R.C. Sproul Jr. on Christians Living More Separate Lives

From R.C. Sproul Jr.

At Highlands Ministries, one of the places I am blessed to labor, our purpose statement reads, “We exist to help Christians live more simple, separate and deliberate lives to the glory and God and for the building of His kingdom. I addressed what we mean by simple here. While simple by not be easy for people to grasp immediately, I knew when writing this purpose statement that separate would be the most controversial of the three goals.

Which strikes me as rather ironic as separate really means nothing different than holy, or rather holy means nothing different than separate.  We are the ekklesia, literally “the called out ones,” the church, which has been called out of the darkness into His marvelous light. We are a holy nation, a distinct and peculiar people. Who, because we are not holy, desperately want to fit in.  From Constantine to the seeker sensitive movement Christians have bucked against the promise of God that the world will hate us, because it first hated Him.

We have grown confused because we have added our own wisdom to God’s wisdom. Everyone knows, for instance, that God commands that we be in the world, but not of it. Except God never said such a thing. Go ahead, look it up. It’s not in there. Now in John 17: 14-16, in His high priestly prayer Jesus did say- “I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one.  They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.”

We think this is the same as “be in the world but not of it” which we then interpret as “be a little like the world, so they won’t hate you, but not so like the world that you are wicked.” But the text says we will be hated. As long as we are here, on the planet, if we are faithful, we will be hated by the world.  Even were we to concede that “be in the world but not of it” is a sound notion, the truth is that as long as we are alive and on the planet we are in the world. Should we know unbelievers, interact with unbelievers, minister to unbelievers? By all means. But let’s work on not being like unbelievers.

We, in encouraging one another on to good works, should be looking for those places, those more subtle places, where we have embraced the wisdom of the world, where we are not set apart, not distinct from the world, and then repenting and believing the gospel. We should be searching for the ground we have given the devil in our hearts and minds, and then, confident in the power of the gospel, driving him out. We should live lives that are so different from the world around us, different not just in our means, but in our ends, not just in our doing but in our thinking and feeling, not just in avoiding the really glaring sins, but in cultivating the fruit of the Spirit, that the world first gawks at us in unbelief, and then seeks to drive us out.

We have come to believe that being salt means smelling like rotten meat, being light means looking like the darkness. Which means we have come to believe the lies of the devil rather than the promises of our Lord.  He commands us- Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said:
“I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God ,and they shall be My people. Therefore come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord.”
For more Ask RCs from Dr. Sproul, visit the Highlands Ministries website here.