Hello blog readers. We are at the end of a post series on the Lord’s prayer inspired by a sermon series by Crawford Loritts. Unless noted, the content of the posts are not Crawford’s ideas, but God used his sermons to remind me that Jesus meant this prayer to be a guide about how we are to talk to our Father in heaven. Today we finish with, “and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil” (Matthew 6:12, 13). (To get caught up on my thoughts about the Lord’s prayer prior to today’s phrases, you can read my two previous posts.)
Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. There is an assumption that we will forgive our debtors: as we also have forgiven. See that? The same assumption is made in Luke 11:6, “and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us.” Our forgiveness toward others is to be a natural response to the fact that God forgave us. No excuses. No loopholes. No exceptions. The people in my life know that no matter what they do or confess, I will forgive them. Because God commands me? No, because God also forgave ME. I can’t be forgiven of all my past, present and future sins and not extend the same grace (undeserved gift) to others. That would not speak well of my maturity or character, would reveal I do not yet understand what God really did for me, and it would be rude to accept His gift of forgiveness and then not offer the same to other people who are equally undeserved of forgiveness.
Look at how we are supposed to forgive according to Colossians 3:13: “bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.” Gulp! I am supposed to forgive like Jesus did, therefore I must offer forgiveness for absolutely EVERYTHING.
Are those who sin against us off the hook?
No one who sins against is off the hook. If sin occurred, it did, and we can call it sin. If the crime is horrid and the culprit “deserves hell” as I have heard some angry, hurting people proclaim, the answer is yes, they deserve hell… just like we do. There’s the difference. God can call sin a sin and handle things because He is sinless. We, however, are as unworthy of forgiveness as the culprit who hurt us, maybe not for the same sin, but for the same sinful nature. Therefore, we are not qualified to handle the offender, but God is: For we know him who said, ‘Vengeance is mine; I will repay.’ And again, “The Lord will judge his people.” (Hebrews 10:30).
God will take care of matters perfectly because He is perfect, but His answer may not look like traditional “punishment.” For example, the apostle Paul (when he was first named Saul) persecuted Christians and approved of the execution of the first martyr, Stephen (Acts 7:54-8:1). God didn’t send him to hell (which some of the family members that had been killed by Saul may have wished). Instead, Saul had a personal encounter with Christ in a vision and became a Christ follower (Acts 9:1-22), then after a name change (to Paul), he spent the rest of his days taking the Good News to the Gentiles and writing letters that now comprise much of the New Testament. Paul’s letters are still leading people to Christ today more than a few thousand years later. I often wonder if Paul was able to travel the rough road of persecution to which God called him because he understood that his persecutors were ignorant of the God of Jesus Christ (like Paul had once been). Or perhaps Paul found the stamina to walk the difficult path of his life because he knew the path from which he had been redeemed: he knew God had every right to ask him to walk a difficult path to glorify Him because of how he had harmed the body of Christ prior to his conversion. In the end, many more souls have been saved than destroyed by the life of Paul when God was the one to handle the offender.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
This is the last sentence of the Lord’s prayer. Are you looking for the part that says, “For yours is the kingdom, the power and the glory forever“? It is not in the Bible. The version of the Lords’ prayer in Luke 11:6 ends with, “And lead us not into temptation.” The Lord’s prayer in its original form ends with an eye toward spiritual battle, the reality that the enemy is out to “steal, kill and destroy” all Christ followers (John 10:10). Jesus knows the enemy first tries to keep us from coming to know Christ in the first place. Once that battle is lost, Satan and his demons do all they can to cripple, thwart, stop, twist or damage our relationship with God so our ability to reflect Christ’s character to a watching world is harmed. In order to be lights in a dark world, we need to stay away from sin and the enemy. We need supernatural assistance to limit what comes our way. We need God, or we won’t win the battle for purity. I thank God for the sins I have not been tempted to commit and the evil that has not come my way because I have prayed, “lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”
We are here to be a bright light in a dark world, so THIS is the focus of the Lord’s prayer.
1) We see God as our Father and come to Him as a child. God is the authority. — Our Father
2) We understand heaven is real — in heaven
3) We see God as holy (not just loving) — hallowed be your name.
4) We desire His kingdom instead of ours — Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
5) We live by faith one day at a time, no more — Give us this day our daily bread.
6) We live as forgiven people who are forgiving other people — Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
7) We are fighting the good battle, asking God to keep us from sin and enemy influence — Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil
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