Many of you have heard from your pastors the title of this article in that we are to be in the world, but not of the world in our walk with the Lord.
Not only is this a very catchy phrase and saying, but this is also a rock, solid, God-truth that is coming straight out of our Bible.
Many Christians get a bit confused when they first hear this phrase and revelation. The first question they usually have is if God is calling me to do something worthwhile and noble in my call and purpose for Him down here on this earth, then why is God telling me not to become a part “of” this world? How can I complete my divine call in the Lord if I do not get actively involved in the world and with other people in general?
Jesus Himself went full scale into His surroundings once He received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit and then came out of the 40 day wilderness test with the devil. From there, He embarked on a major three and a half year miracle ministry before He went to the cross to die for all of us and our sins.
During those three and half years, Jesus was constantly preaching, teaching, healing and delivering people.At first glance, it looked and appeared as if He had become an actual part of the world with how much interaction that was going on between Him and everyone else that was around Him.
But as you will see in the explanations below, God the Father does want us to become actively involved “in” the world so that we can fully accomplish all of His perfect will for our lives.
Another problem that some Christians have with this phrase is they misinterpret what God is trying to tell them when He is making the statement that we are not to be “of” the world. They think they should be retreating from life and everyone in general, and some of them end up becoming monks, hermits, and recluses, hiding away from as much of the world as they possibly can.
I know God may call a very small percentage of His people into that type of special celibate and monastic type lifestyle, but for the most part, I believe God wants His people to become very active “in” the world so they can make it a much better place to live, work, and play in.
How can you witness, save, teach, and help deliver other people if you are not “in” the world trying to reach and connect with them in the first place?
I believe this particular revelation from the Lord has two sides to it. It is like looking at a two sided coin.
On the one side of the coin we are to be “in” the world. As you will see in one of the Scripture verses below, Jesus is telling His Father not to take us out of the world, since we all have a great commission and call from Him to try and save and help as many people as we possibly can.
We cannot “reach” the lost, the downtrodden, the helpless, the poor, the sinners, and the people who are being held in some type of captivity if we are not “in” the world trying to reach them with the message and gospel of our Lord and Savior.
This is what is meant by the Lord when He tells us that we still have to continue to be living “in” this world. We all have to be born into this world as a result of the curse of Adam and Eve, and until it is our time to leave and depart from this life, God will expect each and everyone of us to come and work for Him.
Once you enter into a full surrender with the Lord, He will then place you into His perfect will for your life. And once God places you into His perfect will for your life, then He will lead you into the divine plan and destiny that He has set up for your life. And in that divine destiny will be your call, your missions, your divine assignments, and the specific people that He will want you to work with.
Again, you cannot properly compete your call and all of your divine assignments for the Lord if you are not willing to get actively involved “in” the world to some degree and to some extent. This is the one side of the coin where we are supposed to be “in” the world.
However, this revelation from the Lord also has a flip side to it. There is a flip side to this same coin.
Though we are to be actively involved “in” the world to the degree that God will lead us to, we also have to realize and be very aware that we are not to become too much of an actual part “of” the world.
As you will see in one of the verses below, God is telling us to keep ourselves “unspotted” from the world.
In other words, He does not want us to become spotted, contaminated, and tainted by the bad and evil things of this world. And the only way that we can keep ourselves from becoming too spotted and contaminated from this world is not to get too deep and friendly with the ways of this world.
In other words, God is asking all of us to walk a very fine line between being actively and properly involved “in” the world so we can reach and help other people – but at the same time making sure that we do not fall too deep and too far into the world where we then start to fall into the actual evil, depravity, and corruptness of this world.
The best analogy I can give you on this so that you can fully understand what the Lord is trying to convey to us in this revelation is the “fence analogy.”
Imagine a fence line running alongside your right side as you continue to walk on the straight and narrow path that God has you set up to walk on.
The phrase and saying that will come off this fence line analogy that perfectly lines up with what the Lord is trying to tell us in this revelation is that we all should be “staying on our side of the fence.”
On your side of the fence is the divine path that you are taking for the Lord, along with all of His righteous ways on how we are to act and behave in this life with ourselves and with other people in general.
