3Romans 12:1-2Romans 12:1-21 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.2 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.
4II Corinthians 6:14-16 II Corinthians 6:14-16 14 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?15 And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?16 And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
5II Corinthians 6:17-18 II Corinthians 6:17-18 17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,18 And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.
6II Corinthians 7:1 II Corinthians 7:1 1 Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
7I Peter 1:15-16I Peter 1:15-1615 But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation;16 Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.
8I John 2:15I John 2:1515 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.
9Focus Verse II Corinthians 6:17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.
10Focus ThoughtWe are in a culture war, and society will take us to hell unless we separate ourselves from its philosophy. To live for God, we must renounce the world, sin, and the devil.
11Introduction Introduction Certain chemical elements just do not mix. Although oil and water are in the same container, they will not coalesce or blend. They retain their individual identity even when brought into contact.
12IntroductionLikewise, God and sin will not mix or blend under any circumstances. The nature of God is holy, and sin is inherently evil. Therefore, it is necessary for a believer to separate himself from the world and its lusts. As Christians, we should be aware that our bodies are the temples of the Holy Spirit of God. If God is to remain residing in our souls, it is necessary for us to live godly even in the midst of a perverse society.
13IntroductionAlthough sin and ungodliness are as old as the history of mankind, the Scriptures admonish us to come out of the world and separate ourselves from its sinful lifestyle. The origin of sin was pride, rebellion, and disobedience, which caused mankind to fall in Eden in the beginning by disobeying the commandment of God.
14IntroductionHowever, God has restored fellowship between Him and mankind through redemption. Individuals should forsake the old life of sin in order to fully appreciate and maintain that holy fellowship.
15IntroductionWhen Moses led the people of Israel out of Egypt, God gave them His law and ordinances, which He required them to obey if they were to please Him. The dispensation of the law existed then for many centuries until the Cross, which opened the way to redemption through the grace of God.
16IntroductionWhile the nations around Israel worshiped many idols, the people of God were called to worship only the one true God as a separated, unique people. Their neighboring nations were given to lives of debauchery and licentious behavior, but they were to live separated lives unto the Lord. Through Israel, God was establishing a pattern for His people to be a holy, separated nation.
17I. The Corinthian Society (A) World’s Most Licentious CityIn its time, Corinth was associated with every kind of vile behavior imaginable. Near the infamous Temple of Aphrodite, one thousand religious prostitutes carried on their activities surrounded by bars, brothels, gambling, and amusements.
18I. The Corinthian Society (A) Prostitution—both male and female—was rampant in that wealthy merchant and navy town. Worldly minded people from all over the Mediterranean area came there to indulge their lusts because of its lack of standards and morality. Sporting events were also a major part of their lives. Every two years, the Isthmian games were held in honor of the pagan god Poseidon, god of the sea.
19“But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound” (Romans 5:20).
20I. The Corinthian Society (A) The light of the gospel often shines the brightest where the night is the darkest. The disillusionment and despair of sin leaves people hungry for deliverance from bondage. After establishing a church in Corinth, Paul wrote two epistles to the believers that included instructions and principles that are part of the inspired Word of God. It appears that the Corinthians had difficulty with carnality, separation from their old lifestyles, adultery, and gluttony.
21I. The Corinthian Society (A) The sound teachings of Paul to the Corinthian church provide us with exhortations and guidelines for godly living today. Moreover, the Corinthian society could be synonymous with modern times because the same sins are rampant in our world.
22I. The Corinthian Society (B) SinnersI. The Corinthian Society (B)Calling someone a sinner has almost become archaic in North American culture, but it still describes the scriptural plight of mankind. Corinth was a city filled with sinners who needed God, and Paul preached Jesus Christ crucified to them.
23I. The Corinthian Society (B) The parallels between Corinth and our world today are numerous. As Corinth was given to pleasure seeking, so is our world today. All over North America casinos are being built to hold the throngs of people seeking the chance and thrill of gambling.
