depart from me, you evildoers, that I may keep the commandments of my God. [psalm 119:115]
there are very distinct differences in God’s word between believers and non believers. yet in our “anything goes” kind of culture we are surrounded by daily, it can be difficult to tell the difference. anyone can claim that they know God. they might go to church. they might even be able to quote a bible verse or two or ten. but how do we know if we are surrounding ourselves with true believers or non believers? how do we choose our friends? those who we allow to influence our thinking and our love for Christ?
if you love me [Jesus], you will keep my commandments. and i will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. you know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. [john 14:15-17]
this is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. if we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. but if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. if we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. [1 john 1:5-10]
do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. for all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. and the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. [1 john 2:15-17]
you hypocrites [pharisees]! well did isaiah prophesy of you, when he said: “this people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.” [matthew 15:7-9]
but the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. and those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. if we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another. [galatians 5:22-26]
in summary, the marks of a believer will be evident in the way they live their life, not merely by the words they say. they will be ever growing in their love for God’s word, his way, and his glory, his children, and his bride. they will be growing in the Spirit, producing more abundantly his fruit each year. they will be growing in sensitivity to their sin, growing in their satisfaction in the Lord, and growing less and less satisfied in the ways of the world.
God’s word doesn’t tell us not to be around unbelievers. on the contrary, we are called to be a kingdom of priests, proclaiming his excellencies to a world that doesn’t know him. but he calls us to be separate [2 cor 6:17], set apart for his glory [2 tim 2:21], and not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers [2 cor 6:14]. in other words, don’t be influenced by those who love the world. as the psalmist says, “depart from me, you evildoers, that i may keep the commandments of my God!” but what if we can’t tell if we are surrounded by this kind of true believer? by becoming this kind of true believer. time in the word. time with the Lord. growth in the Spirit. there will become increasing disparity between you and the world, and the proof is in the fruit.
Father, grow my love for you. grow my hatred for my own sin. grow my dissatisfaction in the things of the world. surround me with true believers who point me to Christ, that together, we might proclaim your excellencies, you called us out of darkness and into your marvelous light! amen!