There are probably parts of the Bible you find hard to understand, and that may frustrate you. Mark Twain had a different perspective: “It’s not the parts of the Bible I don’t understand that bother me; it’s the parts I do understand.” The Bible is clear in its meaning. That’s the problem. It is crystal clear – too clear for comfort. John writes, “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” (1John 2:15, NKJV). Who would you say is more direct and hard hitting, John, or his friend, James, who wrote, “You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God” (James 4:4, ESV). This is intense.
Why did the Spirit communicate to us so pointedly? Maybe because He knows our tendency to become very naïve towards the world. “I think separation from the world is way overplayed; the movie wasn’t that bad; there is a lot of good in the world too.” I think John might reply with this. “BE NOT DECEIVED!” Because, in fact, what he does say is, “all that is in the world … is not from the Father but is from the world” (1John 2:16, ESV). I am afraid Satan is finding too much success in deceiving Christians into thinking the things of the world are really fairly harmless. Remember we are not talking about the people of the world (whom God loves, John 3:16), but the things of the world and the world system itself. Ephesians 2 confirms that Satan is behind it – those who “walk according to the course of this world” are “following the prince of the power of the air.”
The world reveals its nature as our enemy in different ways. Sometimes, by its entertainment and its values, it Defiles our spirits. Part of being holy is being pure in our spirit (2Cor 7:1), but the corruption of the world defiles us. If you don’t sense anything defiling about the character of the world, then you need your perspective refreshed by God’s holy Word.
But instead of blatant defilement, the world is often simply a Distraction from our service. Your interaction with the world may not always corrupt you, but it may turn your focus away from the Lord or consume valuable time or, somehow, just suck the spiritual desire right out of you. This is the subtle distraction of the world.
The world’s defilement and distraction contribute to a Dividedallegiance within the believer. Worldliness is a heart or mind that is set upon things of the world. Your first thoughts in the morning, your goals, your daydreams, your concerns, the things that excite you – are they toward God or of the world? John and James speak so forcefully: “Purify your hearts, you double minded” (James 4:8), to alert us to the seriousness of divided allegiance and to remind us that God is worthy of our complete devotion. The world is our enemy. “Seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God” (Col 3:1, ESV).