/ / What Does the Bible Mean by We Are Not of This World?

What Does the Bible Mean by We Are Not of This World?

What does the Bible mean when it says we are not of this world? This may seem like an odd statement to some, especially those who aren’t believers. Well, as a Christian, you have likely felt you no longer fit in with the pattern of this world as you knew it before finding Jesus. The worldly things you once enjoyed may now make you uncomfortable or maybe you just simply don’t find enjoyment in them anymore.

I know there have been many times, especially lately, that I have realized just how out of place children of God can feel. I feel like an outsider, and that’s because the reality is, I am!

I don’t belong in this world because this world is NOT my home! Or at least it should be the case with us as we try to live godly lives pleasing to Christ Jesus.

But what happens when we try to have one foot in the Kingdom and one in the world? What happens when we try to live for God and, at the same time, try to please people or even try to please our own flesh?

Read on to learn what it means to be IN the world but not OF it!

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Be IN the World Not OF it!

We often hear as believers that we are to be in the world but not of it. In fact, this is even in Scripture.

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John 17:16 says:

“They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.”

ESV

What does the Bible mean when it says we are not of this world. To see what Jesus meant here, we need to look back another couple of verses to put it all in context.

John 17:14-16 says:

“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. I am not asking You to take them out of the world, but to keep them away from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.”

NASB

You see, we live IN the world, that goes without saying. Jesus lived IN the world as well, but He was not OF it. He was of the perfect will of the Father and because we are people who follow the Word, the world will “hate” us. They don’t understand us.

But Jesus didn’t ask that we be taken out of the world (in other words, He never asked that we be sheltered from others or live lives in seclusion from the world) but that the grace of God would guard us from the enemy and from the evil of this present age.

We live our lives for Him and His Kingdom, not to build our own and not to conform to the standards the world tells us we need to live by. The enemy is a haunting presence in society, always going against the Word of God and Christ’s Kingdom. He tries to keep people as far from God as he can and he does this by having people follow worldly passions. We are not immune to this if we are not careful and that is what Jesus asked of the Father; to hedge us in and guard us while we live in a worldly society.

Keep in mind that people are not our enemies. The Bible tells us we wrestle not against flesh and blood (Ephesians 6:12) but against the ruler of THIS WORLD and the spiritual forces of evil.

But many times, we try to compromise and we try to keep an equal measure of God and world and it doesn’t work.

We cannot live with one foot in the world and one in the Kingdom. We are either all in or all out! Be IN this present world but not OF the world giving way to the desires of the flesh. Be transformed by the renewal of your mind, the Word says (Romans 12:2)

Colossians 3:2 says:

“Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.”

ESV
We cannot live with one foot in the world and one in the Kingdom. We are either all in or all out! Click To Tweet

What Does it Mean by We are Not of This World?

So we see, as believers, this world is not our home. We have an eternal home when there will be a new Heaven and a new earth, the New Jerusalem that has been perfected and in the meanwhile, we are to be busy! Dear children of God, we are here to serve Him and be a light to those who are lost. We are missionaries on this planet to show the love of Jesus and the love of the Father to the whole world.

We are not here to please ourselves and do what we like. We are to be the hands and feet of Jesus. We are to be fulfilling the Great Commission, showing people the mercies of God. We no longer live for ourselves but live for Christ.

This is especially true of those of us in ministry! People are watching you! Some are watching you because they look to you as a mentor and some are watching you to find the first opportunity to see you slip up or label you a hypocrite! Jesus was watched closely for those same reasons!

When you are living OF the world, when you are a “friend of the world” you are an “enemy of God” (James 4:4) and you can put a stumbling block in front of a Christian who is young in the faith.

We are not here to please ourselves and do what we like. We are to be the hands and feet of Jesus. Click To Tweet

Come Out From Among Them and Be Separate

2 Corinthians 6:17 says:

“Therefore, ‘Come out from among them and be separate’, says the Lord. ‘Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.'”

NIV
a hand on a doorknob and 2 Corinthians 6:17 quoted in NIV

If you continue to enjoy the same “worldly” things, the same things of the world you did prior to being saved then you are not any different than anyone else. You have not experienced a renewing of your mind. When people look at us, will they see a change? Will they see Jesus? Or will they see the same person they did before?

