The Difference God Has Made

July 29, 2001 / No. 3056

Dear radio friends,

The Lord God has put a difference between the church and the world, between those who fear Him and those who do not, between His children and the children of this present world. Is this difference seen in you?

God speaks of this difference in Exodus 11:7. Here we read, “But against any of the children of Israel shall not a dog move his tongue, against man or beast: that ye may know how that the LORD doth put a difference between the Egyptians and Israel.” The difference between the Egyptians and the Old Testament Israelites was exceedingly plain. At first sight, Egypt had the advantage. The Egyptians had a lash in their hand and the sons of Jacob bent their backs under the lash making bricks and buildings which the Egyptians inhabited. But soon God turned the tables, sending plagues on the Egyptians and sparing the Israelites. When He sent over Egypt darkness which could be felt so that no one rose up from his place for three days we read, “But all the children of Israel had light in their dwellings.” When! the angel of the Lord went through the land with his sword, the Egyptians’ firstborn were killed but Israel’s firstborn were spared when the angel saw the blood on the doorposts. When Israel passed through the Red Sea, God made a dry ground. But the Egyptians, when they passed through, were drowned. God made a difference between them. On the Egyptians He poured out His curse and troubled and destroyed them. On Israel He poured out His blessing and kept them.

Egypt and Israel are two types of people. The Egyptians in the Old Testament Scriptures were pictures of those who were dead in their trespasses and sins and left by God to be enemies unto wicked works. The Israelites were a picture of those who were also dead in trespasses and sins, and who, of themselves, were equally ruined and fallen in Adam. But they were those whom God would save. They were the picture of those whom God would elect eternally out of His good pleasure and bring to His Son Jesus Christ. In them God made a difference.

One of the great evidences of the work of grace of Jesus Christ within your heart will be a spiritual separation from the wickedness of a fallen world. The one who has been born again of the Spirit of God and has been made a new creature in Jesus Christ will, according to the words of II Corinthians 6:18, come out from among them and be separate.

One of the great evidences of the work of grace
of Jesus Christ within your heart
will be a spiritual separation
from the wickedness of a fallen world.
Today there is a widespread desire in Christendom to destroy that separation. There is a great campaign to bring our bodies, our minds, and our goals into conformity with the present world. There is the attempt, even in the church, to saw off the corners and edges of Christian doctrine, to avoid as far as possible any type of self-denial. Loudly we hear it said, “We must not be narrow and exclusive. There is no harm in many of the things which the saints of former ages thought were bad for their souls. Therefore, we may go anywhere as a Christian, we may watch anything, we may do anything, read anything, spend our time at anything, plunge ourselves into everything our hearts desire – and all the while still be good Christians.” In such a day, God says, “I have put a difference, a difference that cannot be erased, a difference between those who, by grace, are now Mine and! those who are yet of this fallen world.” The Christian is one who is different from the world – not simply one who goes to church now and them. The Christian, by the power of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, lives a godly life in the midst of a sinful world. This is a difference God made. The Christian has not made this difference himself. It was God. We read, I Peter 2:9, “But ye are a peculiar people, an holy nation, a royal priesthood that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”

Is this difference seen in you?

I say once again, make no mistake that God has indeed placed a difference between His own and those who are yet in their sins. We read in Exodus 11, “that ye may know how that the LORD doth put a difference between the Egyptians and Israel.” That means that the difference is one of grace. It is God’s grace which distinguishes between men, bringing one to the light and leaving the other in darkness.

We read in I Corinthians 4, “For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?” Israel was, of themselves, no different than the Egyptians. Do not think that Pharaoh and the Egyptians were worse by nature and were more stubborn than the common Israelite. Moses is leading the people of Israel into the wilderness. They were to be there for forty years. And those forty years are going to prove one point: Israel was, by nature, hard-hearted and rebellious. So God will tell them, in Deuteronomy 7:7, 8, “The LORD did not set his love upon you … because ye were more in number than any people … but because the LORD!5 loved you.” The difference was in God’s heart.

It is God’s grace which distinguishes
between men, bringing one to the light
and leaving the other in darkness.
Repeatedly Israel would show their sinful nature. Repeatedly Israel in the wilderness, as you might recall, said to Moses: “We want to go back. We want to go back to Egypt.” They cried because they could not go back to the world of sin that God had delivered them from. So, it is not of you that you are of the Lord today. Give God the glory. We read in I Corinthians 1:30: “But of him are ye in Christ Jesus.” Of Him are ye in Christ Jesus. It is not man who makes the difference. It is not man’s will. It is not because salvation is a decision of the human will and therefore faith grows from the soil of man’s own will. No, faith is a divine gift. It is a difference that God has made.

