for the Lord
a Wicked World
(With special reference to family living)
does God want for your life?
is the world the enemy of your spiritual life?
can you live in this sinful world,
can you overcome with God’s power?
Devoted Christians may long for circumstances that are “ideal” for
their walk with the Lord. They
may wish they were in an ideal marriage with ideal children. Surely
then living the Christian life would be enhanced! They
may wish for a perfect job where fellow-workers are all
God-fearing, sweet, and kind. Surely then it would be easier
to maintain a constant sense of God’s presence! They
may wish for plenty of time, adequate money, a comfortable
house, and agreeable friends—and with all of this, surely
their Christian life would be positive and fulfilling!
The trouble is that few of us have the ideal situation.
Most of us must live in less-than-ideal circumstances and
a few of us must live in horrible life circumstances. Particularly
when a person comes to Christ after living in a totally
worldly environment and among worldly people, he may be
forced to live in difficult conditions even after his conversion. How
is it possible to live a deeply spiritual life when one
must be in a worldly marriage, family, and environment? How
can one survive spiritually when he has a compromising
job or must live with an abusive and unspiritual spouse?
We can all see that this is a perplexing situation,
thus we may reluctantly conclude that living the Christian
life is not really possible if one must be surrounded by
unspiritual and compromising circumstances. But
God doesn’t require the impossible. We
must admit that the Lord does make demands on us as His
children and servants: He requires us to set our mind on
heavenly things (Colossians 3:1-2), to seek first His kingdom
and righteousness (Matthew 6:33), as well as to live out
our life as a devoted husband or wife, father or mother
(Colossians 3:18-20; Ephesians 5:22-33). He
also says that we need to hold down a job (1 Thessalonians
4:11-12, pay our bills (2 Thessalonians 3:7-13; Romans
13:8), have contact with the ungodly people around us (1
Corinthians 5:10; Mark 16:15), and live in the world (John
does one solve this dilemma?
Let’s first discuss what God really wants for your life. Then
we’ll look at the sad reality of what the world is like
that is far different from what God wants. Finally,
we’ll be prepared to offer a few suggestions how to function
in a fallen and sinful world, without compromise.
God’s Desire for His People
primary focus in life is to be God and the Lord Jesus
Whoever we are and whatever our situation, God wants
us to put Him first, before family and friends. As Paul
put it, Jesus is to have “first place in everything” (Colossians
1:18)! He is
to be our very life (Colossians 3:4; cf. Phil. 1:21), for “if
we live, we live for the Lord” (Romans 14:8). Jesus
will accept no rival for our affections and attention!
Christ Jesus declared, “He who loves father or mother
more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son
or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me” (Matthew
10:37; cf. Luke 14:26). This
would mean that we must always consciously place the Lord
before husband or wife, father or mother, son or daughter. We
must give priority to God, before friends and extended
family (cf. Luke 14:26). Wherever
we live and whatever our station in life, let
us determine to put God first!
must be guided by the infallible Word of God.
Regardless of our situation in life, we must always
find our guidance, directions, and orders in the inspired,
authoritative, and life-giving Word of the living God. Jesus
said, “He who rejects Me and does not receive My sayings,
has one who judges him; the word I spoke is what will judge
him in the last day” (John 12:48). If we will be judged
by the Lord’s Word, we can see why this should be our priority
and why we should take its teaching with seriousness.
God’s Word is the transcript of God’s will since He
inspired its writing, and we must abide by all that God
reveals to us in His Word (2 Timothy 3:16-17; Hebrews 4:12-13;
Acts 17:11; Matthew 4:4). We
should spend time reading the Scriptures, studying its
pages, memorizing its verses, meditation on its meaning,
and sharing its content.
must explicitly obey the will of God even when this
is difficult and painful.
Sometimes it isn’t convenient to take God’s word seriously. Numerous
situations present themselves that make obedience hard
or nearly impossible. However,
God “Himself knows our frame; He is mindful that we are
but dust” (Psalm 103:14). He
knows the complex situations that we face and doesn’t require
the absolutely impossible. Scripture says that “His commandments
are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3).
God allows these complex and difficult situations to
arise to test our commitment to Him under adverse conditions. You
may remember that God had Israel travel in the desert for
forty years. What
was His purpose in this? “.
. . the LORD your God has led you in the wilderness these
forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to
know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His
commandments or not” (Deuteronomy 8:2). God
allows these adverse circumstances to reveal our heart,
to determine whether we will obey or disobey His will even
when the obedience may be difficult.
However, we have this confidence: God will now allow
us to face a situation where we are required to sin, but
he will give us a way of escape (cf. 1 Corinthians 10:13). Just
look for a way around a temptation to sin and refuse to
acquiesce to the sin.
wants us to arrange our life and friendships the best
we can to promote holiness and minimize worldliness.
Although we can’t change some negative elements of our
life, we can and must change what we can. For
instance, Paul writes, “Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company
corrupts good morals’” (1 Corinthians 15:33). He
also says that Timothy should live out his life “with those
who call on the Lord from a pure heart” (2 Timothy 2:22). He
goes on to tell Timothy that he should “avoid” certain
men who profess godliness but are living in sin (3:1-5).
In other words, we should shun bad and compromising
companions, while we should seek holy and godly friends. If
one has been into drugs, or has been involved in sexually
immoral relationships, or has fallen into drunkenness,
he should now run from those who take drugs, those who
are involved in lustful activities, and those who habitually
get drunk. These
kinds of friends will pull you down and make holy living
difficult or impossible. Proverbs
states, “Do not associate with a man given to anger; or
go with a hot-tempered man, or you will learn his ways
and find a snare for yourself” (22:24-25). This
shows the power of bad influence. Be
willing to leave everyone who is a temptation to you and
your righteous living (cf. Mark 28-30). It
is better to be alone with the Lord than have a lot of
friends if our spiritual life suffers.
wants us to be an active member in the Body of Christ.
