The difference between worldliness and Godliness

Jesus was from God, yet born in the flesh, like any of us. Nevertheless, there ought not to be a single person claiming not to be from God. The utterance that humans were created in God’s image dispels the idea that humans are of this world. Yet, ordinary humans cannot agree with the idea of Godliness.

When Peter accurately identified Jesus as the Christ, Son of the living God, he uttered what was considered unbelievable. (Matthew 16:16). That understanding was peculiar. But Jesus indicated that His Church would be built, based on Peter’s understanding (Vs 18). His Church comprises those identifying with Jesus.

Having been granted the Holy Spirit, the disciples automatically became God’s Children, Just like Jesus was God’s Son. The only difference between Jesus and His disciples, is that Jesus is the only one, so far having been resurrected. The disciples ceased to be of this world after receiving the Holy Spirit.

“They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood” (1 John 4:5-6 NIV).

The apostles John spoke these words on account of having ceased to be of this world. The only indication, given by John, on how to differentiate between those of this world and those from God, is popularity. Those of this world are popular and are well-received by those of this world.

The Spirit of truth cannot be well-received in this world, unlike the spirit of falsehood, known to be well-received. However, readers should not be misled into believing that everything rejected, even with clear evidence of falsehood is from God. Truthful information comes directly from the source.

Ten people may come to you as witnesses of an event having taken place at some place. Nine of them being in agreement of what they state to be true. But a lone witness, out of the ten, may provide a different viewpoint. It is common that the majority carries what would be considered as true.

But, the majority could be untruthful, where the lone witness could be truthful. That should not be construed as carrying better judgment, on matters of truth. Yet, on the other hand, the majority could be truthful, where the lone witness carries falsehood. This appears as complicated, when deciding on matters of truth.

However, there is no truth that surpasses what comes from the source. The person making judgments acquits himself wisely, when relying on the source, to obtain truthful information. He does not base his judgment on the principle of democracy, or deciding on how credible the witness might appear to be.

A person in pursuit of truth leaves everything in suspense, until verifying the information from the source. Nothing else gives cardinal derivation of truthful information, in this world. This is different from those assuming that information would always be true, when coming from trusted informants.

Information is truthful, as long as coming from the source. There is no wisdom assumed as better than this viewpoint. It is always better, even to suspect your own parents. Jesus intimated that one should renounce his own relatives to follow Him.

“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:26 NIV).

The truthful person makes judgment, according to his own assurance, having checked for him/herself, in ascertaining truthfulness. Jesus said only the truth sets people free. Therefore, truth is truth, only after having verified it from the source. This is done before coming to a conclusion that the information would be true.

“Beware of your friends; do not trust anyone in your clan. For every one of them is a deceiver, and every friend a slanderer. Friend deceives friend, and no one speaks the truth. They have taught their tongues to lie; they weary themselves with sinning” (Jeremiah 9:4-5 NIV).

Was the apostle John telling the truth when saying: “We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us?” Hitherto, only Jesus had been the only one declaring having come from God. But, apparently, the apostle John also spoke confidently, in stating that reality?

How had the apostle John, and the rest of the apostles ceased to be of this world? The answer can only be obtained from God’s word. This may not be quite convincing to those who do not believe in the Bible, which is God’s word. In His last prayer, Jesus declared that God’s word was truth (John 17:17).

At one point His adversaries sought to stone Him, after declaring that before Abraham was there, He had been there. But Jesus stated that reality on the basis of that humans, created in God’s image, had already been there, before Abraham’s existence (Genesis 1:26-27). At one stage Jesus engaged in a heated argument with the Pharisees who vehemently opposed that Jesus was God’s child:

“You are doing the works of your own father.” “We are not illegitimate children,” they protested. “The only Father we have is God himself.” Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I have come here from God. I have not come on my own; God sent me. Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. 

“You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me! Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don’t you believe me?” (John 8:41-46 NIV).

These arguments could be common, even in our time, as known to be characteristic between those of this world and those from God. In short, it is impossible for those of this world to be in agreement with those from God. The certainty with which Jesus engaged those Pharisees was the same as portrayed by John. It is also the same certainty possessed by today’s true Christians.

