They are not of the world. . . . I also have sent them into the world.
–John 17:16, 18
Becoming a Christian is easy, but living as a Christian is quite difficult. Have you discovered that to be true? Part of the difficulty in living as a Christian is admittedly our fault, such as our lack of discipline, our thirst for success, and our pursuit of pleasure. But some of the difficulty in living the Christian life is God’s fault.
Let’s face it: God has given us a complex assignment. He has told us to live in two worlds at the same time. On the one hand, Christians are to be residents of this world. We are to give our time and attention to things on earth such as our work, our families, and our finances. Scripture is clear: God wants us to do more than just endure this world He has created. We are supposed to enjoy it. Yet the Bible also says that while we fulfill our responsibilities in this world, we are to focus on the next world. We are to set our minds “on the things above, not on the things that are on earth” (Colossians 3:2). So which is it, God? Make up Your mind. Are we supposed to be focused on this world or the next world? The Bible says this world is not our home but it is our residence. And Jesus said we are to live in the world, but we are not “of the world” (John 17:16). How do we pull that off? How do we live in two places at the same time? In his letter to the Philippians, Paul explained how to live between two worlds.
In Philippians 3, Paul talked about two extremes that will rob you of joy in your relationship with God. The first extreme is legalism. Legalism is trying to earn your relationship with God through good works. The legalist is a person who believes that either his works or his works combined with God’s grace will earn God’s approval. Now here’s the problem with legalism. How do you know when you have done enough? How do you know when you’ve done enough to earn God’s approval in your life? That’s why the legalist never has any joy.
There is an opposite extreme that we need to avoid as well, and that is hedonism. Hedonism is living your life to please yourself. There are many people today who profess to be Christians and because they have their get-out-of-hell-free card, they are now living however they choose to live. In fact, if you look at these professing Christians, their attitudes, their actions, and their words are absolutely no different than a nonbeliever’s. Let me say this very clearly: a professing Christian who lives like a non-Christian has no hope of heaven whatsoever. Good works are not a requirement for salvation, but they are the result of salvation. As James said, faith without works is a dead, nonexistent faith. In Philippians 3, Paul made it very clear that a genuine Christian is somebody who lives obediently in this world while at the same time focused on the next world.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Between Two Worlds” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2007.
Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.