What is Worldliness?

What is Worldliness and Why is it Bad?

Pastor Don Carpenter

1 John 2:15–17

There was tremendous public resistance to the introduction of the Susan B. Anthony dollar. This small coin was designed primarily to be a durable and lightweight alternative to the paper dollar. But its size created problems, for it could easily be confused with a quarter. Legally it was worth a dollar, but practically speaking, many people considered it a nuisance because of its indistinguishable size.

The same thing happens when the unbelieving world hears the words of a Christian who cannot be distinguished from the lost society in which he lives. This discounts his claims concerning Christ. It is not a matter of real worth—that is decided by faith—but rather of perceived worth.1 

1 Michael P. Green, 1500 Illustrations for Biblical Preaching (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2000), 406.

The Bible is very clear that worldliness is bad and must be avoided. Unfortunately there is a lot of misunderstanding as to what that means exactly. Tonight in this simple study we will discover what worldliness is and why it is bad.

Worldliness is Idolatry

Because It Competes With God For Priority.

1 John 2:15 KJV
Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

Matthew 6:24 KJV
No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

Worldliness is not so much a matter of activity as of attitude. It is possible for a Christian to stay away from questionable amusements and doubtful places and still love the world, for worldliness is a matter of the heart. To the extent that a Christian loves the world system and the things in it, he does not love the Father.

Worldliness not only affects your response to the love of God; it also affects your response to the will of God. “The world passeth away … but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever” (1 John 2:17).1 

1 Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 492.

Because Inanimate Objects Do Not Hold Moral Value of Themselves.

Joshua 7:21 KJV
When I saw among the spoils a goodly Babylonish garment, and two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold of fifty shekels weight, then I coveted them, and took them; and, behold, they are hid in the earth in the midst of my tent, and the silver under it.

Romans 14:14 KJV
I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean.

1 Corinthians 6:12 KJV
All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.

Worldliness Is a “Me First” Attitude.

1 John 2:16 KJV
For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.

Lust of the Flesh

James 1:13–15 KJV
Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:

But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.

Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.

Lust of the Eyes

Genesis 3:6 KJV
And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.

Psalm 119:37 KJV
Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity; And quicken thou me in thy way.

Proverbs 6:24–25 KJV
To keep thee from the evil woman, From the flattery of the tongue of a strange woman.

Lust not after her beauty in thine heart; Neither let her take thee with her eyelids.

Pride of Life

John 12:43 KJV
For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.

Proverbs 6:16–17 KJV
These six things doth the LORD hate: Yea, seven are an abomination unto him:

A proud look, a lying tongue, And hands that shed innocent blood,

Psalm 10:4 KJV
The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts.

Galatians 1:10 KJV
For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.

Galatians 5:26 KJV
Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.

Worldliness Is Temporary Gratification

1 John 2:17 KJV
And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.

James 4:14 KJV
Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.

Definition of Worldliness: Worldliness is the lust of the flesh (a passion for sensual satisfaction), the lust of the eyes (an inordinate desire for the finer things of life), and the pride of life (self-satisfaction in who we are, what we have, and what we have done). Worldliness, then, is a preoccupation with ease and affluence. It elevates creature comfort to the point of idolatry– large salaries and comfortable life-styles become necessities of life.

Worldliness is reading magazines about people who live hedonistic lives and spend too much money on themselves and wanting to be like them. But more importantly, worldliness is simply pride and selfishness in disguises. It’s being resentful when someone snubs us or patronizes us or shows off. It means smarting under every slight, challenging every word spoken against us, cringing when another is preferred before us. Worldliness is harboring grudges, nursing grievance, and wallowing in self-pity. These are the ways in which we are most like the world.

Dave Roper, The Strength of a Man, quoted in Family Survival in the American Jungle, Steve Farrar, 1991, Multnomah Press, p. 68.

Exported from Logos Bible Software, 6:15 PM January 23, 2021.

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