“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. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever (1 John 2:15-17).
I was taught early on how wrong it is to be worldly. Worldly, in those days, meant drinking alcohol, dancing, short dresses on women, long hair on men, beards, beads and bad behavior. I wish it was really that simple. I have found that the worldliness is much more than those, relatively easy to avoid, things.
So, what is worldliness? As best I can figure this is it. The world is the set up of human interactions and self-gratification without God. Worldliness is love for any part of that, regardless of how harmful or harmless it might seem. You can be worldly singing in the choir and preaching a sermon. You can be worldly promoting missions or eating or singing worship hymns or cursing or praying.
The world is the organization of human desires without God. It is what we would term human culture aside from God.
The world has things in it. Those things become the object of desire in the human heart. They can include one’s self, another person, an inanimate object or a philosophy or a million, billion other things. It is life co-ordinated without the thought of God.
Thinking of worldliness in this way I would simply expound 1 John 2:15-17 this way.
1. Don’t love a life or culture that is put together without the thought of God or without His leadership.
2. Don’t love the things in life that are put together without the thought of God. If Christ isn’t the honored guest you might reconsider going to the party.
3. If your life consists in the system that exist in the world without a thought for God and hostile to Him, or if your life orbits around the things that the world has, without any thought of God, then you are not saved. You lose any claim to being a Christian.
4. The world, the culture, the system that is put together without a thought for God, consists of desires. Those desires are, the desires of the flesh, (the body of sin) the desires of the eyes as it sees and considers and develops a longing for the benefits of a culture without God; the pride of life…the pride of accomplishment in the system that never thinks of God.
5. None of these lusts are of the Father but rather have their origin in a culture, a system with no regard for God and is hotile to Him.
6. And this whole setup is passing away…it is dissolving…and someday it will burn. Go after the world and the things in the world and you will end up with nothing that is worth having and everything that will enhance your gnawing emptiness.
5. But the person who has his mind, his heart and his actions centered in doing the will of the Father (submitted to God and His kingdom)…will live through the destruction of the world (human culture organized without a thought for God) and will live forever because eternal life has already begun to reign in his heart.
Worldliness is whatever might be an object of desire in my life apart from God. God Himself must become the only real desire of my heart and everything else must either be arranged around Him and by Him or be forsaken altogether.