The world's politics, pleasures, and pursuits!
(James Smith, "The Wondrous Love of Christ, as Displayed in His Intercessory Prayer!" 1861)
The world and the Church are essentially and eternally distinct — and they ought to be distinguishable. The Church ought not to mix with the world — but to bear a practical testimony against it, that its works and ways are evil. All through our Lord's prayer, He keeps up the distinction, and twice over He asserts of His disciples, "They are not of the world — even as I am not of the world!"
Believers are not of the world. They are born from above, and possess a nature far superior to that of the world — which unfits them for its pleasures and pursuits, and qualifies them for the enjoyments and employments of the Heavenly world.
They are delivered from the thraldom of the world — and are raised above its pursuits and its joys.
They will not be conquered by the world — but overcome it by faith.
They will not be judged with it — but with Christ will sit in judgment upon it.
They will not be punished like it — neither in the present nor in the future state.
True believers are not of the world!
Look at the world's state — condemned; and theirs, justified!
Look at its condition — wretched; and theirs, happy!
Look at its character — enemies to God; and theirs, the friends of God!
Look at its course — sin; and theirs, holiness!
Look at its god — Satan, the most degraded, depraved, and despicable being in existence; and theirs, Jehovah, the high and lofty one, the holy and happy one, the great and glorious one!
Look at its end — destruction; and theirs, salvation.
The world is darkness — they are light.
The world is corrupt — they are purified.
The world is in chains — they are free.
We are not of the world, even as Christ is not of the world!
If we are poor — let us not, then, envy the world.
A saint in rags — is preferable to a sinner in robes!
A believer in a hovel — is happier than a worldling in a palace!
A Christian at the worst — is far better off than a worldling at the best!
Whatever we have — we have with God's blessing!
Whatever the world has — it has with God's curse!
We are training for greatness and grandeur!
The world is preparing for shame and everlasting contempt!
The world is no model for a Christian! We should . . .
not dress so expensively,
nor furnish our homes so extravagantly,
nor live so luxuriously — as the world does!
But as strangers and pilgrims in the world — we should abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul.
Let us not be dejected — if we are stripped of what we now have. We are not of the world — we do not have our portion here. We need but little of this world's goods, and our Heavenly Father will see to it that we have enough. He will not allow us to lose anything that is essential to our holiness or happiness. As our lives are insured by our Heavenly Father — so all our needs are anticipated, and provided for. Lose what we may — we shall never lose . . .
our title deed to our glorious inheritance, or
our place at the marriage supper of the Lamb!
Let us not be much troubled about the world. As we are . . .
chosen out of it,
redeemed from it, and
shall soon leave it —
we should not allow ourselves to be very much affected by any of its affairs. The world's politics, pleasures, and pursuits — should be looked upon by us with the eye of a foreigner — for we are strangers and pilgrims on the earth, as all our fathers were. We arrived in the world but yesterday — and we leave tomorrow!
Let us not, therefore, mix up with the world, or be much taken up with its schemes and cares, its speculations or its prospects.
Let us always keep up our distinction from the world. Not in a spirit of pride or self-righteousness, as if conscious of some supposed superiority in ourselves. But in a meek, lowly, and loving spirit — let us avoid all that is really evil, and abstain from what has the appearance of evil.
Heavenly Father, as You have chosen us out of the world — give us grace to live above the world, and enable us to glorify You in the world! Make us like your beloved Son, who was holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners. Oh, to live in this world as strangers and pilgrims — as those whose treasure is above — and whose hearts are there also!