“But deliver us from evil . . .” (Matt. 6:13b). I admit that it’s the evil inside me that hooks me to the evil outside me, and I seek grace’s rescue.
If Billy pushes Suzy, causing her to fall and hit her head, and you come into the room and ask Billy why he did it, he won’t talk about himself. He’ll talk about what Suzy did or how he tripped over the toys in the room, but he won’t say: “I’ve got sin in my heart that makes me selfish, so I push others when they get in my way. Please pray for me, Mom.” You won’t hear that because, even though Billy is only five years old, he has already bought into the heresy that his biggest problems in life exist outside him, not inside him. He wants to believe that the big dangers are all “out there.”
Like Billy, we are all very skilled at explaining away our wrong behavior by pointing to the situations, locations, events, and people in our lives. We work very hard to convince ourselves that the problem cannot be us. We take ourselves off the hook by saying:
- “She misunderstood me.”
- “I was busy.”
- “I really didn’t mean it that way.”
- “I wasn’t feeling well.”
- “It’s just my personality.”
- “Sorry, I just forgot.”
- “I must not have heard you.”
- “He talked me into it.”
- “You don’t know how difficult he is to live with.”
- “I just ran out of time.”
- “I’m sorry—other things just got in the way.”
We are all very good at swindling ourselves into thinking that what God says is wrong isn’t so wrong after all, or that our words and behavior tell us more about the situations and people in our lives than they do about us. We resist the truth that it is only ever the evil inside us that magnetizes us to the evil outside us.
When grace has made you able to pray “deliver us from evil,” you are admitting that the evil that is the greatest danger to you is the evil inside you. You are admitting that you can escape the evil in a certain location, you can avoid an evil situation, and you can run from an evil person, but you cannot run from yourself. Only grace has the power to rescue you from you and to deliver you from the most threatening evil of all—the evil that still resides in your heart. Cry out for that grace.
For further study and encouragement: Psalm 14
Taken from New Morning Mercies: A Daily Gospel Devotional by Paul Tripp, © 2014, pp. 132-162. Used by permission of Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, www.crossway.org.