Lord, grant that from hence I may learn to withdraw thoughts, affections, desires, and expectations entirely from the world, and may fix them upon the heavenly state, where there is fullness of joy; where reigns heavenly, sweet, calm, and delightful love without alloy; where there are continually the dearest expressions of this love; where there is the enjoyment of this love without ever parting; and where those persons, who appear so lovely in this world, will be inexpressibly more lovely, and full of love to us. How sweetly will those, who thus mutually love, join together in singing the praises of God and the Lamb. How full will it fill us with joy, to think that this enjoyment, these sweet exercises, will never cease or come to an end, but will last to all eternity.
The best way to overcome the world is not with morality or self-discipline. Christians overcome the world by seeing the beauty and excellence of Christ. They overcome the world by seeing something more attractive than the world: Christ… [They] conquer the lusts of this world with a higher passion: the moral beauty of Christ… The world’s allurements [can] not compete.
If the world is not rooted out from our hearts, it will devour them. There must be weeding, if the good seed of grace is to grow. But what weed-killer can we use against the spirit of the world? Here is a potent, three-fold formula from the Bible:
1. Recognize that love of the world is the enemy of the love of the Father (1 John 2:15). You cannot have both. You must choose one only. Make the right choice.
2. Remember that it was the world that crucified Christ and that it took the sacrifice of the Cross to deliver you from it (Gal. 6:14). How can you negotiate with the spirit which plotted the assassination of your Savior?
3. Reflect on the fact that the world, in this sense, is transient and ephemeral (1 John 2:17); it is not a solid investment. Devote yourself instead to having “treasure in heaven” (Matt. 6:19-21).
Unless there is within us, that which is above us, we will soon yield to what is around us.
From behind the shadow of the still small voice – more awful than tempest or earthquake – more sure and persistent than day and night – is always sounding full of hope and strength to the weariest of us all, “Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the truth of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at the moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christ. Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proved to be steady… [It] is mere flight and disgrace if he flinches at that point [of attack].
When we truly come to Christ, our thirst is quenched by the fountain of life and our hunger is filled with the bread of heaven. We discover that Jesus is the supreme source of satisfaction, and we want nothing apart from Him. We realize that He is better than all the pleasures, pursuits, plaudits, and possessions of this world combined. As we trust in Christ, He transforms our tastes in such a way that we begin to love the things of God that we once hated, and we begin to hate the things of this world that we once loved.
Look to the cross, think of the cross, meditate on the cross, and then go and set your affections on the world if you can.
As C.S. Lewis once said, “Whatever is not eternal is eternally out of date.” It is simple logic. Why not invest myself it that which will last forever and matter most in this life? Do I have the faith to believe that? Do I have a deep satisfaction for all that God promised me in Christ Jesus, beginning now? If so, I will value that which is really valuable. And in order for that to happen, I need the Lord to continually help me to keep my gaze in the right place because the things of this world oftentimes seem so right and attractive, don’t they? It’s so easy to worship the creation over the Creator, isn’t it? But God has designed it where ultimate fulfillment is only to be found in the eternal realm. So if we choose not to go that route we are programmed for failure.
Our response to those in the world is not to envy or admire them in their rejection of God. It’s not even to condemn them by wagging a Pharisaic finger of self-righteousness. Jesus said He did not come the first time to condemn the world. He came that the world might be saved through Him. Likewise, our job is to have compassion on the world – no different than the way Jesus did when they tortured and mocked Him on the cross – to point people to forgiveness in Jesus Christ. Judgment is His job and as we just witnessed in Revelation 14, that’s exactly what He will do when He comes a second time.
We teach our children about the world and the Bible. We teach them that the world is bad (1 Jn. 2:15). And we teach them that the Bible is good (Pr. 16:20). That is true, but our children are rarely taught (guided) as to how the two intersect with each other. The result is that they will either be seduced by the world or they will be cocooned from the world. Both are useless to Jesus. The desired biblical mindset is when Christians reject the influence of the world (see it for the deceptive garbage that it is), but desire to love and influence those trapped the world.
We are not going to simply wake up one morning and discover that we suddenly hate what we used to love. The things of this world will never appear as “dung” when viewed in and of themselves. They will smell good and taste good and feel good and bring satisfaction and we will treasure and value them and fight for them and work for them and find every excuse imaginable to get them at any and all cost; they will retain their magnetic appeal and allure and power until they are set against the surpassing value and beauty of Christ Jesus.
The Believer’s Warfare: Internal, with the flesh – Gal. 5:17; Not after the flesh – 2 Cor. 10:3; with the armor of light – Rom. 13:12; external, with the world – John 16:33; not by resistance but submission – James 4:7; with the armor of righteousness – 2 Cor. 6:7; infernal, with the devil – Eph.6:12; with the whole armor of God – Eph. 6:13.
Our Western worldview gets involved here once again. We have a strong tendency to want to analyze everything and place the parts in neat, mutually exclusive categories. So we ask questions like, How do I know whether it is the world, the flesh, or the devil? My response is that most situations will involve some of each element to some extent… (They) are treated as working together so closely that you cannot talk about one without talking about the other. The flesh is the earthly qualities about which enable us to respond to the temptation. The world is the milieu in which we live and which is under the control of “the ruler of the kingdom of the air.” Satan and his demons know what fleshly parts of us are especially vulnerable, and they use the stimuli of the world around us to arouse sinful thought in us. The Devil would be a fool not to try to take advantage of the world and the flesh in his aim to destroy us.
With such adversaries, growing in the fear of the Lord will not be a smooth process. Instead, it will be the path of warfare. We must hate the evil and ungodly assumptions of the world, we must hate our own sinful nature, and we must hate Satan. To accomplish these tasks demands the most powerful resources we have: The Word, the Spirit, and the body of Christ.