A fresh start - Worldliness
A Fresh Start: Worldliness
Conformity to the principles of this world
Call to worship
The Lord is righteous in all his ways and loving toward all He has made. The Lord is near to all who call on Him, to all who call on Him in truth. (Psalm 145:17-18)
Doxology Hymn 246: “Crown Him with many crowns”
(verse 1, 5 only) + “Amen”
Prayer of Adoration, Invocation and Thanksgiving
Hymn No 152: “When morning gilds the skies”
Scripture Reading 2Corinthians 6:11-7:1
Tithes, offering and dedication
While the offering is taken up, all remaining seated sing:
Hymn No 365: “We give You but your own”
Prayer for others, followed by
Hymn 512: “Father, God in heaven” + “Amen”
Scripture Reading Ezra 9:1-4
A Christian is a special person. We are called Christians because we belong to Christ. We cannot be called anything else, and we cannot act otherwise.
The world around us doesn’t like us. They ridicule us. They want us to be like them. And the problem is we do not want to feel not part of the group. So, we can easily do as those who do not love the Lord Jesus Christ.
There is the story of a hatter in Philadelphia who desired to place a signboard over his shop. He wrote it down. ; “John Brown Makes and Sells Hats for Ready Money.”
“Oh, dear!” said a friend, “Cut out “Makes and.” Nobody cares who makes the hat as long as it is good.” Then the sign read, “John Brown Sells Hats for Ready Money.”
“Dear me!” exclaimed another friend. “Why, this is an insult to the community! “Ready money”, indeed! Strike it out!” The sentence then read, “John Brown Sells Hats.”
“Absurd!” cried a third friend, “do you suppose people expect you to give hats away? There is no need to say they are for sale!”
And he went to the sign-writer and ordered him to paint the board bearing the simple legend, “John Brown, Hats.”
“Ridiculous!” cried a fourth. “People could see that it is “hats” you are selling.” Off went “hats.”
A fifth friend finally completed the wipeout: “Everyone would know who you are sooner or later—Why bother having “John Brown” on a permanent signboard?”
Sermon Worldliness – Conformity to the principles of this world
I will establish your borders from the Red Sea to the Sea of the Philistines, and from the desert to the River. I will hand over to you the people who live in the land and you will drive them out before you. Do not make a covenant with them or with their gods. (Exodus 23:31-32)
Obey what I command you today. I will drive out before you the Amorites, Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. Be careful not to make a treaty with those who live in the land where you are going, or they will be a snare among you. (Exodus 34:11-12)
When the Lord your God brings you into the land you are entering to possess and drives out before you many nations—the Hittites, Girgashites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites, seven nations larger and stronger than you— and when the Lord your God has delivered them over to you and you have defeated them, then you must destroy them totally. Make no treaty with them, and show them no mercy.
Do not intermarry with them. Do not give your daughters to their sons or take their daughters for your sons, (Deuteronomy 7:1-3)
Be very strong; be careful to obey all that is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, without turning aside to the right or to the left. Do not associate with these nations that remain among you; do not invoke the names of their gods or swear by them. You must not serve them or bow down to them. (Joshua 23:6-7)
After these things had been done, the leaders came to me and said, “The people of Israel, including the priests and the Levites, have not kept themselves separate from the neighboring peoples with their detestable practices, like those of the Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, Jebusites, Ammonites, Moabites, Egyptians and Amorites. They have taken some of their daughters as wives for themselves and their sons, and have mingled the holy race with the peoples around them. And the leaders and officials have led the way in this unfaithfulness.” (Ezra 9:1-2)
King Solomon, however, loved many foreign women besides Pharaoh’s daughter—Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians and Hittites. (1 Kings 11:1). As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the Lord his God, as the heart of David his father had been. He followed Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and Molech the detestable god of the Ammonites. So Solomon did evil in the eyes of the Lord; he did not follow the Lord completely, as David his father had done. On a hill east of Jerusalem, Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the detestable god of Moab, and for Molech the detestable god of the Ammonites.
He did the same for all his foreign wives, who burned incense and offered sacrifices to their gods. (1 Kings 11:4-8)
Ahab son of Omri did more evil in the eyes of the Lord than any of those before him. He not only considered it trivial to commit the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, but he also married Jezebel daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians, and began to serve Baal and worship him. He set up an altar for Baal in the temple of Baal that he built in Samaria. Ahab also made an Asherah pole and did more to provoke the Lord, the God of Israel, to anger than did all the kings of Israel before him. (1 Kings 16:30-33)
"Worldliness, it must be emphasized in face of much superficial thought and language on the subject, does not lie in things we do or in places we frequent; it lies in the human heart, in the set of human affections and attitudes" (F. F. Bruce).
