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What is "Worldliness"

Does the Bible REALLY condemn such things as dancing, card playing, drinking, theater going?
Here is a frank, straight-from-the shoulder explanation of what GOD regards as "sinful."


CAN YOU be a completely dedicated Christian without being some kind of "freak"?

Without missing out on the interest and excitement of our fast-moving jet age? Without appearing sanctimonious or "nicey-nice" and talking a lot of religious gobbledegook?

Just what kind of personal, private, cultural and recreational life should a real man or woman of GOD be living in this twentieth century? I mean a man who wants to obey and honor his Creator — a dedicated and consecrated individual who wants to fulfill the purpose for which he was born. I mean someone who is really on fire for his Maker and who wants to be used in God's Work today!

Read on carefully — because many of you may be SHOCKED.

But if you really want truth — whether or not it agrees with your present ideas and convictions — then you need to study and prove this in your Bible. Consult the Bible — because it is God's Word — and it is His opinion you want, not the scores of disagreeing, conflicting, confusing HUMAN ideas on this subject.


How to Be Sure

The Apostle Paul was inspired to write: "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good" (I Thes. 5:21). So don't just try to argue and "defend" the ideas you grew up with. Don't take your former opinion — or any opinion — for granted. Learn to think — to carefully meditate and consider the end result of each course of action in broadest terms — and to PROVE what your Creator says in His inspired Bible!

If you do, you will find that the great Creator of this vast universe is NOT a "pin-headed," small-minded, old fuddy-duddy type or creaky great grandfather figure at all. He is not trying to "catch" people in some little act He arbitrarily defines as "sinful." Rather, He is reproducing man in His own image! He is revealing to a select few — those whom He calls — a WAY OF LIFE and an approach to building character which fit them to live forever as members of His Kingdom, His ruling family in the universe.

This BIG-minded, all-wise, all-powerful Creator has also set LIVING LAWS. These laws define THE WAY to produce peace, prosperity, happiness and everything men want. They also, conversely, reveal the opposite way which leads eventually to frustration, misery, suffering and DEATH.

In the society of His day, Jesus of Nazareth — the very Son of God — upset a lot of human ideas and traditions by turning water into wine, using His powerful, muscular arms and shoulders to violently overthrow the large tables of the money changers in the temple and make a real "scene." And He did many other things which upset to no end the old religious "fuddy-duddies" of His day. Yet, this same Jesus Christ often rose up early while it was yet dark and went out in the early morning mists and dews to pray fervently to His God and Father for strength and wisdom (Mark 1:35). He constantly talked to God.

When giant problems or decisions loomed ahead, Jesus literally prayed all night to the great Creator of the universe for help and wisdom (Luke 6:12-13). He walked with God and OBEYED God — setting us an example. He said: "I have kept my Father's commandments" (John 15:10). He also attended sumptuous dinners and banquets with the Pharisees (Luke 7:36).

Yet, because of His particular ministry and foreordained approaching death, He sacrificed the comforts of a home and family in order to do the will of His Almighty Father and God.

Can we get our balance on these things? Can we earnestly and sincerely find the way to LIVE as Jesus lived? And can we truly AVOID becoming involved with "worldliness" as Got defines it — walking in the footstep of Christ instead?

Bearing all these points in mind, be willing to look through the entire Bible on this matter. Consult all the Scriptures and examples — not just part of them. Completely rid yourself of blinding PREJUDICES. Seek GOD'S will with open-mindedness and honesty!


God's Attitude Toward Material Things

Since the problem of "worldliness'' revolves around material things one their uses, let's understand God's overall attitude toward the physical things and circumstances surrounding man.

First of all, many people assume that God loves the poor people — and that He would have us all do without any abundance of material things. Because James wrote: "Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith?" (James 2:5), a lot of professing Christians can hardly bring themselves to believe that a person of means could really be a sincere follower of Christ.

What about this? Must we give up material wealth, must we drive a secondhand car, must we buy cheap things in order to be a really zealous Christian?

The answer to James' inspired statement lies in a proper understanding of it. God has "called" or "chosen" more of the poorer classes in this present age because — as a general rule — they are the ONLY ones who will willingly yield themselves to Him. They have not become so wrapped up in and OVERLY attached to material things as to prevent them from understanding God's message. Having little in a material sense to lose, they will more readily accept spiritual truth.

But IF we can learn to rightly use material possessions, God intends that we should PROSPER. After all, God Himself is no pauper!

Notice these inspired words of the Apostle John: "Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest PROSPER and be in health" (III John 2).

Yes, it is God's will to bless us in material goods if we will learn to use them properly.

Jesus said, "I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more ABUNDANTLY" (John 10:10). Solomon wrote: "The substance [material wealth] of a diligent man is PRECIOUS" (Prov. 12:27), and he exhorted: "Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy MIGHT" (Eccl. 9:10).

So if we work hard, if we use our God-given minds, if we are diligent, it is God's will that we be blessed and prospered materially, and that we live a happy, full, ABUNDANT life.

The danger in material wealth is that most people come to "set their hearts" on it. They get so involved in making a living, in making an impression on their business and social acquaintances, and participating in general in this world's ways and customs, that they find it almost impossible to accept and obey God's truth when it comes along.

Material prosperity as such is certainly not "worldliness"! In fact, the lack of sufficient material goods usually indicates a lack of diligence and wisdom. God's concern is that we learn to evaluate material things properly, and to use them wisely for our own good and the good of others.


Are Physical Pleasures Evil?

Now that we see that just having wealth or physical goods is not a sin, what about the physical pleasures men indulge in? Are they necessarily evil?

One of the principal texts often used to condemn the pleasures of the "world" is I John 2:15-16. Let's examine it carefully, bearing in mind that it does not contradict the rest of the Bible.

