Causes of Worldliness (II)

Harry Ozment
Nashville, Tennessee

With such a dire problem as worldliness, all lovers of God should be vitally interested in the various causes of such a cancer in the church. No disease can be properly understood, diagnosed, and cured unless the causes of the disease be discovered and identified. The Bible reveals that there are several conditions which lead to worldliness:

(1) Lack of spiritual love. That there is a direct relation between no love for God and worldliness is shown by Paul in 2 Tim. 3:2-5 : "For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, truce-breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, high - minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God: having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof."

In fact, a lack of love for God is the basic cause for the Problem of worldliness and all other spiritual problems. Men become so interested in' self and self-satisfaction that there is no room left for God in their hearts. John said, "If any man loves the world, the love of the Farther is not in him." (I in. 2:15) One could ask the worldliest person if he loved God, and he would probably answer without hesitation in the affirmative. However, if a person really loved God, he would not participate in those things which are wholly contrary to the will of God. John also said, "For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous." (I Jno. 5:3) This is why worldliness is such a serious problem and why some in the church are so disturbed and grieved over its existence; worldliness indicates a lack of love for God! And, if a congregation is full of members who do not love God, how do you believe it is viewed by God? What hope could there possibly be for such a blemished and spotted institution?

(2) Lack of spiritual knowledge. Paul said of those who were "lovers of their own selves," For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth." (2 Tim. 3: 6-7) This is why study is so essential for the growth of the Christian. Paul wrote, "For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding." (Col. 1:9) If a Christian ever stops filling himself with the knowledge of God, he will fill himself with the knowledge of the ways of the world it never fails! By inspiration Paul realized that very point and therefore stressed the idea of "study" in all his epistles.

To illustrate this point, look at the temptations of Jesus in Matthew 4. It is very interesting to me that Jesus used his spiritual knowledge to resist each temptation to worldliness. When Satan tempted Jesus with the lust of the flesh, Jesus' said, "It is written, Man shall not live with bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." (v. 4) When Jesus was tempted with the pride of life, he answered, "It is written again, Thou shah not tempt the Lord thy God." (v. 7) When Christ was tempted with the lust of the eyes, he answered Satan, "It is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve" (v. 10). The same is true today; if we are filled with the knowledge of God's will, we can say with Jesus, "Get thee hence, Satan." I cannot understand how it would be possible for a Christian, whos filled with the knowledge of and appreciation for all the things God has one for him, to love the world. A lover of the world is an enemy of God (Jas. 4:4) -- but ho could remember God's gift of His Son, redemption, the church, the Bible, etc., and then be an enemy of God? Such is surely impossible!

Therefore, let us be "as obedient children, not fashioning yourselves to the former lusts in your ignorance." (Pet. 1:14)

3) Lack of spiritual desire. Christ's on this earth was not an easy one. He suffered countless injustices and undeserved afflictions. Yet, his life was one of joy: "Who the joy that was set before him endured the cross." (Heb. 12:2) Just as following the Father was a joy for Christ, so following Christ should be a joy for Christians. This is why Paul said, "Rejoice evermore." (I Thess. 5:16) Sadly, however, Christianity is nothing more than misery for too many "church members". It is misery for them to worship God in church services, to work for the saving of others, to give as they have been prospered, etc. Is it any wonder that their desire wanes for those things of a spiritual nature? Is it any wonder that their interest in spiritual honor lessens while their desire for worldly pleasure and honor increases?

The final result: such a person, through his worldliness, finally loses all love for God and falls from His grace. Jesus said of some in his day, "But I know you, that ye have not the love of God in you How can ye believe, which receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only? "{in. 5:42, 44) Such men with worldly desires, however, fail to realize that the pleasure and honour obtained through the flesh is but temporary. Peter said, "For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away." (I Pet. 1:24)

(4) Lack of spiritual concern. In the very dawn of history, God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him." (Gen. 1: 27) Man possesses a body and a spirit; or, more properly, man is a spirit in a body. There is a part of you that cannot be educated with the books of man. There is a part of you that cannot be fed with the food on your table. There is a part of you that cannot be sheltered with the roof on your house. However, man often forgets that he has a soul and that he must prepare for the salvation of it. He loses all thought for eternity. When this occurs, worldliness results.

Jesus tells of a person who did this very thing. This particular man said to himself, "Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee." (Lk. 12:19-20) What a pitiful picture! However, the worldly person is in a condition just this pitiful! Each worldling needs to be asked, "For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?" (Matt. 16:26)


June 25, 1970