sermon: In Search of a Clear World View (Part Five)
John W. Ritenbaugh
Given 25-Oct-14; Sermon #1237; 67 minutes
Like he had done with the apostle Peter, Satan also wants to sift us as wheat. Thankfully, God will not let us be tempted above what we are able. The apostle John warns us to be vigilant about the world, not loving its attitudes, mindsets, and frame of mind. Loving (or setting our hearts upon) the world (as opposed to loving the LORD our God or our neighbor as ourselves) and being attached to the world (governed by the spirit and power of the air) is bad business. Loving the world and loving God the Father cannot transpire side by side; we cannot serve two masters. John is referring to spiritual things that have powerful influences on the fleshly appetites. Sin usually begins in the eye because it triggers desire. Pride disengages us from realizing that we are created beings and did not give ourselves abilities, gifts, materials, and tools we have nothing we did not receive. Pride leads to idolatry, the horrible sin which separated Israel from God. The called of God do not fit anywhere in the world; the church is unique—separate from anything in the world; we march to the beat of a different drummer. It is human nature (which is anti-God) to absorb the ways of the world. To the world, we are the 'enemy.' Our focus should be on treasuring our calling, preparing to become teachers in God's Kingdom.
Absorbing the ways of the world Aion Alcoholism Appetites Arrogance Attitudes and conduct Beware of the world Categories of sins Character children's attachments Children's gullibility Confusion Course of this world Cross as human nature Daniel 12: Disloyalty to God Disposition of the world Enmity against God Ephesians 2:1-2 Evolution I Corinthians 4:7 Glamour I John 2:15-17 Frame of mind Giving our hearts to this world Glorify god by our conduct Gluttony Hebrews 2:5-7 - Precept Austin Homosexuality Human nature Humanism Idolatry Incest Influencing attitudes and attitudes Internal sins Isaiah 51: Jesus Christ's warning in Olivet Prophecy Kenneth Wuest Kosmos James 3:15-16; 4:4 Luke 14: John 1:2 ; 3:16 Liking Looking on a woman lustfully Loving a brother Loving the world Luke 22:21-22 Lust is covetousness and idolatry Lust of the flesh/ lust of eyes / pride of life Nature of the world Moody Bible institute Panders to the appetites Preparing to teach Pride Release from captivity Right standards Romans 8:7 Running to and fro Satan's customized deception Satan sifting you as wheat Sin begins in the eyes Spirit of the times Stream of this world's ideas of living Tenth commandment Systems of the world Zeitgeist World's systems Worldly wisdom Worldview
I am going to pick up pretty much where I left off on the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles so that we can get a running start on completing more of the central thought of that message. The overall subject of that world view sermon was Jesus warning to beware of the world.
We will begin by reading Ephesians 2 once again, because the verses are central to the beginning of this sermon.
Ephesians 2:1-2 And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience.
Though Satan is the major enemy in terms of a personality, it is the world that he has created with the aid of his demons, and with men that he has persuaded through his deceptions to follow him, which is an everyday danger to our faith in God. It is the everyday danger aspect that is cause for concern.
There is no way that we can escape contact with the world, but there are very definitely ways that we can avoid being deceived into conforming to it. I am not going to go through a detailed explanation of the term ‘course’ as I did at the Feast, however I believe I will give you enough that we can jump right into the subject once again.
You might recall the name Kenneth Wuest, he is the author of many commentaries and technical works from within the famed Moody Bible Institute. He adds this conception by way of a comparison between cosmos, translated world, and aeon, translated course, in Ephesians 2:2.
I believe that this can be particularly helpful, because he distinguishes between the two of them in this manner, “To distinguish between aion and cosmos, cosmos gives the over all picture of mankind alienated from God during all of history. Aion represents any distinct age or period of human history as marked out from another by particular characteristics.” That is the important part of that word.
