A Christian's Relations to the World.
THE point of view from which a Christian is taught to regard everything, whether heavenly or earthly, is the Cross. His estimate of present things is to be taken from thence. But the world, viewed from that point, is a withered and a desolate thing. It is already a judged world. A man in Christ is one who is, by faith already alive from the dead. He is thus dissociated effectually from all that which is not standing in the power of redemption. The basis and condition of true Christian society is life in the risen and ascended Christ. To recognize a fellowship on any other basis, is to deny in principle the first truth of the Gospel; hence the earnestness of the exhortation from the varied forms of natural evil, which in their aggregate express “the world,” addressed to the believer's conscience. Testimony and not communion is the proper character of a Christian's intercourse with the world.
It is the end of a man that determines his way. But a Christian’s end is Christ. “To me to live is Christ.” He has not many characters to sustain, but one. To associate for the sake of personal advantage with those who love not the Lord, is to dishonor Him, and to bring the rebuke of His Spirit on our souls by declining the cross and departing from the place of testimony to His name. To enter into combination or confederacy with unbelievers for the furtherance of objects common to all, is to forget that no object can exist in the heart of a spiritual man in separation from the glory of God as its end. But that glory can, on our part, be asserted only by obedience to the truth; and it is the Word of Truth that denies community of interest to be compatible with the difference which God has established permanently between a Christian and the world.
A simple-minded Christian is not deceived by names so long as he is nourished by the sincere milk of the Word. By such a one, the difference between flesh and spirit, between God and the world, is not only confessed as a doctrine, but experimentally understood. He knows—and it is indeed a solemn consideration—that the truth of God in Christ, if it be not effectual through faith unto salvation in them that hear, is to the negligent and unbelieving, a witness unto condemnation and a token of destruction. The world has not become the friend of God because it has borrowed the name and outward profession of Christ. If Jesus be not owned in truth, according to the witness and in the power of the Holy Ghost, the debased and misappropriated doctrines of the Gospel are but the spoils of God's dishonored Son, for which inquiry shall surely be made at the appointed time.
“The Witness” (J. Inglis) 1870