by sarahmfry, November 28, 2005
Appearance Study #3 - BIBLE & THEOLOGY: The first principle to consider is perhaps the broadest one in that it encompasses much more than outward appearance, but nonetheless it is all-inclusive. It is the principle of Separation as taught by Paul in Romans 12:2, "And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God."

The big idea is this: Whatever "worldly" is, we are not to be it!

There are two words for "world" used by Paul - they are kosmos and aion (pronounced i-own). The first appears much more often than the second and often the two are almost synonymous. In Romans 12:2 Paul uses aion which is significant in light of the fact that he uses kosmos most of the time. The difference is this: kosmos has more to do with the material world and so "worldly" in this sense is that which is material rather than spiritual. Paul does not use kosmos in a negative sense that it sometimes carries (kosmos = sinfulness). Aion on the other hand has to do no with material versus spiritual, but with temporal versus eternal. In summary, kosmos deals with material versus immaterial; aion deals with temporal versus eternal. One is a substance issue, the other is a time issue. *Just for a side note, the Apostle John use of kosmos is very similar to Paul's use of aion.

To be "worldly" in the aion-sense is to be temporally-minded; that is, to think of the here-and-now to the detriment of the then-and-there (eternity). When this passage tells us to not be conformed the here-and-now it is talking more about an attitude or mentality than the consequent actions that come from that attitude (but naturally the actions are included).

Aion worldliness is twofold:
1. It is outright rebellion against God.
2. It is the residue of old habits in the mind even in the surrendered life.

While rebellion is certainly not characteristic of the believer, Paul indicates that there is still aion-worldliness left over in the believer. For example, many people are rightfully careful about what they wear and where they go, but are very careless with the material wealth God has entrusted to them - this is aion worldliness.

Concerning outward appearance, this principle tells us that there is a general tendency to be this-worldly-minded; to allow our dress and appearance to be only for self-gratification in this world. Acceptance by our culture or world is not the end. Our habits ought to rise above the need to "fit in." Grant it, this principle is subjective because it deals with the attitude. But we must ask ourselves, "Am I doing this for my self-recognition or for God's glory?" So the issue of separation is primarily about being separate in our attitude and motive for living.

For His Glory,


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