Separation without devotion to the Lord becomes isolation, but devotion without separation is hypocrisy (See 2 Cor. 6.14-7.1).
A message [sermon] that merely advocates morality and compassion remains sub-Christian even if the preacher can prove that the Bible demands such behaviors. By ignoring the sinfulness of humankind, which makes even our best works tainted before God (Isa. 64.6; Luke 17.10), and by neglecting the grace of God, which make obedience possible and acceptable (1 Cor. 15.10; Eph. 2.8-9), such messages necessarily subvert the Christian message. Christian preachers often do not recognize this counter-gospel impact of their preaching because they are simply recounting a behavior clearly specified in the portion of the text in front of them. But a message that even inadvertently teaches others that their works merit God’s acceptance inevitably leads people away from the Gospel. By themselves, moral axioms and advocacy of ethical conduct fall short of the requirements of biblical preaching.
Divine love made conditional upon human obedience is mere legalism, even if the actions commended have biblical precedent. The only obedience approved by God is that which He Himself enables and sanctifies through the union with Christ He provides.
To live by grace means we understand that God’s blessing on our lives is not conditioned by our obedience or disobedience but by the perfect obedience of Christ. It means that out of a grateful response to the grace of God, we seek to understand His will and to obey Him, not to be blessed, but because we have been blessed.
If any man thinks ill of you, do not be angry with him, for you are worse than he thinks you to be.
Remember that Christ’s commandment not to be conformed to the world is the consequence of his commandment to be conformed to himself. ‘Thus did I not’ comes second; ‘this one thing I do’ comes first. You will misunderstand the whole genius of the gospel if you suppose that, as a law of life, it is perpetually pulling men short up, and saying: don’t, don’t, don’t! There is a Christianity of that sort which is mainly prohibition and restriction, but it is not Christ’s Christianity. He begins by enjoining: ‘This do in remembrance of me,’ and the man that has accepted that commandment must necessarily say, as he looks out on the world, and its practices: ‘So did I not because of the fear of God.’