01 December 2005

What is worldliness, and when is it sinful?

Christians in earlier generations were a lot more concerned about worldliness than we typically are. Many evangelicals these days don't even seem to be aware that worldliness is still a sin.

A major shift seems to have occurred in less than three decades' time. I have vivid recollections of the two semesters in I spent in fundamentalist purgatory in the mid-1970s. Worldliness was one of the most oft-mentioned sins by chapel speakers at the Baptist college where I was enrolled.

To hear them describe it, worldliness was essentially the sin of being too cool. An acquaintance of mine—a rigidly old-fashioned middle-aged woman—once scolded me as a worldling for wearing contact lenses. She was certain my motives for wearing them were driven only by carnal vanity. She pleaded with me to opt for thick bifocals instead. "I like you the way God made you," she protested.

"He didn't make me with eyeglasses," I reminded her.

"You know what I mean," she said, waving her hand, as if the point should be obvious.

Sure. Makes perfect sense.

Our Amish friends take it even further. Their strategy for avoiding worldliness involves eschewing all modern conveniences.

The same sort of thinking culminates in austere forms of monasticism, where poverty, celibacy, and ascetic solitude are seen as sure means of avoiding worldly influences.

The truth is, you can live a totally cloistered life or be as unhip as a Stephen Foster song and still be worldly.

That's not to deny that worldliness poses a particular threat to those who are obsessed with being fashionable. There's no question that a fixation with being hip and trendy has made the evangelical movement itself worldly. If you need evidence of that, find the posts on "The Fad-Driven Church" in the archives of PyroManiac, or search the archives here for "Biblezines®."

Worldly simply means "pertaining to this earth." On the one hand, Hebrews 9:1 speaks of "a worldly sanctuary"—i.e., an earthly and material one, contrasted with the "True tabernacle"—the heavenly temple, "which the Lord pitched, and not man" (8:2). So something can be "worldly" (like the Tabernacle) without being sinful.

On the other hand, Titus 2:12 speaks of "worldly lusts," meaning passions that are set on earthly and temporal things. Love for earthly things is inconsistent with true love for God, because the passions that drive this world's philosophies and value-systems are all characterized by pride and sinful lust (1 John 2:15-17).

The sin of "worldliness" is the tendency to set one's affections on things of the earth rather than on heavenly things (cf. Colossians 3:2). "Friendship with the world is enmity with God" (James 4:4). It is positively sinful to love this present world and imbibe its values more than we love heaven and order our lives according to heavenly values (cf. Philippians 1:23; Romans 8:5-6; Matthew 6:19-21; 16:23).

In other words, worldliness is a sin of the heart.

Conversely, worldliness isn't necessarily related to movies, music styles, the latest fashions, or other typical fundamentalist taboos. Those things certainly can be worldly and obviously do have a tendency to provoke sinful worldliness insofar as they naturally appeal to our passions and tempt us to become obsessed with earthly things.

But there's an even worse kind of worldliness than that. Religion—even conservative, doctrinally-sound religion—can be worldly too.

Think about it: if a person cares less for heaven and heaven's values than for the trappings of "a worldly sanctuary"—be it an ornate cathedral, a megachurch with a Starbucks kiosk in the foyer, or a lowbrow church where snake-handling provides the entertainment—that person is worldly and living in disobedience to God.

As a matter of fact, I know some hard-core fundamentalists who are the rankest kind of worldlings, because they imagine that holiness consists only in external and cultural things, and they have not cultivated a genuine love in their hearts for that which is spiritual.

So you cannot discover whether you are worldly merely by seeing how you look or what kind of lifestyle you live. If you want to recognize true worldliness, you have to assess your desires and passions. What do you truly love? Since worldliness is inherent in the bent of the old man, when you examine your heart honestly, you're virtually certain to discover a degree of worldliness there.

The biblical instructions for how to deal with worldliness are surprisingly simple:

"Put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and . . . put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness" (Ephesians 4:22-24).

