Summary: 6th in First John Series
WHAT IN THE WORLD IS WORLDLINESS?
INTRO: Very soon after you become a Christian you discover that the Christian life is not a playground, it is a battleground. You make the discovery that to live the Christian life is not a bed of roses, but that you have enrolled in an intense struggle.
These verses today focus in on the world and the Bible says very clearly that we are not to love the world, neither the things that are in the world. What does the Bible mean when it talks about worldliness? What do we mean when we talk in terms of being a worldly individual? I believe worldliness is perhaps the greatest problem that plagues the church today. It ruins our effectiveness for the Lord. It robs us of spiritual power. Worldliness is a tremendous problem in the lives of believers.
Sometimes we use the terminology, “a worldly Christian.” But that’s really a misnomer when you think about it. Billy Sunday, used to make fun of the term “worldly Christian.” He said, “Why to talk about a worldly Christian makes about as much sense as talking about a heavenly Devil.” When you see a person who claims to know Jesus as their Savior, and yet their lifestyle resembles the world more than it resembles the lifestyle of a believer, then you have a reason to question whether of not that person has really had an experience with the Lord Jesus Christ.
I. A WORD OF EXHORTATION (strong advice or warning).
In v. 15, there is a word of exhortation. It begins with a commandment “Love not the world.” The verb is present tense so it could be translated this way “Stop loving the world, don’t go on loving the world.” It is always our tendency to love the world, so God says in the Scriptures, “Stop loving the world,” don’t go on loving the world.
What does the Bible mean when it says, Love not the world? The Greek word there is the word kosmos which means an order or an arrangement of things. By the way, interestingly enough, we get our word “cosmetics” from that. Kosmos, as it is used in this verse of Scripture then, is “an arrangement or an order of things in this world that is hostile to God.” It is a system of ideas, of activities, and people who are in active rebellion against God.
We talk about the world of sports, politics, work, etc. They all mean the things that revolve around the subject we are talking about. The Bible talks about the world as a system of things organized in active hostility and rebellion against God. The Bible talks about the wisdom of this world and the spirit of this world. We’re also told that this world is corrupt.
Moving from a definition, he gives a description (v. 15). That statement describes for us what worldliness is all about. Do you want me to explain to you what worldly things are? Probably some of you would like for me to give you a list of things that are worldly. I’m not going to give you any specific things to write down as being worldly things that you ought not to do. You say “Preacher, why aren’t you going to do that?” There are several reasons.
One of the reasons I’m not going to name all of the things that are worldly because we’d be here all day. I don’t have enough time to name everything that’s worldly. But there’s a more serious reason. If I should give you my list of worldly things, you’d want to argue with me about it.
But let me tell you something else even more serious than that. If I gave you a list of things that I told you would be worldly, then you’d want to go by that list of things and you’d feel like if you didn’t do those things you’d be in pretty good shape. When you get into that kind of situation, you are on your way toward becoming a legalistic, pharisaical Christian. Some people want to define what it means to be a Christian on the basis of a set of things that they don’t do. There is more to being a Christian than that.
Some of the most legalistic, some of the most judgmental, and some of the most unloving people I’ve ever known have been people who have their little list of things that they didn’t do.
You see, this world is a system of things that organizes itself in rebellion to God and then it is a system of things that causes you to love the Father less and less. That’s what worldliness really is.
II. A WORD OF EXPLANATION (clearing it up).
V. 16 continues with a word of explanation. We have a three-fold description of what John says is in the world. The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. He said that’s not of the Father, it is of the world.