December 18, 2017

Worldliness

George Stiekes

From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence even of your lusts that war in your members? Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain; ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. James 4:1-3

James provides for us here a realistic description of what takes place in a person given over to worldliness. In a worldly believer, carnal desires rage within thwarting his spiritual progress.

The word “lusts” in the King James is translated “pleasures” in other translations. It comes from the Greek word (ἡδονή – hay-don-ay), and it means sensual delight, lust or pleasure. From this word, we get our English word “hedonism,” a philosophical term that considers the “summum bonum” or the highest good of life in terms of that which caters naturally to the flesh. It clearly states that the highest good is self-gratification. The same word is used in Titus 3:3 to describe the life-style of the unbeliever. It is a fair description of our own society today.

In verse 2, it results in continual frustration and in verse 3 wrong motives in prayer. Ye ask and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. Man’s “wanter” is never satisfied and yet millions keep trying in vain.

It is here we need to understand that the only source of real and lasting pleasure is God himself. And worldliness keeps the believer from getting any prayers answered. Some believers draw the conclusion that God does not answer our prayers instead of seeking out the root cause for their prayer failures.

In verse 4 worldliness is described in terms of adultery for it violates our exclusive relationship to Jesus Christ. Without realizing it, when a Christian gives himself over to worldliness, he becomes an enemy of God (James 4:4). That is not a good position to be in. To be on close terms with the world is to be on close terms with the enemy of God — Satan himself.

For the Christian, worldliness is any departure from God and His will. It is whatever makes sin look normal. We usually think of it in terms of activities but it is also an attitude that is actively contrary to the will of God.

Notice in James 4:5 the indwelling resistance to worldliness. Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The Spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy? The Holy Spirit that indwells the believer is always intolerant of divided allegiance because our God is a jealous God (Exodus 20:5; Zechariah 8:2).

Many believers fail to recognize this, but the devil and his demons do not mind at all if you attend church, Bible studies and even have your own private reading of the Word of God – AS LONG AS YOU DO NOT APPLY WHAT YOU READ OR WHAT YOU HEAR PREACHED OR TAUGHT.

God’s command is very clear on this matter in I John 2:15-17. There is no way you can love God and the world at the same time. You cannot be a worldly Christian and a spiritual Christian at the same time. As a worldly Christian, you will find yourself totally absent from the leading of God’s direction in your life.

If you have been flirting with the world, confess this as sin and ask God’s forgiveness. Do not get to the place of continual frustration in seeking for that which cannot satisfy. We can be thankful that we know ahead of time how this will all end. Satan and all of his followers will one day be put away forever. Ask God today for grace and wisdom to resist worldliness.


George Stiekes held successful pastorates in churches in Michigan and Washington among other places. He currently resides in North Carolina and blogs at Reverent Reflections. We recommend his ministry and republish his material by permission.


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