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A View from the Altar / In and of
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In and of

The Bible speaks of our being in the world and yet not of the world. The subtle shift in these short words speaks volumes about the character of the Christian life.

Yes, we are in the world, meaning that we exist here physically and find no escape from its influence. Satan, the world system, and the influences of our own fleshly nature all war against the spiritual life.  As spirituality suffers, God gets scooted to the edge of life and morals decline. When morals decline, the conscience grows quiet, and our sense of right and wrong becomes distorted.  Soon the distortion becomes inversion where black is white, and white is black, where bitter is sweet, and sweet is bitter.

And this is a matter of tendency.  The world applies pressure to us, and this pressure imparts a tendency to believe what the world believes, to think what the world thinks, and to desire what the world desires.

As long as we are in the world, the pressure exists and there is no escape from it.  The attempt to escape the reach of worldliness by retreating to a monastery has proved a failure.  Not only does this remove Christianity from the ordinary discourse of life where it belongs, but those who cloister themselves find that they bring their own sinfulness with them.  More than once, a monastery has become a den of iniquity worse than the society it fled.

The only solution to the worldly tendency, therefore, is a tendency toward godliness.  A godly tendency is imparted by two means. The first is by the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit.  As the Spirit of Christ indwells the believer, He is active in producing a desire for clean living.  The Bible speaks in great detail about this aspect of Christianity because the presence of Christ in the believer is one of the central truths of the Christian religion.  As we are filled with the Holy Spirit, the pressure toward worldly motives is counteracted by the moving of His Spirit in our hearts.

The second essential influence away from worldliness is the Word of God.  The Bible is God’s revelation to man, a perfect treasure of divine instruction, revealing the mind of God, the wisdom of His ways, and the perfections of His holy character.  As we fill our hearts with His Word, the pressure toward worldly thinking is counteracted by the truth of God which informs the mind and shapes the will.

The physical fact is that we indeed are in the world.  But in the matters of spirit and belief, the true Christian is certainly not of the world.  The aim of the Christian, then, is to increase in both spirit and truth, by which we worship the living God.

otherbrothersteve@gmail.com

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