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Set Apart – a blog post

April 27, 2018

My wife and I have gotten interested in a new TV series this year, entitled Young Sheldon. It’s a “prequel” to the Big Bang Theory (which we’ve never seen), but we’ve found the show pretty entertaining. It’s about 9-year old Sheldon Cooper, growing up in East Texas as an ultra-intelligent prodigy in math and science. He has a brother in high school and now they are in the same grade – awkward, eh?

Sheldon has been blessed with a gift in math and science and we see him come to grips with it and realize his purpose in life, as such, is to be set apart to do something special in that field. When Sheldon is pressured to do things the other kids are doing, when he loses sight of his purpose, he gets in a mess. His family recognizes his giftedness and loves him through his quirks.

 

If you have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ, you’ve been set apart for His purpose, and there is something different about you. Jesus loves you right where you are and just as you are. If you give in to the ways of the world and listen to the voices calling for compromise, you will find yourself living, at best, a divided life and living well beneath the privilege God intended for you.

God has called us to choose. We are either going to love the Father and live for Him, set apart for His purpose, or we are going to love and live for the world. It’s really a daily decision of who we are going to live for. John addresses that in I John 2:12-17.

I John 2:12-17, 12 I am writing to you, little children, since your sins have been forgiven on account of his name. 13 I am writing to you, fathers, because you have come to know the one who is from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have conquered the evil one. 14 I have written to you, children, because you have come to know the Father. I have written to you, fathers, because you have come to know the one who is from the beginning. I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, God’s word remains in you, and you have conquered the evil one. 15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride in one’s possessions—is not from the Father, but is from the world. 17 And the world with its lust is passing away, but the one who does the will of God remains forever.

John uses terms here which refer not so much to chronological age, but to levels of spiritual growth.

  • Little children or children (all believers) your sins have been forgiven on account of his name – not by your blood, but His, not for your glory, but His.
  • Young men (those young in the faith) – He says he’s writing to you because you have overcome the evil one, because God’s Word has made you strong.
  • Fathers – He says he’s writing to you because you have a real an growing relationship with the one who is from the beginning.

He identifies them as believers, but he’s also exhorting them to stay the course, to remain in the Word, continue in the Lord.

John 15:4, Remain in me, and I in you. Just as a branch is unable to produce fruit by itself unless it remains on the vine, neither can you unless you remain in me.

For the believer, the declaration that you are following Christ also brings with it the tug of the world to not stay set apart, but to look more like the world.

James 4:4, You adulterous people! Don’t you know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God?

 

The phrase “do not love the world or things in the world” in v 15 literally translated, means “stop loving the world”. Does that mean I can’t enjoy things that the world has to offer? I can’t love Mexican food anymore? I can’t love barbecue? (Why are all of my illustrations about food?). That’s not what it’s saying at all. It IS saying, however, that anything you love more than you love God is out of balance, it’s unacceptable, it’s putting the world first. Anything you are unwilling to part with in order to be more available to God, anytime you prioritize something over the Lord – it’s putting the world first.

 

John gives 3 reasons why believers must not love the world.

  • Because we’ve been set apart
    • Leviticus 20:26, You are to be holy to me because I, the Lord, am holy, and I have set you apart from the nations to be mine.
  • Because the world is not redeemed – John gives us 3 examples of what is in the world:
    • Lust of the flesh,
    • Lust of the eyes
    • Pride of life
  • Because the world is temporary

Following the ways of the world may bring temporary pleasure, but the cost may be bigger than you realize. Surrendering to the ways of the world…

  • Compromises your witness – You are a representative of Christ, one of His sales reps, one who has been set apart to show Christ to the world.
  • Compromises your discernment – as you walk more in the ways of the world, it becomes normal to you and you can’t tell where the world ends and the Lord begins.
  • Compromises your family – As they see you making choices which put less of a priority on the Lord and more on the things of self and the world, they see that as ok.

Is it time to take stock of your life and ask yourself “does my life reflect a love for the Lord or a love for the world?” “Is the Lord really my primary focus?”

Blessed,
Tony Watson
Senior Pastor
First Baptist Church
Palestine, TX

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