Phil's signature


SB said...

thanks for this Phil-this post really served me

Away From The Brink said...

Who says Stephen Foster is "unhip"? He won a Grammy in 2004. I highly recommend this album.

My favorite song is Michelle Shocked singing "Oh! Susanna." The song "No One To Love" holds up even today. If one listens to the album, one can hear how influential Foster was on the hymnody of the late nineteenth century.

Samples available here.

Ole School Baptist said...

What is worldliness... Interesting thoughts.

Steve Scott said...

The fundamentalists and the Amish have it backwards. The lady who scolded you for contact lenses is the worldly one. The Colossians 3 passage used to define worldliness is usually detached from its chapter 2 context (false doctrine created by artificial chapter divisions!), leading to a backward interpretation. "Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch" is the example given by Scripture of just what it means to set one's mind on earthly things. The one who sets his mind on "things above" will recognize that it is God "above" who has given us His creation to use for his glory, and can wear contact lenses for a spiritual reason - to glorify God. She was setting her mind on an earthly object, the contact lenses, and deciding whether they were appropriate. Beware the abstentionists and prohibitionists to God's creation. Thanks for the post.

Jeri said...

Quote of the day, Phil!

Forgiven Sinner said...

Great Post Phil, I agree with ya 100%.

Speaking of worldly, is this a photo of the next World Tag Team Champions?

Catez said...

Hi Phil,
I read your "Ugliness Everywhere" post. But what really was left with me was the woman in the photo. Who is she? Does she have kids, a family? Would they perhaps come on the internet and find her photo under the title "Ugliness Everywhere"? I have wondered what her life has been like.
I will be glad when we are in that new world where we restored to the image God made us in. For now we bear it in imperfection.
We are all ugly - by grace accepted.

Catez said...

And I forgot to add - that is worldliness to my mind - when we forget that.

Kim said...

I just ran my cursor over your picture from the other day...."not a home school mom."

Well, not all of us can attain to that high calling -:)

The picture you have today look like the hillbilly version of "Dumb and Dumber."

YouthGuy said...

Good stuff. It's right up there with fake humility.

Catez said...

I saw the title "not a homeschool mom" too. I figured some-one would take this back to wisecracking. Maybe it's the people I've known - and the ones I meet on the street. I would rather look for the image of God. But that's me.

Mike Perrigoue said...

Good post Phil.

I think most people (myself included) confuse "Worldliness" with "Holiness". I've been reading some of J.C. Ryle's stuff on Holiness (thanks to the Bible Bulletin Board).

Good stuff. Challenging. Been posting small snippets over at my blog.

I'd love to read your thoughts on how Holiness and Worldliness tie together in our Christian lives...

Dr_Mike said...

Good posts, Phil. I'd be curious to read your thoughts on the distinction between worldliness and being ensnared by the world (if you think there's a difference). To me, the former is voluntary, while the latter is due to a fail to discern and/or choose wisely.

What, do you think, are the primary, covert snares of the world system?

Caleb Kolstad said...


Great Post! The example you gave of the lady who confronted you over wearing eye glasses is an easy case to agree on (the lady was being legalistic).

How do we know where to draw the line?

Mark Driscoll recently wrote an article on http://www.allelon.org/articles/article.cfm?id=62&page=1

He would say confronting a gothic youth leader would be wrong (see below)...

"8. 'Sacred and Secular.' We no longer can safely divide the world into things that are sacred or things that are secular. We can’t say, "This is sacred, so it’s safe and it’s okay; this is secular, so it’s not." That kind of assumption is based, again, on our modern, Western version of Christianity. We must look at things in terms of what can be redeemed and what cannot be redeemed.

Redeeming the Culture

I was invited by some Christian high school students to preach at their chapel service a few years ago. I arrived, we sang some worship songs, and then, before I preached, I showed the Smashing Pumpkins video "Bullet with Butterfly Wings" onscreen and kicked on the sound system:

Despite all my rage I am still just a rat in a cage/then someone will say what is lost can never be saved...tell me I’m the chosen one/tell me there’s no other one...Jesus was an only son for you... and I still believe that I cannot be saved.

