By Lewis Willis
One of the first lessons we learn from the Scriptures about the people of God is that they are to be different from the people who are in the world. The evidence is abundant that this is true. This distinctiveness is the demonstration that a change has been wrought in a person’s life.
The Bible teaches us that one who is a Christian enjoys “newness of life.” When a person is raised from baptism, note what Paul said: “Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (Rom. 6:4). Paul also wrote: “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; be-hold, all things are become new” (2 Cor. 5:17). Then, he said that from among the Jews and Gentiles, Christ made “one new man” (Eph. 2:15). Something about the life of a Christian is described by the Holy Spirit as “new.” It is that “newness” that makes the Christian different from those who are still in and of the world about us. Thus, it is imperative that Christians understand just what this difference is all about.
Peter taught, “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light: Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy” (1 Pet. 2:9-10). Should we not reasonably expect that “the people of God” would be different from the “people of the Devil”? Paul said that Christians should “be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; holding forth the word of life” (Phil. 2:15-16). And, in that respect, we are taught a “new” conduct and relation to evil: “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty” (2 Cor. 6:17-18). Learning this lesson is the most difficult thing for new and old Christians.
We should be especially distinctive in our moral con-duct. Note the following Scriptures, and their emphasis on how we approach life and the evil things of the world. I shall list these passages without comment, for in reality, no comment is needed for those who desire to please God who saved us from the sins of the world.
“Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity” (1 Tim. 4:12); “Lay hands suddenly on no man, neither be partaker of other men’s sins: keep thyself pure” (1 Tim. 5:22); “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Cor. 5:17); “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, accept-able unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Rom. 12:1-2); “If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you” (John. 15:19); “Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you” (1 John. 3:13).
Obviously, there are numerous passages which teach this truth, so let us continue to note them: “Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity” (2 Tim. 2:19); “Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you” (1 Pet. 4:4); “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world” (Jas. 1:27); “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world” (Tit. 2:11-12); and, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever” (1 John. 2:15-17).
Now, I may be badly mistaken, but I believe that any and every child of God can understand these verses. We can easily see that a certain conduct is expected of us. We surely know that we are not at liberty to act the way we acted before we became Christians. It was that former way of life that brought us under the condemnation of God, and it was from that life that we sought deliverance when we obeyed the gospel. It is totally inappropriate that we should look back to that way of life, and engage ourselves in it again. If we do, we will surely bring ourselves again under condemnation. Peter taught that Christians have “escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust” (2 Pet. 1:4), but he also said some will fall back into that way of life: “For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the be-ginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire” (2 Pet. 2:20-22). Jesus said that those who will not maintain their distinctiveness “are not fit for the kingdom of God” (Lk. 9:62).
Thus, the message for us is the same as it was for Timothy, “that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Tim. 3:15). We must “put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him” (Col. 3:10). Christ is the pattern the image which Christians try to duplicate in their lives (1 Pet. 2:21). He was certainly different than those of the world of his day. In like manner, so must we be different in our day. May God help us to be what we ought to be.
Guardian of Truth XL: 6 p. 6-7
March 21, 1996