Some people are overwhelmed when they hear about evil and sin. The fear evil instead of focusing on God, who is greater than evil. God is there to help, deliver, and give us victory over sin and over evil. Evil is like darkness and God is light. When the light of God breaks through, darkness must vanish.
1. Sin is Evil.
It has been said that the greatest evil is sin. Therefore we need to be delivered from sin. That is why Jesus came into this world. In Matthew 1:21 we read that “You shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins.” (Note: from their sins, not in their sins!) When we confess our sins, God forgives and cleanses us (1 John 1:9).
2. The Power of Sin.
Actively going against something is transgressing. Transgressing the law of God is sin that needs to be forgiven. But sin is more. It is also a powerful bondage that requires deliverance. This is made clear in Romans 7: “If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good. But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me … But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members” (Romans 7:16, 17, 23). God can deliver us from this power of sin.
Because of the bondage we hear the cry in Romans 7:24: “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” And the answer is given in the next verse: “I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:25).
People often feel helpless to resist sin because they forget that we don’t have to overcome it alone. Look to Christ. Bring your concerns to God. Ask Him to fill you with his Holy Spirit. Jesus told His disciples to stay in Jerusalem until they received the power of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:4 and 8). On Pentecost they were filled with the Holy Spirit. In the power of the Holy Spirit they lived for God. They stayed together; they prayed together. They supported each other in community. The Spirit of God gave them victory.
3. The Evil One
The word “evil” in Matthew 6:13 can also be translated as “evil one.” The Greek word ponhroß means evil or evil one. Being delivered from the evil one implies being delivered from the enemy of our souls. Although we are warned that the adversary of our souls wishes to devour us (1 Peter 1:8), we also know that it is God who can deliver us from the evil one. The victory is already won, because Satan was defeated at Calvary when Jesus shed His blood for us and purchased for us an eternal salvation. We are dealing with a defeated foe. He can seek to devour us, but he cannot defeat us if we continue to withstand him (James 4:7).
My son-in-law went on assignment to travel through a primitive area in the northwestern part of India. There were poisonous snakes, lions, hostile forest dwellers and many dangers lurking on a four-hour footpath leading to a remote village. Instead of fearing the evil or pretending not to be afraid to go alone, he went with experts who knew the area well, and he made it there and back without incident. It was too dangerous to make the journey alone, but with a guide he felt secure. Likewise God is our guide, since He can deliver from evil and protect us on the path of life, even in times of trouble. To help us overcome evil He has also given us a faith community. Let us seek out others who are struggling and let us pray for each other and encourage each other. Jesus encouraged His disciples, and even though He was God incarnate, He walked in community with His disciples, and when He struggled in Gethsemane, He took some of those close to Him along and asked them to watch and pray with Him. We can support each other as we pray for God to deliver us from evil.
4. Evil Takes Many Forms
The Bible makes reference to evil in other forms as well. Some forms are obvious but some may be disguised. Here are three examples.
The Bible says: “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows” (1 Timothy 6:10). It is worth noting that it is not money that is evil, but the love of money – which is a root of all kinds of evil. Discontent may creep into our souls by coveting or desiring what we do not have and perhaps should not have. Think of Judas Iscariot, who for the love of money betrayed his Lord. Let us be content with what we have (1 Timothy 6:8-9). Daily exercises in thanking God for what we do have, and purposely sharing what we are grateful for with those we love are powerful ways of shining light on the mirage of what we wish we had instead.
James describes gossip as evil. Note the following verses: “But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison” (James 3:8). Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity” (James 3:5-6a). We need freedom and deliverance from the power of an unruly tongue. Before passing on a story, it is wise to first inquire: a) Is it true; b) is it edifying; and c) is it for the good? James uses the metaphor of a fire – and how much easier it is to put out a fire while it is still a spark – a small glint of something that relishes in someone else’s misfortunes or speaks of what doesn’t build up community. All untruth, even so-called white lies, are from the evil one. Jesus Himself said: “But I say to you, do not swear at all: But let your “Yes’ be “Yes,’ and your “No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one” (Matthew 5:34a & 37).
Persecution is an evil. When Saul persecuted the church, God put an end to it when He confronted him on the way to Damascus. Later when Paul suffered persecution he could say that God delivered him from death (2 Corinthians 1:8-10). In times when evil seems to be all around, we can rest in the knowledge that we are safe in God’s arms. Evil can exist but God can deliver us from it.
We have explored evil and how it manifests from several angles. Every transgression against God is sin, which is evil. The bondage of sin exemplifies the power of evil. The enemy of our souls is called the evil one. Suffering persecution can be thought of as enduring evil. Nonetheless, Paul writes to the Galatians that Jesus “gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father” (Galatians 1:4). Despite having experienced evil in so many forms, Paul confidently writes: “And the Lord will deliver me from every evil work and preserve me for His heavenly kingdom” (2 Timothy 4:18). In the same powerful way – when we pray: “deliver us from evil,” let us pray with confidence. God both desires and is able to deliver us from every evil and preserve us for His heavenly kingdom.