Editors note: The purpose of this series is to help our readers understand what sin is, how serious sin is, and how great the grace of God, who offers redemption to sinners from sin and new life in Christ.
- David Dunham opened our series on sin with a look at sin and biochemical brokenness.
- Zach wrote on overcoming a sinful theology of Lent and Fasting.
- Nick Batzig wrote on two dangers and three duties in confessing sin to one another.
- Dave wrote on indwelling sin, positional sanctification, and progressive sanctification.
- Dave wrote on living however you want a looking at Romans 6:1-2.
- Matt Perman wrote on the biblical evidence for original sin.
- Brian Hedges wrote on four thoughts on how sin does its work.
- Chis Poblete wrote on seven ways to wage war against sin.
- Matthew Fretwell wrote on the question, “Can sin exist in the Church?”
- Jason Helopoulos wrote on sin is no friend.
- Kevin Halloran wrote on serial killers, hiding sins, and the glorious hope of forgiveness in Christ.
- Mike Boling wrote on how to walk in the light and deal with the sin of hatred.
- Zach wrote on despising and embracing temptation.
- Brian Hedges wrote on the contagion of sin.
- Thaddeus William wrote on Mortification: Seven Phases Along the Sin-Killing Continuum.
- Nick Batzig wrote on no more conscious of sin.
- Matt Perman wrote on the imputation of Christ.
- Brian Hedges wrote on Crucified with Christ: How the Cross Kills Sin.
- Matt Perman wrote on the question, “What is the biblical evidence for the imputation of Adam’s Sin?”
- Mike Leake wrote on envy.
- Today Dave writes on fleeing worldliness and pursuing Christ.
This month we’re talking about sin here at Servants of Grace. One of the most crucial concepts to understand within the doctrine of sin and sanctification is the doctrine of separation from sin. We live in a world whose siren call is for people to submit to abandon God and follow wholeheartedly after it’s teaching. The world calls people to become disciples of its system. This is why as Christians we’re told in the Bible to be in the world but not of the world (John 17:16). We’re to immerse ourselves in the Bible daily and to delight in the Word of God in order to be filled with the strength to fight against the allure of the flesh and sinful desires. By having our affections stirred daily by the Word to include being under the consistent preaching of the Word and fellowship with God’s people, we will be able to be of earthly good to people around us. Let’s take a brief look now at what the Bible teaches about the doctrine of separation from sin.
Separation from sin is clearly called for throughout Scripture. Moreover, we are also told that in the last days apostasy and worldliness shall increase (2 Cor. 6:14 -7:1; 2 Tim. 3:1-5). Out of deep gratitude for the undeserved grace of God granted to us and because our glorious God is so worthy of our total consecration, we must live in a manner that demonstrates our adoring love to God and so as not to bring reproach upon our Lord and Savior. Separation from any association with religious apostasy and worldly and sinful practices is commanded of us by God (Rom. 12:1, 2; 1 Cor. 5:9-13; 2 Cor. 6:14 – 7:1; 1 John 2:15-17; 2 John 9-11). We must be separated unto our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Thess. 1:11, 12; Heb. 12:1, 2). The Christian life is a life of obedient righteousness demonstrated by a continual pursuit of holiness (Rom. 12:1, 2; 2 Cor. 7:1; Heb. 12:14; Titus 2:11-14; 1 John 3:1-10).
Worldliness is rampant inside the Church today. No, I’m not talking about a checklist here whereby you “check off” what you’re not doing. I’m talking instead about an attitude many of us having towards the world. Instead of putting off the flesh and intentionally pursuing purity, many of us have become so part of the world that we’ve forgotten that we are called to be a holy people who are to reflect the holiness of God in all of life (1 Peter 1:13-17). Instead of our lives and message being an offense as we radiate the holiness of God by how we live, many of us aren’t a fragrance to the lost and perishing. People today can spot whether we’re the real deal or not. Every Christian should take seriously how their life and actions influence those around them. The fact that you’re influencing anyone at all and God is using you to minister to the Body of Christ and to the lost should humble you. If it does not, you need to reassess immediately your attitude and approach to ministry, because your affections for the things of God may have grown cold.
