We must realize that this world is not God's world! Some have trouble grasping the practical ramifications of this concept, perhaps because many think of God as Creator, Owner, and Ruler and marvel at the staggering beauty of what He has made. In that sense, it is His world.

Nonetheless, the systems that operate our cultures are not His. The Greek word translated "world" in I John 2:16kosmos, has a moral implication. It implies "the world apart from God." In his commentary on this verse, theologian William Barclay writes, "To John, the world was nothing other than a pagan society with its false values and its false gods".

The world's systems generate and sustain our government and politics, entertainment, fashion, religion, business ethics, medicine and health care, culinary tastes, social programs and institutions, education, science and technology, economics, and use of power. The world's systems have formed many of humanity's belief systems and attitudes, which, in turn, have shaped human conduct.

These are the things God's Word tells us to overcome. Yet this world and its systems are so appealing! But God in His wisdom advises us not to waste our love on them because they have no future! This world is so corrupt that other prophecies show the whole thing will be destroyed and replaced when God invokes the restitution of all things ( II Peter 3:10-11Revelation 21:1).

The basic reason all must be destroyed is because at its very foundation stands a destroying and antagonistic spirit, Satan the Devil, the ruler of this world (see John 12:3114:3016:11Ephesians 2:2). As Jesus phrased it, "A corrupt tree cannot bring forth good fruit" (Matthew 7:18).

Satan is a destroyer, and his way is at best a deadly mixture of good and evil. James confirms this when he asks this rhetorical question, "Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening?" (James 3:11).

So strong is God's warning about the world that He says through Paul in II Corinthians 6:14-18:

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. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you." "I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the LORD Almighty."

That is strong language! Not one part of this system will be carried over into the world to come! The whole thing is unclean, something that contaminates and defiles, rendering unholy those who are touched by it (Haggai 2:10-14). Though it sounds contrary to common sense, the world is most dangerous to Christians when it is not persecuting them. It may seem friendly and tolerant, even producing good things, but God says even then it is still unclean. The mixture of good and evil still produces a poisonous combination. In these matters, it is God's judgment that counts.

Have we considered this? Are we afraid of what it might cost us to "come out of her" (Revelation 18:4)? The price might be high in some areas of life, but it is so important that it is worth considering again. We must think about these ideas more intensely. We would be wise to reevaluate ourselves again in the light of this vital fundamental principle and resolve to "come out" of a habit or practice of the world that we have—perhaps unwittingly, stubbornly—dragged into our relationship with God.