The Sixth Petition

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Day 8 | The Lord’s Prayer

Welcome to St Johns Papatoetoe studies. During Holy Week, we are examining portions of our confession relating to the Lord’s Prayer. This connects us to an historic faith rooted in the word of God. We have learned so far that The Lord’s Prayer has 

  • An Introduction
  • A Series of Petitions
  • A Conclusion

There are six petitions offered up to our Father in Heaven. We continue our studies with the question:

What do we pray for in the Sixth Petition?

In the Sixth Petition, (which is, And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil,) acknowledging, that the most wise, righteous, and gracious God, for divers holy and just ends, may so order things, that we may be assaulted, foiled, and for a time led captive by temptations; that Satan, the world, and the flesh, are ready powerfully to draw us aside, and ensnare us; and that we, even after the pardon of our sins, by reason of our corruption, weakness, and want of watchfulness, are not only subject to be tempted, and forward to expose ourselves unto temptations, but also of ourselves unable and unwilling to resist them, to recover out of them, and to improve them; and worthy to be left under the power of them: we pray, that God would so over-rule the world and all in it, subdue the flesh, and restrain Satan, order all things, bestow and bless all means of grace, and quicken us to watchfulness in the use of them, that we and all His people may by His providence be kept from being tempted to sin; or, if tempted, that by His Spirit we may be powerfully supported and enabled to stand in the hour of temptation; or when fallen, raised again and recovered out of it, and have a sanctified use and improvement thereof: that our sanctification and salvation may be perfected, Satan trodden under our feet, and we fully freed from sin, temptation, and all evil, for ever. Larger Catechism, 195IIn the Fifth Petition, (which is, Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors,) acknowledging, that we and all others are guilty both of original and actual sin, and thereby become debtors to the justice of God; and that neither we, nor any other creature, can make the least satisfaction for that debt: we pray for ourselves and others, that God of His free grace would, through the obedience and satisfaction of Christ, apprehended and applied by faith, acquit us both from the guilt and punishment of sin, accept us in His Beloved; continue His favour and grace to us, pardon our daily failings, and fill us with peace and joy, in giving us daily more and more assurance of forgiveness; which we are the rather emboldened to ask, and encouraged to expect, when we have this testimony in ourselves, that we from the heart forgive others their offences. Larger Catechism (1648), 194

We are assaulted by Temptations

acknowledging, that the most wise, righteous, and gracious God, for divers holy and just ends, may so order things, that we may be assaulted, foiled, and for a time led captive by temptations;

The term Temptations carries with it many assumptions. It assumes:

  1. There are laws in place we should obey
  2. There is a Law Giver who Judges our behaviour
  3. There are consequences for breaking the Law
  4. Our nature is to break the Law
  5. We are easily lured by others to break the Law
  6. We have a corrupt nature inherited from our original parents.
  7. The Doctrine of Original Sin.

The Reformers embraced all of these teachings and assumed their truthfulness. They acknowledged God’s righteousness and did not hold God accountable for humanity’s sinful nature. They therefore saw God as One who could hear our prayers and help deliver us from Temptations.

Notice that…

We are assaulted by Three Terrors:

acknowledging, that we and all others are guilty both of original and actual sin, and tthat Satan, the world, and the flesh, are ready powerfully to draw us aside, and ensnare us;

The world, the flesh, and the Devil are three terrors to our well-being. These are all the points by which Jesus was tempted in the wilderness. These are the same points of the original temptation recorded in Genesis 3.

It is interesting how some Bibles alter the petition to say “evil one”. Obviously a reference to Satan, the danger to that translation is that it provides a scapegoat for our sin. “The devil made me do it” is a popular excuse. But scripture is clear that it is our chose to sin. “Evil one” ignores the work of the world and our own flesh. “Evil” incorporates all forces, personalities, and events that encourage us to break God’s Law.

The Sixth Petition embraces the underlying reality that…

We are unable to Resist in own strength

and that we, even after the pardon of our sins, by reason of our corruption, weakness, and want of watchfulness, are not only subject to be tempted, and forward to expose ourselves unto temptations, but also of ourselves unable and unwilling to resist them, to recover out of them, and to improve them; and worthy to be left under the power of them:

Temptation is not a sin in and of itself. If that was the case, then Jesus Christ was a sinner. He was tempted to sin but did not yield to sin. We take hope in that fact. Being tempted to break the Law does not mean we do not love God. The Sixth Petition once again manifests The Doctrine of Total Depravity. We pray to God for God’s strength because we are unable to resist in our own strength and…

We are week against Evil

awe pray, that God would so over-rule the world and all in it, subdue the flesh, and restrain Satan, order all things,

The second theme in The Sixth Petition is Evil. But here the Petition turns from our Total Depravity to divine blessing. In fact, just as we are assaulted by three terrors…

We are guarded by Three Blessings:

bestow and bless all means of grace, and quicken us to watchfulness in the use of them, that we and all His people may by His providence be kept from being tempted to sin; or, if tempted, that by His Spirit we may be powerfully supported and enabled to stand in the hour of temptation;

To counter Satan, the world, and the flesh, we pray for God’s grace, God’s providence, and God’s Spirit. We pray, “deliver us from evil” because we know this to be the will of God. Countering Total Depravity is The Perseverance of the Saints.

We are sanctified toward Perfection

or when fallen, raised again and recovered out of it, and have a sanctified use and improvement thereof: that our sanctification and salvation may be perfected, Satan trodden under our feet, and we fully freed from sin, temptation, and all evil, for ever.

Sanctification is the state of being holy. By nature we are depraved but in Christ we begin the process toward perfection. Sanctification has 3 states: past, present, and future. We are sanctified positionally in the past through Christ’s atonement. We are sanctified presently through God’s word, prayer, and deeds that please God. We are sanctified perfectly in the future after passing through death to live with God in eternity.

Most assume perfection is sinlessness. If that is the case, we are incapable of being perfect. And yet Job was described as a perfect person and James teaches us to be perfect. How is that possible? Perfection is not sinlessness but the ability to withhold our tongue from speaking evil—especially about or toward God. The Sixth Petition is a practical prayer request to help us not curse God. We turn to God with the promise of our sanctification made possible in the past; with the promise of sanctification in the future; and with the help of God’s Spirit, God’s grace, and God’s providence to keep us from falling in the present.

We will not always get it right. That is the fact of being human. But we can always find God’s grace and forgiveness.

From the Heidelberg Catechism, Question 127 and its answer:

Which is the sixth petition?

“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil”; that is, since we are so weak in ourselves, that we cannot stand a moment; and besides this, since our mortal enemies, the devil, the world, and our own flesh, cease not to assault us, do thou therefore preserve and strengthen us by the power of thy Holy Spirit, that we may not be overcome in this spiritual warfare, but constantly and strenuously may resist our foes, till at last we obtain a complete victory.

Published by St Johns Papatoetoe

Presbyterian Church, Hunters Corner, Papatoetoe, Auckland, New Zealand belonging to Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand (PCANZ).

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