Jumping Into a Blender with the World
You wake up in the morning and start your day. With your day underway, you begin the process of interacting with other people. For instance, your interaction may begin when you download your daily email or you read your friends updated Facebook status. For another person, their interaction could begin when they stop for a cup of coffee on their way to work. For school age young people, their interaction begins when they climb the stairs of the bus or enter the doors of the school. Every Christian must face the challenges of interacting with people of the world. (See 1 Corinthians 5:9-10)
The challenge for children of God, when interacting with people of the world, is to not be conformed to the behavior patterns and thought processes of worldly people. The apostle Paul wrote, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (Romans 12:2) When Christians associate with people of the world, they must work to overcome the worldly influences.
The Israelite nation serves as an example of how worldly influences can overthrow God’s people. The history of Israel is replete with instances of Israel following in the footsteps of the heathen nations. A reference to one such instance is found in Hosea’s warnings to Israel. Hosea 7:8-9 reads, “Ephraim mixes himself with the peoples; Ephraim is a cake not turned. Strangers devour his strength, and he knows it not; gray hairs are sprinkled upon him, and he knows it not.” (Hosea 7:8-9, ESV) The people of the northern nation of Israel had mixed themselves with the people of the heathen nations. From the results seen in their behavior, the mixing was more than simple friendship. The nation of Israel assimilated the heathenism and practices of idolatry into their lives. They imitated the materialism and attitudes of pride and arrogance by which the foreign nations lived.
Israel suffered great consequences due to their mixing with the nations of the world. One such consequence was Israel’s loss of strength. According to Hosea, the foreign nations devoured Israel’s strength. By luring Israel into a godless state, the heathen nations led Israel away from God. God stood ready to be Israel’s strength and shield. (Psalms 28:7) However, Israel was living in a state of adultery, having abandoned God for the gods of the foreign nations. Israel was so enraptured in their relationship with the foreign nations that they were blind to the fact they were without strength.
Just as Israel lived in a land littered with immoral influences, so too do Christians live in an immoral world. Christians face the same challenge of living in the world, but not being as the world. The apostle Paul warned the church in Corinth against mixing with the sinful practices and idolatrous worship of the world. Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 10:19-22:
What am I saying then? That an idol is anything, or what is offered to idols is anything? Rather, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice they sacrifice to demons and not to God, and I do not want you to have fellowship with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the Lord’s table and of the table of demons. Or do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than He? (1 Corinthians 10:19-22)
Paul warned the brethren against participating in the false religions of the day. It is not possible to offer true worship unto God and engage in the practices associated with worshiping idols or any other false or man-made religions.
In considering again Israel’s transgressions, we see that Israel, in their very thoughts, desires, and behaviors, left the Lord God. In the first century, it was the practices associated with idol worship which defiled many Christians. Jesus rebuked the church in Thyatira for allowing Jezebel to lead some of their young men into fornication and other such sins. God’s children must learn to avoid the sinful thoughts, desires, and behaviors of worldly people. Allowing one’s self to behave sinfully will result in a Christian losing his strength.
James rebuked the recipients of his letter for their friendship with the world. From what James wrote, it would seem that the saints had begun to think as the world, behave as the world, and talk as the world. James referred to the guilty saints as, “Adulterers and adulteresses.” (James 4:4, NKJV) The English Standard Version renders the phrase, “You adulterous people!” Christians who mix with thoughts, desires, and behaviors with that of the world commit adultery against God. (cf. James 4)
To keep the saints in Corinth from such an adulterous relationship, the apostle Paul urged the saints in Corinth not to be “unequally yoked together with unbelievers.” To be “unequally yoked” with an unbeliever is much more than simple friendship. In practical terms, being “unequally yoked” means that Christians should not “yoke” or join themselves together with unbelievers in matters contrary to God’s words. Paul illustrates this truth in 2 Corinthians 6:14-18. After drawing several contrasts, such as “what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness” or “what communion has light with darkness,” the apostle Paul referenced phrases from the Old Testament writings to show that God expects Christians to walk separately from the world. The apostle Paul writes, “As God has said: ‘I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be my people.’ Therefore ‘come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you.’ ‘I will be a Father to you, and you shall be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.’” (2 Corinthians 6:16-18; cf. Leviticus 26:12)
In your daily life, it is acceptable to walk with your friends and talk with your friends. However, never walk with your friends down a path that leads away from the Lord. The path to heaven is paved with faithful obedience to the Lord. Walk faithfully with your Lord and Savior. (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:7) Do not allow yourself to become mixed with the sinful thoughts, desires, and practices of the world.