We know that it is difficult sometimes to even find
people of God who have been genuinely saved and are living
in faith, obedience, and holiness. Few
are on the narrow path that leads to life, while many are
on the broad way that leads to destruction (Matthew 7:13-14). Many
have searched for years to find fellow-believers who are
authentic and serious in their commitment, and are yet
But, ideally speaking, God does want us to be in close,
intimate, living fellowship with true believers who are
on that narrow way and are determined to reach the destination
of eternal life! In
this world of compromise and religious apostasy, we know
it may be difficult for you to find even a small fellowship
of genuine Christians with whom to worship, study, and
share life, but this should be a goal, if at all possible. The
Christian is a member of Christ’s body and has a part to
play in the working of that body (cf. Romans 12:3-8; Ephesians
4:11-16; 1 Corinthians 12:12-27). If
one does have the sweet intimacy and loving support of
other brothers and sisters, along with the leadership of
godly overseers, he will be able to grow and face the trials
of life much better.
Lord wants us to be separate from the world and its
Again and again in Scripture, we are warned to “not
be conformed to this world” (Romans 12:2), to be “unstained
by the world” (James 1:27), and to not be “a friend of
the world” (4:4). John
warns us, “Do not love the world nor the things in the
world. If anyone
loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1
Regardless of our circumstances, let us determine to
keep from the world’s thinking and living according to
the evil ways of the sinful world that is at war with God
and His truth. Paul
writes, “The wisdom of this world is foolishness before
God” (1 Corinthians 3:19). He
also says that we must guard our hearts from the philosophy
of the world: “See to it that no one takes you captive
through philosophy and empty deception, according to the
tradition of men, according to the elementary principles
of the world, rather than according to Christ” (Colossians
2:8). We must
be different! The
Lord says that we are to be “transformed” by the renewing
of our mind in the ways of God (Romans 12:1-2; Ephesians
to make the changes you can to put God and His kingdom
While it may be true that you can’t do everything you
would like to alter your circumstances according to the
will of God, you should do what you can, to the extent
you can, to avoid the wrong and do the right. Pray
that God will open up doors of opportunity so you can leave
a compromising job, or discontinue humanistic education,
or leave worldly friends and family. Go
to great lengths to make your situation harmonize with
the will of God. When
you became a Christian, you “escaped the corruption that
is in the world by lust” and you “escaped the defilements
of the world by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus
Christ” (2 Peter 1:4; 2:20). This
should motivate you to make your practical life reflect
your new life in Christ.
- If you are in an immoral relationship with a boyfriend or girlfriend,
break off this fornication entirely! “Flee
immorality” (1 Corinthians 6:18).
- If you have a job that requires you to sin in some way, you
need to immediately resign from this position so
that you will not offend the Lord. “Become
sober-minded as you ought, and stop sinning” (1 Corinthians
- If you are involved in compromising education, be willing to
forsake this pursuit and perhaps find another acceptable
educational choice. “The
wisdom of this world is foolishness before God” (1
- If you are a mature son or daughter in a sin-filled home (with
evil music, media, cursing, slander, etc.), this
may be time to leave and launch out on your own,
perhaps with the help of fellow-disciples. Jesus
said, “There is no one who has left house or brothers
or sisters or mother or father or children or farms,
for My sake and for the gospel’s sake, but that he
will receive . . . along with persecutions; and in
the age to come, eternal life” (Mark 10:29-30).
- If a brother or sister is married to an unbeliever, one must
stay in this relationship, but if the unbeliever
insists on forsaking the marriage, Paul says: “If
the unbelieving one leaves, let him leave; the brother
or sister is not under bondage in such cases, but
God has called us to peace” (1 Corinthians 7:15).
- If a parent or spouse wants you to eat a diet of unhealthy
and physically harmful food, you may need to kindly
refuse in your commitment to God. “Whether,
then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all
to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).
- If your cousin wants you to turn the radio to worldly music,
or turn the television on to worldly programming,
or access immoral internet sites, you must refuse
to be pressured to do wrong. We
should never “yield to” or “listen to” people who
would cause us to compromise the holy ways of God
(cf. Deuteronomy 13:6-11).
- If your fellow-workers want you to do some dishonest, immoral,
or unlawful activity, be willing to say No, with
definite meaning! “Do
not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness,
but instead even expose them” (Ephesians 5:11).
A World that is Far from God
Every Christian must live and function in an imperfect
world and this often brings temptations and trials into
his life. Paul
says, “You would have to go out of the world” to avoid
those living in sin (1 Corinthians 5:10). Enemies
of our soul are all around us and sometimes we can’t avoid
this exposure. Jesus
explained that His followers would need to live in the
world, although they were not to be part of the world (cf.
John 17:11, 14, 18). He said in His prayer to the Father, “I
do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep
them from the evil one. They
are not of the world, even as I am not of the world” (John
as Jesus was not part of the world although He lived in
it, so His followers are not really part of this fallen
world system, although they must carry on their everyday
life in the world.
How does Scripture describe this world in which we live? What
kind of circumstances must we endure while we are on earth
and away from our true Home in heaven?
world is guilty of sin and unrighteousness.
The world is under God’s righteous judgment and holy
wrath because of sin. In
fact, those in the world live in sin and are unforgiven
of those sins (Ephesians 2:1-3; 4:17-19). They
actually live in the realm of sin (Ephesians 2:1; Colossians
3:7). As long
as we live on earth, we will be in the midst of people
who are living in the realm of sin. Some
of this sin is unconscious, while much of it is known and
world does not have a fear of God.
