John 17:12-19 Overcoming the World of Deception
“While I was with them, I was keeping them in Your name which You have given Me; and I guarded them and not one of them perished but the son of perdition, so that the Scripture would be fulfilled. But now I come to You; and these things I speak in the world so that they may have My joy made full in themselves. I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. For their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth.” John 17:12-19
Jesus’ prayer revealed the urgency of the ongoing battle for the souls of man. Even as the battle for authority is about to be won and Satan would soon be crushed, but the battle for man’s soul would continue. Hence, Jesus’ ministry of intercession focuses on strengthening believers to overcome temptations and to protect them from temptations they cannot bear. Jesus’ battle on the cross was accomplished and another phase of battle had begun. Every individual has to fight this battle for themselves, but not without the grace and the intercession of Jesus Christ. The Spirit reveals to us the deception of the devil who knows our weaknesses and exploits them. Once the devil’s devices are exposed, he becomes powerless. We expose the devil’s deception by reading the truth and the Spirit purifies and strengthens us to overcome.
1. “While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them…” Jesus recounted the fruit of His ministry that He protected the disciples from the devil’s deceptions and kept them from the love of money, from selfish ambition, and from the lure of a comfortable life. Jesus prayed for Peter against the deception of Satan towards personal gain (Matthew 16:23). Jesus taught and warned the disciples against unbelief and the pride of life (John 6:64-65).
2. “… and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction,” Jesus did all to protect Judas from destruction and warned him on two occasions (John 6:70, 13:21). But Jesus would never manipulate or force a man’s decision. God will make known the consequence of disobedience and the glory of obedience towards God, but the decision is man’s to make.
3. “I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one.” Jesus prayed to the Father to keep the disciples from the evil one; not to shield them from worldly temptations, but to strengthen them and protect them from temptations they could not bear. The intercessory work of Jesus is significant because Jesus having experienced human struggles in the face of temptations knows how to draw man towards the grace of God. The prayer of Jesus is effective and powerful because He alone is the Son of man and the Son of God, the Mediator between God and man.
4. “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.” Jesus prayed that the Father would sanctify the disciples in the truth. To sanctify is to cleanse and purify the mind of deception, the heart from dark passions and the physical body of sinful bondages. The word exposes deception and the Spirit cleanses the mind of all confusion, and gives the mind clarity to the way that leads to success. The word and the Spirit purge all anger, bitterness and hopelessness, filling the heart with peace, joy and hope of a blessed future. The word and the Spirit cleanse the body of all addictions, giving it vitality and confidence to achieve and bear fruit. The sanctifying work of the Spirit cannot operate in the absence of the word. Without the discipline of reading the word, there can be no godliness.
5. “And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.” One key reason that motivated Jesus to continue in the path of consecration is for the sanctification of His disciples. His desire for the salvation of His disciples motivated Him to stand firm in the midst of temptations; for He would not be able to sanctify His disciples without first gaining victory over His fleshly inclinations.
1. God’s sacrificial love compels us to love Him but God will never interfere with our right to choose. No matter how much God loves us, He would not overstep His boundary to alter a man’s will. However, God will do all to influence us by giving us ample warning signs and people who would come along side to strengthen and comfort us. If we decide to disobey and follow our own passions, God would gently restore us amidst the consequences that we must face. Hence, I would not say that we should pray for people to repent, but rather that God would use me and circumstances to reveal His love and the hope of salvation to them. The problems of this world are caused by man’s greed and his evil desires and the righteous do suffer in the hands of evil rulers. Although God would not manipulate man’s will and turn them from evil but a certain judgment awaits them and the righteous will receive their justice. John 17:40 quoted from Isaiah’s rhetoric to leave man to his own devices,
“HE has blinded their eyes and HE hardened their heart, so that they would not see with their eyes and perceive with their heart, and be converted and I heal them.”
2. In order to overcome sin, deception must first be dealt with. God’s word exposes deception leading to sanctification. One smoker once said to me, that his habit is not an addiction but a hobby; he could stop smoking at any time. But refuse to because he enjoyed it. This deception that prevented him from recognising his bondage to nicotine, prevented him from breaking it. Hebrews 4:12 says that the word is sharper than a double edged sword that seeks out hidden deception in the soul and spirit of man. The common deception of the devil is: God is unfair; He allows the evil to flourish indefinitely. And yet another deception is: God’s love is infinite and does not require man’s repentance in order to be saved. One very common deception is the gospel of complacency: God has won the battle and accomplished everything on the cross. Hence, one should cease from fighting our own battles and doing good works but rest in the finished work of God. A person who doesn’t discipline himself in reading the word and fight against the flesh would continue to be deceived by the deceptive messages of the world.
3. We cannot consecrate another without first consecrating ourselves. We minister from the abundance of our heart and spirit. Only a transformed life can transform another life. Knowledge by itself does not impart life, but one who is filled with the Spirit brings revelations and deliverance. One qualifies as a disciple maker not because he has acquired a good amount of knowledge of the bible. Although biblical knowledge is the foundation, something that is more fundamental to disciple making is the fruit of faithfulness, love, perseverance and sacrifice. One cannot reproduce the fruit of the Spirit in another unless he has first learn how to acquired it.
1. Make a list of the possible consequences we may reap if we fall into certain temptations. One way to deal with our habitual sins is to remind ourselves of the consequences if we yield to their temptations. The consequences of disobedience are: lost time and opportunities, lost peace and joy, guilt and regret, the hurt that we cost to ourselves and to our loved ones and the lost of eternal rewards.
2. Join a bible study class at least once a week. This will enable us to learn from another’s wisdom. Hearing another’s perspective of the same passage not only enrich our understanding, it tests the validity of our own convictions and strengthen it.
Dear Lord, cause my heart to be more receptive to Your words. As I meditate on Your Word, reveal to me the issues in my heart that may cause me to be deceived. Help me see the glory that awaits me, the ways of wisdom, and the consequences of sin. Sanctify me with Your word and Your Spirit as I yield my will to You. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.