Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Matthew 6:13 A New Heart=A New Desire

Several times a week, my wife and kids will come into town to have lunch with me at work. We often take and park the car at the Farmers Market on Rosa Parks Drive and eat our lunch there. Sometimes on the way back to the office, Patricia will ask me “Why don’t we just kidnap you and take you home?” I always reply “You can’t kidnap the willing”. It would not take a gun to my head for me to go home with them rather than back to work. However, I don’t think my boss would buy my story that I was kidnapped. In much the same way, even after we have been saved we live in flesh that still loves to sin. Left to our own devices we would get ourselves into nothing but trouble even though we desire to follow our Lord. Jesus demonstrates our need to pray for God’s help so that we can live our lives consistent with our faith.

In Matthew 6:13, Jesus gives both a negative and positive request that we should make to God the Father. First of all, in the negative sense, we should pray for where we do not want to go. Jesus says “Do not lead us into temptation”. Now the word temptation can be used not only of sin but also of any time of testing. God never tempts anyone to sin but He does send trials our way to refine us and test the genuineness of our faith. Obviously, since scripture is replete with encouragements to endure suffering and hardship we know Jesus can’t be telling us we should ask God to lead us away from those—especially since they are for our ultimate benefit. Therefore, He must be saying that we should ask God to help us avoid sin. While God never tempts someone to sin Satan certainly does. However, God always provides a way for us to escape (I Corinthians 10:13). Ultimately, though, our use of that escape route is dependant on our choosing to use it. We have to decide to deny our sinful desires, however attractive they might be, and choose to serve our Lord and Savior. We must have a new heart given to us by God to even make that choice. In fact, to even pray for God to help us overcome sin as we read here, there must first be a desire to serve God and honor Him. In many ways, it’s like the man who begged Jesus “Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief” (Mark 9:24).

Jesus also gives a positive request that we should make of God in our prayer. As much as some Christian denominations would like to portray otherwise, Satan is a powerful adversary. In fact, in 1 Peter he is portrayed as a roaring lion on the prowl for some bar-b-que Christian to much on. We are not empowered to defeat him—only Christ has done that. Martin Luther may have said it best in his hymn when he wrote “Did we in our own strength confide our striving would be losing. Were not the right Man on our side, the Man of God’s own choosing.” Because Satan is the one who tempts us to sin in addition to asking God to help us overcome sin we should also pray that He will “deliver us from evil”. In the Greek, the word “evil” is proceeded by the definite article “the”. In other words, we’re not to pray for God to deliver us from just ANY evil but rather from THE evil—Satan. Satan cannot harm us spiritually once we’ve been save, we can’t lose our salvation. We can, however, become contaminated by sin and lose our effectiveness. We can damage our witness and bring reproach to the name of our Lord when we succumb to Satan’s snares. As we pray, we should remember that it is only by God’s strength that we can overcome sin and enjoy victory. Thankfully, we serve a God who is sovereign and in control of everything and we can be truly say “Yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever. Amen.”

Note: The doxology at the end of the prayer ("Yours is the kingdom...") in most modern translations of the Bible is bracketed with a footnote telling the reader that the phrase is lacking in most early Greek manuscripts. Now, if you’ve been following this blog for a while you know I’m not much of a textual scholar, but if you’re new to the blog let me just say “I’m not much of a textual scholar”. However, I am a geek so I’ve read some on the subject of textual variations in the New Testament manuscripts. My gut from what I’ve read is that the critical text based on the older manuscripts is probably closer to the original. However, other people have reached different conclusions and love the Lord as much as I do. If you’re interested, there are numerous books and websites on the subject. If you’re not, and I figure that would include most normal human beings, just rest assured that the textual variants account for probably less than 5% of the test, some are as simple as spelling differences, and I can’t think of one that affects any major doctrine of Christianity. The text we have is reliable due to the providence of Almighty God.

6 comments:

Poe said...

OK, Joe. I am going to pose some Calvinist questions to you so I can better understand what you believe. This is in no way a shot at you or your beliefs.

Lets say I am only playing devil's advocate.

If calvinists are right and the elect are the elect and they and only they are going to paradise and then heaven, Why do they need to worry about satan leading them astray?

They were deemed by God to be saved before everything so nothing they do or don't do will change that. Right?

Poe

Joe Blackmon said...

Well, I would concur that the elect can't be led astray (John 10:28 and 29). However, I know folks that are Christians that have gotten into some wrong doctrine and it has affected their witness. I guess that would be the danger to the elect--they could become less effective serving God.

Poe said...

I read John 10:28 and 29 and that says to me that none of the sheep can be taken away from Jesus or God. It doesn't say they can't leave of their own will and choice.

Comments?

Joe Blackmon said...

Poe,

John 10:27 says that His sheep follow Him. I don't find anythhing that suggests that they will leave. Further, someone who has genuine saving faith and a heart made of flesh rather than stone will have a new set of "want to's" as in they "want to" obey Christ and follow Him.

I appreciate your questions. I just hope you understand that I'm pretty much a big time goober as far as understanding stuff goes. I acknowledge there are A LOT of people who know way more than I do about this.

St.Lee said...

Poe, playing "devil's advocate" on a blog about Christianity. Not quite sure how to take that :)

I know its easy to do, and I've been guilty of it myself often enough, but there is a problem with arguing from what the Bible doesn't say ("It doesn't say they can't leave of their own will and choice.") But what of Philippians 2:13 "For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure."

If this verse is correct in stating that God will change the desires of the saved to match his own, then it is doubtful to me that he would change it to "leave of their own will and choice."

Joe, great post as usual. Glad to hear your eyes are better.

Poe said...

Joe,

Right but Matthew 18:12 says "What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off?" I don't think Jesus wouldn't have mentioned it if straying sheep weren't an issue. Sheep will stray as I have been tempted and strayed. I luckily found my way back but I could have stayed lost had I wanted to.

I don't mind that you are who you are Joe. I'm a goober too. In karate they put people of similar strengths together for sparring. I won't say I am up to your level, though. I am hoping that by sparring with you I can understand the Gospel and my faith better.

I hope that answers your question Lee. That if no one challenges us on what we believe we will never be sure if it is really what we believe. The mormons are happy in their misguided notions of religion and unless we challenge them they will be led to distruction.

Keep in mind that I am not asking these questions and challenging anyone to be mean or evil. I am only hoping to come to a better understanding of things.

If my questions and comments are upsetting and causing problems like that Andrew guy's did I will hold my tongue (and fingers). :-)

Poe