Believers Need a Green Card
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
From the Bible: John 17:15, Galatians 6:9, I Thessalonians 4:3
John 17:15b (Holman) “. . . but that You protect them from the evil one.”
Believers have a job to do in this world. Therefore, we must be in the world. It is equally important we be kept from evil, for wickedness is fatal to the discharge of our task. We may not leave the sphere of sin, but must leave the power of sin.
Conquering sin is the most visible victory in a person’s life of the Gospel’s power. We are to live in Satan’s realm, but not serve him. We dwell here, but abide in the Holy One. Being “in Christ,” we should be “out of” the evil one.
Sin is a crippling influence, a wall impeding progress and victory. It is the one thing we must avoid at all cost. Fullness of power can be ours only to the extent we allow God to repress our sins.
It is possible to overcome the lure of evil. Jesus is very capable of leading us through the crowds and clamor of this life, and keeping us untainted by the world. We can live in Satan’s den, yet all the while have a clean life because of Jesus. It is difficult, but possible.
It is tough to stay faithful. Satan does not allow us an easy journey to glory. He strives by numberless temptations to trip us, to turn us from the path of duty.
But even as Satan vexes us for a lifetime, even so the Father is willing to protect us for a lifetime. To live a whole life striving to please the Master is a glorious goal.
Steadfast commitment to a worthy objective is the basis of a well-spent life. Giardini, when asked how long it would take to learn the violin, replied, “Twelve hours a day for twenty years.” Perseverance wins the crown.
God doesn’t necessarily want us to be brilliant or outstanding. He wants us kept away from the evil one while we are in this world. His desire is that we be constant in well-doing (Romans 2:7). Every day we are to do the work of God with a willing mind and a loving heart.
This world gives its prizes to brilliance, genius, strength, speed, etc. God delights in faithfulness. Stay by the stuff. Never quit. This is what Jesus wants, and is why He asked the Father to help us.
Keep doing every day things pleasing to God. “We must not get tired of doing good, for we will reap at the proper time if we don’t give up” (Galatians 6:9).
John 17:16 “They are not of the world, as I am not of the world.”
Being of the world, being worldly, means living for the pleasures and pursuits of this present age in which we live.
Worldliness is the attitude of childhood carried into adulthood. Children live for today. The present moment is everything to them.
A person of the world lives for today. The foreseeable future is considered only to make sure that when it arrives, life will be secure and comfortable. Eternity is rarely thought of, much less pondered seriously.
Esau was of the world. The pottage was present, near, and certain. He preferred it over the birthright, which could be fully realized only in the future.
People of the world sacrifice future, higher blessings for present, lower pleasures. They are called profane, not necessarily vicious, just worldly.
Believers are to have a different outlook. We are in the world, but not of it. It is our residence, but not our portion.
The world cannot satisfy Christ-followers with its things. Neither its frowns nor its smiles should sway us. Possessing many of its goods should not exhilarate us; lacking its treasures should not grieve us.
Our treasure is in Heaven. Our hearts should also be there. Reserve the uppermost room, the principal seat, of our hearts for our Lord and Master.
Earth is not our home or portion. Be content to endure afflictions here. This is not our destination or permanent residence.
Travelers can put up with inconvenience in a hotel because they don’t have to stay there long. They don’t concern themselves overly much about the discomfort, because they know all will be well when they reach home.
Where is our portion? What occupies our thoughts? Where are our valued treasures? Jesus can lift us from an Earth-bound existence to a Heaven-bound life.
John 17:17a “Sanctify them . . .”
Sanctify means to set apart, to consecrate. It is the verb form of the Greek word for “Holy.” Jesus wanted the Father to “Holyfy” the disciples. This reminds us holiness matters most.
Sanctification is the outworking of our salvation, the ongoing process that occurs between our justification and our glorification. The latter two are perfect and complete the moment received. Sanctification entails growth.
God wants to set apart every one of us, to draw us nearer and nearer to Himself. God loves us and wants us close to Him.
“This is God’s will, your sanctification” (I Thessalonians 4:3). Since it is obviously God’s will for us, we need to seek it, want it for ourselves, understand it as best we can.
Holiness, sanctification, is more than outward morality. If merely moral, we are re-incarnated Pharisees. To be “holyfied,” separated from the world, means to grow in love for God and people.