Since I was a teenager I have marveled at the love that so many who call themselves Christians have for the world. They enjoy its entertainment, they wear its immodest clothing, and they follow hard after its philosophies. And, in fact, I have struggled with my own love for the world as I have traversed through this life.
Worldliness seeps into so many areas of our lives. Not only do we love our worldly entertainment that espouses such things as sexual immorality, profane language, and sorcery but we also find it tempting to trust in human wisdom and philosophies for solving our problems. We are quick to join causes that have anti-biblical core values. (Currently, the Black Lives Matters movement is the perfect example of this. People who call themselves believers are standing in solidarity with a movement that goes against all that the Bible teaches.)
We also see such a great passion to be in line with the fashions of this world that women who call themselves Christians bare their almost naked bodies on social media, thinking nothing of it. They present themselves as sexual objects, putting men at great risk for sin as they navigate these almost pornographic photos. How tragic this is!
Worldliness has made its way into our conversations, which are often about nothing that really matters, and also into our homes, where we focus on grades and sports and self-esteem instead of Christlikeness, self-sacrifice, and serving Jesus.
It’s literally everywhere and most of us probably aren’t even aware or have given it that much thought. The need for separating ourselves from the world is rarely taught in churches anymore–even solid, biblical ones.
Today I’d like to take a look at some of the costs of turning away from the world, and then look at some of the rewards of this life-changing decision.
If we purposely choose to not love the world, it will bring some unpleasant consequences, such as–
You sacrifice being cool. People think you are old-fashioned and fuddy duddy at best and extremely strange at worst.
You sacrifice friends. Most friends, even “Christian” ones, do not want to be around someone who is sold out for the Lord and turning their back on the world. In their eyes, this eliminates all the fun and brings wayyyy too much guilt. They don’t want anyone making them feel guilty about their own worldliness.
You sacrifice worldly gain. There are often times when the Christian is passed over for promotions because of their biblical stand. They are ignored, antagonized, and mocked because of their stances against certain things that just aren’t popular.
You sacrifice popularity. And this may be the hardest one for most. Everyone wants to be popular. It is a powerful thing to be liked by others. Swimming against the flow is not for the faint of heart.
But not loving the world brings many wonderful consequences, too–
You deepen your relationship with Jesus Christ. For example, I am amazed at the growth that took place when I was willing to surrender my entertainment to the Lord. Because I have experienced this, I continue to carefully examine any entertainment in light of the Word. I would much prefer to be close to the Lord than to experience an hour or two of pleasure.
You develop far more meaningful friendships. Friendships that are based on a mutual desire to please the Lord, no matter what the cost, are far more deeper and much sweeter than those based on common interests or anything else. The fellowship I have with like-minded friends is far, far more richer than anything I have ever experienced.
You learn to enjoy life in a fuller way. When I was filled with worldly entertainment, I scoffed at those who enjoyed simple things or certain types of music. But as I have eliminated much that was worldly in life, I have found a whole new world of wholesome things to enjoy. What once would have seemed simple or mundane has blossomed into interesting and far more entertaining and enjoyable than any blockbuster movie or top ten song.
You learn how to think again. I believe that intellect and critical thinking has been greatly stifled by modern entertainment. When you start to examine things in light of scripture, you start your brain on the path to critically thinking. This is important in light of all aspects of our lives and it’s a great exercise for your brain in order to live the best life you can that is pleasing to the Lord.
You look different than the world, which gives opportunities to explain why. When someone says they are a Christian but they do everything an unbeliever does, including dressing immodestly, watching the same ungodly movies, listening to the same vulgar radio station, and joining the same anti-biblical causes, there are certainly no questions asked. But looking different affords us many opportunities to share the Gospel. If we have been transformed, then we should look transformed.
Worldliness is something that is not discussed much these days in the evangelical world. And yet it yields such a deadly blow to any spiritual growth. Filling our minds with the things of this world, looking like this world, being like this world renders us spiritually stunted and utterly ineffective for use in God’s Kingdom.
We often talk in our family about how, even in our quest to eliminate worldliness, we are probably far more worldly than we even realize. It is amazing how that world sneaks in in the most unexpected places.
But the first step for us all is recognizing this and making efforts to eradicate it small step by small step.
I know, from my own experience, that, if you are genuine believer, you will not be sorry! The rewards of turning away from the world far, far outweigh the costs. Giving up the world as we choose to follow Christ is such a small price to pay for the wonderful rewards that are ours when we do so!
Here are some verses that explain how worldliness should have no part of a Christian’s life. I hope that you will find them convicting and confirming of what I have said above–
John 15:19 If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.
Romans 12:2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
I Corinthians 3:19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their own craftiness”;
Ephesians 1:1-5 And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, 2 in which you once walked according to the [a]course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, 3 among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others. 4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),
Philippians 2:15 that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world,
Colossians 2:8 Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.
Titus 2:11-12 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, 12 teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age,
James 1:27 Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.
James 4:4 Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.
I John 2:15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.