Paul describes the guilt of all people by saying that “there
is no fear of God before their eyes” (Romans 3:18). Since
it is “by the fear of the LORD one keeps away from evil” (Proverbs
16:6), we see the end result of not having a wholesome
honor, respect, and fear of the Lord: Sin will have no
Most people are quite content to live a life without
God or, if they do know of God’s existence, they surely
do not want God to change their life, nor do they want
to order their life according to His will. The
Christian, in contrast, will be one who does fear God and
this will have a dramatic effect on his life (Matthew 10:28;
2 Corinthians 7:1; Ephesians 5:21; 1 Peter 2:17; Ecclesiastes
world has little interest in taking the Word of God
Although many homes do have a Bible somewhere on the
shelf, most people are merely interested in referring to
the Scriptures on special occasions. They
do not read and certainly do not deeply study the Word
of God—for their own blessing and the benefit of others. Children
generally are not taught the Bible in their youth, therefore
they are not interested in discovering the will of God
in the Scriptures themselves as they grow to maturity. Jesus
said, “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every
word that proceeds out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). But
most are content to live their lives according to what
society dictates rather than what God commands.
4. The world is selfish in orientation rather than focused
on God and others.
The Word of God describes our condition in these terms: “All
of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned
to his own way” (Isaiah 53:6). Instead
of being utterly interested in what God says so they can
obey His will, people generally go their “own way” and
follow their own will. This
is a chief characteristic of our age! People
generally are willing to make their own decisions, chose
what pleases them, use their own reasoning to weigh alternatives,
and use their own heart as the final judge of right and
In contrast, the true follower of Jesus has repented
of this self-focus and now seeks to be focused exclusively
on Jesus: “He [Jesus] died for all, so that they who live
might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died
and rose again on their behalf” (2 Corinthians 5:15). Paul
says, “Not one of us lives for himself,” for “if we live,
we live for the Lord” (Romans 14:7-8). We
live for Jesus rather than living for ourselves. This
has a profound effect on all of the choices we make in
life and our entire lifestyle.
world is unholy but the believer is a saint (holy one)
who seeks to grow in holiness.
The apostle Paul describes in graphic terms the unholy
lives that people live in the world. As
we read this description, we can easily see that this is
the kind of society in which we live in our own age: “.
. . being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness,
greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice;
they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent,
arrogant, boastful, inventers of evil, disobedient to parents,
without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful” (Romans
another passage, Paul says that people will be “lovers
of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers
disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable,
malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters
of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure
rather than lovers of God” (2 Timothy 3:1-4).
Paul plainly says that people like this are “unholy” (2
Timothy 3:2). Instead
of being separated from sin or set apart from the world,
people of the world are living in sin and they are part
of the world. Other
lists of sins are also given in Scripture to describe society
that is away from God (cf. 1 Corinthians 6:9-10; Galatians
5:19-21; 2 Timothy 3:1-5; etc.).
The Christian, in contrast, is called a “saint” which
comes from a Greek word that means “separated” or “set
believer has been set apart from the world and its sinful
ways and has been separated to God and His will (1 Thessalonians
1:9-10; Colossians 1:13; Acts 26:18). The
Christian earnestly seeks to grow in holiness (the state
of being separated from sin to God, truth, and righteousness),
and without this, “no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14). Holiness
is absolutely essential to enter God’s coming Kingdom!
world is interested in the material, physical, and
temporal rather than the spiritual and eternal.
Jesus describes a man whose attitude is very common
in our age. This
foolish man said to himself, “Take your ease, eat, drink
and be merry” (Luke 12:19). Paul
also said that many say, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow
we die” (1 Corinthians 15:32). This
is a very limited focus, one that people around us usually
have. They are interested in the here and now and give
little thought to what may happen after death. They
are “now” focused rather than “eternity” focused. Television,
internet, newspapers, and magazines will testify to the
focus on food, clothes, drink, and entertainment that occupies
the minds and fills the hearts of the public.
In contrast, Paul says, “We look not at the things which
are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the
things which are seen are temporal, but the things which
are not seen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18). When
we live around people of the world, including many religious
people, let’s remember that many of them are thinking about
this life rather than the life to come. This
will greatly affect their life perspective and choices.
world is associated with the present earthly kingdom
but the Christian is consumed with the Kingdom of God.
People of the world and people of God are in two entirely
different realms. They
operate according to two different perspectives, they have
different rulers, they have different likes and dislikes,
and they have different destinies. The
earthly kingdom is a “domain of darkness” (Colossians 1:13)
and Satan is called “the ruler of this world” (John 12:31;
cf. 14:30; 16:11). In
contrast, God’s heavenly kingdom is the domain of light
(Ephesians 5:8-14; Acts 26:18). When
a citizen of light is living in the midst of citizens of
darkness and dwelling on earth—the realm of death—we can
see that difficulties arise. The
Kingdom of Christ or God (Ephesians 5:5) belongs to Jesus
Christ (Colossians 1:13) and is governed by God through
His kingdom principles and instructions (cf. Matthew 5-7). Jesus
plainly said, “My kingdom is not of their world . . . My
kingdom is not of this realm” (John 18:36).
world is composed of people who do not know God and
they often seek to exert influence on the Christian
to lead him astray.
The truly saved man or woman, boy or girl, is living
in a hostile environment. The
believer is living in a foreign land. When
a person travels this earth and stays for a time in another
country, he is never really a part of that country. His
citizenship is elsewhere and he doesn’t put down roots
to make the country of visitation his home. Likewise,
the Christian is an alien and stranger on earth since he
really belongs to heaven (1 Peter 2:11; Philippians 3:20-21). During
our stay on earth (1 Peter 1:17), we are merely “strangers
and exiles on earth,” like Abraham (Hebrews 11:13-16).
