Sabbath, September 24, 2016
“By His own example the Saviour has shown that His followers can be in the world and yet not of the world. He came not to partake of its delusive pleasures, to be swayed by its customs, and to follow its practices, but to do His Father’s will, to seek and save the lost. With this object before him the Christian may stand uncontaminated in any surroundings. Whatever his station or circumstances, exalted or humble, he will manifest the power of true religion in the faithful performance of duty.” –The Acts of the Apostles, p. 467.
Separate from the world
1. How does God characterize His people? What does He command?
Deuteronomy 14:2 For thou art an holy people unto the Lord thy God, and the Lord hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth.
Exodus 20:2, 3 I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. 3Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
Matthew 6:24 No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.
“Christians are to keep themselves distinct and separate from the world, its spirit, and its influences. God is fully able to keep us in the world, but we are not to be of the world. His love is not uncertain and fluctuating. Ever He watches over His children with a care that is measureless. But He requires undivided allegiance. ‘No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.’ “ Matthew 6:24.” –Prophets and Kings, p. 59.
2. What is one of Satan’s primary ways to ensnare God’s people? Why does this work so well for him?
James 4:4 Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.
1 John 2:15, 17 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him…. 17And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.
“God had separated the Israelites from every other people, to make them His own peculiar treasure. But they, disregarding this high honor, eagerly desired to imitate the example of the heathen! And still the longing to conform to worldly practices and customs exists among the professed people of God. As they depart from the Lord they become ambitious for the gains and honors of the world. Christians are constantly seeking to imitate the practices of those who worship the god of this world. Many urge that by uniting with worldlings and conforming to their customs they might exert a stronger influence over the ungodly. But all who pursue this course thereby separate from the Source of their strength. Becoming the friends of the world, they are the enemies of God. For the sake of earthly distinction they sacrifice the unspeakable honor to which God has called them, of showing forth the praises of Him who hath called us out of darkness into His marvelous light. 1 Peter 2:9.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 607.
“Never does man show greater folly than when he seeks to secure acceptance and recognition in the world by sacrificing in any degree the allegiance and honor due to God. When we place ourselves where God cannot cooperate with us, our strength will be found weakness.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 7, p. 151.
God’s instruction to keep His people from danger
3. What danger do those who unite with and imitate the world face?
Matthew 16:26 For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?
Mark 8:36 For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?
“There is constant danger that professing Christians will come to think that in order to have influence with worldlings, they must to a certain extent conform to the world. But though such a course may appear to afford great advantages, it always ends in spiritual loss. Against every subtle influence that seeks entrance by means of flattering inducements from the enemies of truth, God’s people must strictly guard. They are pilgrims and strangers in this world, traveling a path beset with danger. To the ingenious subterfuges and alluring inducements held out to tempt from allegiance, they must give no heed.
“It is not the open and avowed enemies of the cause of God that are most to be feared.” –Prophets and Kings, pp. 570, 571.
4. What did the Lord instruct His people for their protection?
Deuteronomy 7:2-4 And when the Lord thy God shall deliver them before thee;… thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor shew mercy unto them: 3Neither shalt thou make marriages with them; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son. 4For they will turn away thy son from following me, that they may serve other gods: so will the anger of the Lord be kindled against you, and destroy thee suddenly.
Romans 12:2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
2 Corinthians 6:14-16 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? 15And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? 16And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
“The principles set forth in Deuteronomy for the instruction of Israel are to be followed by God’s people to the end of time. True prosperity is dependent on the continuance of our covenant relationship with God. Never can we afford to compromise principle by entering into alliance with those who do not fear Him.” –Prophets and Kings, p. 570.
“Never should God’s people venture upon forbidden ground. Marriage between believers and unbelievers is forbidden by God….
“Those who profess the truth trample on the will of God in marrying unbelievers; they lose His favor and make bitter work for repentance. The unbelieving may possess an excellent moral character, but the fact that he or she has not answered to the claims of God and has neglected so great salvation is sufficient reason why such a union should not be consummated.” –The Adventist Home, p. 63.
