header image
Home arrow Griffin's History arrow Nonconformity to the World
Nonconformity to the World PDF Print E-mail
Written by John R. Daily   

ZION'S ADVOCATE - August 1905

"And be not conformed to this world; but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God." Rom. xii. 2.

If the full force of the apostle’s precept in the text we propose to consider were fully presented, it would certainly fall with great weight upon the mind of every reader. We would be glad to do this, but we are sure that such a presentation of it would do honor to the pen of an able writer, such as we are fully conscious of failing to be. We are assisted, however, in our present effort, by the simplicity and plainness of the words of our text, through which the thought can be clearly seen, as an object is seen through a glass that is without defect.

In speaking of the world, I suppose the apostle means the men of the world, in distinction from the children of God, such as do not love God, have not his fear before their eyes, and are following such pursuits and practices as are inconsistent with the holy calling of christians, which cannot be imitated and complied with by them without hurting their profession and destroying their peace. The children of God are in the world, but they are not of it. Their Maker has chosen them out of the world, and now he requires them to be separated from it in their conduct and conversation.

It is not meant that we should wholly renounce the society of the world. If we should do this, and withdraw ourselves from our fellow beings, and retire from society, and spend our lives in desert and uninhabited places, this would afford us no advantage. Unless we could flee from ourselves likewise, we would carry our own sinful flesh with us, and would be subject to temptations wherever we might go. This would be a deviation from the paths of nature and providence, altogether injudicious, and would be likely to lead to the vilest abominations, as it has in the ease of religious fanatics who have tried it in ages past. Such a course would be a departure from one great object of our vocation. Christians are to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world. Churches are to be as conspicuous as cities set on hills. They are commanded to let their light shine before men, even the men of the world, which they could not do were they to withdraw from them.

There are certain duties relative to life that arise out of relationship. These duties are as binding on God’s people as they are on the people of the world. We are not, therefore, enjoined to renounce them, nor are we at liberty to do so. In our relation to our fellow-creatures, it is our duty to feed the poor, relieve the distressed, administer to the wants of the needy, whether they are professors of religion or not. If a beggar calls at our door, we are not to inquire into his spiritual state, but it is our duty to feed him, clothe him, or assist him in any way that his actual needs require. In our relation as masters or servants, parents or children, husbands or wives, teachers or pupils, rulers or subjects, we should dictate and govern or yield obedience, as unto the Lord himself who requires it of us. We should live neighborly with our neighbors, endeavoring, as much as we possibly can, to live peaceably with all men.

In a financial way we are under the necessity of having intercourse with the men of the world. We have them to deal with in trading, buying and selling, employing and obtaining employment, and in all the various relations of business life. In all this, if we are scrupulously honest, which of course we should be, we are not disobeying the injunction to be not conformed to the world. In affairs of this nature, we should have an eye single to the providence of God, and a spirit of submission to his will, and a prayerful desire for his divine guidance, striving to provide things honest in the sight of all men. Diligence and fidelity in the pursuit and management of our worldly concerns are commendable, while indolence and negligence are to be avoided as things to be despised.

The moderate use of the comforts and conveniences of life are allowed to God’s people, though the world makes use of the same things. These things should be made use of in a way that is suitable to the station in which God has placed us in the world. The spirit of self-righteousness and will-worship manifests itself in long fastings, in abstaining from agreeable foods of certain kinds, in wearing clothing more common than is customary with. people of the same rank or in wearing peculiar apparel to designate the sect, and. in many singularities and peculiarities not required by the Bible. People may gratify the spirit of pride in themselves by strict attention to externals in a vain show of pretended humility. To those who fear and serve the Lord, every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving. It is improper to dress in a way that the attention of the people will be constantly directed to our apparel, either because of its nobbiness or shabbiness.

The precept, "Be not conformed to the world," is very extensive and important, notwithstanding the restrictions to which we have alluded. The people for whom this is intended are strangers and pilgrims upon earth. They are only on a journey here, for heaven is their country and God is their King. It is intended, therefore, that they should be known and observed as his subjects. They should come out, from the world professionally, and live separate from sinful pleasures and carnal pursuits. The prevalence of evil examples and customs around them have a tendency to draw them aside to their hurt if they yield to them, which they are liable to do, being only renewed in part; hence the necessity for this admonition.

The secular business of most of them may be the same as that of the world, and this is allowable as we have already shown, but their spirit, principles and ends are to be entirely different. The activity of men of the world is actuated and stimulated by a miserly greed. They go to rest late and rise early that they may gratify their cravings for the increase of their own importance by adding house to house and field to field, desiring to get to themselves a great name like the Babel builders. Very different from this should be the policy of those who have the love of God shed abroad in their hearts by his blessed Spirit. Casting their care upon their heavenly Father, who has promised to take care of them, they should attend to their secular affairs with an eye single to his glory. What he gives should be received with thankfulness, and carefully used for the advancement of the interests of the precious cause of him who has purchased them with his own blood. If losses and crosses or met with, they should not allow themselves to be disconcerted, as is the manner of the world, knowing that all their concerns are under a divine direction, and that their best treasure is safe after all, being entirely out of reach of the changes to which all things of this state are liable.

