By Philip Mauro
It remains to this day a truth, however unpopular and seldom proclaimed, that “the friendship of the world is enmity with God” (James 4:4) — and necessarily so, since everything, however seemingly innocent or even “improving,” which serves to crowd God out of our thoughts and hearts, is His enemy and ours. Not only is it true that Jesus Christ is “the same yesterday, today and forever” (Heb. 13:8), but it is also equally true that the world, which cast Him out, has not changed in the years that have since elapsed. This separating line, which is very sharply drawn in Scripture, has become in these days much confused, and in the minds of many professing Christians has been practically obliterated.
The Savior contemplated that they who have been washed by the water of regeneration should have only their feet in contact with the world (Jn. 13:10). Their hearts and minds were to be far above it. But in this day it seems to be generally supposed that Christians may submerge their whole persons in worldliness, and, indeed, be absolutely indistinguishable from the utterly worldly.
Again, utter confusion has resulted from the fact that the professing church (as a body) has completely lost sight of the real nature of the mission entrusted to her. The prevailing notion, even among the very few who give any serious thought to such subjects, is that the church was commissioned by her Lord to convert the world during His absence; and so we see the church and the world linking arms and going off together upon the friendliest terms, the divine idea of separation being wholly thrust aside.
But the mission of the Holy Spirit in this dispensation is just the reverse of this. God has visited the nations that He might “take out of them a people for His name” (Acts 15:14). Many Scriptures (Mt. 7:13-14; Luke 12:32; 13:24; Jn. 15:18-21) speak of the church as a “little flock,” suggesting her isolation, and precluding the idea of absorbing a converted world. Still others (Luke 17:26-30; 2 Tim. 3:1-5, 13; Jude 17-18) describe the condition of the world immediately preceding the Lord’s return as wholly given over to evil, pleasure seeking and indifferent to spiritual truth. Men shall be “lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God,” and evil men shall “wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.”
God’s purpose for us is that we should be in the world as strangers to all its affairs and pursuits, and as passengers through it (Heb. 11:13; 1 Pet. 2:11). It was never contemplated that His people should make themselves at home here. They were to be (and they who are truly His are) in the world as in a foreign country, for “their citizenship is in heaven, from whence also we wait for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Phil. 3:20).
That separation has, from the very first, been God’s order for His people, is beyond all question. He most effectually separated Noah and his family from the worldlings of their day, and again after the flood man started on a high plane only to run down hill, as has always been human history. God separated Abraham from his own people, and “righteous Lot” and his household from the inhabitants of the cities of the plain. He carefully separated Israel from the nations, fencing them off by peculiar laws and customs; and now, in this age, He bids His church to have no fellowship with unbelievers and not to be unequally yoked with them (2 Cor. 6:14-18). Clearly then, it is the duty of all who truly love the Lord Jesus to take a definite stand in this matter. No reason can be offered for not doing so, nor will any excuse avail.
We find that it is impossible to mix in our lives the things of God with the things of the world. The mere fact of becoming really interested in the objects for which Christ came to earth makes the things of the passing moment appear insignificant and unimportant. We find that the pursuit of pleasure and the gratification of the natural senses, however refined and tasteful, are incompatible with doing even the little that we may towards hastening the coming of Christ and His kingdom. Sin is a serious matter. The very Son of God suffered and died to put it away; and yet the whole world “lieth in wickedness” (1 Jn. 5:19). A thousand souls a moment are going down to perdition and yet the professing church is talking comfortably about converting the world, and “Christians” meantime are taking an active and prominent part in all its merrymaking and mad scrambles after wealth and temporal benefits.
Jesus died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto Him, Who died for them and rose again (2 Cor. 5:15). If we truly recognize that we owe our life to Him, will it not follow of necessity that we will desire to devote that life to His service?
Taken from Why We Separated From the World by Philip Mauro, and slightly revised. This article may be reproduced and distributed.