Monday, April 16, 2018

Christians Should Not Follow The World

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--His good, pleasing and perfect will (Romans 12:2).

Prophecy update: On 16 February, 2018 I received a VISION of a Red horse from the Lord and this was interpreted as a coming war. Sadly, not many people believed us. Well, the Lord did give confirmation that the US and allies attack on Syria last week Friday was confirmation thereof and that there is a more SERIOUS war coming that is going to cause widespread deaths.  We must pray brethren for the Lord's protection!

Worldly spirit

Have you ever, after much struggle, prayer and fasting, made a bold, godly decision, only to face persecution, rejection or being despised by others? Or have you forsaken godly instruction, only to end up regretting and suffering for your choices? The Biblical warnings against following the world’s ways is not just confined to the New Testament. In the Old Testament we are told that the ways of Sodom and Gomorrah were perverted and depraved and consequently these wicked nations were destroyed (Genesis 19:1-13; Ezekiel 16:49-50; Jude 7). Only Lot and his family, who had not adopted the immoral ways of these wicked cities, were spared (Genesis 19:14-20; 2 Peter 2:7).

Before entering the Promised Land, the Lord warned the Israelites again and again not to conform to the ways of the world. He warned them not to follow the idolatrous ways and practices of their past neighbors in Egypt, or their future neighbors in Canaan (Leviticus 18:3). He also commanded them to neither learn nor worship the Lord in the same detestable ways as those nations (Deuteronomy 12:30-31). He admonished them not learn to intermarry with the nations there or imitate their detestable ways (Deuteronomy 7:3; 18:9). Later on, we learn that the Israelites blatantly disobeyed these warnings and some of them intermarried and worshiped the idols of these nations, and subsequently suffered the tragic consequences (Exodus 32:25-28, 31-35; Deuteronomy 9:16; Judges 3:5-12). This trend continued through the times of the Judges, until the children of Israel wanted to be like their neighbors and demanded a king, in spite of the Lord’s warnings (1 Samuel 8:4-22).

The prophet Isaiah warned about the moral depravity in the world, and sounded a warning to those “who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter. Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight” (Isaiah 5:20-21).

The Word of God further warns us that "the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many" (Matthew 7:13 ESV). On the other hand, "the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few" (Matthew 7:14 ESV). The way of the world and evil men may seem appealing, pleasant, and seem to be leading to a favorable end; however, it is an evil way regardless, and will not end well but corrupt you and lead to death – the righteous and God-fearing should avoid it altogether! (Proverbs 1:10; 4:14; 1 Corinthians 15:33).

Conforming to the World’s Ways

Every day, Christians are under pressure to conform in all aspects of life, not only in terms of physical appearance, but also in spiritual and moral aspects of life. Lately, we are seeing society redefining and undermining institutions that the Lord established (Genesis 2:24; Leviticus 20:13; Malachi 2:16; Matthew 19:6). Taking the name of the Lord in vain and dishonoring Him (Exodus 20:7) has become common and part of the swearing vocabulary, and those who profess faith in the Lord Jesus Christ are sometimes deemed as “backward” or “not progressive” (1 Corinthians 1:18). Here are a few other ways that Christians conform to the ways of the world:
  • Depending on people or the government, instead of leaning on God by faith (Hebrews 11:6). Some people deem depending on God as being “weak” and “irrational” (2 Kings 18:32).
  • Churches marketing themselves instead of sharing the true Gospel. Many times we receive invitations along the lines of “Come to our church. We have a great children’s ministry” or “Every Saturday/Sunday we serve lunch at Church”. If you read their pamphlets, there is often no mention of Jesus and the good news of His saving power and grace. Therefore they invite you to church, not to Christ.As we have mentioned before in the Witnessing and Witnessing Part II articles, it is not the pastor's sole responsibility to share the gospel, but we as individual members of the body of Christ have a calling and responsibility to be witnesses (Mark 16:15)
  • Sending children off to church as the only means for them to learn the Word of God, instead of teaching them at home first.
  • Giving into to peer pressure to hang out with the wrong crowd or watch worldly entertainment.
  • Being ashamed of the gospel of Christ when in public, and seeking to “fit in the crowd” because the Bible doesn’t appeal to the “intelligent” people of the world.
  • Going to church only to be seen and heard (to show off and be acknowledged), instead of truly being born again as a part of the body of Christ.
  • Suing and counter-suing brethren in the worldly courts or bearing grudges against one another (1 Corinthians 6:1-8).
  • Relying solely on doctors, medicine or "faith healers", and not trusting God or using our faith for healing (2 Chronicles 16:12)
Brethren, we should not be loving the evil and darkness of the world (John 3:19-20; 1 John 2:15-17), but rather abhorring what is evil (Romans 12:9), being filled with the Spirit and exposing the fruitless works of darkness (Ephesians 5:11; 18).

Why We Should not Conform to the World

The Bible does acknowledge that we are in the world, but reiterates that we are not of the world (John 17:14-16). Our purpose is to “spread the aroma” of the knowledge of Christ everywhere and to everyone (2 Corinthians 2:14-16), not to partake and enjoy the false allures and counterfeit fragrances of the world. If you choose to follow and live in Christ, you will be hated and persecution will surely follow (John 15:18-21), but the Lord encourages us not be downhearted, but to be cheerful, because He has already overcome (John 16:33).