The world calls evil good, and good evil. They take bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter. Their religions maxims, of which they have many, are wrong for this reason, and should not be conformed to by the followers of the Lamb. They are not able to see that salvation is unconditional on their part, being blinded by the god of this world, so they imagine themselves required to do what they call their part, which they are more or less resolved to do ere they die. They cannot agree among themselves as to just what that part is, but they all think it dependent upon them to make the start in some way and thus procure their peace with God. The doctrine that pertains to the true religion of Jesus is the exact opposite to this theory. As the children of God have been saved and called, not according to their works, but according to the purpose and grace of almighty God, which were given them in Christ Jesus before the world began, they should oppose the false theory of the world, the theory of conditionalism, and not be conformed to it or any of its auxiliary branches. As the people of the world think they must make the start, they believe, of course, that they must keep on after the start is made, the final issue being dependent on their faithfulness to keep themselves in the way they suppose is right. A loud and boasting professor said to us a few days ago that he fully expected to reach heaven if he kept on in the way he was pursuing. We told him he was sure to fail if he had nothing to trust in but himself. He was reared in this county by Baptist parents, but now lives in Columbus, Ohio, and don’t you know he is Superintendent of a Sunday School of four hundred pupils. Such is the doctrine of this world, and the world is able and willing to hear it. But the doctrine of God our Saviour is that his people are kept, not by their own power, but by the power of God, unto salvation, ready to be revealed in the last day. Dear children of God, be not conformed to the doctrines of the world, be not ensnared by the false theories of men.

People of the world have their amusements and diversions, many of which tend to promote a spirit of dissipation. The fear of God has no place in them, they are purposely disposed to inflame or indulge corrupt passions and appetites, and to banish all serious thoughts of God and of our duty to him. The pool room, the card table, the dancing hall, the billiard saloon, the dram shop and other places considered nor so degrading and disrespectful as these, are resorts for those who care little for their name and character, and much less for God and godliness. For a professor of religion to be seen at such dirty places is much tike seeing a sheep wallowing in the mud. The latter would seem to have the wool of the sheep but the nature of the hog. How very disgraceful is such conduct and how very shameful is such a sight. It will be seen that we mention the dancing hall among other degrading places. We are aware that dances are classified, there being the "Society Dance" and "Tough-class Dance," but the best that can be said of these is that the one is wickedness in a high place, and the other is wickedness in a low place, the terms high and low being more imaginary than real. The effect of each is the same, a degrading of the morals, a fostering of the evil passions, and a general downward tendency that all ought to avoid whether professors of religion or not. Parents are to be pitied who can say without shame, "I went to dances when I was young," and say this right in the presence of their children, thus giving a passing sanction to an unbecoming and degrading practice.

Fire and water are no more opposite than that peace of God, which passeth all understanding, and that poor precarious and sensual pleasure which is sought in a compliance With the world. Whoever, after having tasted that the Lord is gracious, has been prevailed on to make the experiment of mingling with the world’s vanities, has certainly brought a chill upon his experience and partially disqualified himself for the higher and purer enjoyment of the spiritual service of Christ. Many professors of this day seem to have found a way, as they think, of serving God and Mammon at the same time. Being double-minded, they are unstable in their ways. They are sure to grow lean as christians, drift into a mere form of godliness, and into a scheme of orthodox notions, while they remain destitute of the life, power, and sweet comforts of religion. Such is the sure results of a conformity to those things that are incompatible with the religion they have professed.

The ways of truth and piety are evil spoken of by the wicked who are emboldened in their evil conduct by the example of such as have so disregarded the sanctity of their profession as to join with them in their sinful practices. They grieve the faithful people of God by their conformity to the world, and no doubt mislead the weak. Conformity to the world on the part of professed followers of Christ, is a declaration that they do not find the religion of the gospel affording them the satisfaction they had hoped for from it. that it fails to answer their expectations, and that they are therefore forced to seek a gratification of their desires from the sinful world.

Let us all pray the Lord to enable us to lay this subject deeply to heart, to qualify us to understand and prize our christian liberty as we should, and, on the other hand, to preserve us from that growing evil, conformity to the world. May we ever find all our hearts can wish for in the sweet peace afforded by communion with the Lord and his people, the joy of a well-grounded hope, and the conscious support of the divine Hand.


"What is the world, with all its store?
‘Tis but a bitter sweet;
When I attempt to pluck the rose,
A prickly thorn I meet.

Here perfect bliss can ne’er be found;
The honey’s mixed with gall;
Mid changing scenes and dying friend.
Be Thou my all in all,"

J. R. D.

< Previous   Next >


The Primitive or Old School Baptists cling to the doctrines and practices held by Baptist Churches throughout America at the close of the Revolutionary War. This site is dedicated to providing access to our rich heritage, with both historic and contemporary writings.