Know what the whole student body did? Sang it. These Christian high school kids sang those words better than they sang the worship songs. Much to the dismay of the administration, the students were riveted. But that wasn’t a gimmick—I wasn’t done.

My chapel sermon was walking the students through that song—interpreting that video as critically and carefully as we do Scripture. It was an incredible discussion. We talked camera angles, thematic elements, the lyrics, world view. And all of a sudden, kids are making quite astute observations: "Yeah, they’re singing in a pit, and everybody’s covered in mud. It seems to be a metaphor for sin—and there’s no way out"; "It’s hopeless, there’s no redemption"; "The song’s reference to Job seems to say we suffer unjustly, mysteriously—we don’t know why."

Now I’m looking at these kids who previously were auditioning for extras in "Beavis & Butt-Head," and now they’re making very logical arguments and statements.

But even though it was clear this exercise helped the students think through the mysteries of the faith, the administration wasn’t happy with my video choice. They said it exposed the students to wrong things—except for the fact that they already knew all the words.

Here’s the point: Let’s bring reality to bear and realize that the culture is upon us. Our kids are already in it. It’s not a matter of needing to rescue the kids from the culture—it’s a matter of rescuing the lens through which they interpret culture. It’s a matter of them living in a community, discerning the truth, and redeeming what aspects of the culture can be redeemed.

You may have to start by doing a lot of activities offsite—at coffeehouses, at record stores, wherever. You many need to move your ministry outside of the church walls. But by all means, move!

We Have to Look Deeper

There’s a Goth girl in my church—you know, white face, black clothing, red lipstick, lots of jewelry. She went to hear an evangelist speak at a friend’s youth group, and this guy—in the middle of his talk—looked at her and said, "I can see a spirit of depression in you. I can see a spirit of suicide and despair, and God can deliver you."

She went up to him afterward and asked, "Why did you say that?" He replied, "Well, just look at you." She’s like, "Really? That’s all it takes? To interpret my whole existence? Just 30 seconds, in light of Almighty God, because I’m wearing black."

This young woman is a Christian, she lives in the women’s ministry house at my church, she leads a small group, she’s going through foundational theology, and she wants to go to Bible college so she can study to be a youth pastor. She’s a wonderful woman of God, very mature in her faith. Regarding her appearance, she’s explained to me that it’s simply an artistic expression. But still, a lot of us would look at her and think, "Wow. I know where that kid’s at."

But the kids are saying back to you, "Maybe you don’t."

I don't agree with Driscoll's article, but I wonder from your post if I truly am being legalistic myself? Calling certain things "worldliness" when maybe they are not???

Any advice would be helpful...

Anonymous said...

Regarding her appearance, she’s explained to me that it’s simply an artistic expression. But still, a lot of us would look at her and think, "Wow. I know where that kid’s at."

Regarding Goth, it's kind of difficult - I feel pretty strongly that choosing to indentify with that culture says at least a little bit about the person who chooses it. - blogged a little about it back in July.

I worked in a public high school for 3 years. Both of my kids have attended public high school. Both of them say that they do not know any "goth kids" that have it all together. Neither do I.

A goth forum says "Goth unashamedly celebrates the dark recesses of the human psyche." How can you reflect the Light of the world, if you're celebrating darkness?

The page also says, "Many people lead unhappy, unachieved lives. And that's sad. Goth makes depression and angst a lifestyle choice, and that's art."

That says a lot about goth and the people who embrace it. Those that merely identify with it - do they know what they are truly identifying with?

It's not worth judging her over, but I do feel that it's worth pursuing.

My family is decidely not within the realms of what most evengelicals consider "normal" - we've had talks about some pretty weird things, including goth and looking goth.

So the difference between embracing the lifestyle and liking the look has been explored at my house.

Nathan White said...


