Why We Must Be No Part of This World
“They are no part of the world, just as I am no part of the world.”—JOHN 17:16.
1. What kind of treatment did Jesus say that his followers could expect?
JESUS CHRIST was rejected, hated and even persecuted by this world. So what could his followers expect? Well, he told them: “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were part of the world, the world would be fond of what is its own. Now because you are no part of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, on this account the world hates you. Bear in mind the word I said to you, A slave is not greater than his master. If they have persecuted me, they will persecute you also; if they have observed my word, they will observe yours also.”—John 15:18-20.
2. (a) What is the “world” from which Jesus’ followers differ greatly? (b) Instead of taking Christ’s disciples out of the world, what does Jehovah do in their behalf?
2 Yes, Jesus’ true followers differ greatly from this world—sinful human society alienated from God. So much is this the case that Christ’s disciples are hated and persecuted by this world. But in being unworldly, Jesus’ followers are adhering to his superlative example, and Jehovah God watches over them in keeping with Christ’s prayer: “I request you, not to take them out of the world, but to watch over them because of the wicked one. They are no part of the world, just as I am no part of the world. Sanctify them by means of the truth; your word is truth.”—John 17:15-17.
3. Regarding this world, what questions require answers?
3 What does it mean to be “no part of the world”? Does it indicate that Jesus’ followers must avoid all contact with non-Christians?
Christians Cannot Be Isolationists
4. Jesus assigned what work to his followers, making it impossible for them to be isolationists?
4 Surely, Jesus did not expect his followers to isolate themselves in exclusive religious communities. Rather, he gave them a globe-encircling work to do, saying: “You will receive power when the holy spirit arrives upon you, and you will be witnesses of me both in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the most distant part of the earth.” (Acts 1:8) He also commanded them: “Go therefore and make disciples of people of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy spirit, teaching them to observe all the things I have commanded you. And, look! I am with you all the days until the conclusion of the system of things.” (Matthew 28:19, 20) Of course, while “people of all the nations” would thus become disciples, it was not to be expected that entire nations themselves would accept the teachings of Jesus Christ.
5. By what Scripturally authorized means are people converted to Christianity?
5 But some may remark: ‘Have not entire nations been converted to Christianity? And do they not make up what is known as Christendom?’ Well, certain rulers have determined the religion of their subjects and have not been hesitant about enforcing that determination by cruel and barbarous methods. Moreover, fear of torture in a mythical hellfire has been a potent factor in so-called conversions to nominal Christianity. (Compare Ecclesiastes 9:5, 10.) But how far all of this is from the only Scripturally authorized way of spreading the true Christian faith! That noble activity is to be carried on by active witnessing, teaching and disciple making. Hermits or cloistered monks and nuns could never accomplish that work or follow Christ’s command to ‘let their light shine before men.’ (Matthew 5:14-16) And forced “conversions” have nothing in common with the witnessing, preaching and teaching that help honest-hearted people of all nations to make an intelligent heartfelt dedication to Jehovah God.
Why “No Part of the World”
6. As recorded at John 13:35, why can it be said that Jehovah’s Witnesses fit Jesus’ description of his followers?
6 The name “Christian” has often proved to be a false label. What acts of greed, conquest, slaughter in war and oppression of the masses are chargeable to so-called Christian people and nations! But how different it is with Christ’s true followers! “By this all will know that you are my disciples,” said Jesus, “if you have love among yourselves.” (John 13:35) There are, indeed, people who match that description today—Jehovah’s Witnesses. Love among them means no ruthless competition, no provocation, no taking of selfish advantage of one another. Rather, it means speaking in agreement, having no divisions, being ‘united in the same mind and line of thought.’ (1 Corinthians 1:10; 13:4-8) Jehovah’s Witnesses have learned the thinking of God and Christ and are guided by it. (Romans 12:1, 2; 1 Corinthians 2:16) A very important part of that thinking is that Christians must be “no part of the world.”—Compare James 1:27.