“You are not yet fifty years old,” they said to him, “and you have seen Abraham!” “Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!” At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds (John 8:57-59 NIV).

Their limitation had been in failure to distinguish between being created in God’s image and being born in this world. They had Scriptures at their disposal, but they never took time to understand those Scriptures. If created in God’s image, how could they not be regarded as the Sons of the living God, just as Jesus was?

“We are not stoning you for any good work,” they replied, “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.” Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I have said you are “gods”’? If he called them ‘gods,’ to whom the word of God came—and Scripture cannot be set aside—what about the one whom the Father set apart as his very own and sent into the world? Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, ‘I am God’s Son’? Do not believe me unless I do the works of my Father. But if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father.” Again they tried to seize him, but he escaped their grasp. (John 10:33-39 NIV).

Jesus was referring to one of their esteemed Scriptures in the Book of Psalms: “I said, ‘You are “gods”; you are all sons of the Most High.’(Psalms 82:6). What did they mean by a mere man? Did the Scriptures allow them to state that a person created in God’s image, was a mere man?

If they agreed with the Scripture stating that they were created in God’s image, were they mere men? Let alone the man that had performed miracles, providing the empirical evidence of not being ‘mere’ men.

By merely stating that one is God’s child, one is equating Himself with God. Indeed, it is unfathomable for one to equate himself with God, in this world. However, there is no lie in stating that humans were created in God’s image. Notwithstanding their currently existing under the sinful conditions.

When still in a condition of waywardness, the prodigal son did not even think about his father. He identified himself with sinful conditions, more than his actual origin. It was at that point of recognizing his misery, that he remembered having come from a wealthy family, with a loving father.

As he embarked on going back to his father, the prodigal son resolved to bargain for treatment as one of his father’s servants. Of course, this was the most reasonable postulate, considering his waywardness. Little did he realize that his father would lavishly welcome him, as his own son?

Unlike Jesus, a person who repents from his sins is like a prodigal son. Without the attitude of a prodigal son, one would be foolish, when calling himself God’s child. It would only be after having been welcomed by the Father, sealed by the Holy Spirit, can one then assume being God’s child.

“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever—the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you” (John 14:16-20 NIV).

Jesus was talking to those having faithfully displayed their commitment to follow Him. They would not be left as orphans, as Jesus and His Father would be with them. I suppose some people are baffled by what Jesus said to one of the two criminals, on the cross with Him?

We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:41-43 NIV).

As displaying the attitude of a prodigal son, that criminal was promised paradise, ahead of those known to be faithfully committed to law-keeping. The upshot of it is that God’s children cannot doubt their condition of being with God.

True Christians are like the apostle John, without hesitation to declare having come from God. We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us” (1 John 4:5 NIV).

The clear distinction between those from God and those of this world, is that those from this world can never be friendly to those from God. However, it is not the business of God’s Children to decide who would be on the Lord’s side and who would be not.

There are so many people, having opposed Jesus, up to the point of his crucifixion, who later got converted. Jesus’s own brothers could not understand Jesus, although they ought to have considered themselves blessed, being related to Him. Those relatives sneered and, at times ridiculed Him, during His ministry.

Jesus’ brothers said to him, “Leave Galilee and go to Judea, so that your disciples there may see the works you do. No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret. Since you are doing these things, show yourself to the world.” For even his own brothers did not believe in him (John 7:3-5 NIV).

When carrying the appetite for truth, one cannot be mistaken in identifying those who are God’s children. The starting point is appreciating that God is the source-point, and His word is truth. As long as adopting humility and avoiding dogmatism, one is on the Lord’s side.

Andrew Masuku is the author of Dimensions of a New Civilization, laying down standards for uplifting Zimbabwe from the current state of economic depression into a model for other nations worldwide. A decaying tree provides an opportunity for a blossoming sprout. Written from a Christian perspective, the book is a product of inspiration, bringing relief to those having witnessed the strings of unworkable solutions––leading to the current economic and social decay. In a simple conversational tone, most Zimbabweans should find the book as a long-awaited providential oasis of hope.

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