Great thoughts in pointing out that worldliness comes from the heart. I’ve often discussed with other Christian brethren the issue of music as it pertains to worldliness. No, I’m not saying there is one ‘righteous’ style or that drum-beats really cause heart failure (Gothard), but there are definitely worldly styles of music that are elevated up in church as acceptable worship. But how can they be worldly if the lyrics are so good? It’s because music isn’t amoral, music is like any creation of man –it comes from the heart. Since music is created by sinful man before lyrics are even inserted, then that area of ‘worship’ needs to be carefully considered as well. Is the music reverent? Does it promote humility or does it act like the world’s music in lifting up our personal pride?


Anonymous said...

on music -

my family likes a group called "Flatfoot 56". They are - "interesting". Kind of celtic/rock/punk. But the lyrics are real.

Read the lyrics and then go to this website and listen:


We’re the scallywags of Archer Street, we don’t know when to quit
We go to shows, we sing out loud, we scuttle every pit.
But when it comes to praisingGod we always bow our knees,
We go to Him, we sing out loud, it’s him that made us free.

From the depths of Sheol to the heart of shalom, we will stand strong together, we will never be alone.
Fill our cups full of courage, may our face hit the floor, when we are at our lowest point, we stand at heaven’s door.

The line is drawn our minds are set
We now know where we stand,
It’s the brotherhood of man that stood
We follow the Father’s plan
The faith that lies within our hearts doesn’t come from the halls of a church
It’s not about religion
It’s about a friend
And it’s him that gave us worth.

MTG said...

Well speaking of the bible-zine...I saw it at Life Way this past previously thought it was a joke. (could it be said that I am sometimes naive?) Oh I would so smack a guy if I was dating him and he had one of those things....

ANYWAY.... all of the do nots that people use to bind other people seem pretty silly when taken in cultural context. I mean was Jesus being wordly when he RODE into Jerusalem on a donkey? After all he COULD have walked....most people did.

Good post...takes a lot of the pressure off dont cha think? :)

LeeC said...

Might I suggest you check out Dr. Jack Hughes four messages on our liberties in Christ?

It can be found in the sermons section at Calvarybiblechurch.org

My personal questions as someone who came out of the punk scene are these:
Why would someone intentionally dress to attract attention to themselves andf then get offended when she gets it?

How can we believe that weare to "embrace" modern culture without casting huge portions of Scripture away?

Why would we want to cleave to the things of our old lives and the World if we are new creatures?

How does dressing Goth reconcile with the fruits of the Spirit, by which we are to know the people of God? Certainly our personalities might be patient, kind loving etc, but we are intentionally conveying the exact opposite in our firt impression. Why would we want to?

Does she / do you believe it is ok for women to be pastors? If so how do we reconcile that with Scripture?

I'm certain we can learn things from looking at the the Smashing Pumpkins agnst, on a personal level I have done the same every time I hear them or Metalica, or a number of other bands, but is not the Word of God infinitly MORE profitable? If I have a headache and I have the choice of taking soe aspirin that I know are 75% chal and perhaps eve some stuf hat is't healthy for me, and 25% actually aspirin verses some Motrin that I know is 100% and is totaly effective against my headace would it not be foolish to take seven of the aspirin as opposed to two Motrin?

Not trying to be rude, these are st some questions I had to wrestle with mysef to some degree and I think you and she would profit from it also.

Grace be with you.

Rich said...

Phil - ?

How about churches that only put their "best foot forward?" You know, the ole "we glorify God by doing everything excellently" but in reality, it is only the most "polished" people that are up front.


What if a guy who sings "okay" wanted to do a solo from his heart because of his deep love for Christ and he wanted to encourage others but he is "denied" because he's not good enough. (apply teaching, exhortation, admonition here as well).

Is that being worldy?

Catez said...

Hi Ellen,
I found your comment interesting - especially about the difference between embracing the lifestyle or liking the look. I did come across a Christian Goth online a while back and she had an interesting website. It was quite different to non-Christian Goth sites. From what she said, and looking at her site, it seemed more about a certain aesthetic.
I have known some Goths (offline). Seems like so many other things - a group to belong to. There is a morbidity in it. A preoccupation with darkness certainly. My own observation with Goths has been that some are really questioning some worldly values themselves - but their spirituality is cynical rather than in the Light.

