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by St. Gregory of Nyssa

Part VII
(on “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil-one.”)

With the following what is it that Christ wishes to add to all that He has said? I regard it imperative that we likewise not leave this unexamined for, knowing to Whom it is that we pray, we ought to present our entreaty with our soul and not [only] with our lips. “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one (Gr. poneros, gen. ponerou).”

My Brethren, what is the force of these words? It seems to me that the Lord names the evil one in many varying and differing ways according to his evil operations [lit. energies]. Thus, He calls him the “devil” (diabolos--false accuser), “Beelzebub,” Mammon,” “prince of this world,” “man killer,” “evil one,” “father of lies,” and other similar names. Perhaps, then, another name for him is also “temptation” (Gr. peirasmos). And our understanding of it is confirmed by the composition of the words because, while saying “Lead us not into temptation,” He adds, “but deliver us from the evil one.” For, by both names, [“temptation” and “evil one”] it is he, the same one [the devil], who is indicated. So, if a man has not entered into [given in to] temptation, he is external to {distant from] the evil one. And one who has gone into [given in to] temptation has necessarily put himself into [the will of] the evil one. Therefore, “temptation” and “evil one” mean one and the same thing.

And what does this teaching in the Prayer command that we do? To withdraw ourselves from the things that are regarded as important by this world. For, as He said elsewhere to His disciples, “The whole world abideth in the evil one.” Therefore, he who wishes to be far from the evil one, must necessarily distance himself from the world. For temptation has no way to touch the soul except by casting its evil hook baited with worldly preoccupations for the greedy. We can make this clearer with other examples of the meaning: Often the sea poses dangers because of tempests, but not to those who dwell far away from it. Fire is destructive, but only of what falls into it. War is terrible, but only for those who take part in battle. He who hates the tribulations of war prays that he not be caught up in it. He who fears fire prays that he not fall into it. He who trembles at the sight of the sea prays that he never have need to travel by sea. In like manner, he who fears the evil one's attack prays not to find himself in it. But because we said previously that the Lord says the world abides in the evil one, and opportunities for temptation are hidden in worldly cares, he who prays that he be delivered [w/the sense of preserved, saved or protected] from the evil one also entreats that he be kept far from temptations. For no one swallows the hook unless he gluttonously gulps down the bait. Let us arise, too, and say unto God, ”Lead us not into temptation,” that is, into life's tribulations, “but deliver us from the evil one” who holds the power of this world. May we be delivered from him by the grace of Christ, for to Him belongs the power and the glory, together with the Father and the Holy Spirit, now and forever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.