“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.”
– Jesus’ prayer for his disciples, John 17:15-17
We are living in a “post-truth” society in which misinformation, fake news, rumours and confusion abound, escalated by digital media and citizen journalism. At the height of the global Covid pandemic, the transmission of misinformation has even outpaced that of the virus. Media platforms, governments and communities have been compelled to enact measures to protect people from the propagation and the dire consequences of lies and untruth.
In our church’s ongoing pulpit series on 2 Peter, we are warned that false prophets and teachers have been around for the longest time, and will continue to arise and plague the church. Such persons may claim to speak for God, and may even have the status of teachers, however they declare and teach distortions of God’s truth. Worse, they tend to write and speak well, with persuasive words and what appears to be deep reasoning. We are to reject such teachers and not lend our ears to them, lest we be led astray and exploited.
Jesus himself gave warnings about false teachers, which are likened to savage wolves among the sheep. His prayer for his disciples, as recorded in the gospel John, shows a tender and caring heart towards us. He acknowledged that we are temporarily in the world and subject to the slings and arrows of suffering and sin – both our own and other people’s. Hence, he prayed for God to protect the church from all the malicious schemes of the evil one, who is the first deceiver and prime enemy of humankind.
Jesus also prayed that God “sanctify” His people with the truth. It simply means to be “set apart” for a special purpose. The Bible has many examples of those whom God had set apart, from the time of the patriarch Abraham and many of his descendants. God’s people are redeemed by the blood of Christ, saved unto a special purpose, which is to bless the nations of the world with the gospel. Sanctification is a life-long process by which God’s children are made new through the work of the Holy Spirit who lives in us, convicting us of sin and transforming our thinking so that we love Truth, desire God and become more and more like Jesus in character and holiness.
Dear friends, the apostle Paul teaches that we are not to be conformed by the world but transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2). Our minds are renewed over time when we know the truth of God, reject the lies of the enemy and his agents, and stand on God’s promises. Jesus prayed for us and continues to do so in Heaven, and we are privileged to receive each day as a gift from God, that we may enjoy and serve Him.
By brother Aaron Lee