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Part Six

The Believer’s Armor and the Spiritual Battle

Ephesians 6:11

Wile #5, Encouraging Worldliness Among Believers

1 John 2:15-17

15 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.

16 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.

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

What are the thoughts that come to mind when we hear of “the world” or “worldliness” presented in the religious context? Likely, the answer to this question depends upon our religious background and experience. My experience in this area probably was not the most desirable. I have heard well-meaning preachers pronounce judgment upon worldliness and those who are worldly, but who also fail to give us a Biblical background of what God means when he tells us not to love the world. We are too often seized up into our own personal convictions, prejudices, or superstitions which are then presented as dogma for others, a standard to which we hypocriti­cally require their rigid adherence in order to maintain our standard of spirituality.

There are three Greek words in the New Testament that are trans­lated as “world” in the KJV:

“Oikoumene, ()

The inhabited earth, sometimes used as the portion of the earth inhabited by the Greeks in distinction to the barbarians, i.e. the Roman Empire. (world 15, earth 1).

Matt. 24:14. “... gospel...shall be preached in all the world.”

Luke 2:1. “...that all the world should be taxed.”

Romans 10:18. “...their words went unto the ends of the world.” (literally, extremities or limits of the inhabited world).

“Aion” ()

A period of time, an era, an age. With the word “into” () is translated “forever.” A variation of this word is translated as “eternal’ or “everlasting.” (Used 128 times, 71 forever, 38 world, plus others). This is where we get our word “eon.”

Matthew 28:20. “...lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.”

Mark 10:30. But he shall receive a hundredfold now in this time, ...and in the world to come everlasting.”

Romans 12:2. “and be not conformed to this world...”

II Cor. 4:4. “the god of this world hath blinded...”

Gal. 1:4. “deliver us from this present evil world...”

II Tim. 4:10. “For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world...” (Literally, “the now age”).

Titus 2:12. “.. .that we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world.” (literally, “in the now age).

“Cosmos” ()

Order, orderly arrangement, ornament. This word is transliterated into English and means the orderly arrangement or adornment of the universe. This is also where we get our word “cosmetic” or “cosmetology” which has to do with a women trying to get her face in order. I Peter 3:3,4 tells us that the adorning (kosmos) of the godly woman should not be the external but of internal qualities (also I Tim. 2:9).

From the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament: (world 186, adorning 1; 187)

1) an apt and harmonious arrangement or constitution, order, government

2) ornament, decoration, adornment, i.e. the arrangement of the stars, ‘the heavenly hosts’, as the ornament of the heavens. 1 Pet. 3:3) the world, the universe

4) the circle of the earth, the earth

5) the inhabitants of the earth, men, the human race

6) the ungodly multitude; the whole mass of men alienated from God, and therefore hostile to the cause of Christ

7) world affairs, the aggregate of things earthly

7a) the whole circle of earthly goods, endowments riches, advantages, pleasures, etc., which although hollow and frail and fleeting, stir desire, seduce from God and are obstacles to the cause of Christ

8) any aggregate or general collection of particulars of any sort  

8a) the Gentiles as contrasted to the Jews (Rom. 11:12 etc)

8b) of believers only, John 1:29; 3:16; 3:17; 6:33; 12:47 1 Cor. 4:9; 2 Cor. 5:19


In Gospel of John “world” is used 78 times, 76 of them “ cosmos,” 20 times in chapter 17, in Jesus’ intercessory prayer for the believers.

Examples of “kosmos” used as the people of the world system.

John 3:16, “For God so loved the world...”

John 3:17 probably uses it in both senses.

John 4:42. “the Christ, the Savior of the world.”

John 15:18. “If the world hate you...”

John 16:8. “will reprove the world of sin...”

Romans 3:19.. “...all the world may become guilty before God.”

Examples of “kosmos” used as the world system:

Matt. 13:38. “The field is the world...”

Matt. 16:26. “...if he should gain the whole world...”

Mark 16:15. “Go ye into all the world...”

John 12:26. “...he that hateth his life in this world...”

John 1:10 probably uses it in both senses.

John 16:33. “...In the world you shall have tribulation; but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”

II Cor. 2:12. “...not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God;...”

I Tim. 6:7. “we brought nothing into this world...”                


According to some of these verses there are actions and philosophies that we are to avoid in this world, both of this age and of this world system.

