criticism in the life of the Church.  Now, some might be sticklers about that.  And I suppose that I might be accused of not being “hard-nosed” enough.

But, as I said, the theology is right out of Scripture.  And as long as everyone knows that these aren’t the words of Jesus at this location in the Bible, then I see very little wrong with using it.  It is something in the historical life of the Church that’s good – and it doesn’t have to disappear.  It just has to be known.  Intelligent, well-informed Christians can hold to the inviolability of the Scriptures and still use the doxology at this spot in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount.

Now, let’s move ahead in the text, because I want to finish the Lord’s Prayer this morning and move to the subject of fasting next Lord’s Day. 

“Enter us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”

Now, as you can see, this cry to God for our deliverance and safety is directly after our forgiveness from that piled up debt of past sin and iniquity.  We have been forgiven for the depraved self-interest and deadness of the past – and now the most awful fear of going back to it.  “Enter us not – deliver us.”

The word “temptation” is the word that’s also translated “trial”, or testing, in other locations of Scripture.  And what we need to know this morning is that the two major categories of temptation are – 1) that having to do with suffering, and, 2) evil that is attractive.

In suffering, men are driven to idolatry, self-interest, denial, morbid introspection and bitterness.  And in the second category, there are plenty of things out there – physical, spiritual and intellectual – that are attractive to the human condition – the indulging of which is deadly.  Attraction and suffering – both are temptations.

Now, in many places in Scripture either one of these – or both – are meant when the word “temptation” is used.  It’s many times up to the context to determine which category is referred to – sometimes there’s not a distinguishing of the two at all!  So the testing of faith in the midst of sharp persecution is “temptation” - as is the temptation to self-adoration when we receive an exuberant compliment!

A family disaster is a test of faith – temptation – but so is an invitation to a lusty movie!  A personal crisis of some kind is a trial of my concentration on God my Father – that’s temptation.  So is an ungodly idea from a friend (or person in authority).  Government suppression of the Church would be an awful testing of our faith – temptation – and on the other hand, placing ourselves in situations when we might fall is temptation. 

You get the picture.

But what does Jesus mean when He teaches us to pray, “Enter us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil”?  Does He mean that we are to cry out to God not to test us?

That simply cannot be!  Jesus wouldn’t be instructing us to pray for something that could not take place.  God tests us, and tries us, as we saw in First Peter – in the refiner’s fire – so that the real gold becomes pure and the chaff is burned away!  Jesus would not be instructing us to pray that He not do that!

Now, although we might legitimately beg God for His mercy on occasion – to give us some respite from chastening, it would not be a faithful prayer to require of Him that we be freed from all temptation!

So – back to the question, “What does Jesus mean when He teaches us to pray, ‘Enter us not into temptation….’”?

Well, this is a faithful prayer, because God is the Author and the Finisher of our faith.  He gives us faith as a gift – and He finishes it!  That means He refines it!  And we are promised that He will never lay on us anything we can’t handle with what He’s already given us!

What Jesus is instructing us to pray for is what we’ve already been promised – that God will not tempt us to sin!  That He will not tempt us with hostile intent!  That He will not tempt us to drive us from His presence!  God doesn’t tempt us to sin – He tempts us to separate unto Himself a holy people!  He tempts us and tries us that we might be fully furnished unto every good work!

And for our part, the motivation to pray like this is that we might never enter again into that death from which we’ve emerged by the grace of God!  Please don’t look at me with hostile intent!  We beg of You not to drive us from the Mercy Seat!  Don’t tempt us that we fall!

“And deliver us from the evil….”

Just as there are two different categories of temptations – those things physical, spiritual and intellectual which pull the human condition with attractiveness, and then those conditions of suffering – so there are two different categories of evil in the Scripture – each category corresponding to the categories of temptation.

And it is a profound insight into the nature of evil which, in our own language and in Greek – and in other languages – uses one word to express both what we call sin, and what we call sorrow.  And, from the structure of these two petitions there is no reason to believe that our Lord didn’t include both categories.  In fact, I think you could say that because of the structure of these two petitions we have to include both categories.

So, at the risk of becoming a little confusing, let me just say that just as temptation includes both the dreadfully attractive and painful suffering, so also evil here includes the allure of rebellion and the sorrow of suffering.

The Scriptures call the pain of suffering, and its heartache, an evil!  And that it is!

Christianity has had deep words to say about evil and pain – suffering, if you will – as being for our good, and that it’s better than to have all pain and sorrow at once taken away.  And we can say those things in part – they are Scriptural; but we must also remember that all our exhortations must begin with the full admission that evil is evil.  And our Lord in this prayer has taught us that we must not theologize away the facts – and we must not verbally sophisticate the facts.

