Summary: Christians must resist worldliness.
Soon after a person becomes a Christian he discovers that being a Christian is not a bed of roses. Just because he is saved, does not mean he has left his struggles behind. As a wise man once said, "A school bus driver is probably the only person who can honestly say he has all his troubles behind him." The fact is, the Christian life is a struggle against the pressures of this world. Here we find John discussing the Christian's struggle with worldliness. (READ TEXT)
John warns us that we are not to love the world; if we love the world, the love of the Father isn't in us. He says that it's impossible to love two exact opposites at the same time. Jesus put it like this, "No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other." (Matthew 6:24a). A Christian isn't to love the world.
"It makes no more sense to talk of a worldly Christian than to talk of a heavenly devil." - Billy Sunday
Many "worldly Christians," are, in reality, non-Christians. If I see a bird that looks like a duck; waddles like a duck; swims like a duck and quacks like a duck, it's safe to assume it's a duck! Likewise, if a person acts like the world; thinks like the world; lives like the world and loves the world, it leads one to some inevitable conclusions.
It's clear, however, that the truly saved individual will have struggles with the lure of the world, and occasionally lapse into worldliness. However, they will not want to live in worldliness for long, for the Spirit within them will cause them to loath their worldly circumstance! A truly saved person, therefore, will seek to make sure he minimizes the effects of the world on his life, so he may live like the One who died for Him! Because this is the case, John shares truths with us that are intended to help us avoid worldly living as a Child of God.
1. Understanding Worldliness - v. 15
A. What worldliness is not -
1) John is not referring to the world of creation.
"God . . . made the world and everything in it" - Acts 17:24 (NIV)
2) John is not referring to the world of humanity - (John 3:16)
B. What worldliness is - The word for "world" here is "kosmos," from which we get the words, "cosmopolitan" and "cosmic."
The word means, "to order," or "to arrange." We use the word in this way many times. We talk about the world of sports, meaning a
system of ideas and activities of people involved in athletics. We talk about the world of politics, meaning the attitudes and activities of
people who are involved in politics. When the Bible speaks of "the world," it is referring to an order, a system, that is arranged in
opposition to God. The Bible tells us several things about "the world."
1) This world has a temporary ruler - Satan is "the god of this world" (2 Corinthian 4:4) and "ruler of this world" (John 12:31).
2) This world is a wicked world - 1 John 5:19
3) This world has its "children" - Luke 16:8
4) This world has its own wisdom - 1 Corinthians 2:6
5) This world is corrupt - 2 Peter 1:4
6) This world put Jesus on the cross - 1 Corinthians 2:8
With this understanding of what the Bible is referring to when it speaks of "the world," what is "worldliness?" Worldliness is anything that keeps you from loving God, learning about God, or living for God.
2. Identifying Worldliness - v. 16
John lists three ways the world tries to exert influence on the Christian:
A. "the cravings of sinful man" - The world attacks us physically.
B. "the lust of his eyes" - The world attacks us psychologically.
C. "the boasting of what he has or does" - The world attacks us spiritually. The world calls us to idolatry.
The Bible says man exists on three levels -
"May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." - 1 Thessalonians 5:23 (NIV)
God's desire is to sanctify us through and through. Satan's desire is to corrupt us through and through. Through the allurements of the world, Satan attacks us in the area of our body, soul and spirit.
Satan tempts us spiritually, to keep us from loving God as we ought to love Him; he tempts us psychologically, to keep us from learning from God as we ought to learn from Him, and he tempts us physically, to keep us from living for God as we ought live for Him.