‘Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach.’ Hebrews 13:13
Suggested Further Reading: 2 Corinthians 6:14–18
The Christian is to be separate from the world as to his company. He must buy, and sell, and trade like other men in the world, but yet he is not to find his intimate friends in it. He is not to go out of society and shut himself up in a monastery; he is to be in the world but not of it; and his choice company is not to be among the loose, the immoral, the profane, no, not even among the merely moral—his choice company is to be the saints of God. He is to select for his associates those who shall be his companions in the world to come. As idle boys were accustomed to mock at foreigners in the streets, so do worldlings jeer at Christians; therefore the believer flies away to his own company when he wants good fellowship. The Christian must come out of the world as to his company. I know this rule will break many a fond connection; but ‘be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers.’ I know it will snap ties which are almost as dear as life, but it must be done. We must not be overruled even by our own brother when the things of God and conscience are concerned. You must follow Christ, whatever may be the enmity you may excite, remembering that unless you love Christ better than husband, or father, or mother, yes, and your own life also, you cannot be his disciple. If these be hard terms, turn your backs, and perish in your sins! Count the cost; and if you cannot bear such a cost as this, do not undertake to be a follower of Christ.
For meditation: Godly King Jehoshaphat of Judah seemed incapable of learning this lesson. Note the contrast with wicked King Ahab of Israel (2 Chronicles 17:3–6; 1 Kings 16:30–33), his compromise with him (2 Chronicles 18:1–3), the chastisement it caused (2 Chronicles 19:1–3) and the correction this brought (2 Chronicles 20:1–4). But the continuation of the account is salutary—Jehoshaphat fell for the same trick again (2 Chronicles 20:35–37) and again (2 Kings 3:6–7)! ‘I am as thou art’ is a false and foolish attitude for a Christian to adopt towards a non-Christian.
Sermon no. 577
26 June (1864)