I remember a time when I had to stop ministering because of this type of improper attitude. I was in a dark place in my life and was walking in my own strength. It took time to come out of this dark period of life, but once I did my love for God’s Word and the work of Christ was revitalized. The Lord convicted me that I was self-reliant. The day I wrote this article I was praying with a friend and the Lord showed me as I was praying that I was being self-reliant in one area of my life. I immediately repented and asked the Lord to forgive me right in front of my friend as we prayed. The Lord is growing all of us into the image of His Son. All of us have areas where we need to repent of worldliness.
Your struggle may not be with self-reliance but rest assured you have struggles. No Christian is yet glorified. No Christian has had their sin nature removed which means we all must continue to grow in Christ. As J.C. Ryle brilliantly noted in his book Holiness, if we’re growing in the grace of God we will give evidence however small that we’re growing into the likeness of Christ. Even the tiniest bit of evidence that we’re repenting of our sin and trusting in Christ year by year is a reason to rejoice. That problem that may seem like a mountain, but it can be overcome because of Christ. Also, you who are so obsessed about your assurance of salvation need to have your consciences comforted because the fact that you are so obsessed by your assurance is a sign that you’re saved. Stop being so focused on your own assurance of salvation and instead focus your gaze on Christ. God’s people are to fix their eyes on the author and finisher of their faith the Lord Jesus Christ (Hebrews 12:2). Focusing less on your assurance and more on Christ will increase your love for Jesus.
Worldliness is an issue every Christian has to address in their lives. There are areas where we need to repent of and grow in grace. When you repent, be mindful of what you put in the place of that thing which you repented. This is why we’re told that we are to delight in the Lord. To delight in the Lord is to behold Him. “Behold the Lamb of God” John the Baptist said to his onlookers. We behold Him when we kill our sin and grow in His grace. We behold Him when we find Him to be all-sufficient and as we refuse to rely on ourselves. We behold Him when we regularly attend church, sit under the teaching of the preached Word, and apply His Word to our lives. We behold Him when husband and wife love one another as Christ commands. We could go on and on with this list, but the point is as Christians we’re called to be in the world and not of the world. We’re to fill our hearts and minds with heaven and then take what we’re learning/growing in and be a witness of the Spirit to the people around us. In other words, as Christians we’re called to flee worldliness and pursue Christ.
In Christ we’ve found His all-satisfying love to be our supreme delight. In Christ we find that we’re no longer under condemnation (Romans 8:1). In Christ we can grow and increasingly display the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). In Christ we can slay that sin and steadily grow in holiness. In Christ we can minister to other believers and be an encouragement to them. But rest assured we need to be growing first before we minister to others. We need to take our own counsel seriously before we minister it to others lest we be found guilty of hypocrisy. Let us take the Word of God and apply it to our lives. The results will be devastating to our pride and our “issues” of life will appear less because we’re decreasing while Christ is increasing (John 3:30). The end result of all of this is that we’ll flee worldliness for Christ with the resultant understanding that Christ is all.
With that said, don’t just say, “Christ is all” then live however you want. Instead, resolve at all times that Christ will be your all, your treasure, your delight in Him who gave you life, who sustains you in Christ, and is using you for His glory. In this season of life, be content with what He has given you, even as you wait for Him to open doors for future service. As you do, you will increasingly find that you’re growing in Christ and displaying the fruits of the Spirit. You’ll also find that God will increase your ministry in His time and your effectiveness for Him will increase as your character is being transformed into the image of Christ. Flee worldliness for in doing so you’ll find Christ is truly all and His sufficiency is truly great, and glorious.
Dave Jenkins is happily married to Sarah Jenkins. He is a writer, editor, and speaker living in beautiful Southern Oregon. Dave is a lover of Christ, His people, the Church, and sound theology. He serves as the Executive Director of Servants of Grace Ministries, the Executive Editor of Theology for Life Magazine, and is the Host for the Equipping You in Grace Podcast. He is the author of The Word Explored: The Problem of Biblical Illiteracy and What To Do About It (House to House, 2021). You can find him on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Parler, Youtube, or read his newsletter. Dave loves to spend time with his wife, going to movies, eating at a nice restaurant, or going out for a round of golf with a good friend. He is also a voracious reader, in particular of Reformed theology, and the Puritans. You will often find him when he’s not busy with ministry reading a pile of the latest books from a wide variety of Christian publishers. Dave received his M.A.R. and M.Div through Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary.