The world has never been safe for Christians. Even in puritanical times, believers felt the lure of compromise. That being said, most have found today's violation of boundaries to be shocking. And for many, it's not only shocking, but tempting.
So what's the answer? How do we remain pure in a dirty world? Should Christians hunker down in isolation? Today, on Insight for Living, Chuck Swindoll teaches from 1 Peter chapter 1. In this passage, we find timeless wisdom on how to survive.
Chuck titled his message, Hope Beyond Temptation, Staying Clean in a Corrupt Society. Throughout history, Christians have tried all sorts of things to keep themselves holy and pure in a dark and dirty world. Some have adopted a hermit mentality, hiding away in caves, living a life of virtual solitude. And others have tried a monk mentality, dwelling only with believers in a close-knit community away from the world's reach. Those with a utopian mentality have attempted something else.
They've attempted to rebuild a perfect society from the ground up, a world without worldliness. Interestingly, each approach falls under the idea of sanctification by isolation, withdrawing from the world in some way to keep it from rubbing off on them. Unfortunately for hermits, monks, and utopians alike, the Bible has a different approach.
We have a mission to accomplish in the world, and therefore we cannot afford to lock ourselves outside the world or even indoors away from the world. In our study today from the first chapter of 1 Peter, we are challenged to be different from our depraved society without fleeing to the caves, cloisters, or communes. Turn with me to this passage, and I'll read it for you from 1 Peter 1, verses 13 through 21. Once again, 1 Peter 1, beginning at verse 13. Therefore, prepare your minds for action. Keep sober in spirit.
Fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. And obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts, which were yours in your ignorance. But like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior, because it is written, You shall be holy, for I am holy. And if you address as Father the one who impartially judges according to each one's work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth, knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things, like silver or gold, from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ. For he was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you, who through him are believers in God who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. You're listening to Insight for Living.
To dig deeper into the Bible with Chuck Swindoll, be sure to download his Searching the Scriptures studies by going to insight.org slash studies. And now let's resume the message Chuck titled Hope Beyond Temptation. I was thinking just this week, it would be great, perhaps a better word is relieving to think that God could save us and then within a matter of seconds, take us on to glory.
That'd be a great relief. We would never have any temptations. We would never have battles with the flesh. We would never have even the possibility of making a mess of our lives. We could just be whisked off to glory, saved, sanctified, galvanized, glorified, just taken right on off the earth, no problems. I have a sneaking suspicion, however, that if that were true, some would wait till the very end, have all the alleged fun they could possibly have and then 15 minutes before the time give their lives to Christ and then catch the jet for glory.
So I don't believe that's the best plan. As a matter of fact, in God's perfect arrangement, he has deliberately left us on this earth. He has deliberately, not inadvertently, but deliberately chosen to give many of us more years in Christ than out of Christ to live for him. In a world, as Paul writes in Philippians 2, in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation among whom we shine as lights in the world. One of my mentors, Ray Stedman, has probably made the classic statement about that passage in Philippians 2.15 where he said, crooked and perverse simply means we are left in a world of crooks and perverts.
That is the kind of world we live in on purpose. Don't think for a minute that the Lord has made a mistake leaving you and me as his lights in a world that's moving in an opposite direction from him. In fact, just minutes before Jesus' arrest and trials and ultimate death on the cross, he was in prayer. In John chapter 17, if you'll look there for a few moments, you'll find in verses 14 and 15 proof that Jesus wants us left in the midst of a world like that.
John 17, 14, I have given them thy word, Jesus says to the Father in prayer, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world even as I am not of the world. Look at the next statement. I do not ask thee to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one.
Keep looking at that for a moment. I do not ask you to take them away in a hurry. Don't take them out from among the midst of the crooked and perverse generation, but I do ask you to guard them, to protect them. As I have often said, his plan is that we not be isolated from the world, but that we be insulated. You are on purpose and I am on purpose left in a world where the majority are going the wrong way. We are left as lights, as examples, as testimonies, as spiritual salmon swimming up the opposite direction from the flow of the river or the stream and it's on purpose.
We are to be protected in the midst of a world like that. Let me say a few things by way of analysis regarding the world in which we live because I am not thinking about the planet called Earth. We are seeing pictures from the astronauts capsule of Earth and when we look at that from that strange vantage point out in the space where the sky is no longer blue but is black, it's that far out. When we look at the Earth from that far away, we can begin to see the curvature and it's visible. That's not the world that Jesus has in mind here. It's not the planet named Earth that can be measured both in distance and in weather and in geography. That's not the world that Christ has in mind.
