In the Lord’s prayer as I was taught to say it one line goes, “Lead me not into temptation but deliver me from evil.” I shared some brief ruminations previously on Lead me not into temptation…
The New Living Translation of the Bible says, “And don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one.”
This translation is a bit more satisfying to me because it is asking for divine help not to give into temptation. In my mind I may like to rephrase my prayer, “Help me to resist temptation, and deliver me from the evil one.”
James says, “Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” That’s pretty optimistic. I find that these devils can be pretty persistent.
What am I talking about? Who are these devils, and demons, and evil spirits? Who is the evil one? Why are we under the power of the evil one?
I am no expert on this. I see through a glass darkly. My experience of spiritual reality is very limited.
The Divine Principle taught by Sun Myung Moon gives an explanation of the fall of man and also of the spirit world and how spirits influence us. Other Christian denominations have varying explanations of the Fall. Other religions as well have a variety of stories and explanations. Islam talks of Iblis and evil jinn. Buddhism of maya and attachment to desire. The world of religion and shamanism is full of demons.
In modern psychology and humanism, these demons are seen as figurative manifestations of addictive tendencies, archetypes, or biochemical, emotional, mental or psychic imbalances and complexes.
Whatever the explanations, in the existential reality of life we all face challenges. We all experience temptation to indulge in destructive behavior. We all have our personal demons. To different degrees we have periods when we lose control and do things that we regret.
I encourage everyone to seek the truth. To try to understand the nature of reality, physical, psychic, and spiritual. The Buddha says that right understanding precedes right thinking and right action as well as all the other of the eight paths. So seek understanding. It is a lifetime journey. If you think you know the answer, you don’t. When you find the Way, it will be an experience, not a concept.
In Catholic tradition there is a list of seven deadly sins: Pride, envy, greed, lust, anger, gluttony, and sloth. Each vice has a coTresponding virtue: humility, magnanimity, generosity, chastity, restraint, moderation, and optimistic diligence.
In Genesis 4, it says that when Cain’s offering was not accepted by God, Cain became upset. God said to him, “Why are you upset? Do you not know that if you do well, all will be well with you? But beware, for sin is crouching at your shoulder. It’s desire is to master you. But you must master it and subdue it.”
Each one of us is responsible in our individual journey. All religions tell us that if we call upon the supreme God he will guide us and free us from the particular evils that plague us. But also, with God’s help, we need to apply our mind to recognize the triggers of temptation in our own life and apply our will to resist them when we recognize them.
Bob Marley wrote, “Emancipate yourself from mental slavery, none but ourselves can set us free.”
I would add, with God’s help.
Our Father who art in heaven, help to resist temptation. Help us to liberate ourselves from the evil one so that thy will can be done and thy kingdom can come. Amen