Anyway - your household sounds interesting.

Love God and love your neighbour. I'm just not so convinced that the Pyro has really encapsulated that with this post. (Sorry Phil but it still seems to be about appearance even though you mention the heart).

Catez said...

P.S. have you thought of setting your comments to pop up. It would be so much easier to refer to the post that way.

Stephen Morse said...

Phil, didn't Pecadillo use that picture awhile ago speaking about stupid people who come into his fish store? Is there some connection? I have come to realize that you are all about the significant but uh so well hidden inuendos. Should we be reading something into this about going out into the world becoming fishers of men?
Just curious

Brad Huston said...

Amen, Phil. Very nice post.


Sharon said...

Rich: "How about churches that only put their "best foot forward?" You know, the ole "we glorify God by doing everything excellently" but in reality, it is only the most "polished" people that are up front."

We get that question at our church from time to time. However, one must remember that God chose certain men to work and minister in His temple specifically because of their talent and ability, from construction to worship.

1 Chronicles 15:22 "And Chenaniah, chief of the Levites, was for song: he instructed about the song, because he was skilful."

Heart attitude is important to one who leads in worship, but he also must be qualified and skilful.

Otherwise, there are plenty of avenues where someone with a pure heart but of average musical ability may praise the Lord "speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord"(Ephesians 5:19)

Deathrow Bodine said...


What I want to know is just where did you git that picture of me an' my brudder?

Deathrow Bodine

Forgiven Sinner said...

For you people who want to influence Christiany into a "GOTH" persons life, introduce the to the band "Saviour Machine" they do a complete rock opera on the book of Revelation.

suzi said...

My husband and I are so trying to impart this to our children."The Lord sees our heart, for out of our heart springs forth our speech, our sight, and our conduct."(Quoted from the MacArthur study notes)
Proverbs 4:23 Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it spring the issues of life."
I so appreciate this spot. Thanks for the reminder that worldliness is not just about "things".


Ryan DeBarr said...


I'll take that and raise you one.

Worldliness occurs when you let the world dictate to you what your faith and practice should be. This works both in the negative and the positive. If you build up a theology around "avoiding the appearance of evil", you are a prisoner of the world.

Think back to high school. You had your cool kids. Then you had your contrarians who went out and did the exact opposite of what the cool kids were doing.

Hey, I think I said this on my blog already.

vandræðiskáld said...

Wow, great post!
I've been lurking for a long time, and thoroughly enjoying your blog. Keep it up!

NPE said...

Great Post! I love the "God didn't make me with glasses!"

Once a lady in our church was complaining about the wordliness of a certain thing. She mentioned the God made you one way blah blah blah argument. (She dyes her hair and wears makeup.)

A good intro into the topic is Overcoming the World by Joel Beeke. You can get it at www.heritagebooks.org

I taught this in a Sabbath school and it was well received.

T.B. Vick said...

This article was by far the best I have read on your site. It was very edifying and I just wanted to tell you 'thanks.'

Phil stated (summin' up his post):

"So you cannot discover whether you are worldly merely by seeing how you look or what kind of lifestyle you live. If you want to recognize true worldliness, you have to assess your desires and passions. What do you truly love? Since worldliness is inherent in the bent of the old man, when you examine your heart honestly, you're virtually certain to discover a degree of worldliness there."

The above is sound advice for everyone!

Alan E. Kurschner said...

Speaking of fundamental purgatory, let me share one of my literally hundreds of stories of my fundamentalist background. I went to high school in the late 80's and one of the fashions was "parachute pants.” For those who's history do not go back that far, parachute pants were made of light nylon with zippers on the sides and front and back of the pants.

