Part 4 – What are we to do?
CHAPTER 5 – Living The Christian Life continued…
Our Conduct Or Behavior As Believers
The Christian life is
A WALK, A RACE, A WARFARE, FRUITFUL,
A LIFE OF PEACE, A REST, A LIFE OF PRAYER.
The Walk is One of Obedience (continued)
BELIEVERS ARE TO SEPARATE FROM THE WORLD AS TO THEIR WALK
Once again, consider Jesus’ prayer in John 17:16, which states,
They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.
The believer’s position in Christ and the character which is to be developed in the believer because of that position will determine the manner in which the believer will relate to the world; it will be in agreement with Christ’s manner of relating to the world.
In Romans 12:2, the believer in Christ is admonished…be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind…
The fashion of the world is not to be the pattern for the believer’s conduct from outside, but there is to be that work by the Holy Spirit which produces a change from within the believer which transforms the believer’s mind to be able to understand things in light of his heavenly position. (See Col. 3:1-3.) As such a transformation takes place from within, the child of God will prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God, Romans 12:2.
The world system operates under spiritual power, but that spirit is in opposition to the Spirit of God, as stated:
Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God, I Cor. 2:12.
God’s solution (to the opposition the world has to the believer) is centered in the cross and all that was accomplished there concerning the world.
In Galatians 6:14, it says,
But God forbid that I should glory, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by Whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.
In Christ’s death on the cross, the child of God is identified with the crucifixion in God’s sight to the same extent as Christ experienced the crucifixion because of His death on the cross. In other words, in God’s eyes the believer was crucified with Christ. Judicially, Christ fulfilled all that the world could do to Him, and the world system cannot demand anything of Christ to do the will of the world. So the believer in Christ has been afforded protection from having to fulfill what the world demands when it is in opposition to God’s will. The world has no claims on a “dead” man. As the believer reckons that he is identified with the crucifixion of Christ, he is now free from having to do the world’s bidding and is free to walk in newness of life through the power of the resurrection. (See #50, UNITED WITH CHRIST, under 50 MARVELOUS FACTS OF SALVATION.)
As mentioned previously, the world system operates under a spiritual power. That power is described more fully in Ephesians:
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places (literally, the heavenlies).
The world operates under rulers of darkness who are antagonistic to the believer and all to which the believer is committed as he is allowing Christ to be his life. The protection for the believer against the world’s onslaughts is to be found in the spiritual armor, that will be considered at the conclusion of this study of spiritual warfare.
The believer will come to realize that the world system makes its greatest appeal to the individual in the realm of his or her desires. Therefore, the Apostle Paul admonishes us in Titus 2:12,13, that the grace of God is –
Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present age,
Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour, Jesus Christ.
Oftentimes a believer may think that he is incapable of resisting the strong appeal which the world system makes on his own desires. But in his admonition to Titus, Paul states that the way the believer is to resist is by denying ungodliness and worldly lusts. This doesn’t mean the believer is to regard ungodliness and worldly lusts as being non-existent, but rather, the believer is to not allow ungodliness and worldly lusts to be a part of his life-style. Therefore, it is simply a matter of choice for the Christian to not yield to the world’s appeal.
If no other choice replaces such a decision to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, it is most likely that the Christian would ultimately succumb to such appeals of the world. Note that in the verse that follows in Titus 2:13, the believer is encouraged by the promise, Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour, Jesus Christ. So the actual choice is not to simply deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, but to direct one’s attention to Christ’s glorious return and the quality of life which is presently consistent with His return. By fixing our intentions on Jesus and His appearing, the appeal of things in the present world will be seen for what they really are – vain and self-destructive – in contrast to the purifying hope of Christ’s return that affects this life and all of eternity.
Keeping oneself unspotted from the world is a phrase used in James 1:27 as one of the elements of pure religion.
The believer is given the command in I John 2:15-17,
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 of it; but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever.
That which was in the original temptation in the garden and which was the very essence of the temptation of Jesus has now become the basis of how the world system operates, that is, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. So the believer cannot have love for the world and the lust it promotes and also love God. These are mutually exclusive. Only as the believer chooses against love for the world can he do the will of God and continue to be godly.
The word for love used in I John 2:15 in the Greek is , a very strong word for love which is usually limited to God’s love – love as the fruit of the Spirit, or the love the believer is to have to God and to his brother. It is a striking contrast to see the same strong word used as the Lord, through John, commands the believer to love not the world. The significance of using the same word in this way indicates that the believer needs to guard against the world’s attempts to subvert the believer’s love for God and to fix it on the world. If the believer were to think that he can love the world with this strong love and were to attempt to yield, he would experience disappointment, frustration, and discouragement. When the believer directs God’s love back to God and to others whom God loves, he will experience the reality of all that God’s love provides (I John 4:17,19).
In I John 4:17, the believer is reminded,
Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment, because as He is, so are we in this world.
The believer’s identity with Christ is to be evident in that he conducts himself in the world in keeping with the way Christ conducted Himself in the world. The believer can have an influence on the world, but he does not need to allow the world to have control over him. The believer operates from a heavenly perspective and does not need to surrender that high and holy privilege to get along in the world. As the believer is steadfast to the Lord in his walk in the world, the result will be that he will have boldness in the day of judgment (I Jn. 4:17).
The real key to understanding the way the believer is to be separate from the world in his walk is given in I John 5:4,5:
For whatever is born of God overcometh the world; and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.
Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?
The phrase, whatever is born of God, in verse 4 of I John 5, refers back to verse one, which says, Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God. The spirit of the believer is that which is born of God and affords the believer to be victorious over the world. At the time of the new birth, the Spirit of God takes up His abode within the believer and His presence provides the believer with all that he needs to overcome the world.
In the phrase, this is the victory that overcometh the world, the verb is in the present tense which carries the idea of continuing action, meaning: “This is the victory that is continually overcoming the world.”
The word, faith, in verse 4, is included in the thought of verse 5, which states, he that believeth (or, continually is believing) that Jesus is the Son of God… is he that overcometh the world.
To summarize the total significance of victory over the world for the child of God, John is saying that the one who is born of God because he has placed his faith in Christ is overcoming the world as he is continually believing in Christ. The continuance in faith is essential for the believer to walk in the Spirit, which is also the reason he can overcome.
Next Week: Part Five continued: The World Is Under God’s Judgment Now
Copyright © 1996 A. Ward Brandenstein
Used with permission.
A. Ward Brandenstein
Pastor Ward earned an M.A. in Guidance and Counselling from Eastern Michigan University after taking special courses in psychology at Wayne State University, and earned a Bachelor of Theology (Th.B.) from Baptist Bible College and Seminary with Greek and Hebrew studies, and earned a diploma from Philadelphia Bible Institute (now Cairn U.), including New Testament Greek studies. His knowledge of the Bible and close walk with God are appreciated by all who know him and have sat under his teaching. Pastor Brandenstein and his wife Rose Ann reside in California, teaching college level singles and married couples, young professionals, and retired pastors and missionaries.