IF you have really been put into GOD'S Church by God — if you have really been CONVERTED — which means CHANGED — by receiving His Holy Spirit, then you no longer see things as you did before. If this CHANGE has really happened to you, you now see this world for what it is. And the more you see of it — the more you deal with people of the world — the more disgusted you probably are becoming. And THEREIN, Brethren, lies ONE OF YOUR GREATEST DANGERS! Only yesterday, while we were riding in the car, my wife, seeing all the Christmas decorations, having just heard some of the insincere flattery expressed by a woman in business, made comment on what a rotten, perverted world this is. I thought I detected a trace of disgust, and even contempt in her expression, and cautioned her about it. But this is a perfectly NATURAL reaction that will come to any of us who can now really SEE the rottenness, the deceit, hypocrisy, pretense, vanity, greed, lying that is constantly expressed in worldly lives. NATURAL, did I say? Yes — and also I want you to realize that all this flattery, this deceit, lying, pretending, we see in people of the world is NATURAL. The carnal mind is the NATURAL mind. The people of the world do what is NATURAL for them to do. That is, according to human nature. That which is natural is of NATURE — physical — material. The spiritual things of God's Spirit are not natural — not of NATURE, or physical — but spiritual. It is perfectly NATURAL for one who is converted, and now sees things through spiritual eyes, to become really DISGUSTED with the world. It is perfectly NATURAL, which actually means according to that SAME EVIL NATURE which still resides in us for the rest of this life, for this disgust to increase into IMPATIENCE, BITTERNESS, HATRED. I want you to see just what this is, working in us. With our new spiritual perception, we plainly SEE the evil that the world does not see. So far, so good. But right here is where the CARNAL nature begins to assert itself. The CARNAL nature is a COMPETITIVE nature. It is always taking sides — and AGAINST the other side. This spirit of rivalry begins to take over, if we are off guard, do not recognize it, and then yield to it. We get into the attitude that WE are now on GOD'S side. The evil WORLD becomes the rival — the ENEMY. So, yielding to human nature, we resent the enemy, and soon we allow feelings of HATING the enemy to seize us. This attitude becomes more than just that. We begin to feel that we are BETTER than the world — we work into a "holier-than-thou" attitude. Thus our carnal NATURES within us, with the unrealized invisible sway of Satan and demons, use the very presence of God's Holy Spirit within us to incite us to VANITY, rivalry, hatred, which is the spirit of murder! Of all sins, I think probably that the greatest and most harmful is SELF-righteousness, for this, even unrealized, puts the self ahead of God, breaking the first commandment. Further, the self-righteous is the hardest person to bring to repentance and salvation. He is so deceived he thinks he HAS salvation already. He thinks he has nothing to repent of — he is already perfect. He is a blinded fool. Suppose you have really repented, and through faith in Christ been CHANGED by God's Spirit entering you. You DO see things differently now — and you do see how wicked and rotten this world really is. Does that make YOU better than these worldly people? NOT AT ALL! It is not YOU that is better, for, as Paul said, in YOU is no good thing — EXCEPT God's Spirit. As Jesus said, there is NONE good, except God. All that is really GOOD about you, even now, is GOD'S SPIRIT in you. Now let's see what is the REAL DIFFERENCE between you and these "rotten" worldly people. Some of these worldly people may think they are atheists — some may be agnostics — some may give little or no heed to religion — some may be members of worldly churches, and right now (this is being written in December, 1961) indulging in pagan Christmas shopping, decorating, and all that goes with it. But when you get right down to it, the REAL DIFFERENCE is that, somehow, GOD did something. GOD opened your eyes to see what they don't see. Is it necessarily their fault that they can't see the truth? Was it your fault, before you saw it? Remember, you used to see things like they do now! What good and holy thing did YOU do that made God open your eyes, and draw you to Him? How much can you brag? No, it was not anything better about you than these worldly people you now condemn. It was GOD'S goodness that opened your