We trivialize worldliness by pretending it resides in things and then attempt to avoid it through our own personal list of taboos. We must realize that we may keep from playing cards, going to the cinema, renting videos, listening to music - or anything else for that matter - and still not get to the heart of worldliness. Indeed we refrain from all these things and still smugly say, "God, I thank you that I am not like other people" - a genuine indicator of worldliness in the heart manifest in spiritual pride and lovelessness.
Ultimately, the difference between godliness and worldliness is a matter of the heart. The godly person has different motivations, values, and goals.
Worldliness is not countered by keeping distant from the world but by letting the mind/attitude of Christ - a heart in love with God - shape our attitudes and mindset. "Be not conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds" (Romans 12:2).
Worldliness is trivialized when it is reduced to a laundry list of do's and don'ts. Worldliness is completely misunderstood when fear of it is used as a reason to separate from the world.
True godliness is living out the loving heart of God in the midst of the world for the sake of the world at the expense of one's own welfare. It is to live like Jesus whose self-denial, self-giving, and humility demonstrated God's love for the world.
The truth is that worldliness is not a matter of things, of doing this, or not doing that. But worldliness is a matter of the attitude of the heart, the attitude of life in thinking and dealing with things. If we would just learn that, what a difference it would make.
Let me see if I can illustrate that. If you ladies wear a new dress in church in order to attract attention, that is worldliness! You are trying to attract attention to yourself, just as the world continually seeks to do. The fact that you do it in church makes no difference whatsoever. If anything, it makes it more reprehensible. If the opinions of others mean much to you in this matter of dress or conduct, then you are worldly. You may never drink, dance, smoke, or go to a nightclub; but you are just as worldly as if you did.
On the other hand, if you wear a dowdy, out-of-style dress to church in order to be thought spiritual, that is worldliness, too. The dress, you see, has nothing to do with it. It is the attitude of the heart, the motive behind the act that constitutes worldliness.
Now I am not trying to make up new lists for you. If I kept on, you would soon stop me and say, "Why the way you talk, everything is worldly." And you would be quite near the truth. For everything is worldly, if the heart is concerned with the approval or disapproval of those around you, just as everything is spiritual when the eye is single unto the Lord. This is a tremendously important point.
Read what John says again, "All that is in the world: the lust of the flesh (that includes eating and drinking and sleeping and wearing clothes or whatever your body desires to do), the lust of the eyes (that includes the desire of anything you want to buy or possess, good, bad, or indifferent), the pride of life (the vainglory of life, the fighting for station, for promotion, for advancement), is not of your Father, but is of the world."
What does he mean by that? He means that everything is worldly if your attitude is worldly, but if your attitude is "of the Father", nothing is worldly. You see what he is getting at? This is why Paul said: "All things are lawful to me, but there are three limitations: I will not be brought under the power of any, all things are not profitable for me, and all things do not help others." Those are the only restrictions. Everything else is fine.
What makes a thing worldly? Listen to John again, "All that is in the world...is not of the Father." That is the thing! You exclude the Father from your thinking, and when you do that you are worldly, no matter what you do. You do some act or take some step or make some plans without the Father, without taking Him into consideration, or concerning yourself with His will. That is worldliness! It may be a perfectly innocent thing in itself, but when you exclude the Father, it is of the world.
Now the third great result of this type of thinking is a noticeable lessening of the spirit of sacrifice in our lives. When we avoid worldly people because we are trying to avoid worldliness, we also lose most of our opportunities to give of ourselves, for Christ's sake. This process of withdrawing into our own watertight Christian circle of affairs results in people becoming insensitive and unsympathetic and eventually smug and complacent in their views toward others.
When we become like the world, we lose all our power to influence the world. I remember reading of a boy who had a cage full of sparrows, and he thought it would be nice to teach the sparrows to sing like canaries. So he bought a canary and put it in the cage with the sparrows. After a couple of weeks, he came running to his mother and said, "Mother! The sparrows are not singing like the canary. The canary is now chirping like the sparrows!" That is the inevitable outcome of becoming like the world in order to reach the world.
Prayer of Confession of sin
The Lord is gracious and compassionate; slow to anger and rich in love. The Lord is good to all; He has compassion on all He has made. (Psalm 145:8-9)
Hymn No 154: “Jesus, Your boundless love” + “Amen”
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. (2 Corinthians 13:14)