This morning’s Morning and Evening reads more like the wrap-up to a modern youth group message than a devotional written almost 150 years ago. It effortlessly transitions from sin to worldliness to self-examination.
As new creatures in Christ, we should not be known for our love of sin. One of the central themes of the Psalms is the distinction between the way of the wicked and the way of the righteous. Ultimately, the wicked’s race never ends well for the runner. And although he stumbles, the righteous runner is on another path altogether. Greater worldliness cannot coexist with the honest pursuit of holiness.
In his book, Respectable Sins, Jerry Bridges defines worldliness as “going along with the views and practices of society around us without discerning if they are biblical.” He then writes:
How then can we deal with our tendency toward worldliness? It is not by determining that we will not be worldly, but by committing ourselves to becoming more godly.
As we pursue Christ and eternal His kingdom, this world’s temporary rebellion becomes much less appealing. Here is Alistair Begg’s modern phrasing of the Spurgeon classic.
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You were like one of them. — Obadiah 1:11
Brotherly kindness was due from Edom to Israel in the time of need, but instead of showing kindness, the men of Esau joined with Israel’s enemies. Special stress in the sentence before us is laid upon the word you, as when Caesar cried to Brutus, “and you, Brutus.” A bad action may be all the worse because of the person who has committed it.
When we sin, who are the chosen favorites of heaven, we sin with an emphasis; ours is a crying offense because we are so peculiarly indulged. If an angel should lay his hand upon us when we are doing evil, he need not use any other rebuke than the question, “What, you? What are you doing here?” Having been gloriously forgiven, delivered, instructed, enriched, blessed, do we dare give ourselves to evil? God forbid!
A few minutes of confession may be beneficial to you, gentle reader, this morning. Have you never been like the wicked? At an evening party certain men laughed at uncleanness, and the joke was not altogether offensive to your ear—even you were as one of them. When hard things were spoken concerning the ways of God, you were bashfully silent; and so, to onlookers, you were as one of them. When worldlings were bartering in the market and driving hard bargains, were you not as one of them? When they were pursuing vanity without restraint, were you not as greedy for gain as they were? Could any difference be discerned between you and them? Is there any difference?
Here we come to close quarters. Be honest with your own soul, and make sure that you are a new creature in Christ Jesus; but when this is sure, walk carefully in case anyone should again be able to say, “You also are one of them.”1 You would not desire to share their eternal doom. Why then be like them here? Do not enter into their secret, in case you enter into their ruin. Side with the afflicted people of God, and not with the world.
1 Luke 22:58