Wuest is defining a fact and that is that Satan, who has been permitted to continue to rule earth under God, can customize the mood of human life on earth as God allows, depending upon whom and how he seeks to deceive and murder. In John 8, he is called a deceiver and a murderer, and he can use instruments that he commands on this earth, to enable him to customize the attitude that people live in, that is the important part for us.
I will make this very plain. Aion is the Greek synonym of the German term zeitgeist, and the English term, spirit of the times. All three of those words essentially mean the same thing. It is very helpful to remember that Jesus said, words are spirit, and spirit is power. Spirit of the times, there is a power there, zeitgeist, there is a power there, aion, there is a power there that can influence human attitudes and conduct. That is what is important. It is the power of the influence of the spirit of the times.
Aion is thus an invisible influence of the very concepts and ways of life antagonistic to God, emanating from this Satan-created system. Remember he can fine tune it, he can create different attitudes in different periods of time depending upon what God will permit him to do, under God's overall rulership, so each period of time does not necessarily mean it is going to be exactly the same as the period of time a hundred years ago, or a thousand years before. Satan works fine tuning things for the period of time that he is working to destroy God's purpose in.
His intent is to destroy us through invisibly influencing us to follow a course of disloyalty to God. Any way he feels he can accomplish that, as long as God gives him permission, he can fine tune things. You do not see it, because spirit is invisible, but its influencing is effecting nonetheless.
Jesus first warning in the Olivet prophesy describing the times that we live in right now, is that they will feature an intensity of deception. The very first words are, beware, lest anyone deceives you. We will add one more factor to this. In Daniel 12 it prophesies that people will be running to and fro at the time of the end. This is an interesting combination of factors because it indicates a very fast pace, wearing way of life, intense.
If you research this term course, in Roget’s Thesaurus, you might find a hundred other terms that parallel course in thought, depending upon the context in which the word is used. For example, course can indicate tendency, thoughts, disposition, character, nature, make up, bent, slant, frame of mind, attitude, spirit, inclination, mind set, perspective, and on and on it goes. All of those words can help you understand what Satan is creating to trap us, to get us to look at things the way that he does, so that he can lead us to be disloyal to God.
You might find thinking of the phrase, course of this world. In this manner it can be translated this way. All of these terms that are somewhat parallel with course, according to the disposition of the world, we might be more familiar with the word disposition, or according to the character of the world, or according to the nature of the world, or according to the makeup of the world.
I am going to give you the way the Phillips translation, a modern paraphrase translates Ephesians 2:2.
Ephesians 2:2 [Phillips] [Paul says to the Ephesians] You drifted along, on the stream [course] of this worlds ideas of living [cosmos].
Ephesians 2:2 [Living Bible] You went along with the crowd, and were just like all of the others.
Ephesians 2:2 [New English Bible] You followed the ways [course] of this present world order [cosmos].
Ephesians 2:2 [Revised English Bible] You followed the ways of this present world order, obeying the commander of the spiritual power of the air.
We must have a clear view of where we stand in our world view. Jesus voiced His concern to His disciples just before His crucifixion, because Satan and his spiritual influence is just not going to go away. This is a reason why Jesus warned, in this case, what He did in Luke 22:31-32. They were in garden of Gethsemane right before His crucifixion.
Luke 22:31-32 And the Lord said, “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.”
He knew that Peter was going to betray Him, and that would really be a test for Peter when that came along because Peter was the one who came right out and said, “Lord I’ll never betray You, I’ll go with You right to the end.” He had a lesson to learn. Jesus knew what He was talking about. What we have to understand is that like Peter, Satan is after us too, but also like Peter, Jesus had a wall around Peter so Satan could only go so far in his temptations to break Peter's faith.
What encouragement there is for us to understand that same wall is around us, and that though we are going to receive temptation—maybe not by Satan directly, but certainly from the system that he has created on this earth with its powerful influence of attitudes that are impacting on us all of the time—nonetheless His watchfulness of our spiritual lives is such that he will not allow us to be tempted above what we are able.
