The Apostle John, inspired by the Holy Spirit, defines worldliness as something that exists within us. Often times we try to focus on what is going on around us instead of within us, in our inner being. Worldliness is not just behavior, its belief.
We understand this from 1 John 2:16. “For everything in the world, the cravings of sinful man, the lust of the eyes and boasting of what he has and does, comes not from the Father but from the world.” The essence of worldliness is in the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes, and the boasting of what he has and does. The root of the problem is within us. So we must learn to discern worldliness where it lives, in our inner being.
David Powlison, paraphrasing John Calvin, wrote, “The evil in our desires often lies not in what we want, but in the fact that we want it too much.” Whatever drives you owns you. When you must have what you crave, you have lost the battle of idolatry and worldliness.
Our hearts may generate sinful cravings, but they can also be aroused by what we see. The eyes are the window of our soul, giving opportunity to observe but also to covet. The world understands this and Madison Avenue pitches its products to the eye gate.
So what are you captivated by? What do you think about the most? What images stir your interest? Ask yourself, what real value does it have? If you’re more excited about the latest movie or the next big game than serving in your church, if you’re impressed with athletes and movie stars, despite their lack of morality, then you have been seduced by this fallen world.
What about “the boasting of what he has and does.”? How much of your time and effort is spent on trying to convince yourself and others of how good you are? How do you go about boasting in your accomplishments and assets? What’s the real motive behind those posts and pictures on Facebook? The boastful pride of life does not come from God and there is no future in it.
“The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever” (1 John 2:17). Please don’t waste your life pursuing things that won’t last. John Owens described them as “living affections to dying things.”
There is no future in worldliness. It doesn’t last and it doesn’t satisfy. But doing the will of God brings eternal satisfaction. Which type of life will you choose? Resisting the temptations of the world that is opposed to the things of Christ requires strenuous effort and being diligent. It’s a life long battle to keep the world out of your heart.
The good news is, “God has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him” (2 Peter 1:3). Resist the world by looking to the cross of Christ. For it is “the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world” (Gal. 6:14).
“When someone sets his affections upon the cross and the love of Christ, he crucifies the world as a dead and undesirable thing. The baits of sin lose their attraction and disappear. Fill your affections with the cross of Christ and you will find no room for sin.” John Owen