When we pray “deliver us from the evil…” let us use it in all its breadth, and know that it covers all that makes our hearts heavy – and all that makes us mourn – and all that makes our consciences sore.  “Deliver us from all evil” – mischief, plague, pestilence, and famine; and especially the sorrow and despondency associated with that suffering – deliver us from all tribulation, and the terror of coercion, and the fear and sorrow of death and the day of judgment; all this in addition to deliverance from envy and hatred and hypocrisy – from the crafts and assaults of Satan – from the lure of beauty and wealth – from the drive for self glory.  “Deliver us from the evil!”

All human sorrow and all human suffering are consequences of human evil.  And God is in absolute opposition to all evil.  And where would we be if God first would not pardon our debt – the mountain of debt owed to Him.  And having forgiven the debt, where would we be if God didn’t deliver us from evil?

This prayer breathes confidence that God has overcome evil in His Son Jesus Christ.  The Kingdom is at hand, He says!  And both kinds of evil are overcome – sin and the sorrow of suffering!

But you see, the prayer is for God to deliver us from evil.  He must do that – for if He doesn’t, then we are lost.  For we will fall into the evil of sin.  And we will turn inward into sorrow and despondency when we suffer.  Without His deliverance, our condition is evil.  And we are lost.  Therefore the pattern is to ask Him not to tempt us to sin, but to deliver us from the evil.  Don’t tempt us – deliver us!

And Jesus, at the end of the prayer, to let us know the serious nature of praying to God our Father, makes a promise and a threat.  If you ask God to forgive you, then you be forgiving others.  If you don’t forgive others their offenses against you, then don’t pray this prayer, because God will not give you an audience, and He will not forgive you.  And He will not be your Father.  And He will not, of course, be the center and focus of your prayer.  You will.

Now, here at the end of our exposition of the Lord’s Prayer, I want to take just a couple of minutes to contrast what’s being done today in prayer with what Jesus commands us to do.  He said, “When you pray, pray like this….”  So why do people do everything but this?  Why, when God is clearly the focus of our attention in prayer, do people focus attention of themselves?

We spoke extensively on Eastern mysticism at the beginning of this series, and we’ve had a good amount of time together with regard to the modern charismatic; so not much more is necessary here.  Just to say that new age people and charismatics feed off the same Buddhist concepts.

Here is some advice found recently from a prominent charismatic preacher: “If the prayer language – Bata Logia – which is available to all Christians isn’t received and used by them, there is little hope for them to resist the flood of spiritual evil that is being released in the world.”

But when Jesus says, “When you pray, pray like this….”  He instructs us to pray, knowing full well what we’re saying.  But this charismatic says to put your mind in neutral and try to engage in communications with God without knowing what’s being said!

That kind of activity may satisfy Tibetan monks and Indian Zoroastrians, but it’s far removed from any kind of prayer taught in the Scriptures.

Another angle – they don’t know it, but one that’s very closely aligned with the one I just mentioned – is what is being called “power evangelism”.  By some great mystical influence, the believer is endowed with all the power of Jesus.  And what one needs to do is realize that and learn how to put it to use!

In this great scheme of things, prayer becomes a magic formula to get what you want.  “With all this power inside you can generate enough faith to prescribe your success!  Just claim it in the name of Jesus and it will happen.”

One of the great present-day preachers of this theology, much to the delight of his five hundred thousand member charismatic Korean Church, is the Rev. Paul Cho, who claims that Christians have the power to create like God.  His big thing is understanding your own power well-enough to visualize the expected end-result when you pray!

In other words there is sufficient force in us, that if we do it right, we can visualize the expected result when we pray to God, and it will take place!

            Of course visualization is nothing new.  It is in the literature of mystical and occult practices as far back as written literature exists.  And it is contrary to the very purpose of prayer, and contrary to Jesus’ instructions in prayer!  Cho is the head sorcerer for five hundred thousand professing charismatic believers.  It seems like the further away from Christianity, the more people are excited.

            This kind of theology sounds so very similar to Satan’s theology in the Garden, doesn’t it?  Eve was told, “Go ahead and eat.  And when you do, you shall be as God….”

            The temptation is to turn everything around and focus on me – “that I might be as God.  That I might have that power.  That I might be like Him!  My own choices!  I don’t want to replace Him – I just want to be like Him.  I want some of that power, and glory, and sovereignty.”

            “Our Father, hallowed be Your Name.  Arrive Your Kingdom.  Be accomplished Your will – as in heaven, so also on earth.  Give us this day our epiousia bread; and forgive us our offenses as we forgive our offenders.  And enter us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil.” 

            Turn from self unto Christ.  For all authority in heaven and earth has been given unto Him!  Not to us.  To Him!