This post is written by our curriculum editor Nannette Elkins, wife of Douglas Elkins, our North America Regional Coordinator. Nannette also spent a year in Latvia helping launch Revival by Design. She is the author of The Daniel Fast, A Devotional available here! You can get acquainted with her writings at her blog Hope in the Healing and also at Internet Cafe Devotions, where she is a monthly contributor.
“I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one.” John 17:15 ESV.
Jesus prayed for you. Yes, you.
In the Gospel of John, Jesus is praying to the Father before He went to Calvary, before He was glorified. He was praying for His disciples at the time. Here are some things that He asked God for:
That He would be glorified
For their protection
To make them holy
To teach them His Word
That they might be one with Him
For Perfect Unity
That they would be with Him..
Then in verse 20 He says something that should make us jump for joy!
“I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message.”
It wasn’t just for the disciples, it was for all who would believe.
He didn’t pray for God to take us out of this world, He didn’t ask Him to remove the evil from this world. He prayed for Him to keep us from the evil one.
We are familiar with good and bad, right and wrong. But what about evil? Is everything that is bad also evil? We couldn’t have this discussion without consulting Mr. Webster:
Evil: As an adjective: Having qualities tending to injury and mischief; worthless. Having or exhibiting bad, moral qualities.
And the dictionary actually quotes Matthew 18: “A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit.”
As a noun: Moral badness, or the deviation of a moral being from the principles of virtue imposed by conscience, or by the will of the Supreme Being…. “The heart of the sons of men is full of evil.” Ecclesiastes 3.
Evil and sin are two different things. We all sin but we are not all necessarily evil in doing so.
To sin is to miss the mark, seemingly of God’s standard of righteousness and holiness.
To be evil means to purposely inflict harm or injury upon another or to use sin to wound another.
Evil is joining in agreement with someone else to cause harm or slander another. This breaks the heart of God.
Evil is always sin but sin is not always evil. Evil is preconceived sin; planned sin, even conniving sin.
The Bible says we were “born into sin”, it is inherently in our nature. But through the cross we now have forgiveness of sins, an advocate in Jesus Christ the Righteous! We can go before Him when we sin (and we will) and receive His mercy.
Why didn’t God do away with our sinful nature when Jesus was nailed to the tree? Why, when we are buried with Him in baptism and our sins are washed away, do we continue to sin, even unwillingly or unknowingly? Jesus could have taken that sinful nature from us and made us perfect, obedient creatures, couldn’t He?
“God created things which had free will. If a thing is free to be good it’s also free to be bad. And free will is what has made evil possible. Why, then, did God give them free will? Because free will, though it makes evil possible, is also the only thing that makes possible any love or goodness or joy worth having.” C.S. Lewis, The Case for Christianity
Because we have to serve Him and love Him with our FREE WILL. We love Him for what He has done for us and out of hearts of gratitude and thankfulness; not because we are forced to do so. That wouldn’t be love!
So we are in the world. An evil world. We cannot change it, for the most part, and must walk in it each and every day. So, what to do about it?
He knew we would sin, that things would happen throughout our day that might trip us up. An unkind word, a rolling of the eyes, a lie that just seemingly slips out without thinking, cutting someone off in traffic, criticizing when we should be uplifting. If we are filled with His Spirit then we regret those things, are sorrowful and repentant.
1 John 5:19.”We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one…”
Jesus prayed for us that we would be kept away from the Evil One, from Satan who would devour our souls if we would stray too far away from God. Jesus was also tempted by the devil and He knew that we would face temptation of the same kind.
He also knew that as the day of His return would draw near that there would be even more evil in this world. “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.” 2 Timothy 3:12, 13.
He prayed for us, He sent the Comforter as strength for us, dwelling IN us and giving us power from On High that we might overcome.
Then He gave us even more promises and protection in His Word.
“The LORD will protect you from all evil; He will keep your soul.” Psalm 121:7.
“But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one.” 2 Thessalonians 3:3.
And we just keep doing what we know to do.
Nehemiah did that. While rebuilding the walls of his beloved Jerusalem he wouldn’t stop for anything, even when they were being attacked! In Nehemiah 4:17, we see how Nehemiah continued doing good in the midst of a battle, “…The laborers carried on their work with one hand supporting their load and one hand holding a weapon.”
He just kept on doing good. You can read more about Nehemiah’s story here in an earlier post.
“Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:21.
Evil will remain in the world until Satan is bound. But we do not have to let evil overcome us or become a part of us.
Jesus prayed for God to keep you from the Evil One. Today, through prayer and study of His Word, through relationship, Christ IN you, He has left you with the power to live an overcoming life!
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 NIV.