Scriptural Gem for June 2012

In John 17:15-19 Jesus prays for His disciples: "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. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified."

The word 'sanctified' in the above passage is also translated as 'set apart' or 'to make holy'. Holiness is an important theme in Scripture and as we read in Hebrews 12:14 "...without holiness no one will see the Lord".

I have often heard 'holiness' described in Christian circles in terms of a 'level of righteousness' which one arrives at if you apply yourself diligently enough to studying God's Word and keeping His commandments. Unfortunately I must confess that in my experience, the more 'holy' christians become (according to the description above) the more dogmatic and hard-hearted they seem to become and absolutely awful to be with...

However, it is in the original Greek word for 'sanctified' that we gain deeper insight into what Jesus is praying for His disciples. The word is 'A-gi-ason'. The first part of the word is 'A' which means 'not' (therefore in English we have 'A-typical', 'A-moral' etc). The next part of the word is 'Gi' which means 'earth' in the original Greek. So, the meaning that Jesus wants to convey here is that holiness is having 'none of the earth' in oneself. This links beautifully with verse 16 of our passage above where Jesus states that He is not of the world even as His disciples are not of the world. In other words, holiness is not something we become by striving to be good, but by having that which is of the earth, of the world - selfish ambition, evil desires, materialism etc - taken out of us by God's truth, His living Word (verse 17).

It is interesting to see that Jesus ends His prayer by praying that God's love may be in His disciples. (John 17:26). The more 'holy' we become, the more loving we should become, not more hard-hearted and dogmatic.

How about you dear friend...Are you having 'the earthly' taken out of you more and more each day?

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