There was nothing seductive or such to the look of them, just simply a new fashion. But they were deemed "worldly" simply because "unbelievers wore them." I had a pair of them myself (which was not allowed in school or on campus), so I would wear them in town. Well, word got back to the fundamentalists’ higher-ups that "Alan owns a pair of parachute pants." I learned that I was a "hypocrite" because I did not wear the same clothing in "town" as I did in school.

Many fundamentalists (in the negative sense of the term) are worldly because they are fixated on these witch hunts that only lead to legalism.

That was my 2 cents :-)

Sam H. said...

oh, those fundies--when will they ever learn? sigh...

Frank Martens said...

Those glasses of yours are definitely from some conspiracy of the devil. REPENT, or better yet, tell me what they are, I want one ;)

Frank Martens said...

Let me clarify, I ment the sunglasses :)

Kim said...

Hmmm, interestingly, I was just reading something similar in my quiet time today in Colossians 3:1-17:

If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God.

Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.

Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience, in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them.

But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him, where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all.

Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.

But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.

And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

Beautiful words to live by.

Discoshaman said...

"An acquaintance of mine—a rigidly old-fashioned middle-aged woman—once scolded me as a worldling for wearing contact lenses. She was certain my motives for wearing them were driven only by carnal vanity. She pleaded with me to opt for thick bifocals instead. "I like you the way God made you," she protested."

That sounds a lot like Bill Gothard. . .

One of the things that came out a lot when I was teaching Bible studies in Ukraine were the various tensions we live within as Christians.

Maybe I'm misframing the issue, but this seems like one as well. On the one hand, we have to strive against worldliness. On the other, the Reformed worldview is world-embracing, seeing it as the theatre of God's glory.

I struggle with this balance. I'm so dazzled by the glittery ephemera the world has to offer. I'd be the first one to get lost in Vanity Fair. If made to sail between the Scylla of worldliness and the Charybdis of ascetism, I'd crash into Scylla every time. . .

I'm still trying to find the balance -- enjoying the good things God has given us and glorifying Him here and now while retaining an eternal perspective and a heart fixed on Him.

Rob said...


I would agree with your post. We must look at at culture and decide what is from God and where do we as Christians need to be counter-cultural.

Christmas time is an excellent example of this. Perhaps a counter-cultural response to the consumeristic Christmas is to buy less. One of my friends has this tradition. Every year his kids get presents. For every present they get they take an old one that is in good shape to the Salvation Army.

This year we took our kids shopping and said pick a toy that you would like for Christmas, and we'll donate it to Toys for Tots. As Christians (this is my soap box), we need to be about giving. This is something the the culture values but doesn't do well. Let's bring the Kingdom near this Christmas by understanding what worldliness is.


PopeWorm said...

What an awesome post! You da man, Phil!

Mark Nenadov said...

AMEN! This is excellent.

Steve Weaver said...

Excellent post! Thanks!

Char said...

OT, but thanks for the interesting links, IWT and ellen :)

When I read the post about pecadillo losing his CD collection, I thought I would probably start to cry if that happened to me.
Does that count as worldliness? Oh dear.

Phil Johnson said...

To the person who raised a question about whether I would regard a specific individual who belongs to my church as "worldly":

I have deleted your comment, for a number of reasons.

1. I do not personally know the individual in question or anything about his professional career. The issues you raised are things I was unaware of.

2. I'll look into it, but privately first. I'm not going to have a public discussion regarding a fellow church-member's spiritual fitness for ministry on my blog, before I have even had an opportunity to speak to him personally about it.

3. Ditto for the person who apparently already raised the question and tried to draw me into it with a post at his own blog. If anyone legitimately wants to know what I personally think about someone in my church, write me privately before blogging about it. If you're going to make public accusations against a person in my church and try to bring me into it, it would be prudent to communicate with me privately and make sure I know something about the issues you are raising first.

Savage Baptist said...

Some of what's been said reminds me a lot of a famous quote on a similar subject:

"No beer, no smoke--just a lot of rules and orc-talk."

