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Jottings

At the close of the Lord's temptation of forty days in the wilderness, when Satan was dismissed by the Lord with the words, "Get thee hence, Satan:" it is said, "Then the devil leaveth Him; and behold, angels came and ministered unto Him" (Matthew 4.11). Luke shows that what Matthew says about the devil leaving the Lord is not the last and final temptation, for he says, "And when he had completed every temptation, he departed from Him for a season" (Luke 4.13). The devil left the Lord to hatch other schemes and other forms of temptation and to return and apply his baneful arts of deception to the blessed Son of Man. What a mind is that of the devil, for ever occupied in the fell work of deception and destruction, a mind that never for a moment has a pure and holy and good thought, but for ever occupied with evil! Well do the Scriptures call him "the evil one." It will he seen from Matthew 13.19 that "one" is in italics, which shows that there is no equivalent for "one" in the original Greek (Ho Poneros, the evil), for there is no doubt that evil here is not an abstract quality, for the masculine definite article Ho shows that it refers to a person. There was a good deal of discussion when the R.V. appeared because of the change made in the text of what is commonly called "the Lord's prayer," in the words, "but deliver us from evil" (A.V.) which were altered to "but deliver us from the evil one" (Matthew 6.13). Here it is Tou Ponerou, the genitive case, and in the genitive both masculine and neuter are alike, so that the words themselves do not decide whether it is evil as to quality (save that the definite article Tou would indicate some definite form of evil, "the evil" or "the evil one."). The R.V. is consistent throughout in rendering Ho Poneros as the evil one but an examination of the A V in the following passages will show how inconsistent that translation is in this matter In Matthew 6 13 and 2 Thessalonians 3. 3 the Greek words are rendered "evil" In John 17 15 we get "the evil" In Matthew 13.19 and 1 John 2 13, 14, "the wicked one," in Ephesians 6 16 "the wicked," in 1 John 3.12; 5.18," that wicked one" and in 1 John 5 19 "wickedness". How much more consistent the R V is than the A V. There seems no justification for the variations in the A V It cannot be claimed fairly I think that such variations are for better and more euphonious English. I think an examination of this matter will lead to the conclusion that the Lord's words in Matthew 6.13 when He used them meant what we understand by "but deliver us from the evil one."Poneros, which is used to describe the character of Satan, is a word of evil meaning. It has no good side or use. It is an adjective derived from Poneria, which means inherent badness; it describes what is bad, defective, diseased, injurious, malignant, malevolent, wicked, ungodly; indeed almost everything that is bad materially or morally may be brought under this word. Its use in regard to the devil shows his person and character, wholly corrupted and evil, without one feature that is worthy of approbation. What a fall was his and what degradation! A mind once pure and holy has been turned through sin to all forms of perversion and wickedness and now is only capable of thinking what is unholy, ungodly, wicked, deceptive; and of all lies he is the father (John 8.44). The Lord said, as in this verse, "There is no truth in him." In Revelation 12.9 he is described as "the deceiver of the whole inhabited earth" (R.V.M.). How successful have been his schemes to pervert and ruin the human family on which God set His love!

Such was the being who tempted the Lord in His manhood (God cannot be tempted of evil things, James 1.13) and was utterly defeated by the Lord who took His stand on what was written in the Scriptures.

Though the Lord repelled every temptation of the devil in the wilderness with "It is written," foiling the devil's deceptions with the words of truth, it was not so, even with the very best of His apostles. Following the revelation of the Church which He was about to build, and the giving of the keys of the kingdom of heaven to Peter, He began from that time to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem and suffer and be killed and be raised up the third day (Matthew 16.15-21). How soon after Peter's great and noble confession, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God," he fell into the hands of Satan There can be little doubt of Peter's sincerity or of his love for his Master; but how ill advised he was when he took the Lord and began to rebuke Him! "Be it far from Thee, Lord: this shall never be unto Thee." Literally, "Pity Thyself, Lord." The mouth was the mouth of Peter, but the words were the words of Satan. The Lord was not deceived by words encouraging Him to self-pity. It says, "He turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind Me, Satan" (Matthew 16.23). Well He knew the speaker. Whilst in the wilderness there was no human vehicle to speak the devil's words, and we know not how the voice of Satan reached the Lord (that is hidden in mystery), here Satan is using the chiefest of the Lord's apostle, the chief speaker amongst them. What tragedy! From the heights of divine revelation in Matthew 16.18 to the depths and darkness of Satanic perversion in verse 23! Self-pity is a web of Satan as sticky as ever a spider spun for flies. Many men have lost their lives for God in the web of self-pity. Many a man amongst Bunyan's characters in the Pilgrim's Progress left the way to the Celestial city because of self-pity. Was this not the cause of much of Israel's troubles in the way through the wilderness? Bitter waters, no bread, no water, and giants in the land, all brought forth bitter words of murmuring, and was it not when they were discouraged because of the way that they spake against God and against Moses and said that they loathed the Manna God graciously gave them, that there came the fiery serpents? Let us beware of falling into Satan's web of self-pity. The Lord was not deceived. For Himself there was no self-pity, but

"Pity to the wretched moved Him,Who that hears it will denyThat God is love?"

In Luke 22.31, 32 the Lord reveals a secret to His apostles concerning Satan's access to God regarding His servants. This is briefly referred to in the words that he is "the accuser of our brethren ... which accuseth them before our God day and night" (Revelation 12.10). The words in Luke are-" Simon, Simon, behold, Satan asked to have you, that he might sift you as wheat: but I have made supplication for thee that thy faith fail not." That modern version of the Scriptures, the Revised Standard Version, which has adopted the plural personal pronoun "you" in all places where it is the singular personal pronoun "thee," has put a marginal note at these verses, to the effect that the personal pronouns "you" in verse 31 are different from "you" in verse 32. "I have made supplication for thee" (R.S.V. "you"). The humble reader of the correct A.V. or R.V. needs no such help, for he has the correct rendering in the text. Here Satan sought to have the entire circle of the apostles to sift them, not to bring out the golden grain which was in them, but the chaff of human failure in temptation. But how comforting it would be to Peter in after days, though not appreciated at the time" I have made supplication for thee"! There is something very precious in personal supplication.