Jesus Christ said, “It is written, My house shall be called a house of prayer.”

Walking Through Vanity Fair: the Christian and the World, Part 2 (Pilgrim’s Progress According to the Bible #33)

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TEXT: John 17:14-18

14 I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.

15 I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.

16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.

17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.

18 As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world.

Walking Through Vanity Fair: the Christian and the World, Part 2 (Pilgrim’s Progress According to the Bible #33)

Last week, we learned that while we are in the world, we are not of the world because we abstain from the evil that is in the world. As the Bible says, we do not allow ourselves to be overcome with evil. Today, I want us to look at how we are like Jesus in the world. Jesus describes His disciples, and us, with these words: “They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.”

Notice how aptly John Bunyan depicts this principle in his writing about the pilgrims, Christian and Faithful, who pass through the town of Vanity Fair:

Now as I said, these pilgrims must necessarily pass through this Fair. Well, so they did; but especially note that even as they entered the Fair, all of the people there became disturbed, and the whole Town itself was turned into a commotion around them. There were several reasons for this, namely:

First, the pilgrims were dressed with a type of clothing that was quite different from the attire of those who traded at that Fair. Therefore the people of the Fair stared at them with astonishment. Some of them said that they were fools, and some called them madmen, while others derided them as outlandish foreigners.

Second, as the great crowd wondered at their clothing, so they were similarly curious about their speech, for few could understand what they said. The pilgrims spoke their native tongue, the language of Canaan; but those who managed and frequented the Fair were the men who spoke the language of this world. So that throughout the Fair their foreign speaking made them appear as barbarians in their midst

Third, and this did especially amuse the merchants, these pilgrims placed little value on all of their goods; they did not even care to browse at them; and if they were solicited to buy such items, they would put their fingers in their ears and cry out, “Turn away my eyes from beholding vanity;” at the same time they would look upward signifying that their trade and commerce were with Heaven.

When you accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior, God gave you a new nature. In Colossians 3, we are told that we “have put off the old man with his deeds; And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him.” This new nature that we have is at odds with the world around us. After being saved, you almost certainly found that there were some things you used to do that you could not do anymore; there were some places you used to go and some people you used to go with that you could not go with any more. We used to be “of the world,” but now that Christ is living in us, we are not longer of the world, and we cannot do many of the worldly things that we used to do.

That is the natural work of the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer. We are slowly being transformed into the image and likeness of Christ. Second Corinthians 3:18 tells us that “we all are [being] changed into the same image [of Christ] from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” Romans 8:29 states that God has predestinated all of us “to be conformed to the image of his Son.” What does it mean to be transformed and conformed? In his book, The Discipline of Grace, Jerry Bridges, writes: “Both words, transformed and conformed, have a common root, form, meaning a pattern or a mold. ‘Being transformed’ refers to the process; conformed refers to the finished product. Jesus is our pattern or mold. We are being transformed so that we will eventually be conformed to the likeness of Jesus. Sanctification or holiness (the words are somewhat interchangeable), then, is conformity to the likeness of Jesus Christ.”

Ladies and gentlemen, we ought to look like Christ in our daily life in this world. The way we talk, work, and interact with others ought to demonstrate the Christ Who lives inside of us. One day, the great preacher and writer, A.W. Tozer, was walking down the street when he met a woman coming the other way on the sidewalk. As he and the woman drew closer together, he noticed that the woman was staring intently at his face. He thought that was odd, and he and the woman passed each other on the sidewalk without saying a word. However, when Tozer looked back, he saw that the woman was still staring at him. So, he went back to where she was standing and said, ‘Lady, is there something I can do for you?’ The woman said, ‘No, I didn’t mean to stare. But I have never seen a man whose face looked so much like the face of Jesus Christ.’

When the world sees you, dear friend, do they see Christ?

Another great metaphor for what it means to be in the world but not of it is found in First Peter 2. Listen to these verses: “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light…” Peter goes on to write, “Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.”

Take note of these words: peculiar people, strangers, and pilgrims. That’s what we are in this world. We are pilgrims on our way to Heaven, but we must walk the straight and narrow way through the world. Perhaps, as a Christian, you have had the experience of being in a particular situation or environment and you felt out of place, you felt strange, you felt odd. There were people all around you, yet you did not feel like you were part of the group. Perhaps, you came to the realization that your spirit — or, more accurately, the Holy Spirit inside of you — was not in agreement with the worldly spirit that was in those who were around you.

Our new status of being at odds with the world also manifests itself in our behavior. Peter writes that we are to be: (1) abstaining from fleshly lusts, (2) doing good works, and (3) showing forth God’s praises. Last week we talked about resisting the worldly temptations of Vanity Fair — abstaining from evil and the desires of our sinful flesh. Today, we see that we are to also live like Christ in the world — that is, doing good works even to those who do evil against us. Ephesians 2:10 emphasizes this when it says, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works…” It also means living in such a way that everything we do brings glory and honor to God, the one who delivered us from the darkness of the world and brought us into His marvellous light.

We don’t act like the world, think like the world, or live like the world anymore because we are not of the world even as Jesus was not of the world. Jerry Bridges said, “To be like Jesus is not just to stop committing a few obvious sins such as lying, cheating, gossiping, and thinking impure thoughts. To be like Jesus is to always seek to do the will of the Father. [It is] to come to the place where we delight to do the will of God, however sacrificial or unpleasant that may seem to us at the time, simply because it is His will.”

Today, as Christians living in the world, we must honestly consider whether we are really representing Jesus Christ. Jesus said that we are to be like Him in the world. If the world sees no difference between itself and us, then something is wrong somewhere!

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If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, allow me to share with you briefly how you can be saved from your sins and be guaranteed a home in Heaven with God today.

First, please understand that you are a sinner, just as I am, and that you have broken God’s laws. The Bible says in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” Please understand that because of your sins, you deserve eternal punishment in hell. Romans 6:23 says “the wages of sin is death…This is both physical death and spiritual death in hell. That is the bad news.

But here is the good news. John 3:16 says “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

If you believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead, and you want to trust Him for your salvation today, please pray with me this simple prayer: Holy Father God, I realize that I am a sinner and that I have done some bad things in my life. I am sorry for my sins, and today I choose to turn from my sins. For Jesus Christ sake, please forgive me of my sins. I believe with all of my heart that Jesus Christ died for me, was buried, and rose again. I trust Jesus Christ as my Savior and I choose to follow Him as Lord from this day forward. Lord Jesus, please come into my heart and save my soul and change my life today. Amen.

If you just trusted Jesus Christ as your Saviour, and you prayed that prayer and meant it from your heart, I declare to you that based upon the Word of God, you are now saved from Hell and you are on your way to Heaven. Welcome to the family of God! Congratulations on doing the most important thing in life and that is receiving Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour. For more information to help you grow in your newfound faith in Christ, go to Gospel Light Society.com and read “What To Do After You Enter Through the Door.” Jesus Christ said in John 10:9, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”

God loves you. We love you. And may God bless you.