On the other side of the fence are the paths taken by those who are either not saved, or the ones who are considered to be very carnal and fleshly type Christians, whose only goals and desires in this life is to get as much out of this life while they still can. Their only goals and ambitions in this life is to try and gain as much of the material and lustful things out of this life as they possibly can before their day in the sun is finally over.
We thus live in a dual type of world. On the one side of the fence is the side of God and the righteous way that He wants us to live this life.
On the other side of the fence are the unsaved sinners and carnal Christians who are not living their life God’s way, and they are out breaking any law and commandment they see fit so they can satisfy their cravings for the lustful pursuits of this life.
Once you become saved and born again by accepting Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior, you are now in whole different ballgame.
You are now on a whole different type of playing field. God the Father perfectly lays it out for each and everyone of us in the way that He has worded the following verse I will now give you.
In this verse, God is giving every single one of us a big choice to make in this life. We can either choose to follow God and His ways for living in this life and “live” – or we can choose to follow the wicked and evil ways of this world and “die.”
Here is one whopper, all-or-nothing, black and white, straight-to-the-point verse direct from the mouth of the Lord Himself:
“… I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; that you may love the Lord your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days …” (Deuteronomy 30:19)
Notice God says absolutely nothing about any type of middle or neutral grounds with this proclamation. Either we choose to follow God and live this life the way that He wants us to live it – or we can choose to follow the ways of this world and eventually bring down death and cursing upon us and possibly those who may be close to us.
Notice in this verse that God is telling us that we must “obey His voice,” which means that we have to follow directly after Him and all of His ways for us in this life, not after the ways of this world or anyone else in this world.
The Bible Verses For In the World – But Not of the World
Now here are 5 very good verses from the Bible that are giving us this specific revelation in that we are to be in the world, but not of the world.
I will first list each one of the verses one right after the other, and then I will point out and highlight several key words and phrases in these verses.
- “If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” (John 15:19)
- “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)
- “Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.” (James 1:27)
- “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)
- “Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.”(James 4:4)
Notice in the first two verses that Jesus is specifically telling us that we are not to be “of the world.” He then goes one step further in the third verse from James when He tells us that He wants us to remain “unspotted” from the world.
Jesus then perfectly wraps it up in the last two verses when He tells us that if we ever get to the point where we have become too friendly with the world and the ways of it, then we will literally become the enemy of God Almighty Himself!
When Jesus Himself is telling us that we will become His Father’s enemy if we become too friendly and too attached to the ways and material things of this world – you know we are dealing with a very serious warning from the Lord on this issue!
Jesus points out to us that all of the lustful pursuits and things of this life will eventually pass way when we die and cross over.
In another verse, Jesus has already told us that what good will it do a man to gain all the wealth of this world as his possessions, but then lose his own soul in the pursuit and acquirement of all of that wealth. It will all have ended up being for naught when everything is all finally said and done.
Though most of us know exactly what the Lord is trying to tell us with the revelation and knowledge that is in these verses, for many Christians in this day and age, this one is a real hard one to try and keep on top of.
With the incredible advances in technology and knowledge in the last 100 years, much of the world has become a much better place to live, work, and play in.
As a result of all of this incredible advancement in technology and knowledge, we now have many more toys and material possessions that we can all strive to acquire more of. We can now shoot for bigger and better houses, bigger and better cars, and bigger and better material things for our lives in general.
With all of these types of material blessings from our Lord, it becomes very easy for many to get out of balance with all of it.
Instead of realizing where all of this abundant type of wealth is really coming from in the first place, and choosing to stay humble and accountable with it in their walks with the Lord, many Christians start to get too caught up in the actual pursuit and desire for this material wealth.
Before they know it, they have placed their pursuit and desire for all of this material wealth before God Himself. The are no longer wanting to serve and follow God. They now only want to serve themselves and what they can still get out of this life.
As Christians, we always have to stay on top of this part of our walk with the Lord. Jesus Himself has made it as clear and as plain as day as to how we are to look at this life and interact with it.
We are to stay “in” the world. We have a holy mission and calling direct from the Lord Himself on what it is He wants us to accomplish and get done for Him before we depart to be with Him for all of eternity.
The goal of each Christian’s life should be to accomplish, to the best of their abilities, God the Father’s perfect will for their lives.