7. How do Paul’s words at Acts 17:30, 31 indicate that it is inappropriate for Christians to be part of this world?
7 There are very good reasons for Jesus’ followers to be ‘no part of this world.’ For some 4,000 years, the vast majority of mankind has ‘had no hope and has been without God in the world.’ (Ephesians 2:12) But the long period of alienation from Jehovah due to human sin will not go on indefinitely. Nineteen centuries ago the apostle Paul said that God was “telling mankind that they should all everywhere repent,” for ‘He had set a day in which he purposed to judge the inhabited earth in righteousness by a man whom he had appointed,’ Jesus Christ. Paul added that God “has furnished a guarantee to all men in that he has resurrected [Jesus] from the dead.” (Acts 17:30, 31) This “day” of his Millennial Rule is very near. The wicked world must go. It will be judged, condemned and eradicated forever. How inappropriate, then, for professing Christians to be part of this world!
8. What work indicates that “the end” is near, thus furnishing another reason for Jehovah’s people to be “no part of the world”?
8 More than 1,900 years have passed since Jesus’ resurrection, and without question the execution of divine judgment upon apostate Christendom and the rest of Satan’s world is imminent. (2 Peter 3:10; 1 John 5:19) Meanwhile, Jehovah’s Witnesses are proclaiming God’s message earth wide and “seasons of refreshing” are being enjoyed by repentant, appreciative ones of humankind. (Acts 3:19-21) In keeping with Jesus’ prophetic words for our day, more than 2,650,000 witnesses of Jehovah are now preaching “this good news of the kingdom” in 205 lands. When that work has resulted in “a witness to all the nations” to the extent that God wills, “the end will come.” (Matthew 24:14) Surely, then, with the end of this wicked system so close at hand, there is every reason for Jehovah’s people to be “no part of the world.”
9. (a) Since Satan’s world is about to end, how should we view Kingdom interests and requirements? (b) What questions now merit our consideration?
9 Since Satan’s world is about to end, how vital it is to make sure that we really are seeking God’s Kingdom first! (Matthew 6:33) Whatever may be our age, education or station in life, “we shall all stand before the judgment seat of God.” (Romans 14:10) So have we put Kingdom requirements into practice in our lives? Or are we still actually striving to be in harmony with this world that hates true Christians? Do we have worldly ambitions and hopes? Are we imitating the world’s unscriptural fads? And are we admiring its idols? Remember that “friendship with the world is enmity with God.” (James 4:4) Therefore, to prevent our becoming God’s enemy, how can we avoid worldly contamination? What are some of the things in the world that we must shun?
Shun Love of the World
10. First John 2:15, 16 mentions what three things in this world that Jehovah’s people must not love?
10 The apostle John wrote: “Do not be loving either the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him; because everything in the world—the desire of the flesh and the desire of the eyes and the showy display of one’s means of life—does not originate with the Father, but originates with the world.” (1 John 2:15, 16) Here John cited three basic things in this world that Jehovah’s people must not love.
11. Why must Christians not succumb to “the desire of the flesh”?
11 “The desire of the flesh” could lead us into many hurtful and death-dealing practices so common in this wicked world under Satan’s control. Among these are “works” of the sinful flesh—“fornication, uncleanness, loose conduct, idolatry, practice of spiritism, enmities, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, contentions, divisions, sects, envies, drunken bouts, revelries, and things like these.” We just cannot with impunity ignore the apostle Paul’s warning “that those who practice such things will not inherit God’s kingdom.” (Galatians 5:19-21) Indeed, those unrepentantly practicing “the works of the flesh” are part of this world and will have no share in the promised Kingdom that will vindicate Jehovah’s name and transform the earth into a paradise. (Luke 23:43) Clearly, then, Christians must not succumb to “the desire of the flesh.”
12. (a) What is “the desire of the eyes,” and how can it affect one’s position spiritually? (b) Regarding “the desire of the eyes,” what may we well ask ourselves?
12 “The desire of the eyes” is another characteristic of those who are part of this world. As they accumulate wealth and possessions, they never seem to be satisfied. Why, even many who have paid some attention to Bible truth that is spread by Jehovah’s Witnesses eventually yield to “the desire of the eyes” and, hence, make no spiritual progress. Their desire for new clothes, cars, houses, appliances and many other things that please the eye becomes so strong that, as Jesus said, “the deceptive power of riches and the desires for the rest of the things make inroads and choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.” (Mark 4:18, 19) Interestingly, Satan tempted Eve by causing her to desire something forbidden that she could see with her eyes. However, he was totally unsuccessful in his efforts to induce Jesus to sin by reaching out for things seen with the eyes. (Genesis 3:1-6; Luke 4:5-8) But what about you? Are you following Jesus’ sterling example? Or has satisfying “the desire of the eyes” so absorbed your time, attention and energy that Kingdom interests are being neglected? If spiritual concerns are receding into the background, act quickly to remedy that situation!
