I’m becoming more and more convinced that Psalm 37:1 is key.
“Do not fret because of evil doers, nor be envious of the workers of iniquity.”
In other words, don’t give sinful behavior any room in your thoughts to accomplish its work. It’s not worth a worry, because God is not thwarted by it. He works in (and through) sinners. This is hard for us. Maybe we fret about evil doers in politics. Maybe we fret about evil doers in the church. Maybe we fret about evil doers in our homes and families. Practice discernment; actively follow Jesus; —but don’t dare let this sinful world bog down your confidence in Him. On the other side of discouraged worry over sinfulness is a covetous desire for it. And this is hard for us, too. We like sin; we think it looks fun. We often resent God’s restraining us from it. We disguise it so that we may pass it off to ourselves as acceptable behavior. And we too often look longingly after those whose lifestyle differs so much from our own. We may even wish for their approval. But (as Psalm 37 goes on to point out), the earthly rewards of sin just aren’t worth the long term consequences; neither do they even begin to compare to the reward reserved in heaven for God’s people–union with Christ Himself!
If only we could truly realize these things! How our perspective would change. In fact, don’t you think that such an approach to sin (do not fret…nor be envious) is just the ticket to living in but not of the world? If we come to truly see sin as it is–detestable, yet not outside of God’s control–doesn’t that allow us to participate in culture without becoming enamored by it? Doesn’t that guide our thoughts as we interact with the world, not to mention our desires and preferences? Doesn’t it force our eyes away from the earth and fix them on Christ?
I think it does. May God give us grace to begin to implement such a perspective!