24I. The Corinthian Society (B) Also, as Corinth was given to sports, so is North America and many other nations of the world. There exists in our world a mad, headlong plunge to indulge in sporting events from the time children are in preschool throughout the rest of their lives. To many people, the world of sports dominates their lives and is an addiction.
25I. The Corinthian Society (B) Sadly, our society excuses adultery and extramarital affairs as normal, and multi-tudes parade homosexuality in the streets and throughout the media. The wild pursuit of fleshly pleasures dominates music, clothing fashions, and worldly entertainment. Certainly, the casualties of a culture war are plunging the souls of unredeemed mankind headlong into a certain eternity of damnation.
26I. The Corinthian Society (B) Paul was disturbed that the Corinthian believers could not discern between carnality and spirituality. It seemed that they had been so conditioned by their surroundings that sin no longer shocked them. They were condoning outright sin and living as if it were perfectly acceptable and right. However, sin is still wrong! It is nasty, vile, and dirty. Individuals must repent of their sins or they will perish. (See Luke 13:3, 5.)
27I. The Corinthian Society (B) True believers in Jesus Christ should renounce sin in this world! They must name it, hate it, preach against it, cease from it, and separate from it, or they will be lost. Certainly, we live in this world, but we are not to be of the world.
28The Unequal Yoke II. The Unequal Yoke (A) Two Incompatible Lifestyles Paul used the analogy of a yoke to describe a person trying to live for God while united with unbelievers. In this situation, two people are pulling in different directions and creating mass confusion and pain. We cannot be yoked together in relationships with unbelievers without creating serious problems.
29II. The Unequal Yoke (A)Often a spouse turns to God and experiences salvation while the other remains living in sin, which can cause misery for the one who is living for the Lord. Whether the unbelieving spouse comes to salvation or not, the marriage bond remains a holy obligation. Often the believing spouse will win the unbelieving spouse to Christ.
30II. The Unequal Yoke (A)If a believer chooses to go outside the faith and marry an unbeliever, however, he or she is violating the teachings of Scripture. Untold numbers of heart-wrenching stories exist where a man or a woman married someone outside the church with the intent of winning the individual to God later, but instead the believer lived a life of heartache and regret.
31II. The Unequal Yoke (A)When we are living for God, our bodies become temples of the Holy Ghost (I Corinthians 6:19). We live a life that contrasts with that of the sinner because Jesus is our Lord and Master. A sinner serves sin, the devil, and the flesh, but the desires of a believer are different because he is a new creation in Christ Jesus through the new-birth experience. Therefore, the two contrasting lifestyles will never mix any more than light and darkness; one dispels the other.
32II. The Unequal Yoke (A)Paul’s analogy of the unequal yoke also applies to other areas of our lives. Many believers have found themselves in serious trouble when they formed business partnerships with unbelievers. We all desire friendships, and we win others to the Lord by befriending them. Even Jesus was a friend to the publicans and sinners.
33II. The Unequal Yoke (A)However, we should be cautious and certain that we affect our friends to lead them to the Lord instead of the friendships affecting us to lead us astray. These kinds of friendships exist for the purpose of providing spiritual assistance and leading the lost to salvation, not for the purpose of mutual fellowship.
34II. The Unequal Yoke (A)True fellowship can exist only between those who share a mutual, spiritual bond and experience. Hence, we should carefully choose our closest friends, constantly questioning whether we are affecting our world or whether it is affecting us.
35II. The Unequal Yoke (A)When Lot moved near Sodom, he kept his distance at first and was vexed with the perverted living. After a time, however, he was enticed more and more by Sodom, moved into Sodom, and eventually was elevated to a place of authority in the city. He not only moved into Sodom to live, but Sodom’s philosophy got into his family.
36II. The Unequal Yoke (A)His daughters were affected by the prevailing attitudes until they were able to excuse incest with their father after leaving the city. His wife left her heart there, and upon leaving she turned back for a fateful look that took her life and made her a memorial to the consequences of sin.
