Not allowing the inclination to sin — and the opportunity to sin, to meet!
(James Smith, "The Pleading Savior" 1861)
"I do not pray that you should take them out of the world — but that you should keep them from the evil." John 17:15
Jesus prayed that His children would be kept from evil:
1. From the evil of the world — from its evil spirit, which is carnal, and directly opposed to the spirit of Christ, and the requirements of God's holy law.
2. From the evil course of the world — which is downward, corrupt, and corrupting.
3. From the evil customs of the world, which are vain, wicked, and opposed to the mind of God.
4. From the Evil One, who is the god of this world, the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that works in the children of disobedience. He stirs up evil men — to hate, oppose, and persecute them. He stirs up evil corruptions within them — to weaken, discourage, and mislead them.
God keeps them by His Spirit — who warns, teaches, strengthens, and works in them to will and to do of His own good pleasure.
He keeps them also by His Providence — which sometimes removes sinful objects from before them — and at other times, prevents violent temptations from assailing them.
God graciously keeps His children, in answer to the prayer of Jesus — by not allowing the inclination to sin — and the opportunity to sin, to meet!
Sometimes they are violently tempted to sin, and feel inclined to yield — but they have not the opportunity.
At other times, the opportunity presents itself — but they have not the inclination.
Thus they are divinely kept and graciously preserved.
"I give them eternal life, and they will never perish — ever! No one will snatch them out of My hand!" John 10:28