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When New Testament Scripture uses the term “world” in reference to people (instead of this planet or this life) it is related to the majority of the earth’s population, which has always consisted of unbelievers! There has never been a time where the majority of mankind was righteous and believed in God, and this answers to the reason why Scripture has always maintained a distinction between believers and the world.
The Lord Jesus declared that believers “are not of the world” (Jhn 17:14, 16), which is in the sense that they no longer seek the lifestyle after the “old man” (sin nature). That which has reference to this life only and not to Heaven is considered “of this world,” hence the passing of them and not believers (1Jhn 2:16, 17).
The Law was only to those who were in union with God (Israel), and its purpose was to introduce (but not provide) a future fellowship with God via the coming of the Lord Jesus. Thus the Law addressed God’s desire for how the people were to relate to one another, but it did not address fellowship with God in drawing nigh to Him “within the veil” until Christ (Heb 6:19; 9:3, 7, esp. 8; 10:20; Lev 16:2, 15), Who was represented by the High Priest once each year. With many men of God (e.g. Adam, Noah, Abraham, David, et al) there was a nearness to Him, but it was not the same as fellowship with God in Christ.
“Not of This World”
“He gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil world” (Gal 1:4). Believers are regarded as taken out of this world by the death of the Lord Jesus, and sent into it by His resurrection; but sent into it as not of it, yea, not even so much as is an angel. Our death in Him put us completely outside the world. His resurrection sends us into it again, as new creatures, as messengers of the peace of God, entirely apart from what is going on in the world.
The remarkable thing is, that when God revealed Himself as the Giver of the Law—as Jehovah—He did not undertake to separate men from the world (i.e. were still of this world, unlike being in Christ and no longer of or after this world – NC). The Jews were not separate from the world—nor will they be in the Millennial Kingdom. They were separate from the Gentiles, but they were the most important people in the world; and they were made so for the purpose of maintaining the rights of God in the world. They were not called to be outside the world, but a people in the world. Therefore the Jews had to fight the Canaanites, and hence too, they had a grand temple. Because they were a worldly people, they had a “worldly sanctuary” (Heb 9:1 - the Law contained “ordinances of divine service,” for they were given by a divine God, but they addressed not righteousness but earthly matters concerning human conduct within the obedience of “carnal ordinances” – Heb 9:10—NC).
But this is altogether wrong for Christians (who are related only to heaven and righteousness – NC) because the Lord Jesus “gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil world (world, not in relation to earth but man – NC), according to the will of God and our Father.” When God brings out His will, no longer merely law, but revealing Himself as the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, there is revealed a totally different state of things. We enter into the relationship of conscious children with God our Father; and our business now is to honor the Lord Jesus according to the position that He has taken at the right hand of God.
Many forget that He gave Himself for our sins in order to deliver us from this present evil world. They sink down into the world, out of which redemption ought to have delivered them; and that is because they put themselves under the Law. What is the effect of men taking up the Law as Christians? It makes them out to be worldly (those reborn do not require to be told to do right - Gal 5:23, because that’s ever their desire - Phl 2:13—NC). There cannot be such a thing as a man separate from the world, when he is under the Law (Gal 3:10; 1Tim 1:9 - It’s not that Israel was sinful but that God began with them to show all mankind is sinful and under the curse –NC).
If I have to do with the will of God my Father, I have got to suffer because the Lord Jesus suffered. “Always delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh” (2Cor 4:11). The Law puts a sword in man’s hands; whereas the will of the Father causes a saint to be willing to go to the stake, or to suffer by the sword for Jesus’s sake: as it is said, “For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us”; but it is by suffering, not by what the world glories in.
Our Father is glorifying the Lord Jesus after the pattern of the Cross, and this is our pattern; not Israel, not the Law, not the world, but the Cross of Christ. “In the Cross of Christ I glory, towering o’er the wrecks of time.” The Father says, I have My Son in heaven; I am occupied with the only One who has ever glorified Me, and that is the One you are to be occupied with.
Nothing can be more exact and full, nor more thoroughly calculated to meet the dangers of the present day, which so often take the form of legal and religious ordinances as a means of honoring God. Our wisdom is to seek to use it, to be “wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil.”
- Wm Kelly (1821 – 1906)
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Excerpt from MJS devotional for April 3:
“Our Lord is more concerned for a testimony than for a work. We need to get clear on that. A good deal of confusion comes in when you begin to think of things in the light of a work. When you get a lot of people leaving their employment to go into ‘the work,’ all kinds of complications arise. It is not that we aren’t to serve the Lord, but in the first place it is not the work the Lord is after, it is a testimony, it is a light, a living flame.”