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In simple terms, worldliness means to be spiritually dead. We can analyze whichever way we want, but the long and short is; if you are not spiritually aware of your Obligations to God (We were created to serve him), you are living a worldly lifestyle.
Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. James 4 : 4
We often have this misconception that worldliness is only a thing seen people who go to the pub and abuse alcohol or people who are guilty of sexual immoralities, or even a bad habit like stealing; you know, the textbook sins they taught us in Sunday school… well, that is wrong. Worldliness can also exist in someone who believes he is a Christian but does not practice the ways of Christ wholeheartedly.
Worldliness and its characteristics
Worldliness is simply anything that we do, or don’t do that makes us fall short of our personal relationship with God, and ultimately fall short of the Glory of God. 1 Corinthians 3:1-3 makes us understand that worldliness is carnal, and it’s spiritual immaturity.
I write this not for the purpose of highlighting all the ways we may have practiced worldly behaviors, but to give some ways (in my view) we can be free from worldliness, and embrace salvation. We alone in our hearts know where we fall short, and what needs to be corrected. This is a simple guide to help us towards that correction.
We must Submit to God
Firstly, we need to give submit and surrender to our maker. John 1:3 says “All things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made.” When we submit to God acknowledging that he owns us, it sets the stage for our redemption.
James 1:13-15 “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil neither tempts He any man. But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust as conceived, it brings forth sin: and sin, when it is finished brings forth death. Do not err, my beloved Brethren”. This verse makes us understand that; when we live a worldly lifestyle, we indirectly surrender to the things of the world, and go against the word of God. Our first step towards regaining righteousness is to surrender the things of the world and submit to God.
We must Resist Further Temptation
Submitting yourself is not enough, you need resist further attempts the devil will use to lure back to sin. This is where you need to be strong mentally and in faith, and reject all enticements of sin. The temptation to sin will always be there, it has always been there right from the days of Adam and Eve. You refusing to sin, and choosing to liberate yourself from sin is what make the difference.
Romans 6:14-18 “For sin shall not have dominion over you: for you are not under the Law, but under Grace. What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the Law but under Grace? God forbid. Know you not, that to whom you yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants you are to whom you obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto Righteousness? But God be thanked that you were the servants of sin, but you have obeyed from the heart that form of Doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, you became the servants of Righteousness.
We must come Closer to God
One of the most fearful characteristics of friends of the world is they lack intimacy with God, In other way they are carnal believers. Abraham earned God’s friendship because he was intimate with God
As you overcome temptation and clean yourself from sin, you want to replace that void with the presence of God. Pray for his presence upon your life Psalm 85:6-8 “will You not revive us again: that Your People may rejoice in You? Show us Your Mercy, O LORD, and grant us Your Salvation. I will hear what God the LORD will speak: for He will speak peace unto His people, and to His Saints: but let them not turn again to folly”
James 4:8 “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double minded.” He is always there, waiting for us to need him.
We must make Our Hears Pure
To talk more on this one, I’ll use the story of James. Although it seems like an oversimplification on my part, it really touches critical areas we need for our path to redemption. James faced headstrong, all kinds of qualities that manifest as a result of sin; envy, lust, pride, strife, etc. He talks about us filing our hearts with things that encourage purity; victory, faith, humility, endurance, love, etc.
James 1:6-8 “But let him ask in Faith, nothing wavering. For he who wavers is like a wave of sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think he shall receive anything of the Lord. A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.” When we choose to come back to God, we must stay true and pure in our heats, that’s the only way we won’t go back to things of the world.
We must Cleanse Our Hands
As we purify our hearts, our hands should be cleansed of all sinful acts as well; it’s no you saying “my heart is holy, I am closer to God” when it’s not reflected in our day actions. Cleansing our hands off sin allows us to be transformed not only spiritually, but physically as well.
James 2:20-24 “But will you know, O vain man, that Faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father Justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the Altar? Seest thou how Faith made perfect? And the Scripture was fulfilled which said, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for Righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. You see then how that by works a man is Justified, and not by Faith only.” We won’t be saved by our faith only, we too need to put on the physical work to embrace righteousness.
We must show Humility
As we continue our journey towards being one with the word of God, we need to remain humble. Just as we humble ourselves in our place of work when we want a promotion, same way we should be humble before God. When we lose Faith in God, we lose everything; we’ve lost everything before to the world, now on our path to redemption, we should remain humble not to lose it again. “By humility and fear of the LORD are riches, and honour and life” Proverbs 22:4.
We must Embrace Christian Living
Now is the time to be redeemed by Faith, and begin living as a new creature; as Christians. We should start living in the manner embraces righteousness; only then will our spirit grow further.
James 1:22-24 “But be ye doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass. For he beholds himself, and goes his way, and straight away forgets what manner of man he was.” This helps us understand that receiving Christ is not enough, we should practice Christianity as well, and that way we won’t fall short of the word of God.
Examples of Worldliness in the Bible
Demas is mentioned as a companion of the apostle Paul in two epistles (2 Timothy 4:11; Philemon 1:24). But eventually, he loved the world and stray away from following the way of the Gospel.
for Demas, having loved this present world has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica; Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia. 2 Timothy 4:10
In Genesis 19 and 2 Peter 2:7–8 we see Lot who was also exemplified as a friend of the world and worldliness led him to almost lose everything.
More Bible Verses on Worldliness
2 Corinthians 6: 14. (NKJV)
“Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?”
1 John 2:15-16
“Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.”
“And he led Him up and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said to Him, “I will give You all this domain and its glory; for it has been handed over to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. Therefore if You worship before me, it shall all be Yours.”
“I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.”
“Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.”
1 Corinthians 15:19
“If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.”
“And 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.”
1 Thessalonians 4:3-5
“For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God;”
“I am no longer in the world; and yet they themselves are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep them in Your name, the name which You have given Me, that they may be one even as We are.”
“So then, while we have the opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.”
“…instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age,”
1 Peter 1:14-16
“As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”
1 Peter 4:3-4
“For the time already past is sufficient for you to have carried out the desire of the Gentiles, having pursued a course of sensuality, lusts, drunkenness, carousing, drinking parties and abominable idolatries. In all this, they are surprised that you do not run with them into the same excesses of dissipation, and they malign you;”
“If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you.”
2 Corinthians 6:17
“Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate,” says the Lord. “And do not touch what is unclean, And I will welcome you.”
1 John 5:4
“For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.”
1 Corinthians 3:1–3
Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly—mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere men?
The book of James teaches us about the implications of sin, and how it makes us fall short of the promises of God. If anyone is looking for revival, it’s one of the best I recommend, alongside psalms and proverbs to help to awaken our spirit man.
The path to overcoming worldliness is not completed in a single day, week, or even month. It is something we need to practice consistently, as we grow gradually, we won’t be troubled with temptations to go astray, (even though the temptations ultimately will remain in this world).