I John 2:15, tells us not to love the world. Does this mean that we are not to love the people of this world system? Obviously not. God so loved the world, the people of the world (John 3:16). In John 13:34, we are told to “love one another.” Ephesians 4:15, exhorts us to “speak the truth in love.

The balance of I John 2:15, explains what we are not to love. The subject in view is the materialistic philosophies of the world. We are not to love the “things” of the world. One reason according to verse 17, is that they are not eternal. Why put such high value upon temporary things and neglect eternal values such as doing the will of God?

See I Cor. 1:18-31, v20, God has “made foolish the wisdom of this world.” I Cor. 2:12 contrasts the spirit of the world and the spirit which is of God. I Cor. 7:31 speaks of the fashion of the world which passes away. Eph. 2:2 speaks of the course of the world in which we once walked, which is further explained as being of the Devil. Verse 10 tells us how we are now to walk. James 4:4 tells us that whoever is “a friend of the world is the enemy of God.” This is not an enviable position in which to willingly place yourself.

I suggest that worldliness is not necessarily participating in whatever a religious system or culture thinks to be unacceptable. (e.g. smoking, drinking, movies, dancing, certain types of dress or hair style). But that it may be accepting the world system as ours. Any philosophy or action that Satan, the god of this world (II Cor.4:4), would propose to thwart God’s cause or glory may, in effect be worldly and must not be accepted by the believer.

This opens a new outlook on what may be worldly in my own life. What God calls worldliness may be acceptable in the world and sometimes even in the Christian community. In some ways, it is much easier to make up a set of rules that we suppose to constitute spirituality than it is to diligently study God’s Word for proper direction in a moment-by-moment obedience to God’s Holy Spirit.

James 4 gives us some thoughts on worldliness:

4:1   From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?

“Wars and fightings” lit. “wars and disputes or contentions” (a continuation of the topic discussed in 3:14-16). “Lusts” (‘) comes from the Greek word from which we get “hedonism;” the philosophy that makes sensual pleasure or gratifi­cation man’s chief end. Does this sound like the predominant position of our world system today? This word is referring to more than simply a desire for something which is not necessarily wrong. Compare I Tim. 2:4, “will” (), to desire or wish; I Tim. 6:9, “will” (boulomai, ) to determine or decree, as also in James 1:18.


4:2   Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not.

“Lust” (epithumeo, ) earnestly desire, covet. “Desire to have” (zeloô, ) ardently devoted to, to aspire eagerly after, zealous - in a good or bad sense (I Cor. 12:31; 14:39; 13:4). “Fight and war,” words correspond to v1. Wars are the fruit of our illicit desires. A major reason we do not have answered prayer is because we do not pray.


4:3   Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.

“Lusts” (hedone, ‘ ). This is another major reason we do not receive answers to our prayers. We ask with the wrong motive. “Consume” (), translated elsewhere as “spend.” It could have a neutral sense as in Mark 5:26; “Physicians... she had spent all that she had.” Or it could mean in the sense of “waste” or “to consume by extravagance” as in Luke 15:14; where the Prodigal son had “spent all.

4:4   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 (kosmos) is the enemy of God.

“Adulterers and adulteresses:” The people addressed had committed adultery in their hearts because of their lust (Matt. 5:28) and possibly even the physical acts, but this is likely not the full meaning of this uncomplimentary designation.

Adultery is not necessarily sexual, though in practice, it frequently is. (Fornication, by definition is sexual sin, but is not necessar­ily adultery. For example, the subject does not have to be married. In the Old Testament fornication covered a wide range of illicit sexual activities). The essence of marriage is a covenant of companionship. The essence of adultery is unfaithfulness to that covenant or relationship.

Israel committed adultery with idols. (Jer. 3:8,9, Eze. 23:37) This was nonsexual adultery. It was also an abomination to God for them to share with another an intimacy or relation­ship that belonged only to Him. Though God was gracious for many years, Israel’s continued disobedience demanded judgment.

How does all this apply to us? When we, as the Bride of Christ, entertain friendship with the world we are breaking our marriage vow with Jesus. He bought us and owns us (I Cor:6:19,20). He is the only One who is due our allegiance and intimate worship. Friendship with the world causes us to be an enemy of God. This is a tragic but common position in which Christians place themselves.

Romans 12:1:2 tells us, among other things to “be not conformed to this world.”

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable, unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world (aion): but be ye transformed by the renewing or your mind, that ye may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

The choice is ours. “...Choose you this day whom you will serve;... but as for me and my house we will serve the LORD” (Joshua 24:15: Romans 6:16)

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