Worldliness a quality of temper and life

submitted by Don Johnson (HT: Pastor Sam Souza, Brandon, Manitoba)

One of the unending debates is over the meaning of worldliness and how concerned we should be about it. Preachers of former days were not quite so uncertain on the subject:

“Our ecclesiastical ancestors were in the habit of condemning in Christian men, not merely actions and habits which they regarded as immoral, but actions and habits which they regarded as ‘worldly‘. They did not believe that all questions of conduct could be determined by what we commonly describe as the moral law…They therefore had a great deal to say—not merely about what is morally right and what is morally wrong, but about what is worldly and what is unworldly.”

“Christian men were anxious to avoid what is morally wrong, but they appear to have ceased to be anxious to avoid ‘worldliness’.”

Worldliness is not identified as such simply by some moral law. Worldliness is a condition of the inner man as he relates himself in the way he does things and what habits he embraces. Worldliness is not a matter of much import today – not a matter of anxiety in many current Christian minds. But there is more than that.

“When we look back thirty or forty years, as to whether particular acts and particular habits were ‘worldly’ or not, I think, that the true idea of worldliness and of unworldliness had almost disappeared; for worldliness is a quality of temper and life, and not a mere question of particular acts or habits.”

Who made these observations? Rev. R. W. Dale, in his commentary on James 4, written in 1895.

Same heart … same sin … just different external applications as the heart and mind of the world (and many Christians) moves with the times.

The Epistle of James and other discourses, R. W. Dale
Hodder & Stoughton; 2nd ed. edition (1898) – Hardcover,
available used

Replica edition, available new.