The Greek text literally says “Deliver us from the evil one,” that is, the devil.
From the devil all evil came into the world. So under this one petition we pray for preservation against all kinds of troubles, which can be traced back to the first tempter in the Garden, who led us all into sin and death and all that goes with them.
“Devil” or diabolos means slanderer. This is because satan, the devil, loves to speak the worst things about us. Of course, the devil is not satisfied with slander. He also defiles anything good that he can. He loves to twist and corrupt things into evil. Even if I do something good, he finds a way to turn it into evil for me. He defiles and turns good things into nothing. He exaggerates whatever is evil until it stinks to high heaven. He loves to frighten Christians so that our hearts become timid and despondent.
This satan is no weakling. He is the prince of this world according to Christ. He is a murderer from the beginning, and a liar. He is a murderer for killing the body, as he often seeks to do. He is a liar for misleading the soul into eternal death. So he has also spread lies and murder throughout his domain, the earth.
He is also exceedingly deceptive. We see this in the way he tempts men into sin. He fools people whom he lures into shameful acts, so that they believe that what they did is not so bad. Terrible deeds are rationalized into something that was just and right. This is the influence of the devil.
Yet the devil’s deception in spiritual teaching is even greater. When he influences someone to speak falsehood, the devil uses a disguise as an angel of light. He dresses up every heresy as if it were loving and beneficial. He adorns every heretic with an appearance of love and wisdom, so that people might think that no better teacher could be found. Yet all this is the devil’s deception, who sells his deadliest poison as if it were the doctrine of grace and the Word of God and the Gospel of Christ.
One of his prime temptations is to lure Christians away from the Word, and instead convince us to trust an inner “spirit” inside of us. This is not the Holy Spirit, who does not come apart from the Word. But the devil convinces many believers to trust what they feel, and then stay far away from the Word of God.
But even if this fails, he has many other evil enticements for us. When one method fails, he comes at us from another direction.
How easily we Christians can be led astray! Therefore we pray fervently to our Father, “deliver us from evil.” Guide us with Your wisdom against the cunning trickery of the ancient serpent, lest we be lost.
Such help against the prince of demons can only come from the Lord. The holy angels also protect us, although they are nothing but the servants of the Most High, who do His bidding on behalf of His saints. Only God, who is holy and full of mercy, rescues us from satan’s clutches.
As for those who reject the grace of God, He may still for a time send them protection from the evil schemes of the devil. Yet such aid is only a temporary reprieve if they will not repent and turn to Christ. At the Judgment, God will say, “I helped and protected you from the evil one, yet you did not come to Me. Therefore My gracious hand bears witness against you.”
But we need not fear such a judgment, because we truly repent of our sins and trust in the mercy of Christ. The only refuge from the schemes of satan is in the bloody wounds of our Savior upon Calvary. No other rescue can exist.
That is why it is a good and salutary practice to make the sign of the Cross at the words, “Deliver us from evil.” In the end there is only one deliverance, the Cross of Christ. We may seem to escape the devil’s attacks one way or another for all our lives. Yet if we are not found in Christ at the end, then the devil will have us.
But we who have the gift of faith know that there will be a final deliverance from evil on the Last Day. The wicked serpent will be cast into the lake of fire for all time, never to afflict us again. Already, his head is crushed. This is the wound dealt to him by the Son of God at Calvary. The serpent is beaten, and only the final Judgment remains.
Then all evils will cease. All effects of sin that entered the world will be permanently removed from the new earth. There we will find a home prepared for us, a home without sin or death or sorrow of any kind. No demons will harass us there. Only peace and life and health will reign.
For Christ, our Lord and King, has promised that it is so. He cannot break His Word. He has sealed this promise with His Blood, and proved our resurrection by His own. He has shown us that we will exit from our own graves, and that terrible enemy, Death, will also be cast away, never to return.
So our Lord has purchased this final deliverance from evil. The price for the deliverance was too much for us to pay, so He paid it Himself. Therefore nothing is left for us to earn, nothing to make ourselves worthy. We only trust in His promise, and He sees us as His worthy sons and daughters. And He, the loving Father, will surely release His sons and daughters from their afflictions. He will rescue us at the right time, according to His love.
In His Name, the only gracious Lord. Amen.
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