Our world has many distractions that keep our focus away from the true source of life, peace, and love. We want to fill-up on all the world has to offer, and wonder why we feel empty, anxious, and lonely.
Rick Renner expressed the following belief. Before we received the life of Jesus Christ, we are dominated, manipulated, and mastered by the culture in which we live.1 For example, the news outlets shape our opinions; advertisers influence our desire for things we don’t need; movies and TV shows numb our moral conscience; and social media shapes our attitudes. You will think worldly thoughts when you immerse yourself in worldly activities and around worldly people. 1John 5:19 tells us “the whole world lies in the power of the evil one,” so be wise in how you spend your time and what you put into your mind. The Apostle Paul explains worldliness in his letter to the Ephesian believers. Meditate on each line of the following passage. Ephesians 2:1-3 state,
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked,
following the course of this world,
following the prince of the power of the air,
the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—
among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh,
carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and
were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.
Did you know an evil spirit works in those who disobey God? Someone told me the “prince of the power of the air” is the devil controlling what comes into our homes via the airwaves, referring to the Internet, TV, and radio. Satan uses any worldly device to wage war in your mind to allure you away from devotion to God. He first blinds your mind so you are not aware of his attractive temptations. In 2Corinthians 4:4, the Apostle Paul states, “In their case, the god of this world has blinded the minds….” The god of this world is the devil as described in Revelations 12:9, which states, “And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.” A person deceived and blinded by the devil will say they are fulfilled and satisfied with worldly activities. However, many people realize the despair and futility of this lifestyle and turn to Jesus Christ, which happened to me.
The following questions are tough, but an honest answer is necessary for you to have victory over the unseen battles with temptations to love worldliness more than God.
??- Do you dress in the latest fashions, act like the world, talk like the world, and be controlled by worldly activities, such as drinking, tattooing, gambling, video gaming, sexual immorality, etc.?
??-Do you put into your mind evil images of death and lust in the form of pornography, ungodly TV shows, magazines, books, and movies?
??-Do you often skip church to go to a sporting or recreational events?
??-Do your favorite activities distract you from reading and meditating on God’s Word, praying, or spending time with fellow believers?
You might be thinking two things right now: first, none of these questions mean I’m worldly; second, I can still do these things and still love God. Now imagine if you lost all your possessions, beauty, prestige, and successes, would you still love God and be thankful? Or what if your favorite team or activity disappeared, would you feel depressed and lost? Because of this pandemic, I miss doing many activities I use to do, which has caused me to evaluate my priorities. Is this pandemic causing you to become depressed or re-evaluate your priorities?
The Bible does not say doing or having enjoyable things is wrong? But when you love and value them more than God, this is loving the world. 1John 2:15-17 explains, “Do not love the world, nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him, because all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. 17) And the world is passing away, and the lust of it, but he who does the will of God abides forever.”
Why does God tell us not to love the world or the things in the world? Do you think God knew mankind would worship and serve what they can see and touch and what appeals to their pride and pleasures of their sinful nature? One of His Ten commandments found in Exodus 20 was not to worship or serve anything created by man because God is jealous. God created us and wants us to love and serve Him only.
Examples of the lust of the flesh in 1John 2:16 could be our appetites, cravings, and desires for alcohol, drugs, sugar products, over-eating, sexual immorality, gambling, and greediness. The lust of the eyes includes those things we specifically see and covet, which may spark our lustful desires and appetites. Examples are pornography or wanting what someone else has, such as possessions, achievements, and advantages. The boastful pride of life refers to anything that promotes or elevates a sense of independence from God.
Independent thinking causes us to believe we can do our own thing, live a self-serving life, and have it our way. For instance, the pride of life is anything giving you the right to boast and may include gaining possessions to show a certain status; gambling to hopefully win big; success to show you are someone, or wealth to be admired. All of these are passing away, then you will spend eternity with God or in hell. So, if you don’t want to be devoted to God while on the earth, then why should He want to let you in His heaven?
The Bible warns against being enslaved or taken captive by elementary principles or spirits of the world, Galatians 4:3 states, “In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world.” Colossians 2:8 states, “See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.” And, Colossians 2:20 states, “If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations.” These Scripture passages tell us, we can be enslaved to the elementary principles of the world, but in Christ, we have died to these elemental allurements. Now, these worldly spirits do not control us anymore. Being aware of your thoughts will prevent you from being taken captive by the evil spirits of the world. Memorizing the truths in God’s Word will help you distinguish between elementary principles of the world and godly principles.
Reflections and Application:
How were you dominated, manipulated, and mastered by the culture of this world?
1. Renner, Rick, (2007), Dressed to kill. Published by Teach the Nations, Tulsa, OK
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P.S.: Experiencing a lasting change in your life depends on having a right relationship with God the Father through believing in His Son Jesus Christ and obeying His command to love (1 John 3).