Unbelievers do not really understand the Christian and
his perspective. John
says it this way: ‘The world does not know us, because
it did not know Him” (1 John 3:3). People
really didn’t know the identity, the nature, and the origin
of Jesus Christ when He walked on earth. Neither
do people know us! In
the same passage, John says, “See how great a love the
Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children
of God; and such we are” (1 John 3:1a). If
people knew that true Christians were sons and daughters
of the Living God and knew of their glorious destiny, they
would be shocked and astounded. But
because they can’t really appreciate this fact, they may
treat us like everyone else. Scripture says that they are “surprised” that
we do not live the way they live; consequently they may “malign” us
to others (1 Peter 4:3-5). When
they can’t persuade us to follow in their worldly focus
and lifestyle, they speak evil of us (Matthew 5:11-12).
Because an unsaved person does not know God, his mind
and heart are far from Him and his entire perspective is
different from the God-focused and Scripture-based life
of the Christian (Ephesians 2:1-3; 4:17-19). Generally,
the Scriptures teach that the Christian must not be “bound
together with unbelievers” (2 Corinthians 6:14)—for “what
partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what
fellowship has light with darkness? Or
what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer
in common with an unbeliever?” (2 Corinthians 6:14-15). Because
of this, God commands, “Come out from their midst and be
separate” (v. 17). While
we must necessarily have contact with people of the world
to carry on our living and to influence others for the
Lord and His righteous ways (cf. Matthew 5:14-16; 28:18-20),
we must not have intimate and close relationships with
people of the world (1 Corinthians 15:33; Proverbs 13:20).
But, on the other hand, the Christian is also commanded
to be obedient to one’s parents, to be submissive to one’s
husband, to treat one’s wife with sacrificial love, to
care for needy parents, and to teach and train one’s children
(cf. Ephesians 5:22-33; 6:1-4; Colossians 3:18-21; 1 Timothy
5:3-16; Titus 2:4-5). The
believer often must live in close contact with evil family
members while at the same time seeking to carry out the
commands to be separate from close contact with unbelievers.
How to Function in this Sinful World
By now, we can see the problem that exists for us: How
can we live a fruitful and abundant life, carrying out
the will of the Lord, and also keep from being “stained
by the world” by keeping a distance from the world (James
1:27)? We know
that this requires much wisdom and a delicate balance. On
the one hand, we must live in the world; on the other hand,
we are not to be in intimate fellowship with the world. How
can we accomplish this when we must hold down a job, when
we must continue to live in a family setting, when we must
seek some kind of education, and when we must carry on
our business in the world?
We might be tempted to think that becoming a hermit
is the only possible way! We
may assume that the only way to remain uncontaminated is
to live in the deserts, as did John the baptizer (Luke
1:80). At least
there we would have high walls of protection from the “world” and
be able to spend our days in work and contemplation and
But this “separatist” attitude would be an attempt to
leave the world, whereas Jesus prayed to His Father, “I
do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep
them from the evil one” (John 17:15). While
it is true that Satan seeks to destroy us (1 Peter 5:8)
and he uses the world to accomplish his wicked ends (1
John 2:15-17), we are called to be in the world, and lovingly
and compassionately take the good news of Christ to those
in the world. Our
Lord went on to pray, “As You sent Me into the world, I
also have sent them into the world” (John 17:18). How
then can we make the best of this “in the world” arrangement
to which we are called? How
can we be “in” the world without being “of” the world?
as close to Jesus Christ as you can be wherever you
may live and wherever you may travel.
Our relationship with the Lord Jesus should be so intimate
and intense that we recognize His presence wherever we
may be. This
realization is a powerful incentive to so live that He
will not be ashamed of us (1 John 2:28) but will praise
us (1 Corinthians 4:5). If
we live with the knowledge that Jesus and God abide with
us at all times, we will be able to transform situations
with the calm and peaceful confidence of His presence (cf.
Matthew 28:20; 1 John 4:12-13). When
Paul was imprisoned and awaiting probable death, he wrote, “All
deserted me . . . but the Lord stood with me and strengthened
me” (2 Timothy 4:16-17). Although
others departed, Paul took comfort in knowing that the
Lord was with him. This
confidence can also help us to live in the world without
being part of the world.
fortified in your spirit as you have a continual intake
of God’s saving truth in His Word.
The only way for us to face the world and the evil one
is to be immersed in the Word of God! The
Word produces faith (2 Timothy 3:15), saves (James 1:21),
cleanses the heart (John 15:3), and sets us apart from
sin (John 17:17). God’s
Word helps us to grow (1 Peter 2:2), keeps us from sin
(Psalm 119:11), reveals truth (Psalm 119:160), gives us
encouragement (Romans 15:4), and builds us up in the faith
(Acts 20:32). Read
it, study it, memorize it, meditate on it, and keep it! With
this strength, you will be better able to withstand the
propensity to conform to the world. When
we are spiritually fortified with God’s truth in our spirit,
we will be able to evaluate all events, people, situations,
and movements according to God’s own view and standard.
pray to God the Father for your strength and wisdom.
We need God’s presence and power to live in this fallen
and corrupt world. Therefore,
we need to keep in constant communication with God our
Father, in the name of Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Spirit
(Matthew 6:9; John 14:13-14; Jude 20). Paul
often emphasized the privilege and need for prayer as well
as praying for his readers that they may grow in the Lord
and please Him in all respects (cf. Colossians 1:9-12;
Ephesians 1:16-19; 6:18-19).
As you move through life in the world, keep close to
the Lord through prayer, supplication, as well as thanksgiving. When
you don’t know what to do, pray for understanding. When
you need strength to meet a temptation, pray to the Lord
for His help. When you don’t know what to pray for in the
situation or even how to pray, bring your heart before
the Lord, knowing that He will see you through (Romans
filled with the Spirit of God and produce the fruit
of the Spirit.
