I've always known my brain works better with my fingers at the computer than it does my mouth. Last week a young man asked to interview me about my views on worldliness. He's using the interviews with different age groups for his master's thesis.
It was an honor to be asked, but I already knew he'd be contacting me, so I assembled a long list of my views on the subject, noting why I believe as I do. I ended up with three pages of notes.
The main pastor from my childhood seldom preached on outward appearance as a sign of holiness. Yet, he taught about the catching away of the church and the Second Coming. He included the warning from Jesus to be ready, for the Lord will come in an hour when we don't expect Him. Then I noticed John wrote that when He comes, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is "And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure (1 John 3:2-4).
My church was heavy on learning scripture and I became familiar with verses such as "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 (1 John 2:14-16).
My mom's favorite scripture was Romans 8, and time after time she read it during family devotions: "There is therefore now no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit" (Romans 8:1). Interesting that the NIV and ASV omit the part about walking after the flesh.
Other scriptures I was acquainted with early in life: "Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof: (Romans 6:11-13). "If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are" (1 Corinthians 3:16-19). "For everything in the world--the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life--comes not from the Father but from the world" (1 John 2:15-17).
Church people often are good at hiding their worldliness. One of the things I think about is this vision of Ezekiel, one of the end-time prophets: "And the Lord said unto him, 'Go thorugh the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof'" (Ezekeil 9:3-5). Those with the mark were delivered from judgment.
Yet, holiness is much more that abstaining from or hating sin. "To him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin" (James 4:16-17).
What I've discovered is that when we set our affections on the Lord, worldliness isn't much of a problem.
The first commandment is to have no gods before the only real God. Jesus told us the commandment means to love God with all our heart, and with all our soul, and with all our mind, and with all our strength (Mark 12:29-31). He added we are to love our neighbors as ourselves (Luke 10).
When I love God, others, and myself enough to obey God's Word, hungering and thirsting after righteousness, the Holy Spirit will fill me with power to resist the devil. The fruit of the spirit will enhance my character. I will not be a slave to sin.
I won't be perfect because I'm still human, but because I love God He forgave my sins and cleansed me from unrighteousness. Every day I can grow in Him. The Lord is there guiding, convicting and nurturing--making me not the greatest person on earth, but a new creature that is much better than I used to be.
Furthermore, His joy is greater than any worldly pleasure.
Perhaps that's why I love to sing the song, "Take this whole world and give me Jesus. No turning back. No turning back."