The Lord Jesus Christ was clear that we would give up a lot. We would give up things, we would give up what interested us before, and yes, we would at times even have to give up people.

Matthew 19:29:

“And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.”

NIV

Luke 14:26:

“If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters — yes, even their own life — such a person cannot be my disciple.”

NIV

You see, you and I don’t belong in this world. We don’t fit in and we shouldn’t seek to. We should seek to be different, to be like Jesus, the light of the world! We should seek the will of God, which is often in conflict with the will of the world system.

We cannot be on social media swearing or spewing political rants and expect people to see us as a light! God never called us to challenge people’s political beliefs on social media. He called us to focus on the good things of the Word and its teachings and training which will equip us for every good work.

2 Timothy 3:16-17:

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”

ESV

You and I don’t belong in this world with its focus on ME and what pleases ME instead of what pleases God.

I am NOT of this world! I am of the coming Kingdom of God on earth and all that it encompasses!

Do I mess up and sometimes find myself on the wrong side of the fence? You bet! We are still sinful in nature! But we should be seeking to put those things behind us, not relish in them. There IS a difference between slipping up and making mistakes and willfully enjoying the things we should be leaving behind. With the help of the Holy Spirit we can do God’s will and live lives pleasing to God, not fulfilling the lust of the flesh.

You and I don’t belong in this world. We don’t fit in and we shouldn’t seek to. We should seek to be different, to be like Jesus, the light of the world! We should seek the will of God, which is often in conflict with the will of… Click To Tweet

Giving Up What We Once Loved

I used to be a BIG fan of scary movies! I love cuddling up on the couch and watching a good horror movie! I say “love” and not “loved” because I didn’t all of a sudden just hate scary movies when I got saved! 

BUT…while I admit I do still love scary movies I do not watch them anymore. I didn’t wait for my feelings to line up with my desire to be obedient to God and give up things that are not healthy for my spirit or my witness. Giving it up was the only way for me to be an effective witness and mentor on behalf of Christ.

I used to love some bands that I choose not to listen to anymore. My teenage days of enjoying Judas Priest and Ozzy Osbourne (yep…I did) are over even though I still did love some of their music. I had to make the choice to come out from that and be separate. Just because I loved it doesn’t mean it was good for me.

We are not of this world any longer. The things I enjoyed at one time I have had to decide paled in comparison to the joy I have in following Christ. And even though I might be a strong enough Christian to be able to listen to some music or watch a scary movie, it could put a stumbling block in front of someone else. And this is especially true of those of us in ministry.

 Like it or not, when you enter ministry you are held to a high standard of accountability. You are watched. You are (unfortunately) judged. You are modeled after. And you will be criticized and judged. Jesus said we would be treated that way just as He was!

You cannot talk about righteousness out of one side of your mouth and then sing of worldliness out of the other.

You may have political opinions but if you express them in certain ways on social media, are you bringing people closer to Christ or pushing them further away? Much time is spent on social media for political purposes these days or giving our opinions on various topics that seem to inundate us when the best things we could be occupying our time with involve showing the love of God to those who may not know Him yet.

You cannot talk about righteousness out of one side of your mouth and then sing of worldliness out of the other. Click To Tweet

You Cannot Straddle the Fence

We do not belong to the world and Jesus made it clear in Revelation 3:16 that straddling the fence is not acceptable.

“So because you are lukewarm — neither hot nor cold — I am about to spit you out of my mouth.”

NIV

We either have to be on fire for God and offer ourselves as a living sacrifice, holy to God, or all in with the world but we cannot have a little of both. We can be IN the world and not of it but we cannot be in God’s Kingdom and not of it!

What are some things you’ve enjoyed in the past that you had to say goodbye to in order to live for the Kingdom? Share in the comments!

Scripture quotations are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™

NASB – “Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. Copyright by The Lockman Foundation

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2 Comments

  1. I was just talking to a friend about this the other day! When we are saved, we take off our old selves and put on hew. There are choices we need to make including leaving behind old habits, media and desires. Thanks for another eye-opening post.

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