Summary: Although modern Christians seem to have abandoned any ethic of avoiding worldliness, the Bible has not. But what is worldliness, and why must we avoid it?
The Spirit of the Age
1. People go through great lengths to avoid being proud and worldly.
A rabbi and a cantor are standing in the largely empty synagogue one day, talking mystically about how, given the awesome glory of God’s Infinite Divine Presence, they are each really “nothing.” “Yes,” says the rabbi, “I am nothing!” The cantor also affirms, looking up to the heavens, “O God, I am completely nothing!” And they go on like this for several rounds—”I am nothing… I am utterly nothing.”
Meanwhile, the synagogue’s janitor is off in the corner on his hands and knees, scrubbing the floor. Filled with humble devotion, he has all the while been repeating in a gentle voice, “O Lord, You are everything and I am nothing… I am nothing.” The rabbi and cantor at one point bend their ears to listen and, after a few moments, come to realize what the lowly janitor is saying. At this, the rabbi nudges the cantor and smugly says, “Look who thinks he’s nothing!”
2. Spiritual pride can disguise itself as humility, and people who claim to not be worldly can be the worst offenders; worldliness is an attitude. . Why worldliness is bad. Worldliness interfere with (1) your love for God, and (2) your doing the will of God.
3. But if you are only half-hearted in your devotion to the Lord, you really aren’t all that concerned about your love for the Lord or doing the will of God in the first place.
4. Trying to convince a half-hearted Christian to forsake worldliness is worse than trying to convince a 5 year old that spinach is good for him. Logic is not the issue. Appetite is.
Main Idea: Although modern Christians seem to have abandoned any ethic of avoiding worldliness, the Bible has not. But what is worldliness, and why must we avoid it?
I. Do Not Love the WORLD (cosmos) (15)
A. Worldliness is CONFORMITY to aspects of society or culture that run contrary to God’s ordained ways.
What is worldliness? How the Amish might answer that question. How an evangelical in 1950 might answer that question (amusements).
“…it is neither the material world itself nor people per se that should be ‘hated,’ but rather ‘the spirit of the age.’” Ben Witherington III.
“…human society as organized under the power of evil” (C.H. Dodd, quoted Witherington)
“The world which God loves is His creature and Hid child; the world which we are not to love is His rival.” (Alfred Plummer)
1. Lot’s family is an example of a family conforming to the world. Lot’s wife looked back longingly at the destruction of Sodom; she love the city God hated. Lot’s sons-in-law would not leave. Lot’s daughters left, but their values were compromised, and even Lot himself never recovered from saying goodbye to his previous life.
2. Today it might be seen in Christians shacking up w/out being married, gambling, drunkenness or drugs, pornography, immodest dress, swearing, having to see the hit movies, even with indecent scenes, or music laced with swearing and profanity.
3. In churches we see waffling on gay marriage, the role of women, or teaching that people apart from Christ are lost.
4. We all must live in the culture, participate in our community, not isolate ourselves.
Jeremiah 29:4-7 talks about being in the world: “Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.”
1. We may need to adapt to the culture, but we shouldn’t be driven by the culture.
2. We are to focus on timeless truth, not today’s fads, morals, or philosophies.
“Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory” (I Corinthians 2:6-7).
B. MATERIALISM is a sub-category of worldliness.
Materialism is like a drug. We tend to live in a state of moderate discontent.
C. Love for the Father and love for the world are mutually EXCLUSIVE.
Loving involves prioritizing: an alcoholic may love his children, but prioritize his alcohol.
II. The World TEMPTS Us Much Like Satan Does (16).