Look around you. The people that you see to your left and right look like you, talk like you, walk like you, and generally act very similar to the way that you do. We all have a left ventricle, a right nostril and a head on our shoulders, and if you were to line 100 of us side by side, 99% of us would answer any given question very similar ways. Not to say that we are carbon-copy cutouts of each other, just that humanity as a whole has, inherently, very similar characteristics. However, take a second look at that 1% that did not answer like the rest of them. What do you notice? He’s a little different isn’t he?
“Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you.” (2 Corinthians 6:18). When God looked at the world, he ordained a special group of people to be his. In the Old Testament, it was the Israelites, and they were to be individual, separate, pure, clean, and undefiled with the world around them. Laws governed strict dietary regulations and marriage customs, all put in place for keeping them unspotted from the world around them. In the New Testament, that group of people are the Church, who were “predestined to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself” (Ephesians 1:5). Unlike the Israelites, membership in the Church was chosen voluntarily, put on by Christ through the waters of baptism, and taking a promise to remain pure to God. Purity in that sense is not one of physicality, but rather spirituality, making sure we are holy and spotless before God.
When you take the oath of enlistment into our United States military, one of the first steps is to be shipped off to a rigorous boot camp, where procedures, knowledge, and physical fitness is drilled into you until you can not even see straight. With the exception of occasional weekend passes, this quarantine is firm until you graduate. As one marine drill instructor barked at his list of new recruits, “There’s only one way your getting off this island. In a box, in an alligator, or as a marine!” This isolation was for a purpose, to get them away from the distractions of civilian life to better attach their purpose to them.
I’m not advocating a three-month retreat for all new Christians, but rather the mindset to which we need to think of ourselves as. We need to be spiritually isolated from the world around us, since we are not able to physically leave this world, and not mix our righteousness with lawlessness. While we may be in the world, eating similar food and walking similar streets, we are not the same as everyone else. Our actions are different, and the way we respond to certain situations should list us as unique. Peter calls us a “peculiar people” in 1 Peter 2:9 (some translations render this as a “special people”), and that endowment is for a reason. God has commanded us to come out from among the world, to not engage in desires and activities that would mar our lives with sin and make us unholy before Him.
As Christians who have put on Christ, let us truly be a “special people,” and keep ourselves pure and holy before God in every facet of our spiritual life. It is not a question of “How close can I get?” But rather a question every time of, “How could I do that when I am a child of God?” Sin should hold no appeal for us, and the other aspects of this world shouldn’t either, for we have obtained a better promise towards a hope eternal. Let us not lose that for a few rounds of sin and passing pleasure.