Let's be reasonable with one another, shall we?

Thursday, October 27, 2005

What is "Worldliness" part 3

Thank you for all the lively discussion here over the last several days regarding holidays and worldliness. I think it is so interesting to hear all the different perspectives. I was also thinking last night, I really like the blog for this purpose specifically: to discuss something with people from several perspectives. It helps me.

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:

Hebrews 9:1
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.

Titus 2
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.


  • Good stuff. I think being worldly is about more than just sin, however. It can be more subtle, whereby we share in the values and attitudes of the world, thus being distracted from following God's will.

    I think appearance does matter. How we dress reveals clues about our values and attitudes. There are ways of dressing which are quite inappropriate.

    Every Blessing in Christ

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at 10/28/2005 3:44 AM  

  • rose~,

    Great post! Well thought out! I agree with your conclussions.

    dyspraxic fundamentalist:How should we dress? It is the second time,at least, that you have brought that up in the last couple of days? Why?

    It seems like ALL of your theology is centered around 1Cor.11:4-15.

    I once visited a church back in the '70s that had a thing about long hair. Mine was mid way down my ears-a big no,no. The preacher looked out over the congregation and warned that the devil was out to get us. Then he said" He's already got some of you, I can tell by the length of your hair". Since I had the longest hair in that room it was no secret who that jab was aimed at. Never mind that I loved Jesus and was studying His word and praying to be more like Him. It was that my hair was just too long for his tastes. Never mind that I stood for Jesus in my just concluded high-school career and was soundly ridculed by teachers and coaches and classmates alike. Never mind that I tried to present the Gospel every where I went. No, the devil already had me because my hair was too long! NONSENSE!

    It would appear that apearances are THE driving force of your theology too. I have no respect that kind of thinking!

    By Blogger bluecollar, at 10/28/2005 8:07 AM  

  • I think maybe I should make a list of blog rules for RR. How about this one: direct comments to me. That way, we won't be tempted to be less than patient with other readers. Say whatever you like to me, POSITIVE OR NEGATIVE, I can take it.

    Now play nice!

    This still stems from what is inside and doesn't have to be forced if it really matters. I will think about what you have said, though.

    I understand your passion and your point of view. I think that was NONSENSE what that preacher said also.

    By Blogger Rose~, at 10/28/2005 9:36 AM  

  • rose~,
    I'm sorry for getting out of hand.

    By Blogger bluecollar, at 10/28/2005 9:45 AM  

  • Good rule, Rose. It is your blog and I feel privileged to be able to comment in it.

    'God looks at the heart'

    Something missing? 'Man looks at the outward appearance'. The fact is that people are still people and they pick up signals about other people by how they look. If you date a girl who has dressed in a tracksuit for the occasion, you would either conclude that she was very confident or that she was not very bothered about you. You would come to some conclusion.

    We should avoid dress that:

    1. Fails to reflect our gender distinctiveness as male or female
    2. That compromises our commit to chasitity or sexual fidelity.
    3. Which identifies us with cultures that have grossly unbiblical values i.e Punk, Skinhead, Rastafarian

    I would suggest that dressing smart for Church reflects the importance of congregational worship and preaching.

    I have had to repent myself for wearing long hair, piercings and Havy Metal type clothing.

    Every Belssing in Christ

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at 10/28/2005 11:28 AM  

  • Rose,
    be encouraged! I am glad you are a good, clear biblical thinker! That's one of the many fine qualities you posess that led me to persue you. I'm glad you let me catch up to you. Great post, awsome blog. Keep it up!

    brother John

    By Blogger J. Wendell, at 10/29/2005 7:55 AM  

  • What a person wears does not determine what he is on the inside. Yes, women are to dress modestly and if they know the Word they will, but some determine modest as being clothing worn to the ankles, no pants for women, men are to be in suits in all church services especially Sunday mornings. I came from a church like this. I can say that my husband never wears a suit and he is probably the Godliest man I know. When we left that church and joined a church that preaches the Word, focuses on love, and grace I realized it made me want to obey more vs. being bashed over the head with does and don't constantly.

