"Lead me not into temptation, but deliver me from evil..."
We love to read over the sample prayer that Jesus gave us as a guide, and to think about how we can apply it to our life. We carefully consider what it really means to ask God for our "daily bread" as we look for His provision. We struggle with the concept of "forgive me my sin as I forgive those that have sinned against me". We're excited to think about what it will really look like when God's "kingdom come, thy will be done. On earth as it is in heaven." But how often do we gloss over the part where we ask God to "lead me not into temptation, but deliver me from evil"?
Why is this phrase one that so easily eludes us when we pray? Because we love our sin. I know, our gut reaction is to say "I don't love sin! I hate sin!" But if that were true, we would spend more time running from sin than running towards it. We would spend more time planning to avoid sin than planning to indulge in it. We would spend more time praying out "God, PLEASE deliver me from evil!" ...and we would be warning others how dangerous sin is when left unchecked.
To be attracted to sin is to be human. Even God's Word tells us that sin is actually pleasurable for a time. God has even given us the free will and ability to choose to do whatever we want. Anything you can think of (be it labeled as sin or otherwise), you have the power, and the right, to choose to do. God has instilled in your very nature that right (it's one of the ways we are made in God's image). The ability to choose what we say, how we act, where we go, what we see, and what we do...these are all within our power. We're also a defiant bunch. Even Christians too often see God as this dictator who sits in heaven telling us what we can and can't do. But that's not God!
God wants you to have the power of choice! ...and it's not the choice we need to be nearly as concerned with as it is the effects of our choice. It's all about consequences. God, in His infinite wisdom, is not barking out orders to keep us from doing what we love or to keep us from "being happy". Rather, He has given us insight as to the effect of consequences. Some things we choose to do will result in negative consequences that are detrimental to our life, happiness, and mental and spiritual well-being. Other things we choose will result in positive consequences that result in joy unspeakable and full of glory. God has simply laid out a plan for us that details how to choose those things that result in a positive outcome...and to avoid the things that are harmful.
God wants you to be holy. He wants you to be happy. He wants you to live like Jesus because He knows we will live a life that's energized and effective, and that we can share that life with those around us who are desperate and hurting. Because He loves us! Choose today to be led away from temptation. Spend some time asking God to deliver you from evil today...then repeat tomorrow. Watch how we can use the power of choice to revolutionize our life, our family, and our community!