May 2014

Problem of Worldliness

Paul wrote to the Church at Corinth saying, “And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to babes in Christ. (2) I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able, (3) for you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men” (I Cor 3:1-3)?

Paul had ministered to the Corinthians for 18 months and after him was the highly gifted pastor/teacher Apollos.  Overall, they had 5 years of good sound Biblical teaching. They had no excuse for their spiritual condition which Paul describes as fleshly. The Greek word is “sapkikos,” which means "characterized by" or “has the character of the flesh.” 

Statistics indicate that believers and non-believers live almost identical lives; similar morals, values, spending patterns, sexual ethics, and lifestyle choices. The sad realization is that Christians behave just like the world-they are fleshly. The world, or culture, around Christians today has pressed Christians into its own mold. Jon Tyson, in his article “Breaking the Mold,” reveals how believers are so easily molded into the world’s view of “normal:”

Education: Almost all education is secular, even at a kindergarten level. At the college or graduate school level, belief in God is often seen as childish at best, and a serious intellectual impediment.

Media: Media is pervasive, pouring story after story into our lives, most of them contradictory to the way of Jesus. In most media, truth has been reduced to sound bites, and the sensational drowns out the substantive.

Marketing: One commentator estimates that we see more advertisements in a single year of our lives than someone 50 years ago saw in an entire lifetime. We ourselves have been branded.

Economics: We learn from our earliest years that more is better, and better is not enough. We spend much of our life trying to acquire things and have ex¬periences in order to feel good about ourselves. The supreme value of life is how much we can acquire. 

Sexuality: The message of our culture is that sex is purely physical, and that as long as no one is hurt, people can determine their own sexual practices. The rise of pornography has taken sex out of the bedroom and turned it into a form of entertainment.

Religion: All religions are seen as equal and valid, and to claim that one is true and the others are not is cultural treason. 

This is the culture that we live in, and its tentacles are reaching out to mold us into “fleshly” Christians. Instead of believing Paul statement “to live is Christ and to die is to gain” (Phil 1:21), we have followed the world’s philosophy that to live is to gain and to die is Christ (we get to go to heaven).  Christians, during Paul’s days and today, are tempted to develop a kind of selective vision which allows us to be deeply and sincerely involved in worship and church activities, yet almost totally pagan (fleshly) in our day to day living...and never realize it. C.S. Lewis noted, “You and I have need of the strongest spell that can be found to wake us from the evil enchantment of worldliness.” And unfortunately, a weekly sermon or Bible study will do little to transform us without our desire to be Biblical, spiritual, moral men and women. 

How can I fight this battle?
1.  Choose to be transformed by renewing your mind to God’s truth- that I will not be molded by the values of my culture or world. (Ro 12:2)
2.  Choose to abstain from sin. (I Pet 2:11)
3.  Choose to live a good (Biblical), transformed life among non-Christians friends: be an influence of change to your friends rather than have them change you. (I Pet 2:11)
4.  Choose to change your culture by doing and creating things that are Biblically good, honorable, excellence, and lovely. (Phil 4:7)

-Pastor Mike Kotrla