Bible Reading: 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1

As a young Christian I used to regularly hear the phrase, “A Christian should be in the world but not of the world.” It is a good catchphrase but I often puzzled about its real meaning. What is the meaning of the word “world” and what does it mean to be in the world but not of it?

Let me begin by saying that the world is something far more than just a wrong lifestyle. Sometimes Christians have regarded the world as things like smoking, addictions, living for pleasure, promiscuity, etc., but these are merely symptoms of worldliness. “The world is that invisible and yet surrounding atmosphere in which we live, and which erodes faith, dissipates hope and corrupts love” [Charles Swindoll]. God’s standards are absolute!

The Ten Commandments are absolutes! The world hates absolutes, and loves relativism and syncretism. I once heard Leighton Ford, Billy Graham’s brother-in- law say, “To many the only absolute is the absolute that there are no absolutes.” The values of God and the world are totally opposite and opposed to each other. John writes, “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” [1 John 2:15].

Paul was deeply concerned that the Corinthian believers should not follow the spirit of this world. He calls it by various names: darkness, the devil, idolatry, filthy things, and says that we should be separated from these. We live in this fallen world but we live with a different spirit – the Holy Spirit. We are witnesses to the world because we live in the Holy Spirit, and that life is so different to the spirit of the world.

We have boundaries! The word separate [verse 17] is translated from the Greek word aphorizo and literally means to set off by boundary. We don’t team up [become yoked] with unbelievers. We don’t partner with wickedness!

There is bound to be compromise when a Christian business owner joins his business to an unbeliever. It is disobedience when a Christian chooses to marry an unbeliever. Occasionally, because of God’s grace, such a union is successful, but normally the Christian has to compromise and their faith and testimony will be weakened. Spurgeon once said that it is far easier for an unbeliever to pull the believer down to their level than for the believer to pull the unbeliever up to where they are.

We will continue this theme tomorrow and take a look at the promises God gives to those who choose to live by the boundaries that honour Him


Why is it important that as God’s children we have clearly defined boundaries? Read James 1:27. What do you think James means when he says that we are to keep ourselves unspotted from the world?

Sometimes when a believer chooses not to do things that cross God’s boundaries they are accused of being boring. How would you answer such an accusation?