John 17:17 “Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.”
One of the helps that I’ve used in my prayer life over the years is a prayer calendar that is put out by the organization “The Voice of the Martyrs.” This calendar is filled with suggestions on how we can be praying for our brothers and sisters in Christ around the world who are suffering greatly for their faith. This morning I was reminded to pray for believers in the Central African Republic who are suffering due to the civil war that has engulfed that country since 2012 and believers in Ethiopia who have lost their homes and belongings due to persecution. One of the things that I prayed for these believers is that God would remind them of the Truth of His Word.
I can’t really imagine what it must be like for believers such as those in the countries I’ve mentioned, to be threatened and persecuted for their faith. However, that’s been a common reality for many Christians since the time of Christ. Indeed, Jesus told us that “If the world hates you, know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you (John 15:18-20).” I imagine that the fact that Jesus warned us about such things doesn’t make them easier to endure except in one way. That “way” is that Jesus always and only told us the truth. And just as He was so very truthful about the persecution that Christians would face over the centuries, so we can be assured that He was truthful about what would follow.
Listen to these words that Jesus spoke to us through the writing of the apostle Paul: “Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel, for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound! Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. The saying is trustworthy, for: If we have died with Him, we will also live with Him; if we endure, we will also reign with Him” (2 Timothy 2:8-12).
The Lord has assured us that one day we will be with Him forever in heaven. At that time, we will experience the truth that “The dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God Himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:3-4).
As the verse above from John 17 tells us, and as Jesus prayed, believers are “sanctified . . . in the truth.” Sanctified means to be “set apart.” It means set apart from those who don’t know Christ by the fact that they live and die by the Truth of God. It is the Truth of God that motivates them, guides them, encourages them, and blesses them as they look to it in the face of the evil that surrounds them in this world. As Hebrews 11 tells us, it is faith in this Truth that “is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” We are told that the believers who lived before us “all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.”
What a wonderful thing is the awesome Truth of God that we find in His Holy Word. It sets those who believe apart from those who don’t, including those who in their hatred for Christians continue to persecute them throughout the world. God’s Truth: it’s a rock we can stand upon. It’s a refuge to which we can turn. It’s the assurance that gives believers endurance in the face of whatever hard things touch their lives.
So, are you sanctified by the Truth? May God open your eyes if you are not, for there is no more wonderful thing in all the world than to know and to live by the Truth of the Living God.
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