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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Renounce the devil

We can't block evil-but pray, with Jesus, to be kept faithful

At the recent baptism of our granddaughter Marley, I was again struck as I asked on behalf of the church the question addressed to the parents and sponsors at all baptisms: Do you renounce the devil and all the forces that defy God?

The answer seems illusionary: Yes, I renounce them.

 That Sunday the Gospel lesson was a portion of Jesus’ high priestly prayer (John 17:1-26). Here Jesus prays that the disciples be guarded from “evil,” its usual translation.

The devil, evil forces, just plain evil — it’s the problem of the ages. We are surrounded daily by evil. We live in its midst. It’s called a problem because if God is all-powerful, why does evil exist? It’s a problem because why do bad things happen to good people? It’s a problem because, to paraphrase a colloquialism, “stuff happens,” happens with inexplicable randomness and often irrational severity.

In the Lord’s Prayer we pray that God would deliver us from evil. In Jesus’ high priestly prayer, he prays that God would guard the disciples, thus also us, from evil.


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