37II. The Unequal Yoke (A)When the Israelites left Egypt, they had lived there so long that they pined for it when they were in the wilderness. They had left Egypt, but Egypt was still in their hearts. They also took with them from Egypt a mixed multitude that created problems for them later. They did not make a clean break with Egypt, and thereby they later longed to return.
38II. The Unequal Yoke (A)The Scriptures admonish us to come out from the world and be separate. We should make a clean break with the sinful past. We should not unequally yoke ourselves by trying to hold onto both worlds.
39II. The Unequal Yoke (A)One wise military leader led his army away from their ships inland to conquer, but he reminded them that they would not be turning back even in the face of difficulties. When they turned to look back at the harbor, they saw their ships burning. There would be no turning back. They had to go forward.
40II. The Unequal Yoke (B) Motive for Pursuing Holiness “Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him” (John 14:23).
41II. The Unequal Yoke (B)The strongest motive for pursuing holiness should be our love for the Lord. What an awesome privilege to think that God called us out of sin! When we think of the masses who refuse to heed the gospel and how we had the opportunity to accept or reject it, we are humbly appreciative. Somewhere in our lives we met truth, and our obedience to it is a blessing that we will cherish throughout eternity.
42II. The Unequal Yoke (B)We are not motivated to separate from sin and the world to conform to some legalistic set of rules. Rather, we love Jesus Christ so much that we want to please Him in every aspect of our lives. It grieves Him for us to live in sin and carnality. Even though life is more than adhering to rigid guidelines and rules, we do not desire to abuse His grace and mercy by living recklessly without boundaries. Love compels us to bear a cross and live separated from worldly practices and pleasure.
43II. The Unequal Yoke (B)What is worldliness? What is worldly? The physical world that God created—the majestic mountains, the wildflowers, and the countryside—is beautiful, and it declares the glory of God. However, when the Scriptures speak of worldliness, it means something entirely different. Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary defines worldly as “devoted to this world and its pursuits rather than to religion or spiritual affairs.”
44II. The Unequal Yoke (B)It is commendable to have goals and to desire certain possessions and achievements as long as we maintain balance and perspective. We should remember that this world is not our final destination, and our motives must be in accordance with the will of God.
45II. The Unequal Yoke (B)The purpose of our lives is not merely to accumulate possessions but to further the kingdom of God in the earth. We are to be witnesses of what God has done for us and wants to do for others. We are living, breathing witnesses; evangelism of our world should be our heartbeat.
46Matthew 6:24“No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon” (Matthew 6:24).
47II. The Unequal Yoke (B)Mammon is material wealth and possessions. To be worldly is to be earthy, such as Esau, who did not care about his birthright. Therefore, he sold it for something that would temporarily satisfy his earthly craving. The rich fool wanted to tear down his barns and build bigger ones because possessions ruled his life. The rich young ruler went away from Jesus sorrowful because of his possessions, which evidently controlled him.
48Luke 12:15“And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth” (Luke 12:15).
49Matthew 6:19“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal” (Matthew 6:19).
50III. The Principle of Separation (A) The Principle of Separation from the WorldIII. The Principle of Separation (A)Love Not the WorldIt is impossible to love God and the world at the same time. This is not speaking of the physical world that God has created, but it refers to the spirit of worldliness.
51III. The Principle of Separation (A) The works of the flesh and the fruit of the Spirit contrast with each other. The worldly mind focuses on the things of the flesh and its desires, but the believer bears the fruit of Christ that dwells within. Selfishness is the spirit of the world. When we read the list of the various works of the flesh, we see selfishness as the motivating force behind them all.
52III. The Principle of Separation (A) John described the three areas in which we were not to love the world: “the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life” (I John 2:16). A war is going on within us trying to bring us back into the captivity of sin by yielding to the lusts of the flesh.
53III. The Principle of Separation (A) We should resist these fleshly passions: “fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry” (Colossians 3:5). We should constantly allow the Holy Ghost to renew us to fight the good fight of faith and overcome these fleshly tendencies.