Peter ultimately did overcome the problem that he had with this disloyalty, but nonetheless it says that he wept sorely over it when he realized what he had done. It is his repentance that was truly felt and accomplished.
The important thing in these verses to you and me is first, we are going to be tempted, influenced, by the power of that spirit out there, and second, that we do have the protection of Jesus Christ within it and He will be careful not to allow us to be tempted above what we are able to resist.
The subject is the world, and the resistance that it has against us, so we are going to go to I John 2 and spend some time here.
I John 2:15-16 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves 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.
Here is John maybe forty, fifty years after that occasion occurred with Peter. He is warning us, just like Jesus did, to be vigilant regarding the world, because there is no doubt that it has been designed and created by a master craftsman who is an expert at disguising his intentions. He does not walk up to us and warn us, it is just out there all of the time. This is why we have to be vigilant and he is able to fine tune things, adjust things for those who he wants to deceive so he can make adjustments, customize the temptations that comes upon us.
To say that the world is attractive to human nature is in reality understating its potential influence on us in a negative way. These verses help define our relationship with the world through the use of the term love, “do not love the world.” God does not say do not like the world, He made a choice between alternatives and He decided to use do not love the world.
The term like is greatly misused. It merely indicates a similarity to, as in, he is just like my brother, or in another context, to believe something to be attractive or useful, as in, I like the pattern in that material. It is attractive and you think it might be useful for what you want it for, but it does not have the same impact as the word love. That is definite.
There is much that we share in common with the unconverted of the world that involves no injurious spiritual factor whatever. For example, the pattern in the material, I like that pattern. You can be worldly and carnal as anything and like the pattern, you can really be a child of God and have His love, His spirit in you, and you like the same pattern. There is nothing spiritual involved there.
In other areas we might wear, act, eat, or prefer the same things that they may do. However the term love as used by John in verse 15 in relation to the world, is the same way he does love in verse 10.
I John 2:10 He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him.
A brother is not a piece of material, a brother does not have a pattern. John used the word love in relation to a brother, exactly the same word that he used in verse 15. It indicates something of far greater importance. You know to love a brother is important, to not love the world is, in the other direction, every bit as important as loving your brother. That is why he says, do not love the world, do love your brother. He does not say do not like your brother. He says, love your brother.
What these verse are doing are helping us to shape our thoughts about the world and why it is dangerous, and God says, “Do not love the world.” It is important because in the term love is the sense of attachment. You can be attached in a good relationship with a brother, you can be attached in a good relationship in which you love your spouse. Those things are very definitely permitted, but loving the world, being attached to the world, is bad business.
It is important because the sense of attachment clearly makes love in this context a spiritual issue, which it indeed is. Love in this context—like loving a brother, do not love the world—are both spiritual issues. One is positive and one is negative, one he says get attached to, the other he says do not be attached to, therefore do not love it.
Think of it this way: we are supposed to love the Lord our God, be attached to Him, or we are to love our neighbor as ourselves, we are to be attached to our neighbor in that way,
Both of those statements give us a further clue as to what John and therefore God, means here in verse 15. Both of those loving statements involve consistent attachment to others, actions that are demonstrated, because love is an action, over a long period of time. Thus John is not concerned about a single incident concerning the world that might get our attention for awhile, but loving in the sense of a lifestyle that denies God and His way of life. Do not become attached to the world.
I John 2:15 [Revised English Bible] Do not set your hearts on the world or what is in it. Anyone who loves the world does not love the Father.
The heart becomes attached to something. Do not set your hearts on the world or what is in it. Anyone who loves the world does not love the Father. Now we are getting serious. John is not telling us to abandon the world by going off to live on a mountain peak away from the world and living in seclusion. We are to glorify God before the world by our conduct, we are to witness to the world verbally, and we are to overcome the world’s character that remains within us, and at the same time its power is to be respected because love for the world and love for the Father cannot exist side by side. Can you think of a verse that Jesus said that tells you this absolutely and conclusively? No man can serve two masters, he will love the one and he will hate the other.