From the Bible, we learn that it takes one to have solid faith in the Lord in order not to conform to dictates of society that are counter to Biblical Truth. We see examples of children of God who utterly refused to be sucked into the ways of the world, and were prepared to pay the price for obeying God, even when facing death (Revelation 2:10).
  • Noah did not conform to the rampant wickedness and evil inclinations of the antediluvian world (Genesis 6: 5-8). He remained “a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked faithfully with God” (Genesis 6:9).
  • Even though Joseph was hated by his brothers, he did not compromise and conform to their wishes, neither did he conform to the immoral ways of Egypt (Genesis 37:8, 10, 19; 39:6-11).
  • The Hebrew midwives feared God and did not do what the king of Egypt had told them to do; they let the boys live, and were rewarded by the Lord (Exodus 1:17-21).
  • Moses’ parents hid him for three months after he was born, instead of obeying Pharaoh’s edict for the child to be put to death (Exodus 1:22; 2:1-3; Hebrews 11:23).
  • Daniel and his three friends did not conform to the ways of Babylon, including their diet, idols, and corrupt practices, but were steadfast in their commitment to God (Daniel 1:8; 3:16-18; 6:1-9).
From the examples above, we see that those who refuse to love or cling to the world will face hostility and resentment. The Lord Jesus Christ clearly warned us that believers will not be embraced by the world, but will be hated and persecuted, to the point that the persecutors will be deceptively thinking they are doing godly acts (John 16:2-3; 17:14-18). While those who embrace the world may seem to be “enjoying life”, true and lasting peace and hope, even in the midst of hardship and tribulation, can only be found in Christ (John 16:33). What the world enjoys is “the passing pleasures of sin”, which leads to death (Hebrews 11:25; Romans 6:23). Furthermore, the Bible encourages us not to go back to our old ways, but to put on the “new man” (Colossians 3:10; Ephesians 4:24). Those in the world may be “surprised that you do not join them in their reckless, wild living, and they heap abuse on you. But they will have to give account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead” (1 Peter 4:4-5).

A Few Testimonies

A few years ago, a member of our ministry decided to leave her full-time, corporate job, in order to become a full-time Mom and focus on raising and training her young children. This sister had received a deep conviction in her heart that this was the right thing to do, but her family was not in support, citing that all her education would be wasted, among other reasons. After several months of prayer and consultation with her husband, as well as encouragement by the Lord to have faith, the family decided to have their house in order. This lady joyfully resigned from her job, to the consternation of her family, co-workers and friends. While many of her friends and relatives looked up to her before and coveted her position in the world, soon they begun to say demeaning things about her new role and question whether she had made a wise decision. Some people offered to take care of her children in her place. In their minds, taking care of her own children was a "lowly job" - they were willing to work for her, so that she could go back to work and help them instead. However, this godly woman did not relent but kept pressing forward, and she is happily fulfilling her calling and serving the Lord. Nowadays, many people want to acquire more and more material wealth, and raising children becomes a secondary responsibility that is outsourced to someone else. As we shared in the “Raising Godly Children” article, this is the way of the world. Remember the Bible says that we should train up children in the way they should go, so that even when they are old they will not turn from it (Proverbs 22:6). Although it is okay to get help when needed, will the parents have to give account of their responsibility to raise their children? Most definitely! Even though in this world it may be considered lowly to raise one’s own children, the Bible encourages women that is it considered a “good deed” to raise children (1 Timothy 5:10).

As we have shared previously, when the Lord called us into this ministry, we informed our then-pastor of the decision to leave her church and start our home fellowship, and sought her approval. Instead of encouraging us, our pastor had his ministry’s interest at heart, and her advice was for us to remain and use the prophetic gift operating through Charis for the benefit of her ministry. When we asked the Lord, He said that His calling for us is to create a ministry that will minister further away in order to reach souls beyond the scope of the other ministry.

In addition, a couple we know sought the Lord about their children's education, and after much prayer the Lord gave them peace about homeschooling their children. As expected, some people begun to persecute them and say negative things about their decision. However, this couple was not discouraged and they persisted in their faith and they were blessed in their decision. Furthermore, when a person of faith exercises his decision, there would always be those used by the devil to discourage and even question our motives and sanity (Nehemiah 4:1-3; Mark 3:20-21). We encourage you brethren, use your faith for the benefit of the gospel and your salvation, for this move shames Satan (Philippians 2:12). This is what the Lord taught us, that every step of faith is seen as a threat by the devil and in his fury he summons his forces by working through undiscerning people to discourage and ultimately prevent us from exercising our faith. So, be strong and courageous; your faith might inspire others!

Take a Stand

The Bible warns us to “be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:15). Being lukewarm or sitting on the fence is unacceptable to the Lord, and we should choose whether to be “hot” and fully obey the Lord or be “cold” and disobedient (Joshua 24:15; Revelation 3:16).

For those of you who choose to trust and obey the Lord, keep focusing your gaze not on the world, but on the Lord Jesus Christ; do not grow weary and lose heart – courageously continue to pursue your heavenly citizenship with endurance and perseverance! (Philippians 3:20; 2 Corinthians 4:16-18; Hebrews 12:1-3). The Lord Jesus is coming soon – He will turn your mourning into dancing and clothe you with great joy! (Psalm 30:11; John 14:1-4; Revelation 3:11; 22:7, 12, 20).

If you would like to stop conforming to the ways and temporary pleasures of the world, and start following the Lord Jesus Christ, who is able to transform you through His Word and prayer, we invite you to start by praying this Prayer of Sincere Repentance. For any questions or comments on this article or our ministry, please contact us.

Humbly in Christ, our Blessed Hope,
Written by Brother Abes and Sister Janet.