2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1
The Call to Holiness
The call to saving faith in Christ Jesus is never without the call to holy living; indeed, the latter is the proof of the former—not how many tears one can cry, not how many souls one has saved, not how much one gives to the church, or how many mission trips one has taken—but a changed life that seeks more of God, to honor God by sloughing off the sin that so easily besets, and joyfully sacrifices the things of this world for His Kingdom as one draws closer to heaven. You know these people, these holy ones, because they look so different from the world; that is, they stand out. They don’t try to stand out; indeed, they shun the limelight by nature. But they have cast off the trinkets and the things after which the world chases so to chase after the things of God. They came out of the world, and they don’t want to go back into it. They are about the task of perfecting holiness.
Now this doesn’t mean that they lock themselves up in their houses. Paul makes it clear that we must get along in the world as that is where we are (1 Corinthians 5:9-11), nor does he allow a Christian to divorce an unbelieving spouse if the unbelieving spouse consents to live together (1 Corinthians 7:12-16). But from the sinful places and activities of the world, the Christian must separate. And Paul draws the starkest contrasts possible to make his point: It is the difference between light and dark, Christ and Belial (another name for the devil or a demon), a believer and an unbeliever, the temple of God and a pagan temple of idols. He then quotes several passages from the Old Testament which speak of God’s wonderful promises to those who shun the world for a heavenly life: that God will welcome them, and that He Himself will be their God, and will be a Father to them and they His sons and daughters, that He will walk among them and dwell with them. No, there are no specific promises, like what God will do for them with their jobs or families or bank accounts or illnesses. This is because such people need no such promises; they only need God’s presence and that is enough for them. Yes, they engage in ministry, but for them it is second nature.
And this is where I think the Church fails today: We don’t look any different from the world. Even worse, the Church mirrors the world in its own brand of worldliness. The world should either admire us or hate us (which is more likely), but it should never be indifferent to us. I can hear people saying to me, “We are called to minister to the world and save souls.” Yes, but we can’t do this effectively until we have first separated ourselves from the world, cleansed ourselves, and come out of her. Then may we go back in.