Not of the World
The world and the church were originally one, and were alike represented by the first Adam when he fell. But sovereign grace distinguishes the one from the other, and they are now separate. The world remains under the covenant of works; while the church comes and the covenant of grace. No two parties can be more distinct from each other, than the world and the Church are — the believer and the unbeliever. Our Lord always appeared to view them as distinct, and speaks of them as such. Even when praying to his Father for his disciples, twice he distinctly says, "They are not of the world — even as I am not of the world." John 17:14, 16. Let us notice,
They are not of the world — but chosen out of it. The Father speaks of Jesus, "I have laid help upon one who is mighty; I have exalted one chosen out of the people." Jesus was chosen out of the world — and so are all his people, as we read, "If you were of the world — the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world — therefore the world hates you." This was true, not only of his immediate disciples — but of all who at any time believe on his name. As they are chosen out of the world, so they possess another spirit than the world, "Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God." Which Spirit is the same Spirit as rested upon Christ, wrought in Christ, and spoke by Christ. Therefore, said Paul, "If any man has not the Spirit of Christ — he is none of his." And again, "God has sent the Spirit of his Son into your hearts."
Nor are they at home in the world, Jesus said, "Foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests — but the Son of man has nowhere to lay his head." The patriarchs "confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims upon earth" — and as they were, so we are; therefore Peter exhorts, "Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul."
"Strangers," we have not been here long; we are not acclimated to the world's customs. "Pilgrims," we shall not be here long, for we are traveling to our Father's house, looking for a city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God. We are not of the world — because chosen out of the world, possessing a spiritual disposition which will not allow us to settle down in the world, or mix with the world — therefore we have no home in the world, even as Christ had no home in the world.
Jesus was in the world for a time, and for an important purpose — and so are we. Nor should we be anxious to hurry out of it — but rather seek to do the will of God, and glorify him in it. Jesus sought to benefit the world — and so should we. He . . .
fed its hungry poor,
healed its sick,
proclaimed liberty to its captives,
went about doing good, and
preached the gospel of the kingdom to all —
leaving us an example, that we should follow in his steps.
Jesus lived above the world, walking in high and holy fellowship with his Father, and seeking always and in everything to please him — and so should we. He spent whole nights alone with God, and was ever with God by day, even in the busiest seasons of life — teaching us to walk humbly with our God.
Jesus was hated by the world, because his conduct reproved and condemned it, and in his ministry He testified unto it that the works thereof are evil. If our conduct was like the conduct of Jesus, and if our testimony was as explicit, as plain, and as condemnatory of the world, as was the life and testimony of Jesus — it would hate us too, far more bitterly than it does at present!
Jesus left the world to go unto his Father, such was his representation of death, his own dreadful, shameful, bitter death. Such is dying to every believer. It is going to our Father. Going home to be forever with the Lord.
Beloved, while in the world — let us seek by all means to benefit the world. Let us live above the world, nor wonder if we are hated by the world. And when our end draws near, let us just look at death, as leaving the world to go unto the Father.
Let us now try and IMPROVE THE FACT.
If we are not of the world — then we should not allow ourselves to be led by the world. The wisdom of this world, is foolishness with God. No believer should allow the world to rule him — for the spirit of the world is the very opposite of the Spirit of God. Nor should we, like the world, set our hearts upon wealth, ease, or carnal pleasure — but rather lay up treasures for ourselves in Heaven, where neither moth nor rust corrupts — setting our affections on things above, and not on things on the earth.
Neither should we allow ourselves to be burdened and cumbered with cares like the world — but should cast all our cares upon our God, who cares for us.
Nor should we set our hearts upon, or allow our affections to be entangled by the comforts of the world, seeing they are like summer flowers, which if they manage to live into autumn — the first frost will kill.
The troubles of the world should not burden us, nor the crosses
of the world disquiet us. If we are not of the world — then we should not be anxious to live, nor be afraid to die. Life is at best — but brief, and its pathway is strewed with thorns. Death is at worst — but short, and introduces us to the presence and joy of our Lord.
Let us therefore use the world, as not abusing it; and pass through it, as those who have a duty to perform in it, and who are looking for something infinitely better beyond it.
The difference between us and the world, originates in God's sovereign election of us — who chose us to salvation, predestined us to adoption, and set us apart for his praise. What a glorious privilege to be chosen in Christ — chosen out of the world — chosen to stand perfectly holy before God in love!
As we were chosen out of the world — so we were redeemed from among men. By the mercy of God, by the merit of Jesus, and by the power of the Holy Spirit — we were distinguished from those around us, and raised far above them.
As we were redeemed by the precious blood of Christ — so we were sovereignly and eftectually called out of darkness into God's marvelous light, by the almighty energy of the Holy Spirit. We were called to be saints — holy ones. Called to God's kingdom and glory.
And, as we were called by the efficient ministry of the Holy Spirit — so we are preserved in the world, led through the world, and made useful to the world, by his sacred and sanctifying influences and operations.
O marvelous grace thus to select, separate, and bless such poor, vile, and unworthy sinners as we are! O to grace, what wondrous debtors we are, and shall eternally be! Blessed Lord, as you have by your
sovereign decree — separated us from the world, and as by the effectual working of your power — you have called us out of the world, and distinguished us from the world — preserve us we beseech you, by your mighty power, from conforming to the world, mixing up with the world, or in any way laying a stumbling-block before the world. May our spirit, temper, and whole behavior say that we are not of the world, even as Jesus was not of the world.
Dead be my heart, to all below,
To mortal joys and mortal cares,
To sensual bliss that charms us so,
Be dark, mine eyes, and deaf my ears!
Lord! I renounce my carnal taste!
Of the fair fruit that sinners prize
Their paradise shall never waste
One thought of mine — but to despise.
All earthly joys are over-weighed
With mountains of vexatious care;
And where's the sweet that is not laid
A bait to some destructive snare?
Begone, forever, mortal things
You mighty mole-hill, earth, farewell!
Angels aspire on lofty wings,
And leave the globe for ants to dwell.
Come, Heaven, and fill my vast desires;
My soul pursues the sovereign good
She was all made of heavenly fires,
Nor can she live on meaner food!