These verses here in I John 2 are really becoming powerfully effective once we understand why God is telling us, do not love the world, do not let it become attached to your heart.
The world’s influence on the unconverted is easily discerned. A clear example is that our children can fall in love with the world at the drop of a hat, they have no defense against it, except their parents. If the parents teach them in the right way. Anything that comes out of the world goes into a child's mind, mommy I want that, daddy get that for me, I want to be just like that actress or singer, on and on it goes.
They have no defense, and that is where Satan traps almost everybody—when they are children. If the parents are not strong enough in terms of the example that they give to their children, the children can drift away and be captured by an attachment to the world.
A child's attachments are easily given because their perceptions of the world’s entrapments are almost nil.
I John 2:16 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.
Here, in verse 16, John goes on to name three broad categories of sin and follows them up with a pretty bold statement about why we need to be on guard. That statement is, all in the world is not of the Father, but is of the world. It is helpful to remember that John is not condemning everything in the world. The context here involves spiritual things, therefore the all has to be defined in terms of spiritual things that are emanating from the world.
The world all by itself is not bad. God created it, it is for our use, we live in it, grow in it, have lots of enjoyment and fun within it. It can all be done without sin, but there are things, like the word ‘course’ illustrates, that are coming out of the world, spiritual things that have powerful influence and they are not good, because they are spiritual influences that are anti-God.
There is a parallel statement given by James in chapter 3. We will come back to I John, I just want to read this parallel statement.
James 3:14-16 But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing will be there.
This is one of those all encompassing statements that is very similar to I John 3:16, that everything in world is evil.
James 3:16 [Revised English Bible] Everything in the world, all that panders to the appetite, or entices the eyes, all of the arrogance based on wealth, these spring not from the Father, but from the world.
That description is much better, much more helpful than what the King James or New King James says, simply by changing words that are more meaningful and more descriptive than what the New King James says.
We are going to break those descriptions down a little bit further, I do not believe that John had any specific individual sins in mind in each case, but rather he gave broad categories of sin that enslave or enveloped many specific acts of sin, which he does not name, he just gives us three categories of sin, but he really said a lot if we just think about what these categories might include.
The first two, all that panders to the appetites, or the lust of the flesh, as the New King James says, or entices the eyes, the lust of the eyes, both of theses are internal sins that can be contained within one’s mind, but they are still sins. I will explain further. They do not often remain unseen for very long because they are frequently acted upon. It comes into the mind, simmers there for awhile, and then the first thing you know we are doing the sin.
The lust of the flesh, or the enticements of the flesh, generally refers to internal sins that would include such things as alcoholism, other drug related addictions. It is inside the person. Like I said, it cannot be seen necessarily but it always comes out, overeating is a sin, gluttony, all manner of sexual sins, these are all included in the lust of the flesh, that includes adultery, fornication, bestiality, homosexuality, masturbation, lesbianism, polygamy, and incest. They can all be included in the lust of the flesh.
He did not name a single individual sin, he categorized sin. There is more than can be brought up there but so that you understand the principle that we are dealing with here, John is dealing with a lot of sin that he just categorizes. Remember these things are in the world.
The lust of the eyes is introduced in the second category because the eyes are so often the bodily organ involved in the initiation of the sin, that is where the sin begins. We see something and the desire to have it begins to rise, I want that, I want to be like that, I want to do that, I want to enjoy that. Why, men, do they always have pretty girls in the ads for men's products? What does a girl have to do with a nice shiny automobile? You know what I mean. The eye is the means by which the sin begins because it triggers desire. How many desires are triggered by what we see?
You are beginning to see how expansive these two verses in I John 2 are, and how much it includes, just mega-pieces of information are there. So man sees and then he desires. Recall that Jesus said, the one who looks upon a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. There is two categories right there. It comes into the eyes, it lodges in the mind, and the sin has begun.