13. As shown by Paul and in certain proverbs, to what can the greedy “desire of the eyes” lead?
13 The greedy “desire of the eyes” can lead to dishonesty, envy, covetousness and other sins meriting God’s disapproval. As Paul said, “greedy persons” are among those who will not “inherit God’s kingdom.” (1 Corinthians 6:9, 10) Appropriately, too, wise proverbs warn: “A man of faithful acts will get many blessings, but he that is hastening to gain riches will not remain innocent. A man of envious eye is bestirring himself after valuable things, but he does not know that want itself will come upon him.” (Proverbs 28:20, 22) Even if poverty does not immediately come upon certain greedy, envious individuals, they either will die outside God’s favor or will come to a sad end at the conclusion of this system of things.—Matthew 24:3; Luke 12:13-21.
14. (a) How may “the showy display of one’s means of life” manifest itself? (b) What is at the root of such “showy display,” boasting and status-seeking? (c) Why resist the temptation to flaunt our acquisitions and supposed attainments?
14 “The showy display of one’s means of life” must also be avoided by Jehovah’s servants. How tempting it can be to show off costly acquisitions! Such wrong desire often leads not only to trying to keep up with others but also to striving to get far ahead of them materially. Akin to this is boasting about what a person thinks he has achieved. Hoping to attain position or status, he may even cultivate the friendship and support of prominent individuals. But those allowing themselves to be used in this way are foolish, and the inordinately ambitious person may eventually become like the “ungodly men” of Jude’s day whose ‘mouths spoke swelling things while they were admiring personalities for their own benefit.’ (Jude 4, 16) At the root of all this status-seeking and showy display is sinful pride. (Proverbs 8:13; 16:18; 21:4) Surely, then, we must resist the temptation to flaunt our acquisitions and supposed attainments. Apropos here is the proverb: “The eating of too much honey is not good; and for people to search out their own glory, is it glory?” (Proverbs 25:27) And since most humans are walking on the broad way leading to destruction, how timely are Jesus’ words, “Woe, whenever all men speak well of you”!—Luke 6:26.
“The World Is Passing Away”
15. (a) The apostle John furnishes what fundamental reason to be “no part of the world”? (b) Toward what should loyal Christians direct their main efforts?
15 John furnishes us with a fundamental reason to be “no part of the world” when he adds: “Furthermore, the world is passing away and so is its desire, but he that does the will of God remains forever.” (1 John 2:17) “The world,” unrighteous human society, is nearing its end in the fast-approaching “great tribulation.” (Matthew 24:21) During that period of time every vestige of this world’s political, commercial and false religious elements will be destroyed. So how could any true witnesses of Jehovah devote all their time, energy and resources to these elements that shortly will come to nothing? Rather, loyal Christians will direct their main efforts toward the furthering of Kingdom interests and the things that are lasting, eternal. Moreover, through such loyalty and faith Jehovah’s people will ‘conquer the world’ of unrighteous human society, even as Jesus Christ did. (John 16:33) Yes, and they will survive when this world passes away by divine destruction, just as Noah and his family survived the Flood.—2 Peter 2:5.
16. What questions remain for our consideration?
16 Since this world is passing away, then, how should Christians view involvement in its social affairs? What attitude should they have toward education, business dealings and recreation? Questions such as these remain for our careful consideration.
What Would You Say?
□ What is the world of which Jesus’ true followers are no part?
□ Christ’s disciples cannot be isolationists because of what work assigned to them?
□ What are some reasons why Jehovah’s Witnesses are “no part of the world”?
□ In order to follow the counsel of 1 John 2:15-17, what three basic things in the world must Jehovah’s people not love?
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Although Jehovah’s Witnesses are “no part of the world,” they are busy helping people of all nations spiritually
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If we are “no part of the world,” we will neither succumb to the desires of the flesh and the eyes nor make a showy display of our means of life