The fifth litmus test–a Christian is someone who is concerned about God’s name and His kingdom.
Verse 9. We start with acknowledging who we are talking to. Our Father in heaven. He is the Creator, we are the creature. We start by acknowledging the immense gap between us and God. God is not our buddy. We are not peers, we are not equals. What a privilege that we get to pray to the God who spoke the universe into being.
Verses 9-10 are connected.
9 “This, then, is how you should pray: “‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, 10 your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
We are to hallow God’s name and then we are to ask for the kingdom of God to come and for God’s will to be done here on earth.
What does it mean to hallow his name? The word “hallow” means sanctified. Jesus tells us to pray, Let your name be sanctified. Sanctify can mean make holy or treat as holy. When God sanctifies us, it means that he makes us holy. But when we sanctify God, it means that we treat him as holy. So Jesus is teaching us to pray that God would cause his name to be treated as holy, distinct, special. What are we asking God to do when we pray that he cause his name to be treated as holy?
There is most definitely a personal element. In your life and mine, we are asking that the name of the Lord be hallowed, that it be set apart, that it be lifted up and in a category all by itself, separate from other things that may vie for our attention. But the name of God being hallowed doesn’t remain a personal matter only. How do we know this? The next verse, we are to pray for God’s kingdom to come and for His will to be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Is it enough that individually, we have Jesus as the reigning king in our hearts? No, the verse talks about the entire earth being a place where God’s kingdom comes and His will is done. The whole earth. All the nations of the world. The name of the Lord spreading to the world was an idea that was present from the Old Testament. Please turn with me to Isaiah 26:8-9.
8 Yes, Lord, walking in the way of your laws, we wait for you; your name and renown are the desire of our hearts. 9 My soul yearns for you in the night; in the morning my spirit longs for you. When your judgments come upon the earth, the people of the world learn righteousness.
God’s name and his renown. If you are a believer, this is the desire of your heart. You want God to be famous among all the nations. We want the whole world to know what true righteousness is. We want God’s kingdom to invade every nation, every unreached corner of the world, every heart, we want everyone to bow down before the name that is higher than any other name. You can’t pray this prayer and be content with the fact that you know God’s name. You can’t be content bringing your problems, your will, your desires and closing the prayer in Jesus name. But you start with a concern for God’s name and His will and His will is that all people would not perish but have a chance to hear the name of God and be saved.
This relates to v13–
13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.
Evil is not an abstract concept. The translation is evil one. Evil is a person. Satan is not a fictional character in horror movies. He is a real person and we shouldn’t be surprised that those whose heart desires to advance God’s kingdom on earth will experience opposition, persecution, hardship. Expect spiritual battle, esp. the more our church prays in this way and engages in activities that advance God’s kingdom on earth.
The sixth litmus test–a Christian is someone who has the ability to forgive others.
12 Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’ 14 For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
There is an obvious link here with the sermon I preached 2 weeks ago. We are to love our enemies. These verses do not mean that our forgiveness of others earns us the right to be forgiven. Rather, the proof that one understands the forgiveness of God is a forgiving spirit toward others. People who are forgiven by God and are saved are the only ones who can genuinely forgive others. Once our eyes have been opened to see the enormity of our offense against God, the injuries which others have done to us appear by comparison extremely minimal. If, on the other hand, we have an exaggerated view of the offense of others, it proves that we have minimized our own offense before God.