From the very beginning, the enemies of truth launched an effort to infiltrate and confuse the people of God by mangling the truth and by blending lies with Christian doctrine… That was the case in the Corinthian church, where false teachers brought with them a quasi-Christian syncretism of gospel truth, Jewish legalism, and pagan mysticism. They were eager to blend the people of God with the pagan worshipers, and the truth of Scripture with the lies of Satan.
Undiscerning believers who partner in a common spiritual cause with unbiblical forms of Christianity or other false religions open the door wide to satanic corruption. The appearance of unity, no matter how enticing, is not worth sacrificing the clarity of the gospel. Furthermore, embracing those heretical systems falsely reassures their followers that all is well between them and God, when actually they are headed for eternal damnation. Partnering in a spiritual enterprise with unbelievers helps Satan muddy the doctrinal waters, and it cripples our ability to preach the need for repentance. Scripture is clear about how we are to respond when the very foundations of the Christian faith are under attack: our duty is to contend, not compromise.
– John MacArthur, The Cost of Compromise
“The children of God should differ from the sons of men. The more perverse others are, the more careful we should be to keep ourselves blameless and harmless. The doctrine and example of consistent believers will enlighten others and direct their way to Christ and holiness, even as the lighthouse warns mariners to avoid rocks and directs their course into the harbour. Let us try thus to shine.” — Matthew Henry
You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? — James 4:4-5
Friendship with the world means forfeiture of fellowship with God. You can have it one way or the other, but you can’t have it both. God will brook no rival in our hearts. In James 4:4, James says that worldliness is really spiritual adultery if you try to be married to Christ and then be joined to another at the same time. Worldliness is spiritual adultery, and the good life and true wisdom cannot be experienced by those who are worldly and selfish.
James 4:5 gives us a summation of the teaching of Scripture, from the beginning to the end. God’s Spirit indwells us and wants total occupation. He doesn’t want some of you; He wants all of you. I don’t mean that collectively; I mean that individually. He doesn’t want some of you individually; He wants all of you individually. His Spirit will brook no rival. This is seen from the very beginning of God’s salvation, back in Genesis 3:15 when God pronounces His curse against Satan and then brings His judgment to Eve. He blesses her in the midst of the warning judgments by saying, “I will put enmity between you and the serpent, between your seed and his seed.” In other words, I will put enmity between you and the enemy of your soul.
And so God has established an enmity against the world and against worldliness in His peoples’ hearts. And He will brook no rival because He wants all of you, individually. He wants the totality of your love and loyalty and service. And James simply states categorically that friendship with the world is hostility to God, and that if we want to make ourselves to be friends of the world, then we will be enemies of God. It’s one way or the other. And my friends, living in a culture which is prosperous, in which we play a significant role, can work on our hearts over time to make us desire the wrong source of satisfaction. It’s the great, great challenge that we face here. Who do you love? What do you love? Where is your satisfaction? What’s the chief purpose of your life? The honest answers, the quiet answers in your own home and in your own heart to those questions will tell you much about what you need.
If the answer is not God through Jesus Christ, to the question of, “Whom do you love? What do you want? What’s your great satisfaction?” then the only hope is not to look within, because the answers are not found within; they’re found without, they’re found with God in Christ. May God grant us all to look to Him and to walk with Him.
— Excerpt from “Worldliness in the Church” sermon by J. Ligon Duncan
In a musical instrument there are some keys that must be touched in order to evoke its fullest melodies; God is a wonderful organist who knows just what heart-chord to strike.
In the Black Forest of Germany, a baron built a castle with two lofty towers. From one tower to the other he stretched several wires, which in calm weather were motionless and silent. When the wind began to blow, the wires began to play like an Eolian harp in the window. As the wind rose into a fierce gale, the old baron sat in his castle and heard his mighty hurricane-harp playing grandly over the battlements.
So while the weather is calm and the skies clear, a great many of the emotions of a Christian’s heart are silent. As soon as the wind of adversity smites the chords, the heart begins to play; and when God sends a hurricane of terrible trial, you will hear strains of submission and faith, and even of sublime confidence and holy exultation which could never have been heard in the calm hours of prosperity.
Oh, brethren, let the winds smite us, if they only make the spices flow; let us not shrink from the deepest trial, if at midnight we can only sing praises to God.
— From God’s Light on Dark Clouds by Theodore Cuyler, 1882
Are you afraid that preaching the gospel will not win souls? Are you despondent as to success in God’s way? Is this why you pine for clever oratory? Is this why you must have music, and architecture, and flowers and millinery? After all, is it by might and power, and not by the Spirit of God? It is even so in the opinion of many.
Brethren beloved, there are many things which I might allow to other worshippers which I have denied myself in conducting the worship of this congregation. I have long worked out before your very eyes the experiment of the unaided attractiveness of the gospel of Jesus. Our service is severely plain. No man ever comes hither to gratify his eye with art, or his ear with music. I have set before you, these many years, nothing but Christ crucified, and the simplicity of the gospel; yet where will you find such a crowd as this gathered together this morning? Where will you find such a multitude as this meeting Sabbath after Sabbath, for five-and-thirty years? I have shown you nothing but the cross, the cross without flowers of oratory, the cross without diamonds of ecclesiastical rank, the cross without the buttress of boastful science. It is abundantly sufficient to attract men first to itself, and afterwards to eternal life!
Jesus said, “When he, the Spirit of truth, has come, he will guide you into all truth” (John 16:13). The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth. He is truth essentially in himself, and he is the one who leads the church into all truth.
But what does Jesus mean by “all truth”? He does not mean “all truth” absolutely. The Holy Spirit’s work is not to lead us into all historical, geographical, astronomical and mathematical truth. The Holy Spirit is to lead us into all truth concerning the mysteries of the kingdom of God, of the gospel, of the counsel of God about the salvation of the church by Christ (Acts 20:27). The Holy Spirit will lead us into all truth necessary for faith and obedience (Acts 20:21).
Each believer is led into all the truth necessary to his own state and condition, to enable him to do his duty and work (Eph. 4:7). Christ gives to each according to his measure and needs.
It is the world that lies in the believer’s way to heaven, and is the great impediment to our entrance there. But he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God believes therein that Jesus came from God to be the Savior of the world, and powerfully to conduct us from the world to heaven, and to God, who is fully to be enjoyed there. And he who so believes must needs by this faith overcome the world.
For, the believer must be well satisfied that this world is a vehement enemy to his soul, to his holiness, his salvation, and his blessedness. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world (1 John 2:16). He sees it must be a great part of the Savior’s work, and of his own salvation, to be redeemed and rescued from this malignant world. Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world (Galatians 1:4). The believer sees in and by the life and conduct of the Lord Jesus on earth that this world is to be renounced and overcome.