This is invisible. This is a world system that finds its origin in the enemy himself. If you'll turn from John's gospel to the first letter he wrote, you'll see an example of what I'm talking about. 1 John 2 verse 15. Way over toward, if you're not familiar with your Bibles, toward the end of the New Testament you'll find the little three letters of John.
Locate the first one, the longest of the three, find chapter 2 and look at verses 15, 16, and 17. Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
And then John goes a little further. He describes this atmosphere, this invisible scene. For all that is in the world, by the way this is the term cosmos. We get the word cosmetics from it and it is not a reference to the earth. For all that is in the cosmos, that is the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away, also its lusts.
But the one who does the will of God abides forever. So we have our feet planted on earth. It is visible. It can be measured.
It's obvious. But what is not obvious is the system that characterizes life on this earth. It is a system that, among other things, is marked by the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life. If that isn't enough, toward the end of the letter, chapter 5, verse 19, we know that we are of God and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. Another of my mentors, J. Dwight Pentecost, used to say the whole world lies in the lap of the evil one. The whole world lies in the lap.
You've sat down before and you've put something in your lap. The whole world system, its frame of reference, its way of thinking, its drives, its goals sit in the lap of the wicked one. It rests right there. He nurtures it. He cultivates it. He motivates it.
He nourishes it. So what do we mean when we talk about the world? What is its philosophy? It is the system that operates apart from or at odds with God. It's designed to, don't miss this, it's designed to appeal to us, to give us physical and fleshly pleasure.
It isn't uncomfortable. God's ways are uncomfortable often, but the world system is designed to make us comfortable, to give us pleasure, to cause us relief, to gain our favor and ultimately to get our support. The philosophy of the world system is at odds with the philosophy of God. One man writes this. The word world is cosmos, which in its use is defined by Vincent as follows.
The sum total of human life in the ordered world considered apart from, alienated from and hostile to God and of the earthly things which seduce us from God. You want to know what they are? Watch the commercials on your television. Just watch. When you get, if you're like me, you always put it on mute. Just mute.
My family gets on me at times. Dad, if you're going to put it on mute, take it off mute when the program comes back on, because that's usually when I get up to get a drink of water or go to the bathroom or whatever. I just put it on mute.
Then I'm gone and I take the clicker with me usually and this big thing comes back on. They can't find the deal to end it off mute. I don't want to listen to the nonsense from the commercials.
Just check, because if you just take notes in commercials and read the lines without all the music and pizzazz, you'll get the system. It's designed to pull you in, to make you dissatisfied with every single thing you have and are and makes you want to do something that they are offering. Usually they are selling. It is like radon gas, that carcinogenic gas, a radioactive gas that seeps up from the soil, the second leading cause of lung cancer, just below nicotine. It is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States. We're reading about it more and more. It's everywhere. I was taking a shower the other day and I thought, is it happening here while I'm showering?
Everywhere, radon. But the system, the cosmos is everywhere. It's going on all the time, especially when you're not thinking about it. It's whistling, it's appealing. Come on, come on. You love it.
This is so much fun. It makes you feel so good. And it appeals to you, causing you to forget that it lies in the lap of the wicked one.
Its motivation is a relentless appeal to the things that feed our pride and suck us in, all the while seducing us from God. A giant Oxford English dictionary gave this definition. I couldn't believe it, right there in this massive dictionary. Worldly affairs, the aggregate of things earthly, the whole circle of earthly goods, endowments, riches, advantages, pleasures, which although hollow, frail, and fleeting, stir desire, seduce from God, and are obstacles to the cause of Christ.
How about that? I thought, this is 1 John. This isn't the Oxford English dictionary. Over all of this, Satan reigns as the prince. That's the system in which we live. Now, all of that provides a beautiful background for Peter's remarks in the first chapter of his first letter, which is a strong challenge to be different, to think different, to resist being sucked in, or as he puts it, to be holy. Unless we remember, men and women, how subtle this influence really is, we won't understand the passion behind Peter's words.
We just won't understand it. Let me read the verses. Therefore, gird your minds for action.