"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, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world."

You will notice that it is the LUST of the flesh, eyes and life that God condemns. Lust is illicit, illegal desire. Lust is desiring or using something contrary to God's will and to His revealed laws.

For instance, many people who have grown up in ignorance of God's true plan and purpose for humanity suppose that SEX is sinful. Just the very word — "sex" — is a nasty, filthy word to them, and they cannot imagine how anything good could possibly be associated with it.

It has probably never occurred to them — or to those who taught them — that it is GOD who made us male and female — it is God who created SEX. And it is God who even commanded the man and woman to use sex in a righteous, holy, God-intended manner when He told them: "Be FRUITFUL, and multiply and replenish the earth" (Gen. 1:28).

Notice that it is not the THING that is wrong. It is lust — the wrong USE of the thing — that is sin.

Lust is not a "thing," an object, or an entertainment. Lust is the WRONG USE of material objects or things.

Lust is a wrong attitude of heart and mind which causes one to misuse, to misapply what God has created for good.

Sex is not evil — it is the wrong use of sex, outside of marriage, in a way God never intended. The motion picture is not "sin" — it is the wrong use of this invention that becomes sin.

Dancing, liquor, a deck of cards — these things are not "sinful" or "worldly." It is only the wrong use of these things which violates God's will.

Remember that it is the lust of the flesh and eyes that constitutes "worldliness." The pleasurable use of your five senses — as such — is NOT "worldly."

God gave us our five senses so that we might enjoy life to the full. God is not some fiendish MONSTER who delights in our suffering — who wishes us to do without and deny ourselves all the right enjoyments and pleasures of this physical life.

Christ came to show us the way to happy, ABUNDANT living. So the right enjoyment of physical pleasures is not "worldliness" — or sin in any sense.


What Is Being "Worldly"?

If it isn't wrong and "worldly" for us to enjoy material things and physical pleasures, then just what is being "worldly"?

Again, recall that it is only the wrong USE of physical things that God calls "worldliness." This involves the lust of the flesh or eyes — which is COVETOUSNESS. And covetousness is breaking one of the ten points of God's great spiritual law.

God tells us through the Apostle James: "For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of ALL" (James 2:10).

So "worldliness" is just one form of breaking God's Law, which is SIN. For as we read in I John 3:4, "Sin is the transgression of the law."

Contrary to much of today's religious teaching, that is God’s definition of sin — a plain, direct statement in His Word. Don't ever forget that definition — because it is God's definition!

Thus we see that "worldliness" is simply lusting for, or using material things in a way which violates the principles of God's Law. No thought or action is "worldly" — regardless of what misguided, mixed-up men might think — UNLESS it breaks the letter or spirit of the Ten Commandments.


"Sinful" Pleasures?

Now let's get specific. Many people who think they are Christians firmly believe that "worldliness" and "sin" consist mainly of drinking, dancing, card-playing and theatre-going.

How can we prove whether or not these things are worldly or sinful?

ONLY by the Word of God and the inspired example of Jesus Christ and other true servants of God. And much of this proof will be up to YOU and to your honesty before God. For to completely answer every little technical point and trick argument that people might bring up on this subject would require an entire book of several hundred pages!

But let's be HONEST — and look at the plain, clear principles involved, and the examples of Christ and His servants and prophets. Let's look for TRUTH — not an excuse to get around it!

First of all, is DRINKING a sin?

The principle is this: Jesus Christ set us an example that we should follow in His steps (I Peter 2:21). Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today, and forever (Heb. 13:8). Jesus has not changed! He would still be living the same kind of life if He were to come in the flesh today as He did live 1900 years ago.

Now notice His example in John 2:1-11. Here is the account of how Jesus turned water into wine. If you will look up the meaning of the word "firkin" (verse 6), you will see that this amounted to many gallons of wine!

The account is very clear. It simply shows that — according to Jewish custom — they were having real wine at the wedding feast, and ran out. Jesus helped them out, for it was a time of rejoicing, and there were probably several hundred people there.

So He turned the water into wine — and it was real, fermented wine. They would NEVER have said to the bridegroom: "Thou hast kept the good wine until now" — if Jesus had provided only grape juice — which they would have regarded as an inferior beverage for this occasion.

Also, the original Greek word used here is oinos, and it always means the fermented juice of the grape — nothing else.

Jesus was here only carrying out the principle He gave through Solomon: "A feast is made for laughter, and wine maketh merry" (Eccl. 10:19). If properly used, wine is an aid to relaxation and affability at a special occasion.

But being "merry" is NOT being "tight" or "drunk" — which God's Word condemns (I Cor. 6:10).

Paul instructed Timothy about the medicinal and health values of wine when he wrote: "Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach's sake and thine often infirmities" (I Tim. 5:23).

Again, the Greek word is oinos — fermented wine, not grape juice!

There are many, many examples in the Old Testament where God's servants used wine in a proper way and with God's blessing. Perhaps the most significant one is given in Genesis 14:18. Here we read of Melchisedek — whom we have proved in our article, The Mystery of Melchisedek Solved!, to be none other than Christ — "brought forth bread and wine: and He was the priest of the Most High God." This seems to be a type of the observance later called the Passover — which many mistakenly call the "Lord's Supper" today.

God Himself here gave wine to Abraham — the father of the faithful. And again, the original Hebrew word used proves that it was fermented wine - NOT grape juice. The original word is yayin — and always means fermented wine.

This same Hebrew word is used in Amos 9:14 to show that when Christ frees our people from captivity after His return, and brings them to the land of Palestine, they will "plant vineyards, and drink the wine thereof."

So Christ — who is the same always — is going to bless His people with good food and wine in the millennial rule!