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Changed Through Regeneration [2]

So strong is the view expressed by the Lord as to the believer's relationship to this world that He said, "He that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal" (John 12:25); yet we feel in our hearts and by daily experience how apposite is this saying of the Lord. The spiritually-minded believer hates this outward, earthly life. He would withdraw from it. He would, as Paul, desire to depart and to be with Christ which is very far better. He lives in the spirit, though it may be necessary for him to abide in the flesh for the sake and well-being of others.

We need to hear the words of James afresh: "Know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore would be a friend of the world maketh himself an enemy of God" (James 4:4). These are the strong words of a strong man, but they are more; they are Spirit-given words; they are, in a word, God's mind as to our relationship to the world. The world cast out and crucified Christ, because it hated both Him and His Father, and those who would please God must make their choice for God or for the world. They cannot have both, they cannot be friends of both. No Christian can act as mediator to reconcile what is irreconcilable. The world made its choice; it chose Barabbas and it chose Caesar, and it crucified Christ. Its choice has never been revoked.

Paul shows the value of tribulation in Romans 5:3 when he says that "tribulation worketh patience," and of chastisement in Hebrews 12:10, which is to the end "that we may be partakers of His holiness." It is quite a natural thing for men to seek roses without thorns, and, if possible, to get honey without stings. We prefer to sail a sea without turbulence, and to follow a road which has no hill. Whilst none wishes to be a voluntary martyr, most shrink from the truth of the Cross. But suffering and hardship are part of the divine economy of things for us each in this cold world which to this hour knows not God's Christ, though nearly twenty weary centuries have rolled by since He, the Great Sufferer and Man of Sorrows, was here with men. If we would be profited, and God pleased, and men blessed, then we must take our part in suffering hardship (2 Timothy 2:3 R.V.M.).