Lead Us Not Into Temptation, But Deliver Us From Evil

Lead Us Not Into Temptation, But Deliver Us From Evil

By the time we get to the end of the Lord’s Prayer, we begin to realize how needy we are.

Feed us our daily bread, forgive us our wrongs, lead us not into the temptations of the evil one. And if we have prayed the first part of the prayer seriously – that God’s name would be hallowed in the way we live, and that God’s kingdom would come through us, and that God’s will would be done among us—then we have signed up for a battle with evil. We have become part of the struggle of Jesus against the principalities and powers of this dark world. We really do need God to keep us from walking blindly into temptation and to deliver us from the powers that are dead set on destroying us.

Let’s look together at Revelation 17—19, the epitome of the description of evil. It’s as if John is leading us through an art gallery, which has three paintings that graphically depict the situation of the people of God as they face the evil one.

The First Painting: The Great Prostitute

The Great Prostitute in Revelation 17:1-6 is impressive. She looks like she just walked out of Saks Fifth Avenue, dressed in purple and scarlet, wearing gold, pearls, and gemstones. She is sassy. She is the mother of all prostitutes. Her limousine is a beast. She rides sidesaddle, tipsy from drinking the blood of martyred saints. She is arrogant, smooth, wealthy, powerful, cultured, and luxurious. She has everything she wants, and she flaunts it. Her clientele is impressive—kings, merchants, shipping magnates. The leaders of the world are recorded in her little black book. They have staked their lives on her ability to satisfy them.

And John says, “When I saw her, I was greatly amazed” (Revelation 17:6b).

You would be, too. Evil rarely looks ugly when we first see it. In the Revelation, the Roman Empire is this elegantly seductive prostitute, impressive enough to catch John’s eye. The guide of the gallery, John the Revelator, is now moving to the next painting. Let’s follow him.

The Second Painting : The Pimp

In one of my pastorates, I learned a lot about prostitution. Seductively dressed women walked the street in front of our church. Sometimes they’d come in for water or to use the restroom or to get out of the cold. Each prostitute is only the tip of the iceberg— behind her is a powerful pimp, the enforcer who protects her turf and sees to it that all the clients pay. Evil is never free. The pimp furnishes the prostitute with lies, luxury, and legal services. He pumps her ego, disguises her body, and uses her for his profit.

Rome had a pimp—the best in the business—the beast in Revelation 17:7-8.

This pimp had sponsored other prostitutes in scripture—Egypt and Babylon, to name a couple of famous ones. He used them up and left them in ruins. (You can read about the demise of Egypt in Exodus 12:29—14:30 and about Babylon in Isaiah 46—47.) Now the pimp has Rome.

In John’s drama, the pimp-beast turns on the prostitute and devours her. Why? Because she got in a fight with a slaughtered Lamb and lost. She’s used up. So now the beast is done with her.

The announcement of the prostitute’s demise has come. Rome, once powerful, seductive, mesmerizing, is now a buzzard-infested place of doom, decay, and demons. The enticement is gone. Evil comes to its end – ruined civilizations, worn-out ideas, failed philosophies, empty lifestyles. Rubble lies where the glorious city once stood. The prostitute cannot defeat the Lamb, because in dying, the Lamb exposes the prostitute as a carrier of death. The collapse is catastrophic.

But wait. In the middle of the crash, God shows up. God calls to the clients of the prostitute, “Come out of her, my people, so that you do not take part in her sins, and so that you do not share in her plagues” (v. 4). Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one. God is at work here, delivering us from evil. Our guide is ready to take us to the next painting.

The Third Painting: The Clients in the Little Black Book

The final scene lists the devastated clients, those whose names were found in the prostitute’s little black book. Kings, CEOs, politicians, real estate agents, merchants, grocers, car dealers, department store managers, golfers, clerks, hair stylists, advertising agents, athletes, pastors, military personnel, truckers, computer programmers, teachers, students, scientists—that would be the list if John were writing to our century.

Their world has crashed. It has gone up in smoke. In Revelation 18, they mourn, wail, grieve, and throw dust on their heads.

Our tour of John’s Gallery of Destruction is over—or is it? We are saddened that God does not have some alternative to this, some competing beauty with which to attract the world to himself.

And before we know it, John’s tour guide is moving again. Is there another portrait for us to see in this dark gallery?

The Last Painting: A Beautiful Bride

We move into a room, much lighter than where we’ve been. We see a portrait of people who have been delivered from evil, people beaten and bashed by the beast, people ridiculed by the prostitute, people who resisted, people who were not assimilated.

And they are singing a wedding song (Revelation 19). The Lamb has a bride, a beautiful bride.

And for the life of me, she looks just like the people of God. She looks like you. And she seems to be singing, “For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. Amen.”

Today’s post is an excerpt from The Lord’s Prayer: Imagine it Answered.

Comments

  1. God’s desire is not that we be unaware of evil, but that we look beyond evil and behold Him and His good working everywhere. That gives us the courage and the strength to boldly confront evil with God’s love.

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