Paul commands us to “be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians
5:18), just as the early believers were (cf. Acts 4:31). We
particularly need to be “strengthened with power through
His Spirit in the inner man” (Ephesians 3:16). The
Spirit of God will enable us to encounter the world with
divine power or strength and thereby be able to stand firm
against the evil forces of Satan (cf. Ephesians 6:10-18). The
Spirit will enable us to overcome sin (Romans 8:13), overcome
the flesh (Galatians 5:16), and overcome the world (cf.
1 John 5:4). The
Spirit produces His fruit in our lives that will make our
character far different from the evil nature of unbelievers
(contrast Galatians 5:19-21 with vv. 22-24).
innocent in your spirit and do not partake of the evil
Although we may live in the world, God wants us to have
an innocent spirit about us that is uncontaminated by the
perverse and perverted world around us (cf. Acts 2:40;
Matthew 17:17). Paul
tells us that we should be “wise in what is good and innocent
in what is evil” (Romans 16:19). He
also writes, “Do not be children in your thinking; yet
in evil be infants, but in your thinking be mature” (1
Corinthians 14:20). We
should be like babies in evil, innocent of the depth of
wickedness in the world.
We need not know and should not know the depth of evil
in this world. Jesus
commends certain ones in the assembly at Thyatira for they “did
not know the deep things of Satan” (Revelation 2:24). We
need not know the evil around us to live a productive and
fruitful life. The
world says that we should expose ourselves to sin of all
kinds so that we have a personal knowledge of what the
world is like; God says to avoid knowing the evil to keep
the mind pure. Paul
writes, “Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of
darkness, but instead even expose them; for it is disgraceful
even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret” (Ephesians
we dirty our minds with the world’s sordidness, our own
heart will be contaminated. Jesus
said, “Blessed are the pure in
heart, for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8).
separate from the wicked ways of the world.
Speaking in a practical way, the Christian who aspires
to holiness must distance himself from all sin in whatever
form it manifests itself. You
may have seen the picture of the three chimpanzees--one
covering its ears, the next covering its eyes, and the
third covering its mouth. The
caption reads: “Hear no evil, see no evil, and speak no
is good counsel to the saint of God. In
the Mosaic Law, God made certain requirements “to make
a distinction between
the holy and the profane, and between the unclean and the
clean” (Leviticus 10:10; 11:47). Although
the Levitical ordinances are no longer bound on us, the
principle would say that God indeed wants us to make distinctions between
the evil ways of the world and the righteous ways of God.
We must be careful to avoid the deeds of the flesh for
they will prevent one from entering the Kingdom of God
and will bring God’s holy wrath (cf. 1 Corinthians 6:9-10;
Galatians 5:19-21; Ephesians 5:3-7). In
contrast, the believer will add the fruits of righteousness
to his life that he might be like God and the Lord Jesus
(Galatians 5:22-25; Ephesians 4:2-3; Philippians 2:1-5;
Colossians 3:12-17; 1 Peter 3:9-12; James 3:17). People
should be able to see a radical difference between society
at large and the believer.
to be as Christlike and holy as possible, particularly
in a family setting.
This counsel may be very difficult to implement but
it needs to be done with care and thoroughness. Probably
this is one of the most problematic situations the Christian
will encounter. Some
years ago, we wrote a book on this very subject, Following
Christ in Family Conflict. (This
presently is unavailable.)
Consider the many scenarios that might arise. A
son or daughter, perhaps about sixteen years of age, turns
to Christ but is part of a worldly family. Or
a husband or wife comes to the Lord but is married to a
worldly spouse. Maybe
a father or mother has a worldly son or daughter who refuses
to accept Jesus as Lord. Brothers
and sisters also may be living worldly lives and a Christian
must somehow endure this relationship until he or she is
old enough to leave.
The problems posed by this close family relationship
may be varied and many, such as:
- The television with its perverse programming might be on most
of the time.
- The radio with its sports and worldly music may often be heard
under the roof.
- Tapes and CDs of rock, country, hip hop, and other worldly
music may be loudly played in the hearing of the
- Some families may allow fornication, may also allow adultery
(either directly or through remarriage), and maybe
even homosexuality may be tolerated.
- Sexual compromises may abound.
- Probably immodesty will be prevalent, when parents or siblings
walk around half clothed.
- Probably junk food and other unhealthy food will be served,
as it is in most households, and the Christian may
be expected to partake. Pornography—either
in print or on the internet—may be easily seen.
- Especially prominent may be sins of the speech—slander, gossip,
foolish talking, complaining, speaking too much,
In this kind of worldly family setting, what is the
Christian to do?
The best scenario is that all of the members of the
household come to Christ and begin to live a holy life
with Jesus Christ at the center! But
reality says that this usually isn’t
the case. Jesus
was clear that in many or even most cases, His truth and
gospel will bring division and even chaos into a family
rather than sweet unity and togetherness (cf. Matthew 10:21,
34-38; Mark 13:12-13; Luke 12:51-53; 21:16-17). We
must remember that even in Jesus’ case, his family and
relatives often were not sympathetic to His mission and
He had to choose His own priorities over them (cf. Matthew
12:46-50; Mark 3:20-21, 31-35; 6:4; John 7:5).
Some believing wives are married to unbelieving and
worldly husbands and they may not repent of their sins. The
wife should seek to be the “model” wife, filled with humility
and kindness and modesty, and perhaps this will lead to
her husband’s conversion (cf. 1 Peter 3:1-6; 1 Corinthians
7:12-16; Colossians 3:18). The
husband should be filled with love and care and gentleness,
and maybe this will bring his wife to the Lord (1 Peter
3:7; Ephesians 5:25-33; Colossians 3:19). Parents
should do all they can to bring up their children in the
discipline and instruction of the Lord, and hopefully this
will lead to their salvation (Ephesians 6:4; 2 Timothy
3:15). A Christian
son or daughter may even have some influence on the parents
if he or she is loving, submissive, and respectful (Ephesians
to insulate yourself in a family arrangement that is
worldly in nature.
