This is a term that I am familiar with. I’ve grown up hearing this term, for it is said often in church. When I was asked to define it today, I didn’t really know what to say on the spot. So I’m processing all of this and trying to get a clear understanding of what this word really means.
The dictionary definition of “worldly” is “relating to, or devoted to, the temporal world.” Worldliness, then, is the condition of being concerned with worldly affairs, especially to the neglect of spiritual things. The Bible has a great deal to say about worldliness, none of it good.
Worldliness is based around sinful patterns or habits of wrongdoing that are common to all man kind. Before we even look at worldliness, we need to have a clear understanding of “sin”.
There are many things that are sins, such as slandering/gossip, adultery, stealing (even something little), murder, saying God’s name in vain, and the list goes on and on. Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” That means that if you sin in any way, that you’re penalty is death, but because Jesus died on the cross for us, we can accept His gift of eternal life. You may think, well, “I’m a good person, I haven’t really done anything super bad.” Well, Romans 3:23 says,
“For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”
That means everyone sins. All sin is on the same level, whether it’s murder or stealing an eraser, sin is sin. We’re all broken. The awesome part about this whole thing, is that Jesus accepts us with all our broken pieces. I consistently go through seasons of repenting for something I’m struggling with, and then going right back to my old habits, and every time I turn back to God, He accepts me with open arms. I don’t deserve it, yet there He is, always ready to comfort me and love me. It amazes me every time.
Now that we have a better understanding of sin, let’s look at “worldliness”. In Romans 12:2 it says,
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
Believers are meant to be set apart. When Jesus says that we are not of this world, He means that we are here physically, but we are no longer ruled by sin, nor are we bound by the principles of the world. How are people supposed to recognize us as Christians if we act like everyone else? It’s simple, they won’t. We are called to be different. Jesus sets it out plainly in Matthew 5:13-16,
“Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You’ve lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage.”
14-16 “Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.”
How can we be a good example if we take part in worldly pleasures? 1 John 2:15-17 says,
“Don’t love the world’s ways. Don’t love the world’s goods. Love of the world squeezes out love for the Father. Practically everything that goes on in the world—wanting your own way, wanting everything for yourself, wanting to appear important—has nothing to do with the Father. It just isolates you from him. The world and all its wanting, wanting, wanting is on the way out—but whoever does what God wants is set for eternity.”
Being worldly is a problem that everyone has, some just more than others. It is something that we continually have to overcome and resist. We have to reject the temptations of this world, and devote ourselves to living a life that glorifies God, a life filled with sacrifice, courage, and faith. Jude 1:19 says,
“It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit.”
Someone who is completely worldly, has no spirituality in their life. They have nothing to do with Jesus. They do what they want, how they want, and when they want. They pursue worldly pleasures. I really like this passage from Romans 12:2 that says,
“Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.”
The longing to fit in to our society, often causes us to just do what everyone else is doing, even if it’s stupid. We become so used to just following the crowd that we’re just blending in, not giving a thought to the bigger things that God has for us. It is SO important that we are set apart as Christians. I can’t make that clear enough! It’s hard, trust me I know. Sometimes, I just want to fit in, and so I let myself go and I act like everyone else, but afterwards it doesn’t feel so great. Living my life for Jesus is the most rewarding part of my life. The way that He leads me through my trials and decisions is vital to my very existence. My faith in God has opened so many doors to new adventures, friendships, and struggles that help me to grow in maturity. I’m thankful for every moment.