    I also have a son who is into skate board clothing but who I know loves the Lord. It is a style to him nothing more. I think we need to preach the Word, show grace, and allow to God to convict each one as He will. It is not our job to play the Christian police. I am sorry Rose did I go outside the rules there?


    By Blogger wife of the behdr, at 10/29/2005 9:07 AM  

  • My brother said something intersting right after he was saved recently and was feverishly studying the Bible: "Apart from the Spirit, we can't be righteous and we could never keep the law, but when we are born again, the desire and the ability to do right is there in our hearts because of the Spirit."

    I am sure a theologian could put it better than that.

    As far as what the world sees and how that leads them to want the Lord (because they see that we are different...), I will let God take care of that.

    I used to think, when I first believed, that if I could think of the right way to explain the gospel to an unsaved person, if I could come up with a good persuasion to fit their individual personality type and give the right impression (also-make christianity appealing) then they would come to salvation. Obviously, there is more to it than that! It is the work of God to show His salvation to people. (no ULI, not here)

    As far as showing the world God's grace, we present the gospel and follow the new Spirit within us, eschewing the deeds and thoughts of our "worldly" flesh (because that is what God asks - constant struggle, though) ... and, "He'll take care of the rest." (to quote Keith Green.)

    For me, low cut blouses would feed my fleshly desire for attention. Therefore, I don't wear low cut blouses. But I cannot make rules for others abot this. Let's be responsible for our own living, let the Spirit and the Word convict other Christians about how they conduct themselves in regards to specific details.


    I would've lasted about one minute in that church. (you didn't break the rules...glad to have you! :~) )

    Blue Collar,
    I would've lasted about 10 seconds in that church. Glad to have you, too. :~)

    the verse about man looking on the outward appearance, is, I think, showing us the contrast between the shallowness of what men see as compared to what God sees. Probably not a good verse to chose when defending rules about dress. GOD'S GRACE WILL BE SEEN, but we can not formulate how that is done. Glad to have you, too. :~)

    J. Wendell,
    Thanks for your encouragement. I needed it badly! Love you!

    Sorry for the long comment, but.....it's my blog!

    By Blogger Rose~, at 10/29/2005 10:11 AM  

  • What we wear does not determine what is inside, but it can show what is inside.

    I would not like to go to a Church where standards of dress are enforced, but it is right to question certain kinds of clothing and to encourage modest dress. What we must avoid is being judgemental. I do think women should not wear trousers (pants-sorry, I am British), but I would never criticize a woman for wearing them.

    Yes, Rose, I am taking the verse out of context. However, we have to recognise that others are human and people make judgments on the basis of appearance. That is why we dress differently in the office to how we dress at home or at a wedding.

    Every Blessing in Christ

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at 10/29/2005 11:20 AM  

  • It comes down to being self-centered. That is what all sin stems from, where we make "me" more important than Him.

    By Blogger curious servant, at 10/29/2005 11:22 AM  

  • Hi Rose,

    Sorry to join this conversation so late, got another project going that has been taking up my time.

    I think worldliness has to do with our focus in the decisions we make:

    "He who comes from above is above all; he who is of the earth is earthly and speaks of the earth. He who comes from heaven is above all.
    "And what He has seen and heard, that He testifies; and no one receives His testimony.
    "He who has received His testimony has certified that God is true."

    (John 3:31-33)

    In other words, we tend to walk by the sight of our eyes. We set our goals to help get ahead in this life. We seek the temporal advantage. And for the moment the the things of this world do matter, but on the Judgment day that will change.

    When that occurrs, we will stand before God in another context, that is, a heavenly, and everything we said or did will be judged from that heavenly perspective.

