From “Studies in the Lord’s Prayer,” by Pastor K. David Oldfield

John 17:14-16

The next three verses contain some repetition, which emboldens me to look at a larger chunk of scripture than usual.

But first let me tell you about Clay Shiver. In 1995 Clay was one of the best players in college football, playing center for Florida State University. Before the season began he was selected by a national magazine as their All-American Center. He was to be featured in an article, and it would have certainly helped his fame and career. But Clay Shiver is a Christian and tries to do the Lord’s will in everything that he can. He felt honored to be selected for this award, but he turned it down. The magazine involved was the infamous and ungodly Playboy. Clay felt that he could be a Christian and play college football, but he couldn’t be a Christian and be featured in that magazine.

As Christians we are in the world, but we cannot afford to be identified with the world. And so the Lord Jesus continues in His prayer:

“I have given them thy word. . .”This is what the Lord said in verse 8 – the words given by the Father to Christ were to be given unto us. This word was not the Old Testament Law – that had already been given. In a sense this word can be summarized by the contents of the Great Commission. It includes the Gospel, the doctrines of Christ and the responsibilities that we have as Christians. But it’s not so much the communication of words of the mouth or to the ear, rather it’s the communication of the heart of Christ to the hearts of those whom the Father hath given to the Son. It’s not so much what I am doing tonight, which is going to be only nominally received because many of us aren’t applying ourselves to receiving it. Rather it’s the effectual impartation of the revelation of God to the heart and soul of the believer. And these are things which magnify God’s grace and humble men. These things are not agreeable to common, worldly wisdom. These things are contrary to the worldly focus of money, success, power and prestige.

“I have given them thy word.”

As important as this giving is, there is something with even more practical importance: receiving. If we are not interested in receiving, then it’s unlikely that we will receive. How important it is to come to the house of God yearning for more of the Lord’s instruction. The Lord is still giving us His Word, but many of us go for weeks without ever hearing it.

And with the receiving of this word something momentous occurs: change: Initially, we become new creatures, with a new Father, new citizenship, new family and a new hope. “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; old things are passed away, behold all things are become new.” If we don’t find ourselves intrinsically different from our worldly neighbors then we need to re-evaluate what we have been hearing. If we are not growing and maturing in the things of the Lord, then we need to check to see if we’re receiving anything.

“And the world hath hated them. . .”

We’re not talking about the inanimate world system, but the god and people of the world. At the present time the world is governed by an evil military general named Satan, and the ordinary denizens of the world have the Devil as their god and king. Since the Christian’s home and citizenship is in Heaven, we’re not surprised to find some animosity between the citizens of the world and ourselves.

“And the world hath hated them.”

In another place our Lord implied that the world would hate us because it hated Him. The emphasis there was a little different than it is here. On the surface, the reason for the world’s hatred of us is not its hatred of Christ. The world doesn’t think: Oh, these people are like Christ, we’d better hate them. Rather, it’s because, like Christ, we are different from the world. On the surface, the world’s hatred of Christ and its hatred of us, run parallel to each other, not consecutively. In the estimation of the world, we are traitors, having changed our allegiances. We were born into the world as worldlings, and then we joined the enemy – Christ Jesus. We defected from our first king. Actually we forsook an evil king. And as traitors of every kind, we find ourselves hated as a result. And this is what the Saviour says in the next clause:

“Because they are not of the world. . .”

As if we needed to be reminded, verse13 tells us that we are IN the world. And verse18 reminds us that we have been sent by Christ INTO the world. But we are not OF the world.

Clay Shiver was not only a player, but he was the chaplain on the Florida State Football team. He not only wanted to be a Christian, but he wanted to share Christ with others. I’m sure that his faith in Christ was not admired by al of his teammates, but he felt that he had a work to do. He didn’t quit and pretend that he wasn’t a member of the human race, but he didn’t join the others in their support of Playboy Magazine. And yet he did try to witness to those people of his relationship to Christ Jesus.

You and I are not of the world

“Even as I am not of the world. . .”

Now, this is perhaps the most important aspect of this passage as far as we’re concerned tonight: The measure of our unworldliness has to be the Saviour, and not any other standard. Certainly there are obvious differences between the Lord and us: For example, He was never of the world, while in one sense we were, before our redemption. And being the eternal God, that certainly set Him apart.

But now that we are in Christ, our unworldliness should be comparable to His unworldliness. Our prayer life should be similar to His prayer life. Setting our affection on things above, would certainly be like His affections. He went about doing good in the name of the Father, and we should do good in His Name. He was a preacher of the gospel and that should be something that we do as well. He hated sin and we should hate sin.

The measure of our unworldliness must be Christ.

“I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world. . .”

But doesn’t the world hate us? Wouldn’t we be safer if the Lord took us away from the world that hates us? Obviously. But our personal safety is not as important as other matters. We have a work to do, a witness to give. We have a commission to fulfill. We have fruit to grow and seeds to spread. We have highways & hedges to scour looking for blind and maimed and halt to bring to the feast.

Wasn’t it Elijah’s prayer that he should be taken out of the world? It was just the opposite to the will of the Lord. And what was the Lord’s reply to that?

We have a continued responsibility toward the world, and so the Saviour merely prays…

“That thou, Father, shouldest keep them from the evil.”

The use of the word “evil” in this fashion is fairly common, but it is kind of strange and interesting. Is the Lord asking for the Father to protect us from the evil of sin? If He is then there is evidence that His prayers are not answered. If you haven’t sinned today, and I seriously doubt that, then you did yesterday. This is not talking about the evil of sin.

Is he praying that we have no evil deeds done against us? We have the same problem here, because all those who live Godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. This isn’t a prayer about trouble.

The definite article takes this word “evil” into another arena: Some think that refers to the judgment that our evil sins deserve. But I agree with the majority, who think that the Lord is asking that we be spared from the Evil One. This takes us to Luke 22 where the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not:. Satan cannot have ultimate victory over us. It is impossible, because we have the intercession of our Saviour

But don’t think for a moment that the Devil isn’t interested in the Christian who is serving Christ. Do you think that the Devil doesn’t care when we are busy about the Lord’s work? He wants to stop us, to hinder us, and to destroy our testimony. He’s not above using Playboy Magazine, or a marijuana conviction, or adultery to stop us. And from time to time he’ll successfully employ such tactics. But He cannot have ultimate victory over the one for whom the Saviour has prayed.

Father keep us from the evil.

“They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. . .”

This is a simple reiteration for emphasis’ sake.

Go to Chapter Twelve »