We must lay it to heart that all other distinctions made among or by men are superficial distinctions. There are differences, of course, of social class, social status, rich/poor; there are the differences of race, color, culture. But none of these erases the fact that mankind, from Adam, is one, fallen in sin, estranged from the true and living God, worthy of eternal damnation. We read in Romans 3:19, “All the world [is] guilty before God.” We read again in verse 23, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” The distinction between fallen men, fallen in Adam, is not of themselves. They are alike ruined in sin. But the difference is a difference that God has made. The line of demarcation is drawn by God. The difference between the sinner who is left dead in sin and the sinner who is risen in Jesus Christ is the difference that grace alone has made. T!hat is the truth of God’s Word. It gives glory to God alone. And it places us on our knees.

That difference that God made was an eternal difference. It was one of election. It was ordained of God before the foundation of the world. In eternal election God wrote in His book the names of those whom He would save and give to His Son. From eternity God determined whom He would give to Christ to be their substitute and suffer in their place upon the cross. We read in Revelation 17:8 that names were written in the Lamb’s book of life “before the foundation of the world.” We read also in Psalm 4:3, “The LORD hath set apart him that is godly for himself.” We read inJeremiah 31:3, “The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.!”

While the whole world lay in wickedness and God’s children lay in wickedness just as well, God selected whom He would save out of the dunghill of human depravity. Those who are saved are, by nature, no better than those who are lost. Divine sovereignty, linked together with divine grace, selected some ( Rom. 9) to be vessels of mercy whom God would fit for the Master’s use and in whom Jehovah would show forth His mercy and longsuffering.

Who are these elect? God knows. We do not pry into that. We proclaim the word of the gospel. We proclaim the word of grace in Christ that the Lord knows those who are His, and that all who are named in Christ will depart from their iniquity.

Still more. This distinction that God has made was accomplished at the cross. God has redeemed His children. We read in Exodus 11:6, 7, “And there shall be a great cry throughout all the land of Egypt, such as there was none like it, nor shall be like it any more. But against any of the children of Israel shall not a dog move his tongue, against man or beast: that ye may know how that the Lord doth put a difference….” The difference is this: God’s children are pardoned of their sin. There is no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus. There is no dog that can move his tongue of accusation against God’s children, because Christ has paid for their sins.

This distinction that God has made
was accomplished at the cross.
In the night that Israel left Egypt, the angel of divine judgment passed throughout Egypt. Wherever the lamb’s blood was not sprinkled on the doorposts, that angel entered into the house and killed the firstborn. But God said, “When I see the blood I will pass over you.” Egypt awoke the next morning to crying as none like unto it. But when Israel arose that morning, they passed out of the land of Egypt without a voice of objection, without a word of condemnation against them. Not even a dog, said God, shall move his tongue against you.

Have you ever taken a walk at night? A dog barks and you are made to feel as if you are an intruder. You are on the sidewalk or street. But that dog’s bark makes you feel as if you have done a great wrong, that you are trespassing. You are in the wrong place, you feel. The dog barks, you are not right. You feel condemned.

When Israel went out of Egypt, the dogs did not bark. No voice heckled. No voice arose in condemnation. The apostle Paul says, “Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again” (Rom. 8:34). God’s children are covered in the blood of Christ. God has justified His people in the blood of His Son. None can condemn them.

In the last day of judgment it will be the same. The difference will be there. For the world of unbelief – oh, that day, how horrible! All apart from Christ and repentance will howl in the misery of their sin. But not a peep of condemnation shall be hurled against those covered in the blood of Jesus Christ. This is the difference: God has pardoned. God, by an act of mercy, has removed their condemnation, has pardoned their sins in Jesus Christ.

The difference that God has made is also a difference that God has put within. God has chosen some and by grace has pardoned them. By that same grace God works within them and changes them, so that we read in II Corinthians 5:17, “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature.”

Now, do you think that the difference between the true Christian and a person who is yet in his sin is this: the Christian attends church, lives a moral life, is a decent sort of a guy, and that is all that distinguishes him from the other? Oh, no. It is much more profound than that! The difference God makes, by grace, is not merely in the outward act of dress and conduct. It is that, for sure. But the difference is more profound. It is of the heart. We read in Ezekiel 36:26, “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you.” The difference is what the Bible calls “regeneration,” to be born again of the grace of God – the divine implanting into the sinner of the life of Christ leading to conversion, faith, and love of God; a renewal of the spirit of our minds, says the Scripture; the spark of the life of Christ now placed within us by a won!der of the love of God.

Is there a difference between a serpent and an angel? Oh, yes! Obviously. Look at the conduct. One crawls on his belly eating dust and the other flies around the throne of God, sounding forth His praise. Yes, that is true. The conduct is certainly different. But, do you not see, the nature is totally different.

