“Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. Abstain from all appearance of evil. And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Thessalonians 5:21-23 (KJV)
It’s not easy to live in this world as a Christian. By world, I don’t mean the landmass represented by the globe of the earth but to its people, perspectives, and practices. When we say that God loves the world, we mean all people. While God loves the people, He does not love the principles and practices that belong to the “prince of this world” (John 12:31) who is Satan. That’s why believers are told not to love the world (1 John 2:15-17). How then are believers to live in the world yet not be of the world? Do they segregate themselves from the world and from nonbelievers? The answer can be found in God’s Word.
By renewing of the mind. Roman 12:2 exhorts believers to be “transformed by the renewing of the mind.” We renew our minds by reading God’s Word and listening to His Holy Spirit within. The outcome of a renewed mind is knowledge of “the good, acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” Renewing of the mind also requires careful monitoring of what we see and hear. The “eye gate” is a key portal to the soul (Matt. 6:22-23). What we allow to flow through our physical senses becomes part of our essence (our memory) the moment we encounter it. Therefore, believers may want to exercise greater caution in their media selections (2 Cor. 10: 3-5).
By exercising spiritual discernment. Peter warned the early church to “be sober and vigilant because the devil wants to devour you” (1 Peter 5:8). Satan destroys people by offering sinful choices that lead to spiritual and sometimes, physical death (James 1:14-15). Our world has become “desensitized” to sin. Those who challenge immoral behavior and practices are often ridiculed and viewed as small-minded and intolerant. The pursuit of personal satisfaction and instant gratification has blurred the line between right and wrong. “Be careful! Watch out for attacks from the Devil, your great enemy” (1 Peter 5:8, NLT).
By witnessing to God’s truth. Hebrews 10:23 reminds us to “hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering.” We “hold fast” by boldly witnessing to God’s truth—His love, His power, and His purpose for those who believe. Because we live in a world (people, perspectives and practices) that is controlled by the Father of Lies, Satan (John 8:44), it is incumbent upon believers to counter Satan’s distortions, and deceptions with God’s truth. The source of God’s truth is His Word (John 17:17) and the Holy Spirit (John 16:13). It is only through God’s truth that the world can experience true freedom (John 8:31-32).
While it may not be easy to live in this world as a Christian, it is possible. Christ has shown us the way. Let us trustingly follow His lead.
SELAH: Are you in the world or in God’s kingdom? During your quiet time, ask the Holy Spirit to reveal those areas of your life that do not reflect the purpose and priority of God’s Kingdom.
If you need help beginning this exercise, take a look at your calendar, your checkbook, and your immediate goals. These areas are an indicator of where you may be today.