It is hard to believe that a nurse could deliberately kill a baby, let alone babies. The judge was right: crimes of this magnitude deserve whole life sentences. Interestingly, I haven’t heard anyone calling for the return of the death penalty though. I would have expected that to have happened by now.

The parents have been given life sentences too. Losing a child is always a tragedy, but to do so in this way must be unimaginably painful. I can’t begin to understand their pain and can only pray that they will know God’s blessing in the coming days.

Now many a commentator has suggested that Lucy Letby’s behaviour was nothing short of evil, and I agree. But it got me wondering what goes through peoples’ minds when they use the word ‘evil’, and as a result I found myself drawn back to some well-known words of the Lord’s Prayer: ‘Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil’.

I think we would all agree that there are times when everyone of us needs help to resist temptation. No one is perfect. Not surprisingly the word ‘sinner’ springs to mind, it’s obvious that the evil we encounter most often in the sinful behaviour of other human beings. And sadly, history shows that the most ordinary people can sometimes do the most wicked things. The holocaust is a prime example of this.

But I would argue that we need to factor in the devil too. Jesus certainly took his existence seriously and like many commentators I have come to the conclusion that when Jesus was telling his disciples to say ‘deliver us from evil’ He wasn’t talking of an abstract force but a ‘personal’ power that constantly seeks to undermine God’s work, a malevolent force that actively causes things to go wrong.

And we should not forget that the apostle Paul also tells us that we need to be aware of what he called ‘evil powers’ too. These forces of darkness are powerfully seductive too and I am sure they can and do shape our collective thinking.

For example, I believe these ungodly powers can even shape the way we punish people. I was reminded of this when reading Robert Harries’ novel Act of Oblivion, where he describes the brutal way in which people were hung, drawn and quartered. And of course, we shouldn’t forget crucifixion which is probably the most vicious form of execution ever devised.

In the same way these insidious forces can influence the way we think and the laws we pass too. Many of the earliest Christians paid the ultimate price for being faithful to their Lord for example, and many still do. In the same way one leading Christian commentator has pointed out an apparent inconsistency in the way that ‘the same society that would rightly condemn a nurse for killing a baby born at 23 weeks, regards it as a human right for a mother to kill her own baby at that age’.

In the end though, whether we speak of ‘evil’ or ‘the world the flesh and the devil’ we are all aware that we can be tempted to do wrong, which is why the Lord’s Prayer is as relevant now as it ever was.

As someone has helpfully pointed out, the Bible doesn’t waste time speculating about the origin of evil, but it does show us how we can fight and win our battles. And lest we are tempted to think we could never do anything seriously wrong we would do well to remember that pride often goes before a fall.