Not of This World

To the apostle John, the world was a most unpleasant thing. In its moral, religious and political aspects the world can sap away the spiritual affections and energies of the saints, if they allow themselves to be drawn into its net. In the Scriptures there is a great distinction between heaven and its nature on the one hand, and the world and its character on the other. No wonder John in his Gospel repeats the phrase “not of the world” several times.

Referring to the Lord. To the Jews He said, “I am from above … I am not of this world”, John 8. 23; hence He spoke what He had heard of the Father. Later, He said to the Father, “I am not of the world”, 17. 16. Thus He had glory with the Father, and set Himself apart from the great world system around Him: “I sanctify myself’, v. 19. By contrast, the Jews were “from beneath … of this world”, 8. 23. Several times, Satan is called “the prince of this world” by the Lord, 12. 31; 14. 30; 16. 11. Thus the Lord’s sphere of life and work was in complete contrast to Satan’s.

Referring to the Kingdom. To Pilate, the Lord said, “My kingdom is not of this world”, 18. 36. Thus His disciples would not fight to deliver their King, since His kingdom was “not from hence”. By contrast, Pilate represented the kingdom of Rome. The Roman kingdom was the fourth beast in Daniel 7. It is described as “diverse from all kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth”, v. 23. Only at the end will the kingdom of the world become the kingdom of the Lord, who shall reign for ever, Rev. 11. 15. He will judge and make war, 19. 11, so that his heavenly kingdom may be established on earth.

Referring to His People. In His prayer, the Lord said, “they are not of the world”, John 17. 14, an assertion repeated in verse 16. He had said the same thing in 15. 19, and hence believers cannot be loved by the world. By contrast, the Jews were “from beneath … of this world”, 8. 23, and thus would die in their sins. The anti-Christs of the Christian era deny that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, and hence “are of the world”, 1 John 4. 5.

Effective testimony today arises from believers who are not of the world.

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