The Way of the World

By Pastor John Crotts

           Are you too full of the world? While there is no doubt that Christians need to live in the world, love the people of the world, and even try to impact the world, we are not to be OF the world.

            The Bible could not be clearer on this matter. 1 John 2:15-17 says, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world— the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.”

            Notice several details of these sentences from the Bible. There is a clear command and then reasons to obey that command. The command is, “Do not love the world.” This refers to the evil world system around us, not the precious people in the world whom Christians are certainly supposed to love.

            The reasons not to love the world are: first, if you love the world as a lifestyle it means that you are not a Christian. Second, the world is completely anti-God. Finally, the world and its lusts are going to hell.

            In spite of this clear command and these sobering reasons, many professing Christians lap up the world like a dog drinks water on a hot summer afternoon. Worldly Christians seem to separate what they do on Sunday morning from the rest of reality. Are you one of them?

One time, I was sitting near a group of probably college aged men and women. The girls were dressed in very tight shirts, with tummies and underwear showing. They were talking about adventures in drunkenness, sexual things, lying to parents, and hanging out with crazy friends. Right before they left, one of the young men commented that they needed to get home at a decent hour because he was going to be teaching Sunday School the next day. Yikes! 

            Where is the disconnect? If you love Jesus, you cannot love the world. You cannot flagrantly disregard his commands to dress modestly (1 Timothy 2); not talk cheaply about sex and get drunk (Ephesians 5); and to not have fools for friends (Proverbs 13:20).

Lest you be tempted to write me off as a legalist, let me clarify the difference between what I’m saying and what legalists say. A legalist adds rules to the Bible. They often seem concerned more about external appearances than a person’s heart. Legalists are also known for harsh critical attitudes towards others.

             I am aware that Christians are at different places in their maturity. I also understand from Romans 14-15 and 1 Corinthians 8-10 that there are matters of conscience where Christians can have two differing sets of behavior and both be okay. I believe the Lord gave us areas like that to teach us to be patient and loving with each other.

            There are, however, clear commands in the Bible. While some may have opinions about what constitutes modest dress, no one can deny that the Bible commands women to dress modestly. Paul says, “likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works” (1 Timothy 2:9-10).

             If a woman claims to be a Christian and constantly dresses in ways to draw the attention of men’s eyes to her body, there is a disconnect. It is true that some women radically fail to appreciate how men think and respond to visual stimulus. But in light of the clear command of Jesus through Paul, you shouldn’t dress provocatively and also think of yourself as a Christian.

A legalist is more concerned about inches over the knee or even being able to wear shorts. I’m concerned about your heart. Where is your heart to honor Jesus? Where is your love for Christian men? What kind of attention are you after? Who are you trying to please?

The other issues at that table next to me were also clear issues in the Bible. Sexual immorality is not to be engaged in or even joked about by Christians. Ephesians 5:3-5 says, “But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.”

              Once again, I’m not making up extra-biblical rules. I’m not even worried about the exact words you are saying or the jokes you are telling. I’m worried about your heart. What’s going on in your heart that you would slap Jesus in the face by defying his clear commands? How can you claim to love him and do these things? Whose approval are you interested in?

Friend, yes, we do live in the world, and we do want to reach out to the world. But, if you are serious about following Jesus, you must never suck the world into your soul. If you are in love with the world, you are not a Christian. Repent, and entrust your soul to the Lord Jesus Christ before it is too late.

              Jesus loved people of the world enough to die for them, taking the wrath of God that they deserve in their place. He will forgive all who come to him. The world is going to hell—don’t you go with it.