Which commandment do these first two categories break? The tenth commandment. We still have not touched on pride yet, that is the third category here. Pride is named because man is so big-headed about his accomplishments that he forgets that he himself is a created being, thus giving himself all of the credit while forgetting the Creator who provided everything needed for man to accomplish.
Does that remind you of anybody? I am not thinking about anybody human, I am thinking of Satan the Devil. That describes him perfectly to a T, and if you think that his spirit is not going to be included in what is coming at us from the world, you miss the point. His major sin was pride, so strong was his feeling about himself that he felt himself big enough to challenge his Creator.
If you think that is not being done today in this world, just think about humanism, think about evolution, and on and on it goes. Man creates something and it indeed may be rightfully beautiful. The design of the building, the construction was done with great care, and that is wonderful, but who gave man the materials, the brain, the mind, and whatever to be able to do those things? Man says, look at what I have done.
I Corinthians 4:7 For who makes you differ from another? And what do you have that you did not receive? Now if you did indeed receive it, why do glory as if you had not received it?
That is included in the big three in I John 2:16—pride. Man exalts himself against God and that, brethren, is idolatry right along with lust of the flesh and lust of the eyes. Lust is covetousness and covetousness is idolatry.
Colossians 3:5 Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth; fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.
I think we can make a conclusion here. It is succinct and I think that it will help you to never forget theses scriptures, and why God says do beware of the world. John is teaching that the overall danger of the world to the Christian is that it leads one into idolatry. It is that simple.
Idolatry is the sin that destroyed Israel's relationship with God. The pride issue covers a whole range of ways in which mankind shows its pride in what it has accomplished. The N.I.V. translates that phrase, “The boasting of what man has and does.” The New English Bible says, “All the glamour of its life.” That is what pride is. It represents all the glamour of its life. That is what we brag about, what is glamorous to us. That phrase actually illustrates a million ways that man is saying, look at me, how great I am.
The Phillips translation says, “Never give your heart to this world, or to any of the things in it, a man cannot love the Father, and love the world at the same time, for the whole world’s system, based as it is, on men's desires, their greedy ambition, and the glamour of all they think splendid, is not derived from the Father at all, but from the world itself.”
We are going to turn to James 4. I will read this from the Revised English Bible, because they catch the concern, the anger, that is in James regarding what these people that he is writing to there are doing. You can look at verse 4, compared to what I am going to say here, it is so mild. James warns,
James 4:4 [Revised English Bible] You unfaithful creatures, [that is what he called the brethren] surely you know that love of the world means enmity to God, whoever chooses to be the world’s friend makes himself God’s enemy.
Of course Scripture says elsewhere, it is a fearful thing to fall into the hand of the living God.
The world is serious business to Jesus Christ our Savior. It is not, in a way, because it is so awful in terms of constantly persecuting. It is rather that it is always there! That is its major weapon and we get accustomed to it, and we are willing to live with it, not just because we admire it or anything like that. It is just there and we just accept it without realizing the temptations that are emanating from it that can be destructive to us.
I John 2:17 And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.
There is no doubt from what he says here that God wants us to look carefully at the fleeting existence of worldly people and the shallowness of their pleasures and desires. It ought to be clear to us that if one places his heart’s desires in that which is here today and gone tomorrow, one reaps a harvest of instability, stumbling, and spiritual darkness, and his existence ends right along with the existence of the world.
The child of God is secure in the end because he possesses eternal life, and when the will of man is in harmony with the will of God, the Christian has fellowship with the Father and the Son that lasts forever.
What kind of things should we consider regarding what we saw in these verses? Remember we are still talking about a world view. I hope that it is becoming etched in your mind that in this series that I been giving, that the number one big thing is our calling, and the way we look at it. It has to be a treasure to us or we will not give it the attention that it deserves.
Second, is our responsibility to God. That responsibility is to be a teacher, that is what He has called us for. We are to prepare to be a teacher, that starts now, and it is almost like we are in a university and God is preparing us for what comes after graduation, but along the way we use the gifts that He gives us to teach in a right and good way.