eyes. It was not because you were better than they. If you are honest, you can't see any reason why God should have called YOU, and opened your eyes and drawn you to Him, instead of one of them! It is not what YOU did — it was GOD'S goodness. The only difference between you and these "rotten people" in the world is what GOD did. He put His Spirit in you. And that is all that's better in you — and that is not really — YOU — but GOD! Now how should we look at the world? We should look at it exactly as Jesus did. We should not be blind to its evils — Jesus was not. No, through God's Spirit, we shall really SEE how evil the world is. Jesus did. He ABHORRED the EVIL. But not the poor blinded people! He LOVED them. He had compassion for them. He didn't approve or condone the evil — he abhorred and condemned that. But HE SAW THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SIN AND THE SINNER! God HATES sin — but God SO LOVED sinners that He gave His only begotten Son for them! Jesus, with a heart nearly bursting with compassion and love, yet HATING the evil, looked on the sinning WORLD that was Jerusalem, and said movingly, feelingly: "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!" They were free moral agents. The decision was theirs. Christ would do nothing to FORCE them to accept His love and free salvation. But notice his recognition of their SIN! Notice He would not compromise one iota — He would not gather them, or save them, against their will, or IN their sins. Yet notice the LOVE, the overwhelming compassion, and deep heart-felt REGRET that THEY WOULD NOT! He didn't show resentment. God does, on occasion, blaze with righteous indignation — but never with resentment which is a form of, and leads to HATRED. It would have been NATURAL for Jesus, on the cross, to have become resentful, bitter, and to have called out to God, saying, ";O God, look at the unjust, murderous, damnable thing these rotten, filthy murderers have done to me. STRIKE THEM DOWN! TORTURE them, O God! I want them to SUFFER! Pay them back DOUBLE! Take VENGEANCE on them, O God!" That would have been perfectly natural — just as natural as for you to work yourself up into resentment and bitterness against the world when you see its rottenness and its evil. But Jesus was not LED BY human nature, though He had it IN Him. He was LED BY the SPIRIT OF GOD. And it is only those — even among US — who are led by God's Spirit who are the begotten SONS of God (Rom. 8:14). And the Spirit of God in Jesus cried out: "Father, FORGIVE them! for they know not what they do!" Even here He did not condone — He acknowledged their guilt — yet pled for their forgiveness! HE KNEW THEIR EYES WERE BLINDED — they did not fully realize how terribly they were sinning! The church people you know, now participating in Christmas customs, are not doing it because they know it is wrong — that it is an ABOMINATION in the eyes of God. They are deceived. They think it is right. "THEY KNOW NOT WHAT THEY DO!" As PEOPLE, they may be just as good — perhaps BETTER than we. Judgment of them is not ours — not now! The only difference is what GOD did for us. Let us not get SELF-righteous! Let us not think more of ourselves than we ought, or become resentful at the world. It is human nature to go to extremes. Let us avoid becoming embittered at the world, on the one extreme. But BEWARE of the other extreme of condoning sin. Because we do not condemn the people of the world — because we have compassion and LOVE for them, and act kindly toward them, with full respect and courtesy — let us not go to the other extreme of APPROVING OF worldly ways and sins. The right balance is to be able to SEE, and ABHOR the SINS, and wrong WAYS, beliefs, and doings of the world — to really HATE these wrongs that are so contrary to God's Law — yet to have UNDERSTANDING, with LOVE toward the misguided and deceived people who participate in these evils. Let us SHUN their beliefs, customs, and ways — we cannot participate with them in these things — but let us not get resentful, or in any way unkind. We must LOVE even our enemies. We must treat people outside God's Church — and this includes our own families or relatives who persecute us — with full courtesy, politeness, and consideration, not esteeming ourselves better than they. And even though we know God's WAY is better than theirs — right, while theirs is wrong — let us never mention that to them or reprove them, or argue with them. PRAY for them (not against them) but do not try to talk them into God's Truth — it just can't be done!