Worldliness a concept that has fallen on hard times within the modern church.  It used to be that preachers spoke on the subject more often.  Nowadays it seems like a topic that is too negative, too judgmental, or too out of touch.  After all, what’s wrong with the world?  We all live in it, don’t we? Some even scoff about religious fuddy-duddies who seem to be “too heavenly minded for any earthly good.” The lights and luster of modern society have blinded many to the silent war that rages behind the scenes.  Scripture is clear — there is a secret agenda to steal the souls of men and women away from the Lord.  Satan is the chief architect of this strategy (2 Corinthians 4:4), and his primary tool is his corrupt, worldly value system.  Jesus called Satan “the prince of this world” (John 12:30, 14:31, and 16:11).  Since the beginning of time, the master of this world has been working to distract people from the reality of God.  He uses a well-tested strategy to do so.  Let’s consider three questions concerning this system.

What’s involved with worldliness?

In 1 John 2:16 we read, “For everything in the world — the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride in one’s lifestyle — is not from the Father, but is from the world.”  Satan has concocted a system that entraps humanity in the area of three temptations — an ungodly focus on pleasure, an ungodly pursuit of possessions, and an ungodly concern with pride.  In his initial temptation of Adam and Eve, he used these enticements (Genesis 3:17).  When he tried to make Jesus fall, his strategy was the same (Matthew 4:11).  Be on guard — his method with you will be similar.  He will try to bait you into living your life for the pursuit of pleasure, the accumulation of riches, or the elevation of ego.

Why should we flee from worldliness? 

The answer to our second question is simple – the world will one day pass away!  Living for the world is like investing in a stock market that is doomed to crash.   Jesus said, “Don’t store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal.  But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven” (Matthew 6:19-20).  Worldly investments never bring a return.  Don’t make the mistake of a man in one of Jesus’ stories.  He spent all of his time building up his earthly portfolio.  He reasoned that doing so would bring him great security, significance, and success in life.  Speaking to the man, Jesus said, “You fool!  This very night your life is demanded of you.  And the things you have prepared — whose will they be?” (Luke 12:20).  In light of eternity, money-grubbing, pleasure-seeking, and self-advancing behavior are foolish.  Such things will make no bearing on the bottom line at the Judgment Seat of Christ (1 Corinthians 3:13-14 and 2 Corinthians 5:10).  Make sure you are living for what really matters!

How can we overcome?

Worldliness is a sneaky sin.  We can be fully engulfed in it and not even realize it.  Is there any safeguard?  In 1 John 5:4, the apostle whom Jesus loved said, “This is the victory that has conquered the world: our faith.”  After warning his readers about the folly of worldliness (1 John 2:15-17), the apostle provided an antidote.  He told them that faith was the key to overcoming.  Such faith involves a trust, reliance, or confidence in Christ.  When we believe that Jesus provides more satisfaction than the pleasures of this earth, when we believe that He gives more security than the possessions of this earth, and when we believe that He gives more significance than the pride of this earth, we will be fully equipped to overcome the shrewd strategy of Satan.

Dr. Patrick Latham

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