Have you ever heard of the Jefferson Bible? Thomas Jefferson, or second president literally cut and pasted his own personal Bible, taking only those verses that he liked. It was a book he was comfortable with.
Hell didn’t make it. Anything supernatural, no. God’s wrath against sin, absolutely not. As a Christian I am appalled by the thought of someone creating their own Bible by omitting whatever they don’t like.
And then I thought about how often I have ignored portions of God’s Word. Guilty! Here’s a verse that was brought to my attention recently that I think many of us try to ignore in one way or another. Simple yet piercing if you really try to apply it. “Do not love the world or anything in the world” (1 John 2:15).
This verse is pointed, “Do not love the world”. It’s also broad, “or anything in the world.” It’s aimed at many of my desires, yet I’ve never memorized it or felt like I needed it in my battle against sin. I’ve read it many times yet many more times I’ve lived like it wasn’t in my Bible.
How does a Christian know if they are worldly? Are you immune to worldliness? If we ignore this command, we are not just guilty of making our own Bible; we’re in peril of being seduced by a fallen world that is diametrically opposed to God. We are all at risk!
The Apostle Paul described someone who was in love with the world and what happened to him. He was a companion of Paul’s and helped him spread the gospel. He stood by Paul during his first imprisonment. Yet, listen to what said about him in 2 Timothy 4:10, “Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me.”
What happened? I’m sure he didn’t just wake up one morning and decide to bail out. Before he deserted, he drifted away from his first love, Christ. You know someone like Demas, don’t you, someone who burned brightly for a time and then slowly turned away from the faith.
So often we’re ignorant of the signs and symptoms of worldliness because a person can carry on looking on the outside like everything is great while slowly eroding away on the inside. Maybe he or she is still in church but on the inside not really excited to be there. Maybe they sing worship song but without any real affection. Listen to the sermon but without any conviction. Spiritual growth wanes as they hear the truth but don’t apply it to themselves.
A love for the things of the world crowds out the love for Christ. A love for the world begins in your soul and it causes a subtle shift from the things of Christ to the things of the world. In this way, the person who was once captivated by Christ, over time is taken captive by sin. A slippery slope.
So, are you on the downward slide? Sadly, many Christians are unaware of the peril they are in because they have ignored verses like 1 John 2:15, and become desensitized to the clear and present danger of worldliness.
More reflections on this to come from my reading: Worldliness – Resisting the Seduction of a Fallen World, Edited by C.J. Mahaney