In the world, but not of it
Chaplain Bertram Bobb
May God bless our Choctaws and friends. Thank you for your prayers. It is a privilege to share with you Words from the Holy Bible. I look forward to visiting with you during the Choctaw Nation Labor Day Festival in Tvshka Homma. The Lord willing.
Today we are going to look at the word “world” as used in the Bible.
Why? Because there is much confusion concerning the meaning of the word and attitude of Christians towards the world.
Some have said that if the church is to make its impact on our generation it must become more worldly minded. In a sense that is true, yet in another, Biblical sense, it is false.
The Bible teaches in the New Testament that since we live in the world, we are involved with the world. The Bible says in First John 2:15: “Love not the world, neither the things of the world. If any man love the world, is not in him.”
As we read the New Testament, it is clear that we are not to become entangled with the world. Now, the question we ask is, “What is the world?” There are three meanings to this word world.
First, the Bible says there is a created world. In Acts 17:24 we read: “God that made the world and all things therein…”
Second, there are people living in the world, whom God loves and for whom Christ died, John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
Third, there is the world system, which is headed by Satan, based upon self, greed, and pride. This is the world system, which Christians are to hate and stay away from.
The world was such a great danger to our souls that this danger caused Jesus Christ, the Son of God, to go to the cross to deliver us from it.
As we read through the Bible, the lines are definitely drawn between the world of unbelievers and the world of the children of God. We read in scriptures such as James 4:4: “Whosoever therefore will be of the world is the enemy of God.”
In this generation in which we live, it is not easy for the Christian to distinguish between that who is spiritual, and that who is worldly.
In the Scriptures, Satan is called an “angel of light.” In II Corinthians 11:14 we read, “And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.”
He is a great imitator, and is not always easy to distinguish between Satan’s world and where God reigns. Jesus said, if it were possible Satan would deceive the very elect. “For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets and shall show great signs, and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.” (Matthew 24:24).
Many Christians are tricked into believing that you cannot enjoy life except you are a member of the worldly crowd.
The happiest people I know are separated followers of Jesus Christ completely dedicated to Him. They are not dependent upon artificial stimulants. They don’t have to resort to dirty jokes. They don’t have to abuse their bodies to relax their minds. The Bible says in Psalm 16:11: “Thou wilt show me the path of life: in thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.”
To be a Christian is not a pious pose. It is not a long list of restrictions. It opens the windows to the real joy of living.
The world systems would have us believe that following Jesus Christ is nothing but “thou shalt nots.” The world system would have us believe that Christianity is a killjoy, a kind of life that is not natural.
Jesus, the Good Shepherd, said in John 10:10: “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”
And those that have been truly converted to Jesus Christ know the meaning of the abundant living. The Bible teaches that the worldliness is a spirit of the world system that is in opposition and in contradiction to all that is godly and Christian. Its goal is selfish pleasure, material success, and the pride of life. It is ambitious, self-centered. God is not denied. He is just ignored and forgotten.
Christ designated Satan as the prince of this world system three times. He said in John 14:30: “Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me.”
John 16:11: “Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.” Again, he said in John 12:31: “Now is the judgment of this world: Now shall the prince of this world be cast out.”
The Bible is clear that the world’s inhabitants are either under the influence of this world system with its deception, and spell; or they are in Christ and under the direction of the Spirit of God. There is no neutral ground. The lines are drawn by the Bible.
But the Christian is not left defenseless in this conflict. God provides the power to give us victory over Satan. Paul said in Romans 8:37: “Nay, all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.”
We will never overcome by our social concern or by identifying ourselves with resolutions that are taking place in the world. We read in Revelation 12:11: “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.”
We are involved in a spiritual conflict. This is a battle between the forces of God and the forces of Satan, and we are involved in it. We are asked to choose sides.
The Bible warns about being taken in by the evil of this world system. Satan’s lies are cleverly mixed with truth. Now we are not to get our worlds mixed up. This is where the confusion lies. God meant that we are not to mingle with the world, but we are to witness to the world. We are to love the world of men whom God loves. We are to weep, suffer with those who suffer, and identify ourselves with the poor, the sick, and the needy.
This then is our problem: to associate with and love those who are involved in the world without being influenced or swayed by them.
This distinction can only be achieved by a close walk with Jesus Christ, by contrast prayer, by seeking the Holy Spirit’s leadership every hour of the day.
God has provided us with the power to resist the world and be separated from it, and it is to appropriate that power every hour of our lives.
As Christians we are in the world, but the world is not in us. We come in contact with the world and yet we retain our distinctive kingdom character and refuse to let the world press us into its mold.
And finally Christians look for the end of the world. The Bible teaches that God is going to renovate the world, rid it of its wickedness, and that Satan himself will be cast into the lake of fire and brimstone. (Revelation 20:10.)
We are in the world but we are not of the world. We are to love those for whom Christ died. We are to pray for them, witness to them, helping worthwhile projects we can. But we are to strive to achieve the most difficult of duty, not to be conformed to the world. This is the Christian’s stand; this is the Christian’s job.
Will you trust Him and rely upon Him for everything?
Pray for America, pray for our leaders. Pray for our brave men and women in our armed forces.