Summary: God is in control, therefore we can pray for Him to not lead us into temptation and deliver us from evil.
Tonight we come to the end of our study in the Lord’s Prayer. And we end right back where we started. We end with recognizing God for who He is. We end with praising Him for His kingdom. For His power. And for His glory. But before Jesus takes us there, He takes us to a much more difficult place. As a matter of fact, it can be a disturbing place. You see, it’s fairly easy to say that God has all the power. It’s fairly easy to say that everything is for His glory. It’s fairly easy to tell God that He’s King over all. But what does that mean? How does that play out in day-to-day living? When you get the promotion you were praying about, it’s easy to see God as in control. When you see a miraculous healing take place, it’s easy to see God as in control. When you see things work out just the way you think they should, it’s easy to see God as in control. But what about all the other things that make up life? What about all the things that we see as bad? What about the difficulties? What about sickness that doesn’t get healed? What about hurricanes and tornados and fires and floods? What about those things? It’s called the question of evil. It’s a question that has caused many people to stumble throughout history. Have you ever heard of a man named Charles Templeton? Charles Templeton was one of the greatest evangelists of the 20th century. In the ‘40s, he was credited with leading thousands of people to Christ. He planted a church in Toronto that grew exponentially. But he is probably best known for his relationship with another evangelist. You see, he was very close friends with Billy Graham. He was even responsible for nominating Billy to be the field evangelist for Youth for Christ. Both Charles Templeton and Billy Graham regularly spoke to thousands about Jesus. So why do we all know about Billy Graham and many of us don’t know about Charles Templeton? Because Charles Templeton lost his faith. The whole time he was preaching to thousands, he was questioning God. They say it began when he saw the World War II newsreels about the Holocaust. He just couldn’t understand how God could be who He said He is and allow evil like that to exist. In 1996, he wrote a book about his rejection of Christianity called, Farewell to God. His foundational question for rejecting God is found on page 201. He wrote: “How could a loving and omnipotent God create such horrors as we have been contemplating.” The sad thing is, he’s not alone. When you talk to people about God, it won’t be very long before someone confronts you with THE question: “How can a good God allow bad things to happen.” People try to skirt the question. They try to dance around it. The worst thing is when people try to make excuses for God. Several years ago, Rabbi Harold Kushner wrote a best-seller that basically said that evil happens because God is powerless to do anything about it. Poor God. Do you see what happens when the Bible isn’t your source of truth? Do you see what happens when you begin to undermine the truth of Scripture? When you remove Scripture as the source of all truth and meaning, you end up with a pitiful, man-made god. You end up with a god who is powerless against evil. Or you end up with a god that many of our TV preachers peddle today. You end up with a god who isn’t sovereign. Instead, they peddle the idea that Satan is sovereign. Of course they don’t say that. What they say is, “you lost your job because Satan made it happen.” “you are sick because Satan made it happen.” “you lost your loved one because Satan made it happen.” Guess what? Satan doesn’t make anything happen. Because Satan is not in control. Satan’s main power is in his extraordinary ability to deceive. And I can think of no bigger deception than that. To convince people that he is in control of anything is the biggest lie going. Because that is God’s territory. God is in control. God is sovereign. He is not helpless. He is not powerless against evil. Nothing surprises Him. Nothing is outside of His sovereign control or power. Nothing. Not even evil. Not even sickness. Not even disease. Not even hurricanes or tornados or the Holocaust. Nothing. Whether death, life, angels, principalities, powers, things present, things yet to come, height, depth, or any other creature. God is sovereign over all. He created them all and He is over all. How comforting that is. How reassuring that is. But if you’re not careful, it can be disturbing. It can be disturbing when we allow our minds to wander into the implications of it. It can be disturbing when we go to a place in our mind like the Holocaust. When we go to a place in our mind like sickness and disease and suffering. That’s why Jesus tells us to pray. And when He tells us to pray, He tells us to pray about one of the most difficult things to wrap our mind around. He tells us to pray about the nature of evil and God’s role in it. But notice what He doesn’t tell us to pray. He doesn’t tell us to ask God to let us understand it. Because we can’t. We will never be able to understand all of the philosophical implications of the question of evil. We can’t because we don’t have the mind of God. And it takes the mind of an all-knowing God to understand how something that we see as evil will work together for good. When Joseph was being hauled up out of the pit and sold as a slave, I’m sure he didn’t see how it would work together for good. When he was left to rot in jail for a crime he didn’t commit, I’m sure he didn’t see how it would work together for good. But it did. And he acknowledged as much in Genesis 50:20 when he said to his brothers, “But as for you, ye thought evil against me—but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass as it is this day, to save much people alive.” So that brings us back to what Jesus is telling us to pray. He doesn’t tell us to pray that we will understand it. Instead, He leaves us with an unspoken. He leaves us with the unspoken understanding that God is in control. And that’s where we have to leave it. We understand that evil is a result of sin because that’s what Scripture tells us. We also understand that if God is all powerful… and the Bible says He is… and He is not the author of sin… and the Bible says He isn’t… then sin only exists because He allows it. So the question is, why does God allow sin to exist? He allows sin to exist for the same reason that He planted a tree in the middle of the Garden of Eden and then told Adam that he couldn’t eat of it. He planted that tree and made the rule as a test. If there had been no test, could Adam really have proved his love to God? No. But we know that Adam failed that test. So the test wasn’t really there for Adam to prove his love for God, was it? The test was really there so God could prove His love for Adam. It was there for God to prove His love to all mankind through the atoning work of Christ on the cross. It was not God’s desire for Adam to fail the test. God didn’t cause Adam to fail the test. Adam believed the lie of Satan and failed the test on his own. But God ordained that His glory would be magnified through Adam’s willful sin. Just like He ordains that somehow His glory will be magnified through all the results of sin we see in the world today. And through it all, Jesus tells us to pray, “Lead me not into temptation, but deliver me from evil.”