Remember when your mom used to say “If everyone jumped off a bridge, would you do it?” The unmistakable point to this silly question was, “It doesn’t matter what everyone else is doing, you need to do the right thing!” While we undoubtedly agree with the truth behind this childhood mantra, I wonder if our lives align with it’s truth as much as we’d like to think.
In reality, the pressure of what “everyone” is doing is quite strong. They may not be jumping off a bridge— but they have priorities, clothing styles, opinions, and lifestyles that have potential to massively influence ours. So the question is, are we more worldly than we ought to be?
Examining Our Attraction to the World
Not being worldly is hard because most of the influences around us are worldly.
The Bible says that “few people” will choose to follow Christ (Matthew 7:13-14). So most people end up following what the Bible calls “the world.” That means most people around you should not influence you. In fact, 1 John communicates the danger of liking the things of this world in no uncertain terms. 1 John 2:15-17 says,
15 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. 16 For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. 17 And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.
If we find ourselves overly drawn toward the things of this world (more on what that means in a minute), this passage says we are “not from the Father.” In other words, we don’t have a relationship with God. This is no small matter.
What Does it Mean to Love the World?
Understanding the 3 phrases in 1 John 2:16 help us recognize how we might display love for the world. After studying this text, this is what I found…
“Desires of the Flesh”
This phrase refers to the hunger to do whatever your sinful flesh wants. Thus, love for the world is displayed when you know something is wrong, and you do it anyway. It could be as simple as gossiping, being lazy, or complaining. Or it may be as harmful as choosing bad friends, engaging in drunkenness, watching inappropriate movies, or sexual immorality. Basically, the world tells us to do whatever makes us happy, whatever is fun, whatever we want…and our “flesh” agrees with that plan.
“Desires of the Eyes”
Most often this phrase brings to mind lust (sexually desiring someone who is not your spouse), but it could include a whole slew of others desires. A synonymous phrase might be, “Wanting what you should not want.” Put simply: we shouldn’t be wanting things that are not ours (other people’s homes, husband, clothes, life, vacations, cars, etc). Those desires are what God calls “coveting,” and God takes this sin serious enough to include it in the 10 commandments!
“Pride of Life”
This final phrase could be restated as: “Valuing what you should not value.” Our world values popularity, appearance, wealth, success, leisure and whatever else makes much of ourselves. When these pursuits become our priorities, we are displaying worldliness.
While there is certainly more to loving the world, those 3 categories hit a lot of the temptations we face in this life! With those definitions in mind, who can’t say they struggle with worldliness? We all either want to do things we should not do, or want things we should not want, or value things we should not value. The struggle is real and it is more prevalent than we care to admit.
And admitting our vulnerability has got to be one of the best ways to fight worldliness.
But there’s more, here’s part 2: 3 Thoughts on Resisting Worldliness…