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Worldliness

April 23, 2012

My original plan for this post was to offer a summary of a great sermon on worldliness presented by Dr. Kevin Bauder during 2012’s Heart Conference. Circumstances have conspired to make that impossible, but I have included a link below that allows you to listen to the sermon. Instead of being able to read the vastly intelligent comments from Dr. Bauder, my own thoughts on the same subject will have to suffice. You have my deepest, and sincerest apologies.

The Biblical concept of worldliness is severely misunderstood in fundamentalism. Many activities, such as going to movies, smoking or listening to rock music, have been proclaimed as prohibited because they are worldly. While it is absolutely accurate that they are worldly activities, the mere fact of their worldliness does not immediately make them sinful. In one sense, and in a significant sense, worldly is used in the Bible to refer to that which has to do with this present reality. Marriage, McDonald’s, movies and marijuana are all worldly. However, some are praised, some are permissible and some are prohibited. This is not to be nit picky on semantics, but hopefully to help us gain a right understanding of worldliness. A right understanding of worldliness is very important to a proper understanding of holiness, obedience, separation and spiritual growth. The fact that something is of this world does not always mean it is sinful.

Though what is of this world is tainted by the curse and under the domination of Satan, we can (and in many instances, must) participate in worldly things. The issue for the believer is not involvement in things of this world, but engaging the things of this world in such a way that God is usurped in our lives. Things of this world become sinful in a couple ways. First, when they draw our eyes and hearts away from the things of God. When the world becomes so important to us that we pursue it and neglect the eternal things, it is sinful. For example, when a job takes precedence over spiritual growth, fellowship with the believers and Christian service, that job has become sinful. Obviously, holding a job is not sinful. In some instances, the opposite is true- to not hold a job would be sinful. Yet, holding employment is very definitely worldly. It is a task performed within this present reality for temporal gains. Holding employment is definitely not sinful. What is sinful is the elevation of the importance of any job over that of the eternal things. Worldly things become sinful things when they are given a value that detracts from our estimation of the things of God.

Secondly, things of this world are sinful when they are sinful. Insightful, yes? Things of this world are sinful when they involve or promote the performance of things which are prohibited by God. Rock music is sinful because of it participates in and promotes a myriad of things which are clearly contrary to God’s commands. McDonald’s may not necessarily be sinful, but if my enjoyment of a McDonald’s burger moves from the realm of providing chemically manipulated meat like fuel for glorifying God in my life to a gluttonous excess of wasteful over indulgence then my imbibing of Big Mac’s becomes a worldly thing that is also sin. The issue is not as much about the things relationship to this world as it is the things relationship with the next world. If it detracts from the things of God, or if it disobeys the commands of God, then that worldly thing has become sinful. We must live in this world, but we must do so with an eternal focus. In Colossians 3:1-2 Paul gives the solution to and the guard against worldliness. “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.”

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