If a spouse doesn’t know the Lord and lives a worldly
life, we know that this is not grounds for divorce (Matthew
19:9; Mark 10:11-12). In
this case, the Christian must live an exemplary life before
the partner, with the hope that he or she will eventually
come to Christ. However, always do
the right and never do
the wrong in this kind of situation. Peter
tells the wife to be submissive to the unbelieving husband,
but he also writes that she must always “do what is right without
being frightened by any fear” (1 Peter 3:6). The
Christian wife must do the right and never do the wrong
in this setting. Too
many misguided professing Christians counsel a wife to
obediently sin for her husband if he requires this, but
this is God-dishonoring and blasphemous counsel! The
husband also must do all he can to win the wife but must
Particularly difficult is the case of a minor child
who comes to Christ but he or she lives in a worldly home
that is filled with dozens of evil, harmful influences. Let
the Christian young person do all that is possible to avoid
and insulate himself or herself from the worldly music,
worldly internet, worldly TV, worldly radio, and worldly
the only safe place is the bedroom where one may find a
measure of refuge from the constant bombardment of evil
influences and satanic enticements. Maybe
just leaving the house for a time when the world is very
much on display is a temporary solution. Diligent
study of the Word and meditation on its precepts are essential. Do
whatever is needed to ensure your continual relationship
with the Lord and submission to His Word.
Sometimes the worldly influences are so intense and
the temptation to revert to sinful thinking and behaving
is so strong, that the Christian must take unusual measures
to ensure faithfulness to the Lord and prevent falling
situation may be different:
- A Christian minor son or daughter may request to live in the
home of a devoted Christian family.
- A saved son or daughter who is old enough may need to depart
to live on their own.
- A child may need to spend more time in a bedroom to avoid the
heavy worldly, sexual, and perverse influences of
- A son or daughter may need to leave the home on occasion when
special times of worldliness occur (parties, swimming
events, drunkenness, loud music, etc.).
- Christian parents may need to request that a disobedient and
rebellious son or daughter leave the home to bring
some peace to the rest of the family and to prevent
adverse influence on the other children.
- A Christian husband may need to exercise his headship by imposing
limitations on his wife if her sin is
disruptive and prominent.
wife may need to directly refuse to comply (though
with a submissive spirit) with the sinful, evil,
lustful, wicked demands of the husband.
- The believing husband or wife may need to distance themselves
from the evil in the house by retreating to a bedroom,
the basement, or another room.
- Parents may need to exercise their authority to forbid worldly
music, TV, radio, internet, literature in the home.
- Perhaps an arrangement can be made in which the unbelieving
family members agree to limit the prominent sins
that disrupt the peace and tranquility of the home.
These measures may be difficult to implement. Thankfully,
even some families that do not know God and His Word will
be willing to work with the Christian to limit the exposure
of sin and the influence of worldliness. If
the Christian is loving, kind, thoughtful, helpful, yet
firm, the unbelieving family members may allow some peace
in the home.
Christian education rather than the secular and humanistic
state educational system of the world.
One of the most pervasive influences for harm in life
is the humanistic, relativistic, secular, anti-God, unscriptural,
immoral, rationalistic, and entertainment-focused education
of the world. Besides
this, education has become a virtual “god” to many educators
and it is hard to avoid falling for this idolatry because
of the emphasis on grades, the emphasis on higher education,
and the competition between students, with the encouragement
of the educators.
If at all possible, the believer should seek Christian
education as an alternative. If
you are Christian parents, home schooling is a viable option,
and some two million students are now taught in their homes
in the United States. Perhaps
there are a few religious schools worthy of the name “Christian,” but
most are similar to the public schools with their entertainment,
sports, immodesty, and the influence of compromising teachers. It
may be difficult for a twelve-year-old to escape the public
schools without his parents’ permission and help, but maybe
older young people who profess Christ could persuade the
parents to allow Christian education of some kind.
Advanced education is also a drastic problem. It
has been said that some four out of five (80 percent) of
young people from “Christian” homes who go through four
years of higher education “lose their faith.” These
statistics would be for conservative evangelicals. The
evolutionary lies, the pleasure orientation, the relativistic
perspective, the gross immorality, the sports and immodest
clothes, the humanistic focus, and much more exerts such
an influence on these young people that they succumb to
the pressure and thereby turn from any interest in “Christianity” in
any form. Do
all you can to avoid this pitfall that has destroyed millions!
not be bound together with unbelievers.
The power of influence is great! Proverbs
says, “He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the
companion of fools will suffer harm” (13:20). We
also read, “Do not be deceived; ‘Bad company corrupts good
morals’” (1 Corinthians 15:33). We
can see why Paul would emphasize the importance of being
separated from close and intimate relationships in the
not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership
have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship
has light with darkness? Or
what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer
in common with an unbeliever? (2 Corinthians 6:14-15).
This would seem to forbid the Christian from marrying
an unbeliever, or becoming business partners with an unsaved
person, or being part of a labor union. These
kinds of alliances would tend to compromise the ways of
God. Only join
yourself with strong and devout believers who are consistent
in their walk with God!
may need to physically distance yourself from some
friends and family members who are in sin.
This can be a very difficult matter in a family setting,
but it is somewhat easier in other settings. God
in His Word does point out that we should separate ourselves
from some people and some situations. Notice
a few of these instructions:
· “Leave the presence of a fool, or you will not discern words
of knowledge” (Proverbs 14:7).
· “Do not associate with a man given to anger; or go with a hot-tempered
· “Avoid such men as these [sinners]” (2 Timothy 3:1-5).