I'm reading 1 Peter 1-13. Gird your minds for action. Keep sober in spirit. Fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts, which were yours in your ignorance. But like the holy one who called you, be holy yourselves, also in all your behavior. Because it is written, you shall be holy, for I am holy. And if you address as father the one who impartially judges, according to each man's work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay upon earth, knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ. Speaking of Christ, he adds, for he was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you, who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. Wonderful, wonderful section of scripture. Let me point out three things that I see in these verses I just read. All three have to do with the strong challenge to be different in the cosmos, in which we find ourselves as followers of Christ. First, the whole idea of living our lives in holiness is set forth in verses 13 to 16, living our lives in holiness. Now, as I read those four verses, 13, 14, 15, and 16, along with you, we catch the idea that this is not the time to kick back and take it easy.
Peter, I think, bears down with his pen at this point. Look at the words. Gird your minds for action. Keep sober.
We would say today, get serious. Fix your hope. Verse 14, don't be conformed. See these commands?
He just kind of spits them out in staccato form. Gird your minds. Straighten up. Get serious.
Fix your hope. Don't be conformed. Verse 15, be holy like I am.
Okay? Let's look a little closer. Look at verse 13. Gird your minds for action. Keep sober in spirit. Fix your hope completely on the grace. Here's our word again. On the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. I think he's saying you have to realize that even though you're living in the cosmos, your mind, your eyes, your focus, let's call it, must be beyond the present.
Kenneth, we suggest this. Set your hope perfectly, unchangeably, without doubt and despondency. That goes back to what we learned earlier. No matter how bad things get, fix your mind beyond what's happening around you and what's happening to you.
Otherwise, you'll slip back into the cosmos mentality. And that is so easy to do. So easy for that to happen. In fact, I love the way 14 begins as obedient children. Isn't that affirming? How often writers and we preachers come down on Christians assuming they're disobedient. He is assuming obedience here. You're obedient children. We found in the rearing of our children that if we referred to them as good children, as obedient children, as the kind of children we're proud of, that that did something in them.
It gave them a sense of confidence and trust that mom and dad have in them and had in them. We're just getting started in this study of 1 Peter chapter 1, so please keep listening. Chuck titled his message, Hope Beyond Temptation. If you'd like to know more about this ministry, visit us online at insightworld.org.
Keep in mind that Insight for Living has prepared a number of resources designed to help you learn more on this topic. For instance, Chuck wrote a book that parallels his teaching series. It's called Hope Again and includes 17 chapters of biblical wisdom. When your world gets rocked by calamity and when the people around you are second guessing God's role in it, it's tempting to sink into despair. In his book, Chuck will remind you that our God is not surprised by the chaos of our times.
He is sovereign, and he's in complete control. Again, Chuck's book is called Hope Again, and you can purchase a copy right now by going to insight.org slash store, or you can call us. If you're listening in the United States, call 800-772-8888. When you also include a donation to support the Ministry of Insight for Living, you'll have the satisfaction of knowing you're helping people around the world as well. I just saw a note that said, Chuck, when I was going through one of the most frightful times in my life, you spoke life into my desperate situation every day through your radio broadcast.
I was alone in a foreign country with a two-year-old and a second child on the way because of a husband who abandoned us. Chuck, God used you to speak calm to my despair and reassure me that he is always with me in the midst of a storm. Thank you. You know, it's your gifts that allow us to reach hurting souls like this one. Thanks so much for giving generously. To give a contribution today, call us.
If you're listening in the United States, call 800-772-8888, or you can give online at insight.org slash donate. Cruise ships leave the harbor for Alaska all the time, but there's only one that's hosted by Insight for Living Ministries. You're invited to travel with Chuck Swindoll this summer. Every moment of your vacation is thoughtfully prepared and protected so that you can enjoy the perfect balance of rest, adventure, relaxation, sightseeing, and just plain fun, all in the company of those who share your respect for God's word and God's creation.
Yeah, I'll put it this way. God had a very good day when he created Alaska. I was awestruck by the majestic mountains, the wildlife, the quaint little seaports. All my life, I've wanted to see a glacier.
When I stepped out on the deck of our ship and witnessed the massive wall of ice, wow, it was truly breathtaking. Escape with Insight for Living Ministries to the great frontier, July 1st through July 8th, 2023. Call 1-888-447-0444. That's 1-888-447-0444. Or learn more at Insight.org slash events.
The tour to Alaska is paid for and made possible by only those who choose to attend. I'm Bill Meyer, inviting you to join us again next time when Chuck continues to describe how to stay clean in a corrupt society on Insight for Living. The preceding message, Hope Beyond Temptation, Staying Clean in a Corrupt Society, was copyrighted in 1988, 1990, 1996, 2005, and 2010. And the sound recording was copyrighted in 2011 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights are reserved worldwide. Duplication of copyrighted material for commercial use is strictly prohibited.
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