Here’s an interesting thought - the Devil is real.
To many that will seem laughable. Surely, he’s only a character in horror movies, or a costume outfit for halloween, or simply a superstition from mediaeval times to to frighten people into doing nice things!
Except that Jesus didn’t think so. He thought the Devil, along with the hatred of the world, were the two biggest dangers to his followers. He said,
“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. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.”
Jesus is praying here for his disciples and other believers and therefore so is speaking to God the Father, his Father. And the hatred of the world and the devil, or ‘evil one’ as he refers to him here, are at the front of his mind.
When Jesus says ‘the world’ he’s referring to humanity. Naturally, humanity hates God and anything to do with him. To show you what I mean, let me ask you a question;
‘Do you want to live your life how you see fit?’
If your answer was yes, then you hate God. He has a perfect plan and purpose for each of our lives but we would much rather do our own thing. We try to block out God as much as we can. It seeps into every part of life until our whole society is like that. Even so called ‘open-minded’ people are suddenly offended if a Christian suggests following Jesus is the only way to true joy and life.
This relentless pressure from the outside world can wear a Christian down. Eventually they are at risk of losing sight of the goodness of God and they just end up doing what ‘the world’ wants them to do - they forget about God, turn away from him and lose all the blessings they had in him.
If that wasn’t bad enough, there’s another threat - the Devil.
He hates God. Which means he hates his followers - Christians. He will do all he can to lure them away from God. He will whisper lies and half-truths in their ears, tempting them to look for the temporary fulfilment of worldly gains and give up everlasting life from God. He wants you to fully turn your back on God and end up in hell forever.
This is no game but the stakes could not be higher. Eternal life, joy and peace are on the line. Together, the hatred of the world and the devil are such a dangerous duo - and this is not my idea but is what Jesus clearly says in his prayer!
Is there help?
Yes! We’ve already said it but Jesus is praying to his Father here. He’s praying that his followers will be given protection. There’s no better place than to go to the utterly reliable, generous and almighty God!
“Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one.”
Jesus calls in his Father to keep his people trusting in him. Asking God for help is just not like asking anyone else for help. He is so far above and different to humans that it’s difficult to put into words. But here, God the Son is asking God the Father to protect his people and keep them from becoming worn down by the world and tempted away by the Devil.
A protected Christian is one who keeps trusting in Jesus for their forgiveness and right-standing with God.
And this protection is effective. Jesus says it kept the 11 true disciples faithful to him and that “none have been lost”. (Judas Iscariot may have looked the part but he never truly trusted in Jesus.)
Other gifts to help Christians stick with Jesus
Part of the effectiveness of this protection is because of two further gifts Jesus has for his followers.
The first gift is other Christians. Christians can and should help one another to remember and hold onto the goodness of God. When we feel worn down, when we hear and even when we fall for the lies of the devil, our brothers and sisters in Christ help us stand up again and see the truth of the matter - that the world only gives temporary satisfaction, Jesus gives eternal.
The second gift is joy. To be a Christian is a joyous thing! Firstly, knowing we are sinners and unworthy of God and yet, through Jesus, we become true sons and daughters of the living God! No other religion comes close to giving people that!
And then there is comfort and joy in knowing Jesus cares about his people so much that he goes to God to keep us faithful to him and his life giving message.
What about the danger for those who don’t follow Jesus?
Now, it is true that everything I’ve written here will mean more to people who are already Christians than those who are not. However, if Christians are in this kind of danger, and its consequences could be everlasting, how much more are those who aren’t following Jesus?
If you aren’t following Jesus, the world and the devil already have a hold on you. They are already dragging you down and eternity in hell is exactly where you are heading. That’s what Jesus believes.
Why not turn to Jesus and ask him to help you see who he is and why you need him? Today might be your only chance to do so.