THE STRUGGLE TO KEEP OURSELVES SEPARATE FROM THE WORLD

The ancient city of Corinth was filled with debauchery. Enthrallment with human philosophy, devotion to idols, and immoral living were common marks of the Greek culture of that day.

God called on His church at Corinth to be different. Through the apostle Paul, the Spirit appealed to the Christians there not to walk hand in hand with those who walked in darkness. The clear charge to every single saint was, “Therefore, come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord” (2 Corinthians 6:17). The people from whom they were to remain separated were the slaves of evil works.

That sounds easy enough. They are darkness; we are light. They belong to Belial/Satan, but we belong to the Christ. They go to a temple of idols, while we are the temple of God. Of course, there will remain a constant distinction between us and them, and, of course, we will not share in their evil deeds. Alas, at times we may feel like it is so challenging to maintain our distinction. Yes, from time to time we might find ourselves struggling to have the courage to walk in the path of godliness rather than compromise with the servants of Satan. Why is that? Why do we at times find it difficult to maintain our separation?

One factor is the reality that sin is pleasurable. To his credit, Moses chose not “to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin” (Hebrews 11:25). While sin’s pleasures are only temporary, the fact that the devil makes sin appealing and pleasurable cannot be denied. If there were no pleasure/rush to it, sin would not be attractive. We must be careful not to let our guard down, never losing sight of the fact that sin is deadly, causing its participants to be separated from God.

Another factor which can make it difficult to remain separate from the world is the popularity of evil. The masses endorse it and revel in it. Many are ignorant of God’s standard of morality and proper living, while others understand the Lord’s truth but choose to disregard it. Living in such a wicked environment can weigh heavily on the thinking of God’s children. Sadly, some decide that if so many folks are doing it, surely they are not all crazy, so the way of sin may not be so harmful after all. Remember what God told His children in ancient times: “You shall not follow a crowd to do evil” (Exodus 23:2).

An additional factor is that some of God’s people seem to feel uncomfortable standing out as being different from others. It makes them feel uneasy inside. Look, the Lord calls on each disciple of Jesus to keep himself unspotted from the world (James 1:27). Maintaining our distinction from the

ways of darkness is part of being a faithful follower of Jesus. We need to be strong and maintain our separation, regardless of how outsiders view us. May the Lord help us never to feel uncomfortable making the right choices!

“But, don’t you think weakness of the flesh plays a role in a person’s struggles to walk in the light?” There is no doubt about that. Jesus told His weary apostles in the Garden of Gethsemane, “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41). Our weakness can make it tough to lay aside certain habits, but we must not give ourselves “a free pass” by telling ourselves that, since we all have weaknesses, God will not hold us accountable. Rather than try to downplay the sin that we allow to raise its ugly head in our lives, let us have a heart that is ready to repent in godly sorrow (2 Corinthians 7:10), asking the Lord to be our Help and Strength (Psalm 46:1).

One disheartening source of temptation for some of us does not come directly from the world, but rather it comes from worldly members of the church. It is disheartening to see such called-out folks think, talk, and walk just like the world does. And the truth is, sometimes such world-likeness can weigh on our minds and tempt us to lower our guard or even join them. Brethren, let us trust in the Lord and stay bravely committed to carry out His plea to “shine as lights in the world” among those whom He calls “crooked and perverse” (Philippians 2:15). When betrayers like Judas and forsakers like Demas make their decisions to go the way of the world, we must not allow their foolishness to cause us to waver.

In not a few places, the church is more worldly than it was a few decades ago. Why is that? For one thing, some brethren never hear strong sermons from the pulpit which exalt godly living and tell the truth about the works of the flesh (Galatians 5:19- 21).

In some instances, permissive parents play a part. They are afraid to put their foot down and take a stand with their kids, so the kids live lust-fulfilling lives with few, if any, restrictions. Being separated from darkness is the last thing they seek to do. Dads and moms, we need to admonish our children with God’s word and insist on practicing self-control.

The destructive influences of humanism, permissiveness, and the negative aspects of the entertainment industry have infiltrated the thinking of many soldiers of the Christ. When one’s thinking is worldly, the mouth and conduct of such a person will go that way, too. Let us maintain our distinctiveness. It is the Lord’s will that we do so!

— Roger D. Campbell

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