By Greg Steele
Pastor, First Baptist Church, Jasper
Billy Sunday, the once professional baseball player turned evangelist, once said, “To talk about a worldly Christian makes about as much sense as talking about a heavenly devil.”
We live in a world where there are many people referred to as worldly Christians that have never become Christians at all.
I think there are some people whose lives are so different to the Christian faith that though they may claim to be a Christian, the fact of the matter is they have never really experienced the love and grace of Christ.
When I see an animal that looks like a duck, waddles like a duck, quacks like a duck and it hangs around with other ducks, I’m pretty certain it’s a duck. When I see a person who says he’s a Christian and goes to church, and yet his life gives no evidence of it, I wonder if he really is a Christian.
I am not a judge, but I am a fruit inspector and if there is no evidence of a relationship with Christ, then is he born-again?
Has he been changed by the Savior from the inside out?
That’s what we are talking about — worldliness and the plague of worldliness that hinders believers.
In chapter 2, John uses the word “world.” What “world” is he talking about? It is obvious he is not talking about the world of nature (Acts 17:24). Neither is he talking about the world of people (John 3:16).
In this verse when he says don’t love the world, he is really using the word to refer to a system of things, an organization of society. You know this word; it’s a familiar word to us.
The Greek word behind this word, world, is where we get our word, “cosmos.” It means to arrange things. When God created the cosmos, the Bible says He brought it out of “chaos.” Chaos means no order, no arrangement.
Cosmos means to put together, to arrange, to put things in order. The Bible says that there is an arrangement of things. There is an organization that is referred to as the world. A world system. We talk about the world of sports or the world of politics.
The Bible uses that same terminology — a system of things. The Bible says don’t love this world system. This world system has its own God. The Bible says this world has its own children, who are wiser in their generation. This world system has its own knowledge — the wisdom of this world.
John then points out here that this world has three land mines that cause Christians to blow up. The first is the lust of the flesh. The flesh we were born with is a fallen nature.
The second land mine is the lust of the eyes. It is through the eyes, for the most part, that our thoughts are formed. What we see determines to a great extent what we think.
Then the last thing is the pride of life. That word, pride, is translated other places — boasting of life. The pride of life is basing our worth on the accumulation of things, cars, houses, clothes, and material things.
If we aren’t careful we will begin to get real proud about our money, position, power, strength or our material things.
Every time you and I as born-again believers are tempted to fall for the idea and the mental attitudes of this old world it is always in one of those three ways.