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Which World, Christian?


Feb 26, 2012
Wisdom calls for differentiating between morality (the physical) and godliness (the spiritual); the former pertains to the horizontal relationship between mankind; and the latter, the vertical relationship between God and mankind! Of those regenerate there are two classes; those who are babes-in-Christ and those who are spiritual in Christ (1Co 3:1). Unregenerate man can live moral lives, as will all regenerate, but the difference is that the unregenerate cannot live a godly life, which derives from salvation. Godliness is often outwardly counterfeited and will last only temporarily (Num 32:23; 1Jo 2:19), but true godliness unceasingly endures (Mar 13:13)!

Which World, Christian?

Both the world and worldly Christians are offering attractive opportunities for the exercise of Christian graces, and seek to enlist in their benevolent projects those on whom they look as men and women of success. And there are temptations for such as are full of goodness, compassion and energy—movements designed to advance morality, to help and elevate the unfortunate, to reform those who have fallen into evil ways, to correct social and civic evils, are especially alluring. They seem to offer opportunity for the exercise of spiritual gifts and knowledge.

To many Christians, such challenges are very attractive. It is said, “Here is a chance to do good; and, on this ground, joining such movements is justified.” Is it not right to help men to be better? Is it not serving Christ to help movements as are designed for the betterment of society? Ought we not to do all in our power to aid even “Christian” plans and schemes that aim at the moral uplift of the unfortunate, the degraded and the fallen?

From the standpoint of the world, such efforts are undoubtedly justifiable; from the standpoint of Christianity it is quite a different matter. That they benefit the world will not be denied; that they promote the interests of the Lord Jesus Christ is much more than doubtful. The world, not the Lord Jesus, is their object. The world seeks its own things, not the things of Christ (Philippians 2:21). It is the love that is of the world, not the love that is of the Father (1Jo 2:15). It is the glory of the world that is sought, not the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ (Mat 4:8).

But Christian love is the love that is of the Father (along with a natural love, only Christians have a spiritual love, and is the love by which we are to live and share—NC). The activity of the love that is of Him should mark the believer, not the activity of the love that is of the world. Hence, the apostle John exhorts the young men not to love the world, nor the things of the world (1Jo 2:15-17). He puts the two things—the love of the world and the love of the Father—in direct contrast as diametric opposites.

No, the energy of the Christian is not to be spent in furthering the interests of the world. He is to be in the world for the Lord Jesus Christ—who is not of this world. For Him, and not for the world or self! If the believer loves not the world or the things of the world, he will find the Lord Jesus to be in every way his satisfying portion. How great, alas, is our loss in diverting our energies, time and means into channels in which the profit is merely present things—not eternal things! The Spirit of God would have us spend our strength in seeking the things of Christ. “Seek those things which are above . . . not on things on the earth (Col 3:1, 2). “The world is passing away and the lust thereof” (1Jo 2:17).

For the believer to be ensnared in the love of the world, whatever may be gained thereby, in the end it will be a sad experience. The stamp of death is on the present scene, and the world of fallen man is under the judgement of God. It must pass away. It will not abide. But the one who practices the will of the Father will abide forever. In so far as such a one turns aside from the things that minister to the Life that is Christ, to participate in what builds up the world, he is exerting himself in what is passing away, not what abides forever. There were once those who did not seek to right the world—“these that have turned the world upside down are also come here” (Acts 17:6-9).

—C Crain (1847-1925)

MJS devotional excerpt for June 6

“It is true that there is the hunger to be devoted, and to be like the Lord Jesus, long before one’s acts and manner corroborate the hunger, and make it a fact; but the more the hungers which grace has generated in your heart are given a place, the sooner will they become experiential facts; and the more the Lord Jesus has His throne within you, the more you will ‘rejoice in Him, and have no confidence in the flesh’” (Phil. 3:3).

“‘I know so little of the Lord Jesus,’ one may say, and this may be true; but every grace that is in Him is in every saint, though not developed. If I am a babe in Christ, where there is true lowliness of heart, I display God, as a babe manifesting Him; but if, as a babe, I am attempting to manifest Him as a man, there will be frustration and failure.

- William Kelly (1821-1906)