Is there a difference between the child of God and this world? Is there a difference between one who fears God and one who does not? Yes, it is a difference God made. It is a very vital one. It is a difference that God has made within. The change is not simply that a Christian speaks more piously. The difference is within. God has placed the principle of the life of His Son within the heart of the child of God. That is the profound difference that God has made.

Do not fool yourselves. All are not the same. Do not say, “Well, it’s all going to turn out OK for everybody. Really there is nothing different about being a Christian now. Christianity is this social, cultural thing. And we know that there are many different expressions of religion in the world and there are many different beliefs in different gods, and at the end it’s all going to even out and be the same.” Oh, that is not God’s Word. That is something that has been spun out of the rebellious minds of men and women. No, the Word of God says that God has made a difference. He has made the difference from eternity in election, in reality upon the cross when Christ paid for sin, and then by a profound and wonderful work of renewal by the Holy Spirit within the heart of a man.

Now, is this difference seen in you? You say, but how is this difference revealed in me? It is revealed in repentance. It is revealed in hearing the Word of God and loving the Word of God. It is revealed in union to Christ and to His church. It is revealed in a holy walk of life. You see, the difference God has made is also a difference that becomes evident in this present world.

That difference is, first of all, repentance. It is a change of heart towards sin. The Bible says that, of ourselves, our hearts are fully set to do evil. There is no shame before God. There is only a sorrow for our actions rooted in ourselves, because our own will has been thwarted. There is in ourselves always the voice that says, “Others are worse,” and “I am justified in what I have done.” But repentance, the difference that God has made, is this: a sorrow after God for having offended Him in my sin; a leaving off of all excuses for my sin; a profound understanding of myself as having fallen in sin; and a desire to be delivered from that sin and to walk in a godly way.

The difference is also found in hearing the Word of God. There are two people who can go to God’s house and take up their seat side by side. Both hear the same message. One goes his way to forget, the other remembers. One listens with detachment – far from his heart; the other one feels that the Word of God ( Heb. 4) is quick and powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword. Every word seems to him as an arrow shot from God, finding the target in his conscience. You see, the one is only outward. He is a formalist. He goes through the motions but his heart is far from God. And he goes away hardened, rejecting God’s Word and the calls of God’s Word over his heart. The other receives that Word, drinks in that Word, loves that Word. There is the difference. That is how it is seen.

It is seen also in union to the church and to Jesus Christ. It is seen in the fact that the Christian joins himself to the body of God’s dear Son which is the church. For God did not bring out of Egypt merely individuals or even groups. But He brought out a nation, a body to be ruled by laws and to be led by a mediator. So, when God brings you out of your sins, when He brings you out of a fallen world spiritually, He joins you to the church. Acts 2:47, “And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” I Corinthians 12:18, “But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.”

Oh, the difference, you see, is seen in all of our life. There is a very beautiful truth in Revelation 14:4, “These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth.” That is the difference. In our life, following the Son of God, the crucified Savior, the Lamb wherever He goeth, not taking lightly sins of drinking, swearing, lying, adultery. Yes, all of these sins are very commonplace in our world. But has God made a difference in you? Then steadily and persistently you refuse to be swallowed up with the goals of this world, with the amusements of this world connected with sin. You desire to be separated, to set your affections upon the things which are above. That is the difference God has made.

I say again, is this difference seen in your life?

The day in which we live may be likened to the days before the Flood, the days of Noah. More and more there is the desire of those who outwardly stand in the cause of God to conform and to join the world. We read of the days before the Flood that the sons of God saw the daughters of men and took them. It is an age in which more and more the distinction between the church and the world wants to be erased.

We are called in this age to stand out in our faith. We are called to be identified as those who are the friends and of the party of the living God. We are called to show the difference that God has made.

Live out your faith. Do not be afraid. Do not be ashamed for what God has done for you. If you want to separate yourself from sin in the world, then go to God. You see, of yourself you are always drawn back to that world. Go to God. Pour out your heart to Him. Tell Him your sin, your weakness. Ask Him to create within you the joy of holiness more and more. Do not go back to Egypt. For God has made the difference. He has separated His people unto Himself. He will keep these people unto Himself through the precious blood of His Son. He will keep them in the way of repentance and faith. Therefore, do not be ashamed. Do not be ashamed of Him. Settle it in your mind. Be decidedly separate from the world of sin. Lay hold on the Word of God. Come out from the wicked world and be ye holy.

Let us pray.

Father, we thank Thee for Thy precious Word. We pray that Thou wilt apply it with power to our souls. In Jesus’ name, Amen.