Summary: We are in the world, but we are not to be a part of the world.
Sermon by Donald R. Hart – Antioch Christian Church, Pittsburg, Missouri – April 29, 2007
(All Scripture quoted is from the NIV unless otherwise noted)
OUT OF THIS WORLD
Text: John 17:13-19
13 "I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. 14 I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. 15 My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. 17 Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. 19 For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.
We have all probably heard someone say about a particular meal or some rich, decadent dessert item as being “out of this world”. Sometimes the term has been used to describe some particular individual – “they are out of this world”. Now that may be either a compliment or it may be describing them as being somewhat eccentric.
Just this week we heard the news item of a planet outside our solar system that is somewhat similar to our earth. It is smaller than the earth, but has a temperature range within human tolerances and could support liquid water. Now that is really something that is out of this world.
Our text today is part of a prayer by Jesus as he nears the end of his ministry and is primarily a prayer on behalf of his disciples. He knows that he will soon be leaving them and thus he is holding them up before the Father – praying for their protection and for their guidance.
In verse 14 he says, “I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world.” What does he mean here? He then requests this in verse 15 – “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.”
That begins to shed some light as to the fact that they are different from those in the world who would pursue evil ways. They are obviously going to be targets of Satan, the evil one, who will try to entrap and destroy them. But Jesus asks for protection on their behalf.
In verse 16 Jesus repeats the thought “They are not of the world, even as I am not of it.” In essence he is saying that even though they are still in the world, they are really not a part of the world. You might wonder in what way are they not a part of the world? You may even be confused by the idea of being in the world and yet not being in the world.
As I was putting material together for this theme I was surprised at the number of times this idea of not being a part of the world is used in the New Testament. Here are some passages to help us understand this being in the world, but not a part of the world.
In Romans 6:4 we read, “We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.”
In this passage we see that “living a new life” is a part of the transition that takes place when we surrender our lives to Jesus Christ. Later in Romans 12:1-2, Paul tells us that we are to be “living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God”. Notice:
1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God — this is your spiritual act of worship.
2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will.
What is happening here? A transition is taking place – we are to drop those things that would be like the “pattern of this world” and begin a transformation by “the renewing of our minds”.
2 Corinthians 5:17 says, Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!
So here is how it plays out. When we give ourselves to Jesus Christ we change our allegiance away from the things of this world and begin a process of transformation and become a new creature in him. Thus, like the disciples of Jesus, we are in the world, but not a part of the world.