Occasional editorials written since 2001 

Passion yes, aggression no. Harry Potter All roads lead to God'  
Value of a soul. Homosexuality Passion of the Christ
Islam and Christianity  Love not the world Persecution coming
Biblical or secular worldview' Freewill offering Letter or Spirit'
Faith The sacred and non-sacred Test your self
Discernment The gospel of me Repentance
Sinking sand That awful four letter word Sin
When God offends. Walls, gates and electric fences The curse of pornography
Gender confusion    

 

Love not the world

It would be nice to think that the peoples of this world thought well of us as Christians, but in general they don't.

Sometimes that's for good reasons of course, because our Godly Kingdom walk of integrity in the Light exposes their sinful walk in the dominion of darkness, and who would be comfortable with that?

Mostly I suspect its because we are seen as hypocrites. We don't walk the talk.

Some of Mahatma Ghandi's statements are amazingly Christ like and humbling. Sadly, following unfortunate experiences while trying to attend a Christian church, Mahatma Ghandi was turned away from Christianity and remained Hindu. He said..

"I don't reject your Christ. I love your Christ. It's just that so many of you Christians are so unlike your Christ"

He also claimed that..

"If Christians would really live according to the teachings of Christ, as found in the Bible, all of India would be Christian today"

French philosopher and writer Voltaire said

"If Christians want us to believe in a Redeemer, let them act redeemed "

Many people in this dying world, after meeting one of Christ's living letters (us) are deciding that there's not a great deal of difference between them and us, and instinctively I suspect, they know that if what we proclaim is true, there really should be a difference. 

And that's sad.

Because God has always called His people to be separated from the peoples of this world

 Leviticus 20:24  'But I have said to you, "You shall inherit their land, and I will give it to you to possess, a land flowing with milk and honey." I am the LORD your God, who has separated you from the peoples.

He does this so that His people might be be His, and His alone.

Leviticus 20:26 'And you shall be holy to Me, for I the LORD am holy, and have separated you from the peoples, that you should be Mine 

Amazingly He sees His chosen people as a special treasure!

Deuteronomy 7:6 "For you are a holy people to the LORD your God; the LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth.

God has always intended that His special people would obey Him and thus He can set them clear and above the other peoples who do not obey Him.

Deuteronomy 28:1 "Now it shall come to pass, if you diligently obey the voice of the LORD your God, to observe carefully all His commandments which I command you today, that the LORD your God will set you high above all nations of the earth

How often at an airport lounge have we stared over our newspaper at an orthodox Jew with his black hat and side ringlets and 'weird clothes'  We observe that they stand out from all the peoples around them physically.

One important facet of the Old Testament is that it is a physical or 'natural' image to help us understand the spiritual. Remember Paul's words in 1st Corinthians 15 : 46

"However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual"

Today, in the days of the New Covenant, as God's people, we are called to stand out from all the peoples around us spiritually.

Here's something to ponder.

The noun for disciple is used 265 times in the New Testament. (72 times in Matthew, 46 times in Mark, 38 times in Luke, 79 times in John and 30 times in Acts)

The noun for believer is used twice in the New Testament (Acts 5:4 and 1st Timothy 4:12)

I think it is clear what Jesus was and is still looking for.   Not lukewarm believers but radically committed followers.  Disciples.

That's why His last command, given in Matthew to His first disciples was..

"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, "teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen. (Matthew 28:19-20)

I think as a church we may have tried to make believers and stopped there.  How do I know'  On my journeys I meet many believers, and so few disciples. (Luke 14)

It's challenging to read Acts 11 verse 26 and see where the word 'Christian' came from.

"And in Antoich the disciples were for the first time called Christians"

Here's something else worth pondering..

When a covenant was made between two people (or peoples) one part of it would include an exchange of robes between the two representatives who were 'cutting the covenant.  It was saying 'what is mine is now yours'. When Jonathan and David made a covenant vow the first thing Jonathan did was give his robe to David (1 Samuel 18:4)

In the divine exchange that took place at Calvary where the New Covenant was established between God and man through our joint representative Jesus (Son of God and son of man) we got Jesus' glorious Robes of Righteousness, whereas He got our filthy sinful rags. (Isaiah 64:6)

                          

So though you and I see what each other is wearing in the physical realm, God sees us through Jesus in the spiritual realm as being robed in the beautifully white robes of His Son's righteousness.

