I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world (John 17:14-16).
God’s people have always been a separated people. We are to shine as lights in the darkness around us. We have the influence of salt in a bland, sin-filled world.
John tells us not to love the world. Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world — the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life — is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever (1 John 2:15-17).
The world is defined by Kenneth Wuest as all the floating mass of thoughts, opinions, maxims, speculations, hopes, impulses, aims, and aspirations that are at any time current in the world.
Smith Wigglesworth defines the world as that which cools my affection towards God.
Here in 1 John, the world is defined as the sinful longings of the flesh and eyes, and as the pride of life.
Simply put, what the Bible calls the world is the mindset and behavior of the society around us. And this mindset and behavior has a tendency to pull us away from God.
The world looms large as an enticing danger to every believer. For that reason we must guard ourselves. If we love the world (1 John 2:15), we could become friends with the world, which is actually classed with being an enemy of God (James 4:4). We then could become spotted or tainted by the world (James 1:27). The end result of all of this is being conformed to the world (Romans 12:2). And if a person continues in that, he or she could be condemned with the world (1 Corinthians 11:32).
A believer that becomes friendly, spotted, in love with, and conformed to the world, is open to receive the chastening of the Lord. For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world (1 Corinthians 11:31-32).
God does not want us to lose our spiritual life to the influence of the world. So, He gives us an opportunity to repent, and if we choose not to judge ourselves from this behavior of becoming like the world, He then has no recourse but to chastens us. God draws us over and over again through His love, by His Word, and by the impress of the Holy Spirit. But, when we choose over and over not to listen to His drawing love, but to allow the world to dictate how we live, then God has no choice but to put an obstacle in our way to get our attention. Again, He does this because He loves us!
Listen clearly to the book of Hebrews: For the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes each one he accepts as his child. As you endure this divine discipline, remember that God is treating you as his own children. Who ever heard of a child who is never disciplined by its father? If God doesn’t discipline you as he does all of his children, it means that you are illegitimate and are not really his children at all. Since we respected our earthly fathers who disciplined us, shouldn’t we submit even more to the discipline of the Father of our spirits, and live forever? For our earthly fathers disciplined us for a few years, doing the best they knew how. But God’s discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in his holiness. No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way (Hebrews 12:6-11-NLT).
God chastens us first of all through His Word and the jealous conviction of the Holy Spirit. When we choose close fellowship with the world over closeness with Him, and when we refuse His tender love and dealings and stubbornly go our own way, God then goes to a deeper level to get our attention. He allows the circumstances of life to move in.
At this level of chastening, His hand of protection is removed, and the enemy is allowed to move in where he then seeks to steal, kill, and destroy. Again, God, out of His love for us allows this type of chastening so that we can be freed from what would possibly destroy our spiritual life with Him. But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world (1 Corinthians 11:32-NKJV).
An example can be seen in Corinth when a young man in the church decided he had the freedom in Christ to have an immoral relationship with his stepmother. Notice what Paul said: I can hardly believe the report about the sexual immorality going on among you—something that even pagans don’t do. I am told that a man in your church is living in sin with his stepmother. You are so proud of yourselves, but you should be mourning in sorrow and shame. And you should remove this man from your fellowship. Even though I am not with you in person, I am with you in the Spirit. And as though I were there, I have already passed judgment on this man in the name of the Lord Jesus. You must call a meeting of the church. I will be present with you in spirit, and so will the power of our Lord Jesus. Then you must throw this man out and hand him over to Satan so that his sinful nature will be destroyed
(NKJV reads here: for the destruction of the flesh) and he himself will be saved on the day the Lord returns (1 Corinthians 5:1-5 -NLT).
This young man stubbornly refused God’s loving Word and the urges from the Holy Spirit to cease His sin. After Paul released the young man to be chastened by the enemy, the young man repented of his sinful activity, and was once again welcomed back into fellowship with God and with his church family (see 2 Corinthians 2).
If you have allowed the world and its ways to snare some area of your life, I encourage you to yield to God’s loving Word and the Holy Spirit’s deep conviction. Self judgement is always the best route to take. Again, in the words of Paul: For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged (1 Corinthians 11:31-NKJV).
Let’s keep ourselves today, so that the enemy has no inroads into our life through the world. Let’s judge ourselves by confessing our sins and failures to the Lord and let’s yield to the love God has for us as He gently draws us away from the influences of the world that Satan wants to use to ruin and mar our spiritual life. Jesus has prayed for us to be kept from the world. Let’s refuse to compromise. Let’s be the salty, light filled believers He has destined us to be!