· “Come out from their midst and be separate” (2 Corinthians
· “How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of
the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, not sit in
the seat of scoffers!” (Psalm 1:1).
· “He who practices deceit shall not dwell within my house; he
who speaks falsehood shall not maintain his position before
me” (Psalm 101:7).
· “My son, do not walk in the way with them [sinners]. Keep
your feet from their path” (Proverbs 1:15).
There is a balance in all of this. We
know that Jesus did speak with and have some association
with unbelievers, particularly with the open-minded and
didn’t cloister Himself away from those in sin (cf. Luke
7:36-50; John 3:1ff; 4:7-42; Matthew 9:9-13). But
he didn’t have this kind of association just for fellowship
but to reach them with the message of repentance and salvation. Jesus
said, “The Son of Man has come to seek and to save that
which is lost” (Luke 19:10; see also the case of Nicodemus
[John 3:1ff] and the Samaritan woman [John 4:7ff].)
The point is that we may need to have some distance
between us and others when the temptations to sin are great,
when the influence is strong, when there is no real point
to the relationship, or when we are being dragged down
allow another person to pressure you to disobey God
As sad as this may be, we must acknowledge that some
of our closest friends as well as family members may seek
to make you compromise your Christian convictions. Some
may do this unintentionally, believing that they are normal
and you are abnormal in your beliefs and practices. Others
may know what you believe and even what the Scriptures
teach, but still they will try to make you “bend” the ways
of God to fit their own agenda or comply with their unrighteous
Many examples of this may be suggested:
- A friend may offer drugs or cigarettes to you.
- Parents want you to join them in the living room and watch
a foolish or immoral TV program.
- A humanistic teacher may give a homework assignment to read
a worldly novel.
- A father may want you to participate in sports.
- Friends may encourage you to go to a school dance.
- A mother may urge you to eat unhealthy foods that she has prepared.
- Parents may expect their Christian son or daughter to participate
in family traditions during the holidays.
- A husband may insist that the wife not read her Bible, nor pray,
nor meet with the saints.
- A wife may beg her husband to attend a compromising denomination
- A husband may want his wife to wear a swim suit, shorts, form-fitting,
or transparent clothing that is immodest and improper.
- A wife may want her husband to take her to a worldly movie.
- A friend may want you to join him in some worldly recreational
The Christian living among family members, acquaintances,
or working associates must diligently refuse to comply
with every pressure to compromise the ways of the Lord. The
believer must be willing to “refuse evil and choose good” (Isaiah
as Jesus “loved righteousness and hated lawlessness” (Hebrews
1:9), so the follower of Jesus must have this same holy
says, “Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good” (Romans
If we have been called by God, we need to walk according
to His righteous ways, without being swayed in our beliefs
and holy lifestyle. Scripture
declares, “If sinners entice you, do not consent” (Proverbs
consent to sin to please another person! Gently,
kindly, but firmly, be willing to say, “We must obey God
rather than men” (Acts 5:29).
the many ways that Satan seeks to distract and destroy
Peter warns us that we are to be alert to spiritual
danger, for Satan is our “adversary” and he “prowls around
like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour,” therefore “resist
him, firm in your faith” (1 Peter 5:8-9). The
only way for us to not be influenced by the devil is to
not be “ignorant of his schemes” (2 Corinthians 2:11). We
are in a spiritual battle for our soul, thus Paul gives
this warning: “Be strong in the Lord and in the strength
of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you
will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil” (Ephesians
6:10-11; cf. vv. 12-17). Satan
has thousands of years of experience in leading people
astray, thus we must be well prepared to know his “schemes” and
resist his entreaties. Make
sure that you have God’s spiritual armor on each day as
you face this dreaded foe. And
always remember that God is far greater than the devil.
the evil around you with the spiritual, good, pure,
Many of you may live in the midst of evil of all kinds. This
sin and degradation comes to us in different forms and
ways: from the music in our hearing, from the television
programming, from the conversations we listen to, from
the education we receive, from the internet, from the radio,
from computer games, from newspapers and magazines, from
movies, as well as from friends and acquaintances. If
we take in all of this evil, we are bound to fall! Instead, let
us fill our mind and heart with God’s truth. Paul
says, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed
by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what
the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and
perfect” (Romans 12:2). We
renew our mind by the truth of God from the Word of God
that is inspired by the Spirit of God!
Instead of dwelling on the evil, the sinful, the worldly
elements of life, determine to fix your mind on the pure
and true. Paul
gives us this counsel: “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable,
whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely,
whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence
and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things” (Philippians
This may mean different things to different brothers
and sisters. Instead
of worldly literature, focus your attention of God’s Word
and edifying books. Instead
of listening to worldly music, learn to sing praise to
God yourself and perhaps listen to CDs of edifying, uplifting a
cappella music. Instead
of watching the worldliness and immorality on television,
turn off the set (better yet, throw it out), and spend
your time serving the Lord, reading something helpful,
or conversing with fellow-believers. Instead
of seeking worldly education that compromises your spirit,
seek more edifying education that enlightens the mind and
nurtures your skills. Instead
of eating junk foods and other harmful foods, learn to
eat healthful and nutritious foods. Instead
of engaging in worldly conversations, try to turn the encounter
into something helpful and encouraging. Be
an instrument for good in the world and especially around
your family and friends.
yourself from worldly, compromising, worldly religious
America is one of the most church-going nations in the
world, and churches broadcast their programs on TV as well
as radio. At
least in the Bible-belt, a series of church buildings may
be found on a single street. The
trouble is that many of these denominations and churches
are filled with false doctrines, compromising preachers,
worldly entertainment, and humanistic methods. Instead
of drawing the members closer to God and His Word, such
organizations dilute the mind with half-truths, corrupt
the spirit with counterfeit religion, and delight the senses
with carnal displays. Many
churches compromise the truth by leading people to the
broad way that leads to destruction rather than the narrow
way that leads to life (Matthew 7:13-14).
Examine any church of which you have been a member and
compare it with the simple but powerful body of Christ
revealed on the pages of your Bible. See
the book of Acts as well as the New Testament letters for
a description of the body of Christ and instructions how
the members should walk. If
you see a great contrast between what you’ve known and
what the Scriptures reveal, be willing to renounce the
church and seek a more Biblical fellowship. Study
intently the Scriptures so that you may rid yourself of
countless false ways that your former religious institution
may have taught you.
true people of God who are walking in love and truth
and maintaining a pure and holy walk with the Lord.
Not only should you turn from compromising and counterfeit
churches, but you should earnestly desire to be united
with true Christians who have genuinely been saved from
sin and are walking in God’s truth and righteousness. The
psalmist prayed to God, “I am a companion of all those
who fear You, and of those who keep Your precepts” (Psalm
find this ideal to be a daunting task since religious compromise
seems to be rampant and true Christianity, modeled after
the New Testament, is rare. Articles
we have written should help but still it will not be easy. (See
our study, Come Out
and Come Together!)
I am reminded of the account in Acts in which Peter
and John had been imprisoned and instructed to not teach
in the name of Christ. When
these apostles were dismissed from the Jewish authorities,
where did they go? Luke
tells us: “When they had been released, they went to their
own companions and reported all that the chief priests
and the elders had said to them,” and after this they all
prayed to the Lord for strength and boldness (Acts 4:23ff). These
apostles knew where to go—to their own believing companions!
When the winds of adversity, the storms of trials, and
the influence of Satan is strong, we need the encouragement
and strength that brothers and sisters in the Lord can
give (cf. Hebrews 10:24-25). We
also need them to fortify ourselves in our battle against
sin (cf. Hebrews 3:12-13). It
helps to know that we are not alone in this world—that
there are others (a few others) who also are walking the
narrow way that leads to life, who have the same convictions
and lifestyle, who have put God first in their life, and
who are willing to live radical lives for Jesus!
Reminders in your Quest
for a Practical Holiness in Life
Let’s remind ourselves of a number of the basic principles
in Scripture that should help to motivate us to persevere
under hardship and live a life entirely devoted to God
and His will:
1. Live a life of faith in God and the Lord Jesus Christ (John
14:1; 2 Corinthians 5:7; Romans 1:17).
2. Read the Word of God regularly and know it thoroughly (Matthew
4:4; John 12:48; Acts 17:11; 2 Timothy 3:15-17).
3. Obey God as He reveals His will through His Word (John
14:15, 21-24; 1 John 2:3-6, 17; 3;22, 24; 5:2-3).
4. Surrender your will, deny yourself, and lay down your life
to follow Jesus (Mark 8:34-38; John 12:25-26; 2 Corinthians 5:14-15).
5. Resist Satan and flee from his temptations (1
Corinthians 10:13; James 4:7; 1 Peter 5:8-9; 1 John
6. Remember that you are a soldier of Christ in a deadly-serious
spiritual war that you must win! (Ephesians 6:10-18).
7. Avoid evil companions that would drag you down spiritually (1
Corinthians 15:33; 2 Corinthians 6:14-17; Proverbs
8. Cultivate relationships with good and faithful brothers and
sisters in the Lord (Romans 1:8-12; 12:10; 2 Timothy 2:22; Hebrews 3:13; 10:24-25;
9. Always place God and His will above and beyond every other
relationship, including family and friends (Matthew
12:46-50; 10:34-38; Luke 14:26-27).
10. Arrange your living situation and physical surroundings to
make them the most conducive to live a devoted
life of service to the Lord and to avoid evil influences (1 Corinthians 10:13, 31; 1 Thessalonians 5:22).
11. Continually set your mind and heart on heavenly, eternal things
rather than earthly, temporal things (Matthew
6:33; Colossians 3:1-4; Philippians 3:19-21; 4:8).
12. Be willing to lose your job if it requires you to sin in some
way or be around overpowering worldly influences (Philippians
3:7-10; Luke 9:9; James 4:4).
13. Be prepared to lose money and material things to follow the
Lord fully (Matthew 4:18-22; Mark 10:21-27, 28-30).
14. Never forget that the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust
of the eyes, and the pride of life—is your bitter
enemy and you must choose to love God rather than
the world (1 John 2:15-17; James 4:4; Romans 12:1-2).
Trust in the Lord and Serve Him
Faithfully in Life!
Many of us find ourselves in hard circumstances and
wonder how we can spiritually survive without being swallowed
up by Satan and his powerful forces. We
may have a deep desire to live a holy life and make an
impact in this world of sin, but so many influences around
us militate against our lofty desires. We
don’t know how to escape this “rat race” in the modern
world that is at enmity with God.
Hopefully some of the things we have shared with you
will help you in this worthy fight in the present warfare
(cf. 2 Corinthians 10:3-5). Do
not give up! Press on the battle! Be
willing to “suffer
hardship” as “a good soldier of Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy
all of the measures you possibly can to eliminate the evil
influences in your life and to adopt the measures that
will build you up in the faith. Remember,
only those who walk in holiness will see God in heaven
(Hebrews 12:14; cf. Matthew 5:8)! It
will be worth your faith and effort one Great Day!
* * * * * *
Are you determined
to follow the Lord fully even in this sinful and fallen world? Are
you willing to repent of your faithlessness and disobedience? Are
you willing to repent of your compromises? Are
you willing to purpose to put God and His Kingdom first in
life, whatever sacrifices this may mean? Please
write for further information by requesting the following
titles and then act upon what you learn. Trust
in God and be willing to act—and He will surely help you
to live for Him!