Our Amish friends take it even further. Their strategy for avoiding worldliness involves eschewing all modern conveniences.

Yes, they have their problems--but oh man--can those people cook! They're almost as good as Southern Baptist cooks.

David Nash said...

I must disagree with the comments of ckolstad. We, as well as our young people, need to be "simple concerning evil" (Rom 16:19). Ps 1:1 speaks of the blessedness of the man who walks *not* in the counsel of the ungodly. We need to be avoiding these evil influences, not becoming familiar with them so that we can explain in minute detail what is wrong with them. That's not discernment - it's self deception.

Caleb Kolstad said...


I do not know what comments of mine you are disagreeing with? I included an article written by Mark Driscoll from ACTS 29 ministries but i did not say i agreed with the article. I included it because i thought it would provide some fruitful discussion under Phil's heading, "What is worldliness, and when is it sinful?"

Go back and read my post more carefully. I was not trying to draw any major conclusions...

David Nash said...


Sorry - I thought that everything after the "Redeeming the Culture" heading was yours. In that case I guess my disagreement is with Mark Driscoll.

But since you posted the reference to his comments, do you agree with Mark that we should be "rescuing the lense through which (our young people) interpret culture" as opposed to "rescuing (our young people) from the culture" ?

jane said...

Excellent post! The externals only matter when they conflict with God's commands about the internal (i.e. wearing the latest fashion even though it isn't compatible with the virtue of modesty). But at least these outward displays of worldliness aren't as hard to detect as those that don't manifest themselves tangibly.

Fred said...

I agree that externals are not usually sinful in of themselves , but they are representavive of internals. As redeemed souls we are to seek after God in all we do. This means to seek after the good , the beautiful, and the excellent, which are the attributes of God. When we casually dismiss everything we do by way of saying that God only cares about the inward man , this is a misconception.
Granted , God's primary concern is the inward man. When the inward man is "clicking" on all cylinders then the inward man will be in sync with the good, the beautiful and the excellent. To use just one word; we will strive for the "higher" in all we do , think or say. This is to be manifested in the outer man.
Of course there are other principles that are in play here, such as "a time for everything", "serving a God of order" and virtues such as understanding ,not judging , etc.These principles apply to us in how we treat others. Yet , the principle of the "higher" is to be one that we must try to exhibit in ourselves to God , for God , thus for others also.
Love is to seek the highest good of the beloved. When we are to treat others as we would love to be treated , we must ask, wouldnt we want to be treated with the highest regard and respect? If we love God , then would we not want to sacrifice to Him our best effort in everthing? Does not our God want us to have the best?
This doen't mean that we are to be material minded or high on the horse minded. But in the West , where we have the opportunity of selection and choice as never before offered , why would one choose the lesser, if it was in his means that God has given him , to choose the Higher. Why choose the mundane , the casual, the ugly. To say that this is a matter of preference , would be to say that beauty and excellence are only relative terms. They have no absolute meanings. This would then be to say, that even the words themselves have no ultimate meaning. This is not what we as Christians believe whether in our thought life or our worldview.
To me , worldliness is that what is in opposition to God and His attributes. Again, to say that beauty , good and excellence are only in the eye of the beholder is to be saying , I want to be worldly in a "christian" way. It is to accept the effects of the fallen world, its mundanity, its ugliness, its commonaliity as ok. It is to say coal is just as good as diamonds. Just clean it up and it will be as beautiful as worthy and as important as a diamond. God only cares what the primary thing is anyway. {coal , compressed makes diamonds}To me God delivers us from that likeness of coal to become a diamond, by applying "pressure". If we want to stay as clean coal, then we are worldly.
What I hope to be saying here is, dress, music ,attitudes ,appearances speech , literature , architecture, movies, Etc, do matter. They arent worldly , we make them worldly by what we do with them. No we are not to idolise the higher. Only God deserves that. But God is the Higher , the perfect , the good , the Holy.These words have meanings , and they are the very attributes of our God. This is what we strive for , not for ourselves, but to the glory of God.