The phrase "not of this world" comes from John 18:36 where Jesus says, "My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world." In context, Jesus is speaking to Pilate, assuring the governor that He was not leading a political revolution to overthrow Rome; rather, He was leading a spiritual movement that would change the hearts of people for eternity.
How are Christians not of this world?
Earlier, Jesus had prayed, "I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world" (John 17:14). This verse gives us a clue as to why we are "not of this world"—because Jesus isn't. When we are born into the family of God, we "participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires" (2 Peter 1:4 NIV). We walk as Jesus walked (1 John 2:6), and He was out of step with this world's system, to say the least. This world relies on what it can see, but we walk by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7).
We have a perspective not of this world. We, like Moses, endure because we see the unseen (Hebrews 11:27). Like faithful Abraham, the Christian lives "as in a foreign land … looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God" (Hebrews 11:9-10). Like Jesus, we can be shown "all the kingdoms of the world and their glory," and, like Jesus, we can refuse it all (Matthew 4:8-11).
We have treasures not of this world. We seek "a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys" (Luke 12:33). Our riches are not material but eternal, "kept in heaven" (1 Peter 1:4). The world wants it all now; we can wait for it.
We have weapons not of this world. Our enemy is spiritual, as are our weapons and tactics of battle. "For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds" (2 Corinthians 10:4).
We have power not of this world. We place our trust not in our own strength or earthly might but in the Spirit of God (Zechariah 4:6). "Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God" (Psalm 20:7). We live with a paradox: "When I am weak, then I am strong" (2 Corinthians 12:10) because "the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world (1 John 4:4).
We have peace not of this world. Our peace in any situation comes straight from our Lord, the Prince of Peace: "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you" (John 14:27). Nothing can take that away.
We have a home not of this world. "Our citizenship is in heaven" (Philippians 3:20). Those who have lived and died in faith "acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth" (Hebrews 11:13). This world was not their home, nor ours. We look forward to the Father's house, where there are "many rooms" (John 14:2). "For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come" (Hebrews 13:14).
Being "not of this world" means we have a higher, that is, a heavenly calling, purpose, and destination. This world and its priorities are fading away, but the one who does the will of God lives forever (1 John 2:17). "What counts is the new creation" (Galatians 6:15 NIV).
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