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Living in this world is one of the hardest thing a follower of Christ can do. Everyday we have to mix with non believers be it at work, at home or socially. Unless we lock ourselves away we will cross paths with many many non believers. We therefore have to hold fast to our faith and live as Christ like life as we can. Even things like voting presents a problem to believers. Here in Scotland we have at present 3 gay party leaders. Do we abstain from voting for them solely on the basis that they are sinners despite the fact that their policies are good? We certainly must not condone sin, any sin. We also must remember that we too are sinners albeit repentant ones. However we must strive to do God's will in our lives and refrain from taking part in sin or promoting sin. First Peter 2:9 says, "But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light." We live in a world of darkness, but we are not part of that darkness. We are not of the world because we are in Christ; we have the light. And while we are still in the world, we are called to be set apart, to shine the light that others might know Him and be saved (Matthew 5:13-16).
We are like a boat in the water. We are in the water, but the water is not supposed to be in the boat. I grew up spending summers in northern WI, boating a lot, but we hated it when our boat starting taking on water, and we had to bail! Jesus had prayed, "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" (John 17:14). This verse gives us a clue as to why we are "not of this world"—because Jesus isn't. --S. Michael Houdmann at compellingtruth.com How can believers be in the world, but not of the world? We are in the world but not of the world, and we must not live like the world. We cannot “but live in the world as aliens.” (MacLaren). 1 Peter 2:11 in the New American Standard 1977 says, “Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers [pilgrims] to abstain from fleshly lusts, which wage war against the soul.” There has to be a certain separation from the world! 1 Pet. 4:8 says, “Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.” Peter calls us to love each other. And to let love cover the offense that can ruin the camaraderie that holds the alien community together. Now it's true that we are to love our enemies, and all the people of the world. It is true that we are to love in a special way all the fellow-aliens. But here in 1 Peter 4:8 Peter seems to call for something very special: "Keep fervent in your love for one another." Here is a special degree of love. Fervent, earnest, strong, ardent, strongly felt. (Piper) 1 Pet. 4:9 says, “Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.” That is, open your home cheerfully. The strategy in verse 1 Pt 4:9 goes like this: "Be hospitable to one another without complaint." And then 1 Peter 4:10 says, “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.” (ESV) Use your gift for the good of others. Finally the strategy of 1 Peter 4:10 for maintaining your alien identity is the use of your gifts to minister God's grace to others. "As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God."
We have no choice but to live IN the world; that isn't the part of the scripture on which to focus. 'You are not OF the world' is the part to consider. What is he talking about? He's talking about not having an identity that comes from living in the world. For instance, you're a New York City policeman; that can be a life-defining identity if you allow the circumstances under which you live every day to characterize you. There's nothing a Christian cop can do to change the culture of New York City. He lives there; he wants to keep law and order there. Can he do it and maintain a Christian world view, or will the culture of the city, and the stress of dealing with the disorder and violence inherent in his job change him? If this is to whom Jesus is speaking (I think it is), then he needs to pay close attention to try and maintain his Christian identity. Is he a New Yorker or a born again believer? He lives IN New York (the world); but 'New Yorker' is not to be the way he identifies himself. He's to think of himself being a policeman as what he does and not who he is. That can be really difficult in a job that is so demanding. If we read John 15 and John 17 where Jesus declares that believers are in the world but not of the world, and we imagine him to be talking to preachers, deacons, or a Christian TV talk show host, it can sound relatively easy to navigate. But what if you're a believer on the front lines of the war between good and evil, the fight between the world and the church? How do you not 'chu-hoi' (surrender)? (I'm glad you asked) "They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth" (John 17:16-19). The New York City believer who is also a policeman has a very difficult job; but he has been sanctified (set apart) in the truth. His sanctification is his dedication TO the truth, which establishes his unassailable faith. Jesus said 'for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.' To be sanctified in truth is to be put under the protection of the truth; it is for your faith to be impregnable; to be spiritually secure from desecration or destruction. The key to it is to know the truth and not be swayed by the threatening lies of a sin sick world, even in a spiritual war zone of a sin sick city. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free (John 8:32).
All such good answers and better than mine. I love reading them. I look at it like this. The first time I was born, I was physically born into this world as a citizen "of the world." I practiced worldly things because I was an unholy, sinful, "worldly" person. But, when I was saved and born again, I was born spiritually into the Kingdom of God as holy and sinless, no longer "of the world" (according to the work of Christ on the cross) but a citizen of the Kingdom of God. I'm "of the Kingdom of God" and not of the world - I'm out of this world, so to speak. :) It's like traveling to another country. I'm not a citizen - I'm just visiting, passing though. I don't plan on staying because it's not my home anymore. Heaven is my home now. 1 Peter 2:11-12 Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation. John 15:19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Hebrews 13:14 For this world is not our home; we are looking forward to our everlasting home in heaven. Philippians 3:20 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, God bless!
Here’s how I explain it to people who ask this: Let’s say you live in a Midwest state in the United States and visit a southern state. People will sometimes say you’re not from around here are you? Your answer would be, no just here visiting. That’s how it is with being a Christian. We’re here on earth but our home is heaven.
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