September 2014

Seduction of the World

What if there was a test to identify followers of Jesus from those who do not know Jesus Christ. Would someone be able to tell you apart from a nonbeliever based upon your language, conservations, Internet activity, dress, television habits, financial transactions, passions, and choices?

Author James Hunter observed, “Many distinctions separating Christian conduct from ‘worldly conduct’ have been challenged if not altogether undermined. Even the words worldly and worldliness have, within a generation lost most of their traditional meaning.” Unfortunately, the distinction between Christianity and worldly conduct has become very blurred. C. J. Mahaney, in his book “Worldliness” noted, “Today, the greatest challenge facing American evangelicals is not persecution from the world, but seduction by the world. We aren’t under attack from without; we’re decaying from within.” Charles Spurgeon, who wrote some 150 years ago, nevertheless speaks to the problem in the church today; “I believe that one reason why the church of God has so little influence over the world is because the world has so much influence over the church. Put your finger on any prosperous page in the Church’s history, and I will find a little marginal note reading thus: ‘In this age men could readily see where the Church began and where the world ended.’ Never were there good times when the Church and the world joined in marriage with one another. The more the Church is distinct from the world in her acts and in her maxims, the more true is her testimony for Christ, and the more potent is her witness against sin.” 

Sadly, the lines between Christianity and the world have become blurred, which undercuts the Church’s testimony for Christ. We go to church to “look good” or resolve some type of guilt, rather than become disciples of Jesus Christ. John wrote to the early Christians, “Do not love the world, nor the things in the world. If any one loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (I John 2:15). This is not a subtle statement, but a very pointed command-a commandment that steps on our toes! And if we really take God’s Word seriously, it is a defining statement on how a believer should live. John does not give us a list of what is worldly (Is MTV worldly? Is an R-rated movie worldly? Is a certain style of music worldly? Is drinking wine worldly?), but implies that a Christian should not love the world- that a Christian should not look like a nonbeliever. He assumes that a mature Christian should be able to discern good from evil, right from wrong, Biblical from the world. It does not mean that Christians can not enjoy living on this earth, but the reference is not being “in love” with the things this world has to offer. Thus, we must be careful how we rationalizes our activities as “not worldly,” when in fact we are really caught in a love relationship with this world! 

Paul wrote “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect“ (Ro 12:1,2). Paul, like John, is telling believers to be different. He is saying “not be conformed to the world!” The Greek word for “conform” implies outward expression that does not reflect what is within. It is used of masquerading or putting on an act. If we are a Christian, we are to stop allowing ourselves to be fashioned after the world (the Greek indicates that we do not have to actively pursue the world, because it is actively pursuing us), and we are not to masquerade as a worldly person. Rather than “conform” to the world, we are to be “transformed.” This word implies a change in outward appearance, and is the term from which we get metamorphosis.  When the caterpillar goes through the metamorphosis process, it does not continue to look like a caterpillar, but becomes a butterfly. Paul uses the passive verb to command believers to change outwardly into conformity to our redeemed inner natures. 

Therefore, as followers of Jesus Christ, we must be aware of the seduction of the world, and it is our responsibility to not conform and love the world, but be transformed from the world’s seduction.

                                                                                                                            -Pastor Mike Kotrla