Those called to live God’s way of life are told to live separately from this evil world. What does “come out of her, my people” mean? How are we to do this?
“Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues” (Revelation 18:4).
Though this verse specifically refers to coming out of an end-time religious system, Babylon the great, it aligns with other verses that admonish us to come out of this evil society in order to faithfully worship God and follow His teachings.
Other passages say Christians are not of this world or to love this world. The world refers to this evil age, to this society. These verses are not telling Christians to leave the planet, to denigrate God’s creation or to go to an isolated place and live separately from the rest of society.
Jesus Christ knew that down through time His followers must live in this world, scattered among the nations like grains of salt over food. “You are the salt of the earth,” He said (Matthew 5:13).
Not of this world
Just before He gave His life by crucifixion, Jesus prayed to the Father for His followers. “I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours. …
“I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that you should keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world” (John 17:9, 15-18).
Christ’s prayer was not just for those of that day, but for all who would read and accept their teaching from that time forward. “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word” (verse 20).
“Come out of her, my people”
Though Christians must live in this world, they are to resist the temptations and ways of the world around them. Not everyone or everything in the world is evil, but much of it is based on the fulfillment of selfish desires. And it continues to grow worse (see 2 Timothy 3:1-7).
The apostle John wrote, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever” (1 John 2:15-17).
The apostle Paul quoted from several Old Testament passages: “Therefore ‘Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you.’ ‘I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the LORD Almighty’” (2 Corinthians 6:17-18).
“Lest you share in her sins”
What are the sins that we must not share in? There are many. Sin is the violation of God’s laws. All of God’s 10 Commandments are being broken blatantly today. Murder, stealing and lying are rampant, and covetousness, idolatry and profanity are glorified in our entertainment.
All of God’s 10 Commandments are being broken blatantly today. Murder, stealing and lying are rampant, and covetousness, idolatry and profanity are glorified in our entertainment.Two commandments directly relate to marriage and family: the commandment against adultery and the commandment about honoring parents.
One of the most basic building blocks of a nation is the family. The holy institution of marriage that God set up from the very beginning of creation is now being abandoned at an alarming rate.
“Therefore shall a man leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24).
God, who doesn’t change His standard, reproved ancient Israel and Judah long ago for violating their marriage vows.
“Because the LORD has been witness between you and the wife of your youth, with whom you have dealt treacherously; yet she is your companion and your wife by covenant. But did He not make them one, having a remnant of the Spirit? And why one? He seeks godly offspring. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously with the wife of his youth” (Malachi 2:14-15).
Not only does the betrayal of marital promises bring about violence, anger and bitterness, but it also horribly affects the children. One of the intended benefits of a loving marriage is the positive effect upon the conduct and success of the children. That’s what Malachi meant by, “He seeks godly offspring.”
Denying the Creator
Another sin is the denial of the Creator’s very existence.
God reveals in the Bible that all that exists, visible and invisible, was created by God the Father through His Son.
“For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him” (Colossians 1:16).
If there were no Creator involved, we would have no power higher than ourselves to instruct us or hold us accountable. Thus acceptance of the theory of evolution provides people justification for assuming they can create and choose their own lifestyle.
But the complexity of all life should be sufficient evidence of a higher power.
Paul wrote, “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse” (Romans 1:20).
Though surrounded by such proof, man has rejected belief in a Creator God.
“Who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.
“For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.
“And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting” (verses 25-28).
“To do those things which are not fitting” means to do things that are not right. The apostle Paul goes on to show how this rejection of God has led to immoral behavior, materialism, envy, shallow relationships, criminal behavior, etc.
“Lest you share in her plagues”
From Genesis to Revelation, God reveals that obedience to His laws brings blessings. But as our Creator and Life Giver, He also states that humanity will be held accountable for violating His laws. He doesn’t want us to bring suffering upon ourselves, but if it takes that to learn, He will allow us to suffer the consequences of our bad choices.
It is God’s desire to bless us with good things. But it would not fulfill His purpose for us if He blessed sinful behavior.
“Your iniquities have turned these things away, and your sins have withheld good from you” (Jeremiah 5:25).
“‘Your own wickedness will correct you, and your backslidings will rebuke you. Know therefore and see that it is an evil and bitter thing that you have forsaken the LORD your God, and the fear of Me is not in you,’ says the Lord GOD of hosts” (Jeremiah 2:19).
Citizens of the Kingdom of God
Perhaps you could say, once we commit our lives to God, we take on dual citizenship. Though physically we are still citizens of the country we were born in, spiritually we become citizens of the Kingdom of God.
“For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20). Until Jesus Christ returns to establish the Kingdom of God on earth, our citizenship is reserved in heaven for us.
Citizens of the Kingdom of God are to be law-abiding citizens of whatever country they live in, paying taxes and being good neighbors. Yet they will not get embroiled in this world’s political battles, which cannot solve man’s spiritual problems.Citizens of the Kingdom of God are to be law-abiding citizens of whatever country they live in, paying taxes and being good neighbors. Yet they will not get embroiled in this world’s political battles, which cannot solve man’s spiritual problems. Nor will they do anything else that violates God’s laws. This new citizenship takes precedence over all others.
Christians become sojourners and pilgrims in what is at the moment Satan’s world.
“Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul” (1 Peter 2:11).
Abraham, our example
Abraham, the father of the faithful, is a good example of our spiritual calling and journey. Like us, he was called to come out of his country and go to a good land that God would reveal to him.
“By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going” (Hebrews 11:8).
He knew God would make good on His promise, but there was a lot he didn’t know at that point about what all it entailed. He stepped out on faith, trusting God to guide him to an unknown land.
“By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise” (verse 9).
God would give that land to Abraham and his descendants. Yet Abraham, Isaac and Jacob never received it in their lifetime.
Abraham said, “I am a foreigner and a visitor” (Genesis 23:4). He recognized and accepted his status as a pilgrim, a sojourner. Knowing God cannot lie, he knew the promise would be fulfilled. Abraham and those who followed in his steps had their eyes set on something better and more permanent than even the bountiful land that God brought their descendants into.
“By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Hebrews 11:9-10).
This “city which has foundations” was the New Jerusalem in the Kingdom of God. It was just as real to them. They were willing to stake everything on the attainment of that prize.
As we see the chaos and confusion of this world around us, it should become easier for us to see that those who have been called by God are no longer a part of this world. It should be easier to identify with the Kingdom to come, to separate ourselves from this world.
It would be easy to get caught up emotionally in the blaming, finger pointing and condemning of others, but we must not do that. We must set our sights on the life and Kingdom to come and live accordingly.
As we come out of this society and reject its sinful ways, we have something so much better awaiting us!
For further study, see The Mystery of the Kingdom.