We have a warning from Jesus Christ about the world. God wants us, obviously, to be concerned about the dangers it holds because it has been designed to entrap human beings by the one who designed it and that is Satan. So he has made something attractive to us.
Please turn to Isaiah 51. I want you to consider this as written indirectly to the church, because it is. It is written to Israel that is going to be brought out of their captivity. It applies to us because we have been released from our captivity to Satan the Devil. We have been released. Now what do we do?
Isaiah 51:1-8 “Listen to Me, you who follow after righteousness, you who seek the Lord; look to the rock from which you were hewn, and to the hole of the pit from which you were dug. Look to Abraham your father [he kept the commandments, statutes, the judgments, the word of God], and to Sarah who bore you; for I called him alone, and blessed him and increased him.” For the Lord will comfort Zion, He will comfort all her waste places; He will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the Lord; joy and gladness will be found in it, thanksgiving and the voice of melody. “Listen to Me, My people; and give ear to Me, O My nation: For law will proceed from Me, and I will make My justice rest as a light of the peoples. My righteousness is near, My salvation has gone forth, and My arms will judge the peoples; the coastlands will wait upon Me, and on My arm they will trust. Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look on the earth beneath. For the heavens will vanish away like smoke, the earth will grow old like a garment, and those who dwell in it will die in like manner; but My salvation will be forever, and My righteousness will not be abolished. Listen to Me, you who know righteousness, you people in whose heart is My law; do not fear the reproach of men, nor be afraid of their insults, for the moth will eat them up like a garment, and the worm will eat them like wool; but My righteousness will be forever, and My salvation from generation to generation.”
These are the kind of things that John was concerned about whenever he wrote I John 2:17. The world is passing away, it is done, it is over with, in a sense that the judgment has already been rendered.
Why all of this encouragement to do things? Beginning in verse 1, because in the picture, we have just been released from our captivity to Satan and to his world. What is given there are things that God wants us to do as we advance forward.
My sermons given at the Feast were intended overall to help us see that the called of God does not fit anywhere in the world. Our calling and the combination of God's truth which we preach, and the commandments we keep, and much, much more, make the church significantly unique in major ways. We do not fit anywhere into any of the world’s systems, because the church, though in the world, is not of the world.
God looks at the church as being separate from everything else in the world. He even calls the church the Israel of God. There is another Israel, but in the same sense it is not God's in the same way. There is no other church that is His, there is no other kingdom, no other nation that is His. There is no other family that is His. The church is unique!
That was my first sermon. That is part of the value of the treasure that we have—that God has put us into this organization that is absolutely on earth unique. There is not another one like it. How much is that worth? Especially when you understand who is leading it and whose character is driving it.
We do not fit anywhere in this world’s systems. Because of God's calling we walk, we march, we run to the beat of a different drummer. We are almost completely out of step with everybody else on planet Earth, with the exception that we too are human. The only place that we fit is as the instrument that God is using to teach His fruits and the reality is sometimes difficult to except, because our natural inclination is to seek a place in this world to be part of a group of friends moving forward in life, growing older, and sharing experiences with them.
As the apostle John dogmatically states in I John 2:17, the world is passing away. God means exactly what He says. He does not mean that the physical world is passing away. He means that all the systems of government, business, education, entertainment will be radically changed.
Religion is going to be changed, marriage is going to be changed, childrearing will be put on right standards, the weather will change, farming will be different, fashion, and nutrition standards, and even the language is going to be changed.
Why did I give you these things? I am asking you to figure out where in the world are we to prepare for when everything is going to be changed? It is an impossibility. The only things that will carry through will be those things that are attached to God and His way of life. That is the only place we fit, it is in being prepared for that.
What future is there to look forward to with a positive anticipation of good? I will remind you that it was not until Jesus was faced with the greatest trial of His life that He warned His followers about where their greatest spiritual dangers lay and that is the warning He gave to Peter. Certainly it was in earshot of the other apostles, and all were included within it to be alert because Satan desired to sift them and us as well.
