(Exodus 22:31, Leviticus 11:44, 45, 19:2, 20:7, 20:26, Numbers 15:40, Deuteronomy 23:14, 26:19, Ephesians 1:4, 5:27, I Peter 1:15,16, II Peter 3:11)
Facebook friends we never met such as Pastor Mike Sproul and John Darrell Askey have linked to several excellent, thought-provoking articles over the past several months. While there were many excellent comments, some were deeply disturbing. One issue I have seen repeatedly is, “So what is worldliness? We are not to love the world but what does that mean?” While I am not the Holy Spirit and I do not know the intentions of these people, the very question troubles both my wife and I.
The command, Be Ye Holy or some other form meaning the same thing, is found in at least 14 verses. We are to draw near to God, not see how far we can get from God and still squeak into heaven.
So what is that supposed to mean? Is it any wonder the pastorate is such a high-stress job? Jesus is concerned about our heart attitudes, what we really believe. This all too common response breaks God’s heart.
The last words penned in the Gospels are And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that would be written. (John 21:25, NASB) With so many deeds omitted, why is the command Be ye holy repeated over and over?
Jesus told twelve men to leave all and follow Him. This same command was given to the nameless man we call “rich young ruler,” because he did not give up his wealth and follow. Abraham, Isaac, Solomon, Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea were allowed to keep their wealth. The man of the Gadarenes who had a legion of unclean spirits cast out of him wanted to go with Jesus, but Jesus told him, Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee. And he departed, and began to publish in Decapolis haw great things Jesus had done for him: and all men did marvel.
We do not know why Jesus tells one disciple to leave all and follow Him while telling someone else to go home to his friends. Not only are we not omniscient, most of us do not examine our own circumstances very well. The important point we need to understand is that being holy and not loving the world is a heart attitude. Two people, each with the correct heart attitude, might be commanded to take what seem to be opposite courses of action.
There are certain principles that apply to all believers. Loving the Lord with all your heart means spending time with Him. The more you love someone, the more you set aside other things to be with that person. This might mean more personal Bible Study, more time in prayer, taking a mission trip or going to Bible School. The one thing it always means is rearranging the priorities in your life.
We are to go into all the world and preach the gospel, teaching them. “Only one life, twill soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last.” We can only do one thing at a time. Every purchase we make, every obligation we agree to either draws us closer to God or drives us a little further from Him. An acquaintance, a fellow believer, in another congregation, owned a Porsche. I asked our Pastor, actually in jest, if owning Porsche was a sin. He gave a wise reply. “It would be for me.”
“Well, so far you have not said if you think electric guitars in a church are sin!” I believe if you are thinking this way, the answer is “yes.” Paul put it this way: For if because of food your brother is hurt, you are no longer walking according to love. Do not destroy with your food him for whom Christ died. Therefore do not let what is for you a good thing be spoken of as evil; for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. For he who in this way serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. So then we pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another. Do not tear down the work of God for the sake of food. All things indeed are clean, but they are evil for the man who eats and gives offense. (Romans 14:15-21, NASB)
The word “offense” in the Bible does not mean to hurt someone’s feelings. It means to cause someone to sin. The believer who walks up and says, “That offends me!” is sometimes, perhaps most of the time, proud. They need to grow in the LORD and not allow little personal “affronts” to bother them. The weak believers most likely to be offended are also the ones most likely to keep quiet.
If you really knew what a weak brother thought about you, would you watch that movie? Would you watch any movie? Would you watch television?
If you want to be a better ball player, musician, computer programmer or whatever else, you both spend time developing that skill and improving that skill. How much time do you spend reading God’s Word? Studying God’s Word? Praying? Talking to others about the Lord? Teaching God’s Word? Fellowshipping with other believers? (not talking about the weather), staying out of debt? If you are doing these things already, are you examining your walk with the Lord and looking at ways to improve it?
Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13, NASB)