By Faith Burnside
The Bible speaks frequently about believers being separate from the non-believing world, in Romans 12:2 we are told to “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.”
There are a number of verses throughout the Bible telling us to be holy as God is holy (Lev 11:44-45, 1 Peter 1:16, Lev 20:7), that our bodies belong to God (Rom 12:1, 1 Cor 6:19), and that we are no longer in the flesh (Gal 5:16, Rom 8:4-9, Rom 6:6). All of these verses are used to show that God intends for His children to be different than those who do not believe.
This concept is further demonstrated by God’s commands to Israel to not intermarry with other nations and to destroy the evil peoples living in the Promise Land, and of course, the command to not be unequally yoked with the unbeliever. All of these verses fairly firmly establish that God expects more from believers and wants to bring us towards holiness.
Over the centuries of Christianity, this has been practiced in various ways, from the cloistering of nuns and monks to the plain speech and dress of the Quakers, to committed abstinence from drinking and gambling. Christians have strived to separate themselves from the world in so many ways. Today, separation from the world can look very different for every person, to some it is plain dress, to some, it is not watching worldly movies or swearing, and to others, it just means not using God’s name in vain or fornicating.
Taking all of the previously mentioned verses and opinions into account, one is left with the question: what is right?
To what extent do I need to go in order to follow God and be sufficiently separated from the world? Is there a danger in being so separate that you cannot talk to the lost and be a witness? Is it okay to watch movies/read books that have ‘bad things’ in them? Are some bad things okay in movies/books but not others? Is this standard I have set up for myself just a legalism that I have attached to the Gospel?
We see through 2,000 years of church history that these questions cannot be fully answered without question, there are certain verses that can be used as a standard. While not directed to the Church specifically, the 10 commandments are good principles by which to live one's life, likewise, Psalms and Proverbs have many excellent principles about wise living.
Much of James as a wisdom book, includes rules or guidelines for living, as do most of the Epistles (1 Thess 5:8-22,).
However, in these days when our thought life is such a prominent part of our lives, I think that one of the most important verses to focus on in being separate from the world is Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”
If we focus our thoughts on the things that God wants us to be focused on, we will begin to live correctly. God is more concerned about our hearts and motivations than in our self-imposed rules. As the Bible says “...for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. “ Matthew 12:34. What is in our minds and hearts manifests itself in our lives. We are told, “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.” Romans 12:2
I contend that if we obey God in the renewing of our minds and take every thought captive to Christ (2 Cor 10:5), the issue of separation will rectify itself, largely without the issue of legalism that so often rears its head.
By Faith Burnside
“Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:
Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”
That last verse is most frequently used to encourage people to attend church regularly, and is certainly applicable for that. However, when connected with the two verses ahead, it also speaks to a much broader need. Not only are we supposed to attend church, but it is also, and perhaps even equally important to fellowship regularly with the Body of Christ in many ways, whether that be attending a Bible study, meeting with some friends for coffee, inviting a family from church for dinner or just making sure to text a Christian friend. We need to be assembling together, we need to be fellowshipping with other Christians. As it says in Proverbs 27:17 “Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.”
In Christ, we are a family, we are told in Galatians 6:2, that we are to bear one another’s burdens, in Romans 1:12, Paul said we are to encourage each other, because we are a family and all members of one body like it says in Romans 12:4-5 “For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.”.
We need other Christians. I have different gifts than you have, and you have different gifts than other people, and that is why it is important for us to gather and fellowship together so that together we can encourage and serve in greater ways than one person individually could. The last part of Hebrews 10:25 not only urges us to encourage each other, but it adds an important reason, “but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching”.
As times keep getting harder, with the return of Christ drawing nearer, we will continue to need our Christian family more and more. Proverbs 17:17 puts it this way “A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity”.
I hope you can see why it is important to gather together and encourage each other, we need each other to grow, and we will need each other when times get tough, so I encourage you to take the steps to begin building the body up. Invite a Christian friend over for dinner, ask someone at church to coffee, encourage with a Bible verse or song. Take a moment and go out of your way at least once a week to build up a Christian brother or sister.
1 O Lord, our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth! who hast set thy glory above the heavens.
2 Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger.
3 When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained;
4 What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?
5 For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour.
6 Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet:
7 All sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field;
8 The fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas.
9 O Lord our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth!
This not my own original work, but sadly I cannot remember the author who deserves the credit. However, it is well worth reading, contemplating and applying to our lives. ~ Pastor Tony
"Psychologists teach us that there are two mental laws that contribute heavily to our mental state of being.
