What is "Worldliness" part 3
What I have been looking for is a good definition for this concept of worldliness. I have heard the word used a lot over the years … and it is even in our church covenant (which I noticed Sunday night … and that, along with another blogger’s post on that holiday thing, is what prompted all my thoughts) … but its meaning has sort of eluded me.
It should be stated clearly that the following is not a discussion on how to avoid hell and become fit for Heaven. To learn more about that, go HERE. or HERE. This has to do with how Christians should live life after they are assured of their salvation because of Christ's finished work.
I decided to look in the Strong’s concordance for the term worldly. (The concept of “worldliness” is found elsewhere without using the word itself.) I discovered this word was only used twice in the whole Bible! The first instance seems irrelevant:
Then, verily, the first covenant had also ordinances of divine service, and a worldly sanctuary.
However, the second use, I think, gets right to the point and so I am going to include a large part of the context.
You must teach what is in accord with sound doctrine. Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance.
Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.
Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled. In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.
Teach slaves to be subject to their masters in everything, to try to please them, not to talk back to them, and not to steal from them, but to show that they can be fully trusted, so that in every way they will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive.
For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope - the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.
Here it seems clear, Paul is saying that by turning from the sinful ways of the carnal man, and living uprightly, (self control, sobriety, love, purity, integrity, humility, trustworthiness, eagerness to do good) we will not be worldly. The world will have nothing bad to say about us and will have to resort to those creative ways they find to express the fact that they don’t like Christians and they don’t want God in their lives.
Paul also discusses this subject in Romans 12 and 13. He says, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” This includes “not thinking of oneself more highly than one ought to think” (pride). He goes on, “Repay no one evil for evil … as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.” He also says, “Let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.”
John touches on the subject of worldliness while not using that word:
"Do not love the world or the things in the world … all that is in the world - the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life - is not of the Father, but is of the world." (1 John 2)
This is really pretty simple. The Lord is saying through his servants that we should not embrace the ways of sin in our hearts. We should turn from sin ... and that is turning from worldliness. It is clear that being worldly is not just superficial; it is not about how we "look" ... it is deep in the heart. It is selfishness, pride, lust.
We could also look at Proverbs 6 to get a good definition of worldliness. It describes what the Lord hates … haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies, and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers. I think it would be safe to say that these are all the fruits of the natural man … the ways of the world.
2 Corinthians 6:14 and 17 discuss being not yoked together with unbelievers. “…what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols?” He goes on, "Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord.”
This passage seems to me to be talking about loving the truth, seeking the truth and not accepting false religion into your fellowship. The way of the world is to be “inclusive” and “relativistic” when dealing with religion … or the other extreme … clinging proudly and exclusively to a religion that is solidly false. The opposite of worldly in a religious sense is rejecting false religion and being totally open to God’s truth in His Word. That is what the Lord wants from us. He will receive us.
As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But we are to be holy in all manner of life. (1 Peter 1:14)
Does this mean “appear” holy? I think it means to really BE separate, different. This is what happens if we yield to the Spirit of God that is in our hearts (when we are born again) and not follow after the ways of our original self, the worldly person we started out in this life as. Then, what we are inside will manifest itself in our life. We won’t have to force ourselves unnaturally to “look” different from the world. We are different.
1 Peter 2:11-12 calls us to "... abstain from sinful desires which war against the soul." If we, while embracing the gospel, say “pass” to all the lustful filth and selfish godlessness all around us, people notice! That is why men of God are called to be “above reproach”. This separateness, combined with walking in newness of life and the good works that God has prepared beforehand for us to walk in, will help us “live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God.”
I know I have worldliness inside of me ... it is still there ... but by God's grace, I want to keep looking ahead to Christ and leaving that behind ... I thank the Lord that my salvation does not count on me doing so. Christ's righteousness alone is what I cling to. I hope this study on the term worldliness will be helpful to someone as it was to me while I did it. Most simply put, as regenerated people, if we turn from sin with open hearts toward God, we will not be worldly.