God calls all of his people, young and old, to live an antithetical life in this world. You, no doubt, are familiar with that word “antithesis” because you have heard it in sermons, catechism classes, young people’s Bible study, and your homes. The danger is that the word becomes a buzzword that means very little for the way that you live your life in this world. As young people saved by sovereign grace, God calls you to live the antithetical life zealously. Take this opportunity to examine yourself. Cry out to God with the words of Psalm 139:23, 24: “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me and lead me in the way everlasting.” May God expose to you where you are not living like you should.
The antithesis addresses how the child of God must live in relation to the world in which God has placed him. It is a life of spiritual separation from the world. You and I must constantly say “yes” to God and “no” to all that to which God says “no.” This is the calling explained in I Corinthians 6:14-18. Verse 14 says, “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?” (Think about using these verses for your devotions and meditating on them this week.)
The subject of the antithesis is important because it is so difficult for us to live, as God calls us to live this antithetical life. We have within us yet the desire to follow our sinful lusts. Although it is certainly true that the life of Christ lives in our hearts, we still battle against our own sinful flesh. The things found in this world of sin are so enticing to us because we have within us the old man of sin. Be aware of your weakness. There is within you the desire to listen to the corrupt music of this world. There is in you a curiosity about the sexual immorality found in cyber space and movies. You have within you the desire to experiment with the ways of the world just to see what it is like. Do not believe the lie of Satan that experimenting with the ungodliness of this world is not so serious. To follow in this way of sin can leave scars that last a lifetime.
Living the antithetical life requires much. It requires committed fighting against the power of sin and darkness in this world. It requires constant obedience to the Word of God. Even more than this, living this life requires the sovereign grace of God. Only the power of God’s grace can enable you to live this life. May God give you his grace.
Remember Who You Are!
Before you can or will live the antithetical life you must know who you are. This is what Paul is teaching in Ephesians 5:8, “For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light.” Paul is saying here that what you do is determined by who you are. So it is important to know first who you are. If you know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior by the grace of God, you know that you are children of the light. You are children of the light because God has spiritually separated you from the kingdom of darkness.
Paul makes the same point in II Corinthians 6:14 when he calls us not to be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. Why? It is because of who you are by the grace of God. Therefore, you have nothing in common with the corrupt world of darkness.
By nature you and I belong to the kingdom of darkness. This is Paul’s point in the beginning of Ephesians 5:8 when he says, “For ye were sometimes darkness…” Paul teaches the same thing earlier in the epistle (Ephesians 2:1-3) when he says, “who were dead in trespasses and sins; wherein in times past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh…” The kingdom of darkness serves Satan and walks in constant disobedience to the Word of God. This is the kingdom to which we would belong except for God’s grace.
But God has saved you! When God saves, he separates a people to himself. God reaches down into this world of sin and darkness that is seemingly under the control of Satan and he saves a people to live unto him. Salvation is the work of God by which he separates us from the world of darkness to which we belong by nature. God chooses his people from before the foundation of the world. He sets his people apart from the world by the suffering and death of Jesus Christ, by which Christ paid for the sins of his people. But still there is more. The ascended Christ sends his Spirit in the hearts of his people to make them alive spiritually, to convert them, and to sanctify them. By the power of Christ’s work, God’s people are given the ability to live the antithetical life in this fallen world of sin.
What does this say about you? If you know this salvation, then you know your identity. You are children of the light. Children of the light know that they are redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ. They know that Jesus Christ is their Savior. Do you know this? Then you know that you are “light in the Lord” (Ephesians 5:8).
Those who are children of the light know that Jesus Christ is their Lord. Christ rules in his people by his Spirit. By the Spirit Christ sets up the throne of his kingdom in their hearts and rules over their lives. Through this rule, Christ’s people become willing, joyful, and obedient servants of Christ. When Christ’s rule is sovereignly exercised in the hearts of his people the rule of Christ touches every part of their lives. Nothing in life is untouched. Nothing in life remains unchanged. The children of the light live to serve Christ in all of life. They love their Lord and desire to serve him at all times. Although there is still sin in their lives, they are different because the life of Christ touches everything that they do. To look at it another way, this is your identity: servant of Jesus Christ. This is what you are. How does this affect your life?