In other words, whether we’re happy or sad, CHANGE your THOUGHTS and it will Change YOU!
The two laws are: 1: The Law of Concentration. 2: The Law of Substitution.
The Law of Concentration states that whatever we dwell upon grows in our life experience.
Whatever we think about on a continual basis becomes a part of us. Yes, we really do become what we think, and the more we dwell on something, the more we have of it in our lives.
The Law of Substitution states that our conscience mind can only hold one thought at a time.
It makes no difference to our mind whether the thought is "negative" or "positive," it can only hold one at a time.
However, we can choose to substitute "negative" thoughts with "positive" thoughts, thus changing our mental state of being.
The Lord understood these principles when He inserted a couple of scriptures into the Bible: Proverbs 23:7a, "For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he." Isaiah 26:3, "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee."
Now here is where the rubber meets the road . . . We are what we are because of what we have allowed ourselves to concentrate on!
If you find yourself to be an old ( or young) crabby, miserable, negative person that nobody likes to be around . . . guess what? You’re that way because you have allowed yourself to feast on a steady diet of crabby, miserable, negative thoughts.
If you bake a cake and it doesn’t turn out like you want, you can blame the oven all day long . . . but that won’t change the outcome of your next cake.
If you want to change the outcome of the next cake . . . change the recipe!... change the time of cooking…. Change the dedication you give to making sure the cake turns out to be as perfect as you can make it.
Remember: The definition of insanity is: Doing the same old things, but hoping things will change.
If you find that you’re not the person you want to be, you can blame your circumstances all day long, but that will never change anything.
If you want to change . . . change the recipe of your life!
Try substituting negative thoughts with positive ones. And do you know what?
If you’ll concentrate on what’s right in your life instead of what is wrong . . . what’s good instead of what’s bad . . . what’s sweet instead of what’s bitter . . . you’ll find that you will become a totally different person . . . and the only thing that changed . . . were your thought patterns!
There are two simple mental and Spiritual laws to happiness in life, and psychologist didn’t invent them . . . God did!
1: Concentration: Proverbs 23: 7a, "For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he." 2: Substitution: Isaiah 26: 3, "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee."
Happiness comes when we stop wailing about the troubles we have, and offer thanks for all the troubles we don’t have. "For who has known or understood the mind (the counsels and purposes) of the Lord so as to guide and instruct [Him] and give Him knowledge? But we have the mind of Christ, the Messiah, and do hold the thoughts (feelings and purposes) of His heart." (1 Corinthians 2:16).
Isn’t it exciting to realize that you can hold the thoughts and feelings and purposes of God’s very own heart in your heart?
You should be thrilled to know the Creator of heaven and earth wants to be one spirit with you and transmit His thoughts to your mind?
First Corinthians 6:17 says that when you were joined to the Lord you became one spirit with Him. He came into union with you so that He can talk to you heart to heart through the Holy Spirit. God wants you in this harmony with Him so that His thoughts can become your actions.
He wants you to walk so closely with Him that you never lack power to overcome the evil of this world.
He wants you to be so in tune with His Spirit that you are able to feel His heart of compassion toward those around you who are hurting or bowed down with sickness and pain.
He wants you to consent to become one with Him, just as He has committed to be one with you, so that He can reach out through your hands and fulfill His purposes in the earth.
“This is the day that the Lord has made” and it should be the day when we make a fresh commitment to walk in union with our God.
Give your attention to His Spirit in your inner man. Determine to yield to His voice and not to the voices of the world or the flesh! Determine to yield to His fresh leadership of your life, and not to the traditions of men.
1 Do I realize the reality of Christ living in me? 2 Cor. 13:5 Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you unless, of course, you fail the test?
2. What voice am I listening to in times of crisis or decision making? The call of the flesh for gratification? The call of the world to act and to as it says? Or are you heeding the Word of God as it applies to the situation you find confronting you?
Romans 8:12-15 Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh.  For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.  For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.  For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.
We must allow the mind of Christ to flow through us!
By faith you can have your mind renewed if you will begin to read the Word of God daily and to the best of your understanding and ability; begin to apply that part of it that applies to you, in your daily responses to life.
Romans 12:14 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God, this is your spiritual act of worship. 2Do not conform any longer 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.
This is a written directive of God’s will.
Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Now then, since we know what God wants and how He wants you to begin, it is our decision.
Will we continue to use the same old recipes which have not worked. Instead we must try God’s new recipes they have worked in countless millions of lives who became serious about their situation, and decided to let God help."