And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
Having considered three of the seven petitions of this wonderful prayer, we come to consider those remaining, which have reference to the forgiveness of evil and deliverance from the evil one.
I. THE FORGIVENESS OF EVIL.
1. We need this.
(1) For we inherit depravity with its guilt. God deals with individuals as belonging to a race. We are our brothers' keepers. We are responsible for our children. So are we responsible for our fathers. The individual is not lost in the public conscience. Directors of joint-stock companies should remember this.
(2) For sins of personal rebellion. From our youth up. Ever since we have professed to be Christians.
(3) For service imperfectly rendered. Imperfect obedience does not meet the requirements of a Law which, like the Lawgiver, is perfect. Has our conduct before men been faultless? Has our spirit before God bees faultless?
2. It is conditionally promised.
(1) "Forgive us our debts, as we " The Bible knows nothing of unconditional mercy. Man is ever treated by God as a moral agent.
(2) The atonement of Christ is a condition of mercy. "Our debts," equivalent to "trespasses" (ver. 14), equivalent to "sins" (Luke 11:4). Sin contracts a debt to be paid in suffering. If we shelter not in the vicarious suffering of Christ, we must still suffer in person for the satisfaction of the Law of God.
(3) Repentance also is a condition of mercy. Note: A condition not of merit, yet of necessity. We cannot receive the atonement without it. The hearty reception of the atonement is the perfecting of repentance.
(4) There is no mercy for the unmerciful. "Forgive us as we also have forgiven." Not that our forgiving merits God's forgiveness. Here it is as in earth so in heaven (see vers. 14, 15). Confer also the parable of the debtors (Matthew 18:35). The ten thousand talents are equivalent to £2,400,000; while the one hundred pence are equivalent to £3 10s. Can the sinner ever pay all his debt to God? He asks eternal vengeance on himself who, with an implacable heart, prays this prayer.
II. DEFENCE AGAINST THE EVIL ONE.
1. Lead us not ,into temptation.
(1) God is not the Author of temptation (see James 1:13). Note: Temptation is ever in our way.
(2) This is an entreaty that God should not abandon us in temptation. So to abandon us would be to deliver us over to Satan (cf. Acts 26:18; 1 Corinthians 5:5; 2 Timothy 4:18).
(3) This prayer implies that we should have such diffidence of our own strength as to lead us to deprecate any severe trial of our fidelity. We should not covet martyrdom, lest in the trial we should fail.
(4) The spirit of this prayer will restrain us from rushing into circumstances of exposure to temptation. It is wanting in those who make haste to be rich (see 1 Timothy 6:9). This passion leads to business gambling. To lotteries. Raffling at Church bazaars gives a sacred sanction to some of the worst evils of the world. The spirit of this prayer is wanting in those who coquette with the world in any of its evils.
2. Deliver us from the evil one.
(1) Then is Satan ubiquitous? For this petition ascends simultaneously from millions scattered over the world. In his emissaries he is, as the British monarch is representatively in all our colonial dependencies and in all foreign courts.
(2) Satan's representatives are "legion." His hosts are marshalled under his generalship. What a call to us for vigilance!
(3) God alone can curb the power of Satan. The power of Satan was sufficient to delay Gabriel for one and twenty days. To triumph over Satan Gabriel needed the help of Michael, i.e. of Christ (see Daniel 10:6, 13). Foolish is the man that would at his own charges engage in a warfare with such an antagonist. Foolish is the man who holds out in rebellion against the Conqueror of Satan.
(4) To be delivered from the evil one is equivalent to the hallowing of the Name of God. The petitions of this prayer, first and last, are wondrously interdependent. - J.A.M.
Parallel VersesKJV: And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.