Consider this factor. This is one of the reasons why we have difficulty in the world. It is in the world that our basic characteristics were formed. I think you will agree with this. It is also in the world that our carnality feels most comfortable. Romans 8:7 reminds us that the carnal mind, formed in this world, is at war against God and is not subject to Him. It is to this world our memories, habits, attitudes, and character of our carnality seeks to revert, and thus the influencing pressure of this world is constantly being applied and it must certainly be a part of our world view. It is our responsibility not to permit it to dominate our attitudes and our conduct.
Jesus gave that warning knowing that association with the world is a dicey business, because its influence is consistently anti-God. In other words, He is calling people into an association in which they are always going to be the enemy. We are a part of a very significant unique unit, but we have to accept the fact, whenever we are baptized, that we are going to be the enemy, because everything in the world is lined up against God and His purpose and the plan that He is working out. When we become a part of this we must be aware of this.
Every Feast I go through a group of statements, questions, expounding things involving baptism. One of the last things that I give toward the end of what I am lecturing on, is the verses in Luke 14:25-27, where Jesus warns those who come to Him, are they willing to accept the fact that they are going to have to bear their cross until they die? I always ask the group, what is that cross? I usually get an answer, usually one person involved comes up with it. That cross is human nature, that cross that was formed in the world. It never changes, it is always enmity against God, it cannot be forced into being the friend of God. It must be replaced with the heart, the mind of Jesus Christ.
It is with that relationship with Him that change takes place. The world is always going to be pulling on the human nature that remains in that heart. Jesus warns us that we have to bear up with it. It is part of the cost of being a Christian.
What we are saying here as we get to end of this sermon is the world is our major enemy simply because it is so consistently against God and His way, and therefore, us. The major sin that the world tries to pull us into is idolatry, which is disloyalty to God.
That is where the major temptation comes and we illustrate or accomplish our disloyalty to God through sin. Sin is being disloyal in any way, and yet we just learned here that as long as we are within this covenant with Jesus Christ, human nature is going to remain, so it is always going to be pulling toward the world but against God. It is there and we cannot allow ourselves to be dominated by that. That is why I said Jesus gave that warning knowing that association with the world. We cannot leave it, is a dicey business, because its influence is consistently anti-God.
It is also a fact that people tend to adopt the characteristics of the people that they run with. This is another principle that has to be considered in our life. That is the way human nature is. It tends to adopt the characteristics of the crowd, the group that it runs with.
There are simple illustrations. For example, a southerner does not have to be taught to speak in a drawl, they just absorb it, because everybody they run with speaks with a drawl. Neither does a New Yorker have to be schooled and trained to speak like they just emigrated from Brooklyn. You see as children we absorb the ways and preferences of our parents and not just their ways but their beliefs, like their religion, schools, and teams they support and cheer for. The things that I have mentioned are mostly minor, but they are elements of this process.
I researched into one book that if researched into it could be found to be far more serious terms in one’s quality of life. Depending upon how a child was reared, alcoholic parents have a much higher likelihood to produce alcoholic offspring than those who may drink only moderately. Again it is this absorption factor. Picking up on examples, in this same general manner, attitude, character, and conduct in the environment are passed on with little resistance by children in many cases, and though the process is not an absolute, it has a very high probability that the most common sources tend to be parents.
Probably the best thing for me at this time is to stop here, because I will go into another section here that would be quite long, but as we close this off, I want you to understand that what we are before conversion was absorbed from the world. I can say that absolutely.
That is where we became what we were before God called us, but it never completely leaves. It is part of human nature and human nature is anti-God. This is why we have to be careful of the world, because human nature is attracted to the world, and it is to the world it wants to revert.
We cannot let it do that, so we have to exercise discipline over these yearnings that we might have within us. They are there, the world will not go away, so we just have to be very careful. I think that I gave you enough today to think about as to where the temptations might arise in your life.