Tuesday, September 11, 2012

John 17:15-19

“My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.  They are not of the world, even as I am not of it.  Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.  As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world.  For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.” (John 17:15-19)

In John 17:14, Jesus acknowledged that the world is a place that hates His disciples. So part of the anguish He went through in the Garden of Gethsemane, was knowing what persecution and temptation they would be facing - and what we would be facing. So,as Jesus continued to pray for His disciples, He focused on their need to be set apart from the world they would live in. This world is filled with sorrow, turmoil, and evil! The disciples would be IN it, but not OF it. They were set apart, or sanctified, for God’s holy purposes. They would be Christ’s ambassadors to a lost and dying world - and in order to be kept from being polluted by it, they would need to be sanctified while in it.

“Sanctification” is one of those big theological words that describes a lifelong process, yet is also something we have the minute we receive Christ as our Savior. Ephesians 2:6 tells us that God has already “seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus.” We are already set apart for God. Yet we are being transformed more and more into His image as we grow in Christ.

It’s ironic that this sanctification, or being set apart from the world as holy and wholly for God, is specifically for the purpose of sending us forth INTO the world - to make a difference for Christ. He has not called us to a life of separation from the world, but to be light and salt in the world. How do we do this? How can we be sanctified in the midst of it? By the power of God’s Word - the Truth!

Jesus said that we are sanctified “by the truth,” which is His Word. As we read and study His Word, we are progressively being changed into the people God designed us to become. And as we learn His Word, we become more shielded from the enemy in this world, Satan.

I know that I cannot go out into the world each morning, ready to face spiritual warfare, without arming myself first in His Word. On those days that I attempt it, I’m feeling nearly defeated almost from the time I arrive at work. My heart fills up with resentments and I’m overcome by impatience, and, basically, rendered useless for God. But when I begin my morning in His glorious Word, getting His viewpoint for the day, I’m filled to the brim and more able to face the onslaught.

Weather to the contrary, we are now entering the fall season. It’s the time when new Bible studies are starting up again. If you haven’t already done so, find one at your church or at a friend’s church. Or check out Bible Study Fellowship - there is bound to be a class near you! Make a commitment to put on the whole armor of God daily, that you might be increasingly sanctified for God. My church is starting next week in Beth Moore’s new study of the book of James, one of the most practical books on living out the Christian faith. If you are in the South Orange County area, check it out: Crossline Women's Bible Study

Tomorrow, we will begin the last section of this precious prayer time of Jesus with the Father, in which He prays specifically for you and me! Can’t wait!

In the meantime, I want to share what, Carrol Velarde, one of here, wrote me yesterday after reading about Jesus' prayer that we might have the full measure of [his] joy (John 17: 13). She had heard a great definition of joy at church that she wanted to share: “Joy is an inner attitude of the heart given to everyone who believes the Gospel.  Joy is produced by the Holy Spirit through obedience to the Word.  It emerges through suffering.  It is experienced in fellowship with other believers and is based on the hope of future glory. So my prayer today is that you all be filled with the joy of the Lord!” Thanks, Carrol!  

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