The Character of the Antithetical Life
In the Scriptures, God calls you repeatedly to live an antithetical life. This is the demand of Ephesians 5:8, “Walk as children of light.” This is the demand of II Corinthians 6:14, “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers…” What is the demand of the antithetical life? What does it mean to live antithetically? Because God has separated you from the wicked world by his saving grace, he calls you to live a life of spiritual separation from the world. What does this mean exactly?
II Corinthians 6:14 teaches this life of spiritual separation. Paul was writing to the church in the city of Corinth, which was the immoral Sodom of that day. All kinds of filth and wickedness could be found in that city. Paul says to the church, “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers…” The text uses the figure of a yoke in which two oxen would be hitched. The two oxen, when yoked together, would work as one. They were united in a common work and goal. The idea of the text then is that we may not unite with the wicked in the yoke of their wickedness. The yoke signifies union with them in their pursuits. The wicked of this world have as their goal living for self. They live to enjoy themselves and to do whatever they want to do. In the darkness of their sin they possess absolutely no desire to serve God. Therefore, believers must not unite with unbelievers in their walk of sin.
In this passage, Paul is not calling the church to physical separation from the world. He is not calling the church to find a small corner of the city to segregate themselves from the rest of the city. The antithetical life is not Christians isolating themselves from the world so that they separate from neighbors and co-workers as much as possible. The antithetical life is not a refusing to purchase cars or cell phones or computers, etc, because things themselves are not evil (I Timothy 4:4, 5).
But this passage calls you to spiritual separation. Don’t live like the wicked. Don’t live to fulfill your selfish lusts like they do. Your calling in this wicked world is to serve your Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ. Live antithetically by obeying the Word of God in all of life. Follow the faithful guide of God’s Word. Do what is expressed in Psalm 1:1, 2, “Blessed is the man who walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.” This is the life of being holy because God is holy (I Peter 1:16).
God calls you to live a life that is radically different from the lives of men and women in the world. God calls you to use all things in the service of him. Your Savior and Lord demands that you serve him with all that you have and with all that you are. Live to serve him! This is radically different from the world. Remember that the world lives to serve self. Your Lord says, “Live to serve me and me only!”
The Important Implications
The antithesis touches upon every part of your life. Living the antithetical life is not simply about going to church on Sunday. This is part of the antithesis, but it is only the tip of the iceberg. Antithesis is a life. This needs to be emphasized because you and I have the ability to compartmentalize our lives. On the one hand, you can be a living a life of complete ungodliness with friends or with a girlfriend or boyfriend, but on the other hand, you can live a completely different life of piety and godliness in the presence of others. You have the capability of living such an inconsistent life. But such a life brings great misery for the guilt and shame of sin weighs heavy on the soul. I pray that you desire to live a consistently Christian life in all areas of life.
The antithesis affects your relationships. Living antithetically means that we fellowship with those who are godly. Notice that I did not limit this to those who are Protestant Reformed or to those who call themselves Christians. It may be that you cannot fellowship for a time with another young person because of the way that person is living. In this way, the separation of the antithesis does become physical. You may not join with others in their sinful activities. This is antithetical living. This truth determines your friendships. This also determines who you will date.
The question you may face also is, “How do I live in relationship to the wicked?” You still live in the world. You might work with those who are wicked and ungodly. You buy from them and sell to them. You might have neighbors that are ungodly. You say hello to them and are friendly to them. The Scriptures do not call you to complete physical separation from the wicked in the world. How then can you carry out your calling to love them? We are to live among them. But we do not join them in their sin. This is why our time and fellowship with them is limited. This is why often you don’t hang with those with whom you work – they are walking in sin.
When you live antithetically, certain practices are completely unacceptable. You must abhor the things the world takes pleasure in. This affects all of your life. What music will I listen to? What television programs (and commercials) may I watch? What websites may I visit? May I open a blog on MySpace? What video games may I play? What will we do on our date? Understanding that Jesus Christ is the Lord of my life, I must then live all parts of my life in obedience to God’s Word. This is the antithetical life demanded by Scripture. Work at applying your identity to all of life.
Scripture uses many different ways to describe the antithesis. One of the ways it is described is as warfare. You are soldiers of Jesus Christ, who is the Captain of our salvation. He has given to us spiritual weapons with which we fight. God has placed us in this world to fight. Living in this world is not all about play. Living in this world, as God’s children, means warfare. It is a fierce and grueling battle. But we do know the outcome. There is sure and certain victory in Jesus Christ. Therefore, fight for godliness in every part of your lives. Do not be afraid for you shall be victorious.