54III. The Principle of Separation (A) The lust of the eyes is certainly rampant in our affluent society. Companies spend huge sums of money to advertise in every possible medium to capitalize on the nature of mankind to lust after what he sees with his eyes. It is nearly impossible to go anywhere in public without being bombarded with advertising designed to capture the eyes.
55III. The Principle of Separation (A) People sit in boardrooms of tall buildings devising schemes to exploit the tendencies of various age groups to lust for what they can visualize. Certainly, covetousness is common in our culture war.
56III. The Principle of Separation (A) The pride of life was the third category about which John wrote, and it also is prevalent in our world. Pride caused Lucifer to start his mutiny in heaven. The Book of Proverbs listed it as one of the things that God hates (Proverbs 6:17). It is an inner sense of superiority and arrogance that manifests itself in one who is in love with the world and spirit of the age. Pride leads a person on a broad road downward to destruction. (See Proverbs 16:18.)
57III. The Principle of Separation (A) The pride of life may cause someone to seek power and excessive recognition, or to achieve positions and influence. Furthermore, vanity and pride have caused many people never to bow at an altar in humble submission to God and seek forgiveness.
58III. The Principle of Separation (B) Be Not ConformedIII. The Principle of Separation (B)Coming out of the world does not mean that we isolate ourselves from society and live in communes as hermits. The prayer of Jesus in the Gospel of John did not ask that God should take them out of the world, but that they would be kept from the evil and sin surrounding them. (See John 17:15.) As believers, we are the light of the world and the salt of the earth (Matthew 5:13-14).
59III. The Principle of Separation (B) Our light shines brightest in dark places. By not contaminating ourselves and partaking of society’s evil, our lights will shine and dispel the darkness. Like salt preserves meat when it comes into contact with it, our testimony and purity leave a strong, positive impression on sinful people when we live among them.
60III. The Principle of Separation (B) When Israel desired a king, they wanted to conform to their surroundings and become like the other nations. They forgot that they were to remain a separated people that God had chosen. (See I Peter 2:9.) Likewise, we sometimes forget who we are and desire to blend in with our world unnoticed. However, it is impossible for light to go unnoticed in dark surroundings.
61III. The Principle of Separation (B) Our conversation is different from others’ since we do not fill our sentences with cursing and filthiness. Our outward appearance contrasts with the lewd dress styles of today. We do not frequent worldly entertainment nightspots and gambling casinos. Corrupt lyrics of worldly music do not bombard our ears, and we do not talk about the latest Hollywood movie craze. We do not conform to the world around us because we are a separated people.
62III. The Principle of Separation (B) Our desire is to be like Jesus instead of the world, to be transformed from a life ruled by our flesh, and to present ourselves as a living sacrifice that is acceptable to God. Self no longer occupies the throne of our lives, for we have vacated that place and allowed Christ to be the Lord and Master of our hearts. Consequently, we prove what is the good, acceptable, and perfect will of God in our walk with Him.
63III. The Principle of Separation (C) Cleanse OurselvesIII. The Principle of Separation (C)Living for God is a process of growth and maturity. Conversion is a miracle of the moment, but becoming like Jesus Christ is a lifetime experience. When we come to God, the born-again experience places us in the body of Christ as newborn babies.
64III. The Principle of Separation (C) At first, we desire the sincere milk of the Word to begin our growing experience, but we grow and begin to eat the stronger meat of the Word. We initially make drastic changes in our behavior as we realize that our actions displease God. That is the result of repentance—turning about-face and going in the opposite direction. However, the cleansing and growing process is part of maturing in Christ over a period of time.
65III. The Principle of Separation (C) Some may ask why it is necessary to live a separated life. One analogy found in the Scriptures compares God’s people to a chaste woman. The Book of Hosea illustrates this principle in the lives of Hosea and Gomer. Gomer was an unfaithful wife who brought shame to her husband while at the same time Hosea continued to love her and plead with her to be faithful.
66III. The Principle of Separation (C) God chose Israel to be His people, but they had a rocky history of occasional unfaithfulness. God was trying to get Israel to be a chaste people and forsake idolatry.
