I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. (John 17:15-17)Last week we discussed the subject of sanctification from the perspective that the Christian is in the world but not of it, because God Himself separates the righteous from the unrighteous. God has always done this and He always will. This is what I referred to as the “theological side” of sanctification. The question before us now is this: How do Christians live out, in the day-to-day, their sanctification?
Are we to close ourselves off--much like the Amish--from the rest of the world, or practice some sort of monasticism? I think not. For Jesus clearly says, “I do not pray that You should take them out of the world” (John 17:15). Thus, we are called to have meaningful points of contact with the world around us; and at those points of contact, we are to be salt and light. We are not to simply withdraw from the world around us. For example, the Apostle Paul writes, “I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep company with sexually immoral people. Yet I certainly did not mean with the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world” (1Cor. 5:9-10). How shall we love and evangelize our neighbor if we will not “keep company” with him?
Since we are not to withdraw from the culture around us, and since we are not to be unduly influenced by the world, we must seek to combat our natural or carnal tendency toward worldliness. In short, we must fill or instill our hearts and minds with the word of God. Notice, Jesus prays, in His high priestly prayer, “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth” (John17:17). God’s word, active in our hearts and minds separates us from the world. So, first of all, we must fill our hearts and minds with true knowledge of God and with true love and devotion for God.
The only way to combat error is with truth. The truth of God, as revealed in the Holy Bible, should act as a grid or a filter; God’s instrument in our mind to expose error. For example, when a song is played in our hearing, or a movie for our viewing; we should consciously evaluate the song’s/movie’s message(s) or theme(s) in the light of God’s word. Neither we, nor our children, will do this little exercise without mental training. We must develop in ourselves and in our children the art of critical--or shall I say biblical--thinking. I am speaking now of the need for Christians to be discerning. Perhaps we should ask ourselves and/or our children, “Does this entertainment’s message [and all entertainment does have a message] concerning love, sex, women/men, religion, etc., agree with God’s truth?” It is understood that we cannot thwart worldliness in the minds of the ungodly but we can train and discipline our own minds.
Second, we should seek to live consistent Christian lives, eschewing all contradiction. In other words, we should avoid hypocrisy. I’ve heard it said tongue-in-cheek, “One definition of a hypocrite is this: Someone who is constantly offended by all of the sex, language, and violence, coming from their VCR.” [Obviously, this definition is somewhat dated. Perhaps now, in the name of precision, we should say that a hypocrite is someone who is constantly offended by the things coming from their "dvd player."]
The bottom line here is this: Our homes should be Godly. We cannot control music/media in the world, but we certainly can control it in our own homes. And yes, this includes controlling what our children say, hear, and watch in our homes. The attitude needs to be something along the line, “Ours is a Christian home and the media we bring into our home will reflect this.”
Now, I’ve no intention of being legalistic, offering some sort of unbiblical “checklist” for all forms of media acceptable in a Christian home. The matter concerning sanctifying our home and home life should be done prayerfully, biblically, and authentically under the Lordship of Christ. What the Griffins allow you may not, and what you allow the Griffins may not. We are not called to please each other, to give an account to each other, as much as we are called to please and to give an account to God.
Each day affords ample opportunity for us to humbly teach and model godliness to our neighbor [in the biblical sense of the word] and to our children; not by withdrawing from the culture, but by engaging the culture from within a biblical worldview. Finally, I close with a sad observation, written some years ago: The problem is not that the church is in the world but that the world is in the church.
Let us pray as Jesus prayed: Father, do not take the Church out of the world, but please, do take the world out of the Church. Amen.