    On that day, none of our temporal motives will serve us. The context in which they made sense will no longer exist. Instead, we will all wish we had behaved with this day in mind, which is what Jesus taught us to do. This was the mind of Christ from the beginning, that we might bring forth fruit to eternal life:

    "because "All flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers, and its flower falls away, But the word of the Lord endures forever." Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you."
    (1 Pet 1:24-25)

    You may have noticed, for example, that Jesus frequently summarized His teachings by describing their effect on the day of judgment:

    "it will be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah on that day . . . he who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet's reward . . . the men of Nineveh and the Queen of the South shall rise in the judgment with this generation . . . how hardly shall a rich man enter into the kingdom of heaven!"

    So a worldly mindset is one that will focus on temporal goals for our present lives. A godly mindset may consider worldly things as a means, but with eternal goals in mind as the end of those means -- especially in seeking the mind of Christ that He may be glorified in all that we say or do.

    Anyway, those are my thoughts.

    By Blogger loren, at 10/29/2005 6:43 PM  

  • So, would string bikinis be OK on a Sunday morning in worship?

    Why or why not?

    If the outside does not count, what's the problem?

    Maybe it's just a question of who gets to draw the line.

    If no one else wants to, I'll be glad to help out.

    By Blogger Joe, at 10/29/2005 7:56 PM  

  • Loren,
    I think your analysis sounds right. It definitly steers clear of the superficiality that seems to get a lot of the attention when this word is brought up. I will have to ponder your thoughts some more. Thank you very much for your contribution.

    By Blogger Rose~, at 10/29/2005 7:56 PM  

  • Joe, you legalist! (Just kiddin - I feel I have to make it clear when I am kidding).

    Actually, the string bikini would fall under the Titus 2 passage that tells us:

    " ...It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives ..."

    It is probably safe to say string bikinis stir up worldy passions - lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes... (or repulsion depending on the person... ;~) )

    But does long hair on men or pants on a woman? Hmmm....
    Wait, don't answer that!

    By Blogger Rose~, at 10/29/2005 8:04 PM  

  • Hi Rose,

    According to Paul, long hair on a man is a not natural, and he considers it a dishonor to him (1 Cor 11:14-16) But still, it is not forbidden:

    After all, how can he condemn circumcision as a show in the flesh, and then preach the need for a haircut?


    By Blogger loren, at 10/29/2005 11:14 PM  

  • Was that a serious request, Rose?

    As Loren has assumed it is not I shall respond.

    Knowing that long hair is dishonouring to a man, he should not grow it long. But as it is not forbidden, as such, it would be inappropriate to put a man outside the congregation for having long hair (or a woman having short hair or not wearing a headcovering). We should apply this teaching to our lives voluntarily in submission to our creator.

    We are one body, Jew and Gentile and so need not be circumcised, but we are still male and female and this should be reflected in our appearance.

    Pants on women are not modest, though many will disagree with me. They reveal too much of the shape of the female abdomen to be decent. It is only in the last fifty years that opinion has changed on this subject. Are centuries of discernment on thsi issue in error. Fashions have changwed over the centuries, but the trousers/ dress divide has been very persistent. If it is not broken, please do not fix it.

    Every Blessing in Christ

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at 10/30/2005 7:33 AM  

  • Dyspraxic, you kind of amaze me with your insistence in commenting along these lines. Don't you ever tire?

    Think about this: when the Bible was written, men and women both wore dresses (robes)?

    Have you ever thought about this: what would a woman's dress have to be like in order to truly hide her figure? (the abdomen is not all that men find attractive...think...chest). The dress would have to have a large hoop around the shoulders and then fall from there so as not to skim any part of the woman's body. Even then, I am sure men would find something to focus on if they wanted to lust! Men need to turn from lust as best they can no matter what women wear. Women need to use godly common sense and godly judgement in the "present age" as appropriate and relevant to our society. Let's give this subject a rest ... it is a rabbit trail, and it misses the point of "what is worldliness."

    Every blessing in Christ to you, Dyspraxic! :~)

    By Blogger Rose~, at 10/30/2005 3:27 PM  

  • Fair enough. Apologies if I have gone on too long.

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at 10/31/2005 3:27 AM  

  • No problem.

    By Blogger Rose~, at 10/31/2005 1:48 PM  

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