How many times have you heard, “We are IN the world, not OF the world,” from Christians? Think about the times you have heard this. Usually, when I hear this phrase, there are two different circumstances.
One will be when someone who says they are a Christian and are defending living as the world. The other is when someone says they are a Christian and lives very different from the world. I have even heard, “That is a verse in the Bible!” I can safely say that when we say, “We are in the world, not of the world,” we are not quoting scripture. However, it is true that this idea comes from scripture.
John 17:15-17 is the closest we find to this phrase:
“I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. “They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. “Sanctify them in the truth ; Your word is truth. “As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world.
So, according to scripture and the example given by Christ, what does it look like to be “not of the world?” In this scripture, we see that it is so important for us to to be kept from evil, that Christ is praying for God to keep us from the evil one. In fact, other scripture tells us we are to abstain from all forms of evil.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-22
Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the Spirit; do not despise prophetic utterances. But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil.
The question arises, “What is evil?”
Matthew 15:17-20 deals with what is “evil”:
Do you not understand that everything that goes into the mouth passes into the stomach, and is eliminated? But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders.These are the things which defile the man; but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile the man.”
Proverbs 6:12-19 tells us of other wicked deeds and things that are an abomination to God:
A worthless person, a wicked man, Is the one who walks with a perverse mouth,Who winks with his eyes, who signals with his feet, Who points with his fingers;Who with perversity in his heart continually devises evil, Who spreads strife. Therefore his calamity will come suddenly; Instantly he will be broken and there will be no healing. There are six things which the Lord hates, Yes, seven which are an abomination to Him: Haughty eyes, a lying tongue; And hands that shed innocent blood, A heart that devises wicked plans, Feet that run rapidly to evil,A false witness who utters lies, And one who spreads strife among brothers.
God commands us, in His Word, to not look like the world and to walk as He did.
We know, according to 1 Corinthians 2:12-13, that the Spirit of God, looks very different from the spirit of the world. We can also see, the Spirit of God is given so we may know the things given to us by God.
Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.
Romans 12:2 says we are not to conform to this world:
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
1 John 2:3-6 says that if we know Christ, we will keep His commandments. This verse also says if we abide in Him, we will walk in the same manner as He walked.
By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.
Over the next several Biblical posts, I will visit the topic of “not being OF the world.” God has worked to convict me, over the years, of things I was involved with, that were “of the world.” The conviction of some of the incidents hit me pretty hard and pretty quick. Others took a little longer for me to see the implication of what was going on. I want to say that this is my testimony. I know that there are many who do not agree with my position. I am very grateful to have a husband who shares the same conviction and belief.
For many years, I looked like the world. I would feel that I was not doing “what was right.” I would seek counsel from those who were in leadership positions in “the church.” Most of the time, these were people that I knew would support what I was doing and let me know there was nothing wrong with my behavior. I am very thankful that God continued a work in me. The more I studied, the more “incidents” I witnessed, the more I felt led to move away from certain behaviors.
Join me, as I chronicle some of these beliefs and episodes over the next few posts.