by C. Richard McCaw
For the second time Paul is arrested and is now in solitary confinement. He begins his very last letter to his young protégé, Timothy, warning him of coming heresies, but encouraging him to remain steadfast in God.
A touch of sadness may have brought tears to his eyes. “Endure afflictions…I am ready to be offered, my departure is near. I have fought valiantly and finished my race, I have kept the faith.” In the loneliness of his prison cell he longs to see some committed brother. “Do your diligence to come to me: because DEMAS HAS FORSAKEN ME, HAVING LOVED THIS PRESENT WORLD” (2 Tim 4:10).
The Bible teaches a clear difference between the believer and those who love worldly things.
Jesus once told the Jews who hated Him, “You are from beneath; I am from above; you belong to this world; I do not belong to this world” (John 8:23), and to His disciples, “If you belonged to the world, the world would love you as its own: but because you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of this world, therefore the world hates you” (John 15:18).
Both Jesus and Paul were talking about the system of materialistic thinking that governs those whose aims are earthly success, pleasure and prestige.
In Abraham’s time, his nephew, Lot, had set his eyes upon the well watered fields beside the wicked city of Sodom (Gen 13:10). Lot probably rose early morning and set up his trading just outside the city. His daughters assisted him and were soon laughing coquettishly with Sodom’s lustful young men and imitating their ungodly customs.
King David’s first psalm warned, “Blessed is the man that does not walk, sit or stand in the company of ungodly people, but who enjoys the law of the Lord” (Psalm 1:1-2).
Some professors of faith drift away because of earthly worries, wealth and worldly pleasures. Jesus asked, “Why do you worry about clothing? The field lilies don’t worry about what they look like. God takes care of them. Therefore do not say ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear? For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matt 6:28-33).
King David again described his supreme joy. “I will set nothing wicked before my eyes,” and “I have set the Lord always before me… In Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 101:3; 16:8, 11).
What happened to Demas, Lot and his daughters began subtly within their hearts, a drifting away from the Word of God, “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers… What communion has light with darkness… Therefore come out from among them and be separate!” (2 Cor 6:14-18).
We are living in an enlightened age they say, under the influence of modern technologies. Ungodly leaders not only cave in to perverted concepts and humanistic values but demand submission to heathen ideas that have destroyed nations like Greece and Rome and are again taking root in today’s societies.
The word “tolerance” is being thrown about. Committed believers are losing their jobs and being scandalized and hated because they boldly refuse to submit to anything that conflicts with the Word of God. Willing to be labeled “narrow-minded” they walk the narrow way that leads to life (Matt 7:13, 14).
The worldly professor of religion that sits beside you in a place of worship has not heeded Paul’s advice, “Examine yourself to see if you are genuinely saved. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?” (2 Cor 13:5) or John, the Beloved’s caution, “If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15-17), or James, the apostle’s stern warning, “Do you not know that whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God?” (James 4:4).
As he walks and talks, his dreams are centered DOWN HERE, his vision elsewhere. He was caught in the net, dragged in, but the good fish must be separated from the bad fish (Matt 12:47, 48).
Jesus’ taught, “If any man come to me …” and He requires FIRST PLACE and that all earthly connections, even family be handed over to His Lordship. No exceptions! (Luke 14:23).
Sadly, judgment awaited Lot and his family, and they barely escaped, only because the Lord knows that Lot was a righteous man, who had been misguided by the enemy (2 Pet 2:7-9).
Sodom burnt to the ground, and all Lot’s business with it. The worldly companions of his daughters all perished in the flames. Babylon, Greece and Rome all disintegrated as great kingdoms because they rejected the clear teachings of scripture. And watch as some of the great kingdoms of our age begin to pass away and into history for the same reason.
God had inspired Abraham to be different and to separate from his closest relative, Lot.
He was seeking a city whose builder and Maker is God (Heb 11:10).
Later on, Moses refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the pleasures of sin; esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward. By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured, as seeing Him Who is invisible” (Heb 11:24-27).
Every hero of faith became a stranger and pilgrim on the earth and declared plainly that they were seeking a better country. They seemed odd to everyone else who blindly surrendered to popular opinion and fitted into the crowd.
Will you choose to be different? Are you willing to stand alone from the crowd?