Our goal should be to serve God and do what He wants us to do in this life – not to chase after the world and all the material wealth and possessions of this world, which will do nothing but rot and perish the minute we leave and depart from this life.
We have to keep all of our priorities straight, and our number one priority should be to want to serve God and accomplish His perfect will for our lives. If we make that our number one goal and aspiration in this life, then God will appropriately reward each one of us once we enter into heaven.
And those heavenly rewards will far surpass and exceed any of the material wealth and possessions that we could have gained down here on this earth.
As Christians, we have to realize that we no longer even belong to ourselves, much less to the world in general.
We have been bought back at a severe price at the death of our Lord and Savior, and we now belong to God, and God alone. We now work for God, and God alone.
What this means is that our very protective and loving Father has now drawn a major battle line in the sand for all of us.
He is letting all of us know, loud and clear, what we can and cannot do in this life. He is letting all of us know where we can tread in this life and where we cannot tread.
Boundary lines and a fence line have now been put up by our Lord. God is now telling all of us to stay on our side of the fence in our walk with Him.
We have to stay on the righteous side of the fence in our walk with Him.
Though there is much in this life that will be very enticing and tempting to want to cross over and experiment with, realize that there are going to be certain things of the flesh that you will not be able to chase after in this life.
You cannot be doing drugs, abusing alcohol, and sleeping with whoever you want outside the bounds of holy marriage. You cannot be cheating and scamming others in an effort to try and gain more wealth and riches.
You now have to play everything by the Book – and that Book is the Bible!
Many of our teenagers are battling this cold hard reality in the high schools and colleges they are attending.
God obviously wants them to be “in” this world, as they will need a proper education to progress into the calls and divine assignments that He will have in store for them in this life. But this does not mean you have to cross over into the carnal and fleshly worlds of those who are not walking right with the Lord.
You can sit next to someone in school who may be doing drugs and living a wide and carnal type of life. You can befriend him. You can witness to him as the Spirit leads. You can help him with his schoolwork if he should ask you.
But this does not mean you have to leave your side of the fence and cross over into his world of drugs, alcohol, and wild sex parties. You can keep yourself unspotted from the world and yet still be “in” the world to help other people out.
The same thing goes for adults who are working in environments where they have a mixture of good apples and bad apples.
Again, you can help out, and work in harmony and unity with those who are living their life on the dark and wild side of this life. But this does not mean you have to cross over and leave your side of the fence to start going to their drug, alcohol, and wild sex parties outside of work.
Many Christians have been seduced into crossing over into some of these carnal and fleshly realms as a result of the seductive and persuasive influence of some of their co-workers or schoolmates.
This is why this particular piece of revelation is so important for each and every Christian to not only have the knowledge of, but to also abide by it and not be tempted to ever cross over into some of these forbidden areas with the Lord.
These boundary lines are being set up by the Lord for our own good and for our protection. Every Christian father and mother should be burning this piece of revelation into their young children’s minds at an early age so they can have all of this knowledge to fall back on when they start to get tempted to cross over into this darker side of life.
This knowledge should be fully ingrained in them by the time they move into their high schools, colleges, and then eventually into the work place.
This particular piece of revelation may be the difference as to whether or not some of your children ever become everything that God is calling them to become in this life. Every minute of every day someone is getting hurt, maimed, or murdered as a result of crossing over into the darker side of this life and hanging out with the wrong kind of people.
Bottom line – you are still “in” the world as far as God the Father is concerned because He has a specific plan and purpose for your life – but you are no longer part “of” this same world.
You now belong to the Lord, and you now have to live your life the way He will want you to live it, not the way you or the rest of the world would like you to live it.
This choice will always be yours to make.
You can either choose to follow God and His ways for your life and stay on His side of the fence in your walk with Him – or you can choose to leave the safety and protection of His side and venture into the darker side of this life where death, cursing, and major misfortune will await you.
Once again, God the Father could not make things any more clear and plain with the revelation that He is giving us in that we are to be in the world, but not of the world.
Remember, stay on your side of the fence in your walk with the Lord. Many great men and women of God have lost their calls and divine destinies in the Lord because they violated this basic fundamental revelation from the Lord.