“Even in business relations we cannot, without involving principle, connect ourselves with those who are not loyal to God. What the one party feels that conscience forbids, the other allows. And this not merely in regard to religious matters, but in business transactions.” –Historical Sketches of the Foreign Missions of the Seventh-day Adventists, pp. 215, 216
5. What firm counsel does the Lord give?
Isaiah 52:11 Depart ye, depart ye, go ye out from thence, touch no unclean thing; go ye out of the midst of her; be ye clean, that bear the vessels of the Lord.
Acts 2:40 And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation.
2 Corinthians 6:17, 18 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, 18And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.
“It was by associating with idolaters and joining in their festivities that the Hebrews were led to transgress God’s law and bring His judgments upon the nation. So now it is by leading the followers of Christ to associate with the ungodly and unite in their amusements that Satan is most successful in alluring them into sin. ‘Come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean.’ 2 Corinthians 6:17. God requires of His people now as great a distinction from the world, in customs, habits, and principles, as He required of Israel anciently. If they faithfully follow the teachings of His word, this distinction will exist; it cannot be otherwise.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 458.
“The world is given up to self-indulgence. ‘The lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life’ control the masses of the people. But Christ’s followers have a holier calling. ‘Come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean.’ In the light of God’s word we are justified in declaring that sanctification cannot be genuine which does not work this utter renunciation of the sinful pursuits and gratifications of the world.” –The Great Controversy, p. 475.
6. Why does God emphasize the importance of His people’s being separate from the world?
1 Peter 1:14-16 As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: 15But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; 16Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.
Leviticus 20:24, 26 But I have said unto you, Ye shall inherit their land, and I will give it unto you to possess it, a land that floweth with milk and honey: I am the Lord your God, which have separated you from other people…. 26And ye shall be holy unto me: for I the Lord am holy, and have severed you from other people, that ye should be mine.
Numbers 23:9 For from the top of the rocks I see him, and from the hills I behold him: lo, the people shall dwell alone, and shall not be reckoned among the nations.
“Christ calls upon every one to consider. Make an honest reckoning. Put into one scale Jesus, which means eternal treasure, life, truth, heaven, and the joy of Christ in souls redeemed; put into the other every attraction the world can offer. Into one scale put the loss of your own soul, and the souls of those whom you might have been instrumental in saving; into the other, for yourself and for them, a life that measures with the life of God. Weigh for time and for eternity. While you are thus engaged, Christ speaks: ‘What shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?’ “ –Messages to Young People, p. 130.
Labor in the world to save souls
7. However, while being separate from the world, what special privilege and responsibility do God’s people carry?
John 17:16, 17 They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 17Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.
Matthew 5:16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
“Between the worldly man and the one who is faithfully serving God, there is a great gulf fixed. Upon the most momentous subjects–God and truth and eternity–their thoughts and sympathies and feelings are not in harmony….
“But we are to beware of indulging a spirit of bigotry and intolerance. We are not to stand aside from others in a spirit that seems to say, ‘Come not near me; I am holier than thou.’ Do not shut yourselves away from your fellow men, but seek to impart to them the precious truth that has blessed your own heart. Let it be manifest that yours is the religion of love….
“But if we are Christians, having the Spirit of Him who died to save men from their sins, we shall love the souls of our fellow men too well to countenance their sinful pleasures by our presence or our influence. We cannot sanction their course by associating with them, partaking in their feasts and their councils, where God does not preside. Such a course, so far from benefiting them, would only cause them to doubt the reality of our religion. We should be false lights, by our example leading souls to ruin.” –Selected Messages, book 2, pp. 127, 128.
For personal study
“I appeal to the churches in every conference. Stand out separate and distinct from the world–in the world, but not of it, reflecting the bright beams of the Sun of Righteousness, being pure, holy, and undefiled, and in faith carrying light into all the highways and byways of the earth.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 6, p. 437.
Messages to Young People, pp. 129-131, 81, 82.
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, pp. 535, 536, 209, 210.