67III. The Principle of Separation (C) Consequently, the Lord turned to the Gentiles to call out a bride who would spend eternity with Him in heaven. The Bible compares the church with a bride who has made herself ready for her bridegroom and has kept herself pure and ready for her heavenly Bridegroom. Jesus is coming to receive a bride without spot, wrinkle, or blemish.
68III. The Principle of Separation (C) Believers are in the process of cleansing themselves of all filthiness of the flesh and spirit by separating themselves from sin and worldliness. No man wants to marry a soiled woman who has allowed her virginity to be exploited. Neither does any husband want his wife to be unfaithful to him. Therefore, as the espoused bride of Christ, we keep ourselves true to our heavenly Bridegroom, who is soon to return to take us to be with Him forever.
69III. The Principle of Separation (C) Since everyone must work out his own salvation with fear and trembling, the responsibility of personal cleansing lies primarily on each individual. (See Philippians 2:12.) Even though we are our brother’s keeper and are a part of the body of Christ, we will answer to God for our own lives.
70III. The Principle of Separation (C) Several things assist us in our cleansing from the world. Regular attendance at church services, where we worship with other believers and hear the preaching of the Word, is essential. Private devotions are also part of the process that enables believers to remain unspotted from the world.
71III. The Principle of Separation (C) Knowledge of the Scriptures is essential to know what the Lord requires of us and what displeases Him. Finally, walking in the Spirit and meditating on righteous things instead of earthly things help to keep our focus straight.
72IV. Perfecting Holiness “Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God” (Hebrews 6:1).
73IV. Perfecting Holiness Perfecting holiness is an ongoing process and not a definitive, earthly destination. Holiness involves both the inward person and his outward appearance. However, it is possible to look holy in appearance and have a bad spirit, which brings a reproach on the Lord instead of a good testimony. Still, that in no way excuses us from being godly in behavior, dress, and appearance.
74IV. Perfecting Holiness In our flesh dwells no good thing, and carnal living directly opposes holiness. (See Romans 7:18.) Holiness begins with a life that is dedicated to the Lord in which a person lives and walks according to the Holy Spirit that dwells within him, and it also radiates to the outward and affects how he dresses and conducts himself.
75IV. Perfecting Holiness As Christians, we should strive to be inwardly pure so we do not grieve the Holy Spirit. The Scriptures command us to be honest in our lifestyles, which speak volumes about the condition of our hearts. The music we listen to and the places we frequent reveal to the world that we mind heavenly things. God is indeed holy and heaven is a holy place. If we intend to live eternally in heaven with the Lord, we should live holy in this life now.
76ReflectionsMankind’s history reveals his struggle to live godly in his surroundings. When mankind fell in Eden, sin entered the human race and the culture war between good and evil began. After the Flood, the descendants of Noah fell into the same patterns that preceded the great deluge. Rebellion and idolatry was rampant.
77ReflectionsGod saw a man named Abram and called him out of Babylon to be the father of a chosen people. He was not to remain living in that cesspool of iniquity but to be the beginning of what would become the people of Israel.
78ReflectionsGod established a covenant with the Israelites that they would be His people, and they were to keep themselves pure and holy. They were to worship Jehovah only and not to intermarry with the nations around them. He then gave them the law on Sinai and specific ordinances of how to live as a holy, separated people and as a light to the rest of the world.
79ReflectionsAt Calvary, Jesus Christ fulfilled the law, and the dispensation of grace began on the Day of Pentecost. Where the law did not provide the inner power to live holy, the new-birth experience transforms us and we become new creations in Christ. While we live in this world, we are not of the world. We may still have to contend with our carnal natures, but God has given us His Spirit to provide overcoming power to live holy in an unholy world.
80ReflectionsWe cannot live worldly and maintain a walk with God, for God and the world are at enmity with each other and we cannot serve both. As the light of the world and the salt of the earth, we remain in this world to be witnesses and light to those around us. At the same time, we are in the process of perfecting holiness and growing into spiritual maturity by abstaining from worldly living.