There is a misconception among many people about what it means to be holy. Yes, Christ is holy and He wants us to live holy but holiness does not mean perfect. Yes, Christ wants us to be good and to do our best while we are below but holiness is about more than just morality. What is a moral person without Christ? While they are good, they do not have Christ so if Christians are good but yet, lack a relationship with Christ, what sets us apart?
When we are walking on the same page length with the rest of the world, we are not living the holy life that Christ has called us to do. Paul tells us in Galatians 2:20 ”I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” 1 John 2:15-17 may give us the best explanation of how to live among the world and still remain holy:
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.”
We need to examine this scripture closely because many people have a way of taking scripture out of context and misusing scripture is dangerous. When we are told to not love the world, scripture is not mentioning the universe itself but rather, the world system that is in rebellion against God. Scripture mentions the world not in the material universe sense as it is God’s creation; the wonderful and bountiful creation of our Lord and it is just one testimony of God to us. The world system is what we have to stray away from as it is one of greed that creates separation among us.
Think about race relations in our country. The Bible does not instruct us to live divided but it’s clear that many people make a lot of money and get a lot of attention keeping different parts of our country separated. While it should never be anyone’s aspirations to keep people apart, it’s clear that many people have strong desires to keep it this way. When scripture mentions the things in the world, it is not referencing the natural beauties that God has created as they do testify of God but rather, the material possessions. We are to love one another but not our lives and scripture tells us this different times.
While the Saints do wish to live in perfection among others, we must not forget that Satan is a perverter of all things that God has created and changes all good into evil and we see this in the very beginning when God’s good creation was tempted by Satan disguised as a snake or serpent. The reason we are to not love the worldly system is that it takes us away from God. Scripture tells us that we cannot serve two masters and this worldly system, for example, divides us against one another so if we continue to be against one another, we are going to remain divided when it comes to God.
Worldliness is an attitude of the flesh and of the heart and if we long and live for the flesh and the pleasures of it, we will continue to be separated from God. One of the Ten Commandments instructs us that we shall have no other Gods before Him because we cannot have two pre-eminent loves in our lives. When scripture tells us that we must not love all that is in the world, this is referring to the lusts of the flesh. While our will may be strong, our flesh is weak and when we seek to satisfy our fleshly desires, again, we are separated from Christ as these things will take over our lives.
When we do not keep our eyes on Christ and the things above, many of us have the desire to be known by man and to be praised and recognized in front of man. Satan is this way and he was jealous of God to the point that he created a rebellion in Heaven. He wanted to be higher than God but this was not possible. When we go after the things of this world, we lose sight of God and the things of God and like Satan, we want to be worshipped. While the fall did separate us from God, the weakness of the flesh and lustful desires keep us separated. If we are separated from God, how can we ever realize our true identity in Him?
John Lennon once commented that he was bigger than Jesus and shortly, he was assassinated. Whether or not the two were connected together is for the individual to decide but it is clear that we do not need to look for acceptance among those in the world but rather, put all of our hope and faith in Christ. When we do live for Christ, we do not seek the approval of this world nor will we compare our lives to others and while this is difficult for many people, including myself, we must remain with Christ.
Romans 14:5-9 tells us that “One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks. For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself. For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living.“ Here, we are told that our identity is hidden only in Christ and that we should not compare our lives or life’s circumstances with that of others as God has given us His mercy and grace not because we deserve it or earned it but because He loves us and He thinks we are worth it. Therefore, we are rather special and should not buy into Satan’s lies.