The Things That are in the World
John 15:19, “If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.”
“Things that are in the world.” I suspect that during my childhood I heard more sermons warning about the “world” than any other topic. Preachers intended to give the “world” a bad name, and on purpose. Their preaching, conversations and powerful warnings were intended to quicken one’s knowledge as to how dangerous and deceiving were the “things of the world.” Consequently, our lifestyles were shaped by holiness teaching, the Pentecostal experience, and being separated from the “world.”
My parents, although they were strict, did not emphasize isolation. They were not ignorant of the world nor isolated. They had knowledge of and an appreciation for what was beautiful, artful and unique. They enjoyed literature and gifted people with keen perceptions and knowledge. They prepared their eight children for successful occupations. They cooperated with their communities and honest politicians, and they championed righteous causes in the community without bias toward race, color or creeds.
Looking back, my folks and most all of the early Pentecostal revivalists taught a clear message as it pertained to the world, and worldliness. First of all, it was beyond mere self-discipline against such things as immorality, immodesty, drunkenness and such. Their deeper understanding and concern was about overcoming the world’s powerful influences and Satan’s mission to pull mankind into evil, self-love, false doctrine and suppressive politics.
The world, as they understood it, was a world of many cultures and was essentially a force loyal to another faith. It was defined as a force that shapes lives, develops thinking and inspires carnal ambitions. The world becomes like a religion. It conveys ideas, desires, directions. It is a force against God. 1 John 2:15, “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.”
The force of the world, over time, begins to re-direct a Christian life. That fact was fully understood by my parent’s generation.
The spirit of the world, the things of the world, the false hopes of the world will begin to influence the Christian. It influences his education, lifestyle, beliefs and feelings. The world is what it is, and it is a counter environment against the Spirit of God. Once the world attracts the interest and love of the Christian, the Christian begins to seek the favor of the world and not the anointing and direction of the Holy Spirit, and here’s where the world begins to direct one’s life.
All those admonitions against the world that were vital then are vital now. The world is not content to allow the Holy Ghost to direct our lives, our churches, our future. The love of the world will destroy the very foundations of the Church, the congregation and its ministers. The baptism of the Holy Ghost is the most important and valuable influence known to mankind. The Spirit guides, teaches and overpowers the evil of this world through the love of God. If we love God, the world and its evil is of no value to us.
The matter of love always made its way into every conversation. And Jesus makes the point, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world,” and that’s the great point. What we love is what determines who and what unifies us.
2 Cor. 6:14: “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?
May I cite two vital challenges facing the body of Christ in our day: we must reject the power and influences of this world and the temptation to be “yoked together with unbelievers.”