As we continue to examine if we truly love God (see “Do We Love Him” and “We Must Keep His Commands”), let’s first lay a little theological groundwork. We know all scripture is God-breathed and inspired by His Holy Spirit (2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:20-21). This means every word, and therefore every instruction, in the Bible, is a command of Christ. He is the Word of God in the flesh (John 1:1-3).
Every time the scripture instructs us, we must obey. That is what it means to love Christ (John 14:15; 1 John 5:2-4). The book of James teaches us those who would live lives acceptable to God will keep themselves unstained by the world (James 1:27). Therefore, if we love Jesus, we will keep ourselves away from the temptations and habits of our culture. Let’s look at some practical implications this has for the way we live.
To keep ourselves unstained by the world means we don’t go along with the accepted norms of society. It means we don’t indulge in the perverse and idolatrous desires of what everyone else is doing. Few of us can say we live unstained lives. While we know in our heads that we must obey God’s commands, in our hearts we obey the commands of the culture. We let the fads and fashions of our day creep into our lives to the point we are indistinguishable from those who reject Christ. This is an evil thing that should not be! Jesus calls us to be different (1 Peter 2:9), to put away the things of this world, and to devote our lives to Him alone (Luke 4:8; Colossians 3:2; 1 John 2:15-17).
We watch the same movies, laugh at the same jokes, and dress the same as the world does. Our lives and personalities flow with the tides of culture, having no anchor and no destination. Career-minded individuals seek greater and greater success, compromising all along the way. Others seek to be seen as important influencers with a constant focus on self-promotion. Some want nothing more than to hide in the basements of their parents instead of engaging with life in a mature and responsible manner. Our lives are not just stained by the world, they are soaking in it.
Allow me to remind you again of the clear teaching of Jesus. If we love Him, we must obey Him (John 14:15). We are not living in obedience when we are allowing our lives to be stained by the world. When checking your Twitter feed or scrolling through Instagram consumes more time than what you give to being in God’s Word, you are being stained. When you obsess more over followers than you do over lost souls, you are being stained. Not one of us can claim we are keeping ourselves pure. None of the things mentioned above may be your particular vice, but you know the things of this world that you have allowed to stain your soul.
There is no quick fix for untangling yourself from the world. If we love the things of this life, we will continue to fall into sinful patterns and behaviors. The only way to get clean is by loving Jesus more than all the perceived delights Satan uses to distract us. We will all fail at times and become stained by the world. If we never sinned, Christ would not have had to die for our redemptive cleansing. But if the patterns and desires of your life lead to constant staining from this world, there’s a good chance you don’t love Jesus like you say you do. There’s a strong possibility you don’t love Him at all. If we love Jesus, we will keep ourselves unstained by the world. Our lives will look different. If we love Him, we must obey Him.