“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” (Matthew 6:13 NIV)
When Jesus was tempted in the wilderness at the beginning of his public ministry, the questions from the devil all had to do with an attempt to twist his identity: “If you are the Son of God, then…”
Much, if not all, temptation and evil have to do with confusion or contortion of our identity–as creatures who bear God’s image, of believers who have put on Christ and been adopted as sons and daughters of God.
The great theologian and reformer Martin Luther is said to have felt harassment by the devil as he was studying and writing in order to break his focus and keep him from his God-appointed work. His response was to repeat, increasing in fervor each time, “I am baptized! I am baptized! I am baptized!”
Luther knew something important about baptism. Even though it involves our profession of faith in Christ, it is not something we do in order to display our faith in God. Rather, when we profess our faith and are baptized, we are receiving something that God does, through his church, to have the last word on our identity: forgiven, redeemed, reconciled, renewed, restored, saved… adopted as a child of God.
Praying for deliverance from evil and from the evil one is, therefore, praying to keep us true to our new identity in Christ. We can’t do it on our own. We need help. We are praying that no identity contrary to our identity as beloved children of God takes hold of our heart, mind, or actions.
Prayer: God, thank you for saving us and restoring in us your divine image. Deliver us from the temptations of the evil one, that we may fully take hold of and take joy in the great identity you have given us in Christ. Amen.