I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, My soul shall be joyful in my God; For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness.. (Isaiah 61:10a)

The Family Bible Notes commentary on this beautiful verse says..

All "our righteousness" are loathsome and abominable, but the garment of Christ's righteousness and salvation, wherewith he clothes his people, is excellent and glorious in the view of all beholders.."

Just how white are the spiritual robes (clothes) of Christ's Righteousness'

We get just a glimpse from the Mount of Transfiguration when for but a moment Peter James and John saw His Robes of Righteousness in all their glory.  The Apostle Mark records in chapter 9..

His clothes became shining, exceedingly white, like snow, such as no launderer on earth can whiten them.

When we stand with Jesus in Heaven, not only will we see the twenty four elders in their white robes (Revelation 4:4) but we will also see each other in those beautiful white robes.

After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, (Revelation 7:9)

Knowing that, even now, in this dark and ever darkening world we are so radiantly clothed in Christ's Righteousness should inspire us to live differently.

Jesus said..

"Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:16)

He told us His followers that like Him, we were to be in the world, but not of the world.

"I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. "I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. "They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.  John 17:14-16

In other words as Christians we are not to sucked along societies broad (and often attractive) way. The world's way is 'broad' because it has self made boundaries as to what is permissible and what is not, and those boundaries are ever changing and getting broader by the year.

We can sense the Apostle Paul's sadness as he wrote

"..for Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world, and has departed for Thessalonica.." 2 Timothy 4:10

Demas had started out so well, being mentioned in the same dispatches with Luke

"Luke the beloved physician and Demas greet you" Colossians 4:14

So many of us have started out well and then been drawn slowly but steadily back into the world's ways from whence we came.  God or mammon, we must choose, day by day.

As Christians we are called to walk on a completely different track from the whole of the rest of the world. Our boundaries are set by the Living God whom we serve and they do not change with cultural fashion or political correctness, because the God who set them does not change.  The Road is called the Road of Holiness.

A highway shall be there, and a road, And it shall be called the Highway of Holiness. The unclean shall not pass over it, But it shall be for others. Whoever walks the road, although a fool, Shall not go astray. No lion shall be there, Nor shall any ravenous beast go up on it; It shall not be found there. But the redeemed shall walk there, And the ransomed of the LORD shall return, And come to Zion with singing, With everlasting joy on their heads. They shall obtain joy and gladness, And sorrow and sighing shall flee away.  Isaiah 35:8-10

Anyone can enter the world's broad road which leads to eternal separation from God, since that gate is broad, but the road which leads to life is different.

At this gate one is called to lay down one's rebellion against God.  At this gate one is to accept that what God calls good is good, and to accept what God calls evil is evil.  That's a narrow gate and most of the world refuses to enter.

 "Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. "Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.  Matthew 7:13-14

Jesus of course is that Gate, and He is that Way and He is that Life here spoken of.

The apostle John summed up the separation that exists between us as God's people and the ways of the world when he said

"We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one". 1st John 5:19

It is TOUGH swimming upstream, rather than going with the flow.

Malcolm Muggeridge said..

Never forget that only dead fish swim with the stream.

Paul called the true church to behave in such a way that we would be lights in the moral and spiritual darkness of this fallen world.

"..that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world,  Philippians 2:15

That's a tall order, but interestingly I think that the world knows when a person is genuinely trying to walk the walk, even if from time to time they fall, or have a blind spot. God certainly knows.

Paul literally pleads with the church to separate itself from all spiritual and moral darkness. He doesn't ask that we do not mix with those around us, because like Jesus we are called to be a friend of sinners (Matthew 11:19)  But we are to do that without being 'yoked' to them or 'yoked' to their ways and belief systems. We are called to be His 'sons and daughters', not to remain infants and babes and children all our days!

"Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness' And what communion has light with darkness' And what accord has Christ with Belial' Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever' And what agreement has the temple of God with idols' For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: "I will dwell in them And walk among them. I will be their God, And they shall be My people." Therefore "Come out from among them And be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, And I will receive you." "I will be a Father to you, And you shall be My sons and daughters, Says the LORD Almighty".  2nd Corinthians 6:14-18

He pleads with the church not to conform to the world's ways..

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. (Romans 12:2)

There is no neutral ground. The Bible talks of two different kingdoms, with two different masters, with two different destinations. We used to be in the dominion of darkness, under its awful power, but now we have been transferred through the forgiveness of our sins into the Kingdom of His Son.

"He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love.."   Colossians 1:13

We ARE different in position, and so we should behave differently in experience.

This difference is not outworked for us automatically. That's why we have the epistles in the New Testament.  They show us how we should walk because we are saved.

"Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God2nd Corinthians 7:1

The apostle John, speaking of our separation, wrote this stern warning to us as Christ's disciples..

"Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world".   1st John 2:15-16  

This is a challenging instruction because the 'things of this world' are imparted to us throughout the whole flow of society all around us.  Through media we are soaked in evolution, immorality, blasphemy, deception. It's like living in permanent dirty flood waters.

There is hardly a film that is not guilty at some stage of using the Lord's Name in vain, either as a swear word or an exclamation of surprise or shock. Hardly a film that does not treat immorality as 'the norm'  To not be a sponge or blotting paper to the world's ways takes high levels of alertness, determination, making right choices and self discipline!

The discipline of a disciple.

The point must be made by now. We know we serve a different master. We know that He calls us to follow Him. We know that He asks that we display our love for Him by just obeying Him. (John 14:15 &21 & 23)

If we could only grasp the reality of our position - not just in a head knowledge learning of scripture that can be repeated parrot fashion - then we would live out our true position.

I have found that when Christians compromise their spiritual integrity they loose their sharp spiritual discernment. One need look no further than the big welcome Harry Potter and his witchcraft ways received from the church in general.  One need only listen to church leaders implying that God has little problem with sexual perversions.  Human mercy towards sin as well as the sinner is the cry of today, not divine mercy which loves man the sinner, but which detests and exposes sin in man with a view to saving him from it.

Imagine this for a moment...

Tomorrow you receive a gilded letter from the United Kingdom's Royal family stating that research had shown that you were a member of the Royal family. If after checking the source and their research and establishing that this was indeed true, I suspect that your life would change!  You would begin to behave like a member of the Royal family.

The real truth - which you and I do not have to imagine - is that we are members of THE Royal Family. Forever.

Yes, despite our weakness, our sinful background, we are DIFFERENT. 

And we are called to walk out, to display that glorious difference to a dying world. The Door of grace is still open. None will be turned away.

Deep spiritual and moral darkness is covering the whole earth and in that darkness we are called to shine as lights because we are DIFFERENT in Christ. His Light is within us so that His glory can be seen by all.

For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, And deep darkness the people; But the LORD will arise over you, And His glory will be seen upon you   Isaiah 60 : 2

In other words as things go from bad to worse all around us we are called to be good, no make that 'glowing' advertisements for our God and King.

And it starts at home.  Are we a good Kingdom advertisement to our spouse, our children, our neighbours'  Then at work. Are we a good Kingdom advertisement to our bosses and workmates. Then on the road. Are we a good Kingdom advertisement for other drivers'

Or are we just like everyone else around us'

Rest assured that I am talking to myself as well.

Paul wrote to the Church at Corinth saying..

"Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves.." (2 Corinthians 13:5)

He didn't say test others. 

I must regularly examine my own walk to ensure that I genuinely try to walk the talk.

The Apostle James said..

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. (James 1:22)

I am so aware that the master in one of Jesus' parables did not say "Well said, good and faithful servant" but "Well done, good and faithful servant"  (Matthew 25:21)

We'll let the Apostle Peter have the final word.

But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvellous light   1st Peter 2 : 9

 

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