Friday, September 26, 2014

The Forgotten Sin of Worldliness

The sin of worldliness is something you rarely hear anything about any more.  It’s as if this sin has vanished, because you don’t hear anyone preaching against it these days like they used to.  That's why I've called it the forgotten sin. Yet the Word of God has many warnings for us about worldliness, and we would do well to pay attention to them. 

Benson Idahosa
I recently heard a Nigerian boy named Samuel Oghenetega testify that when the Lord took him to hell and back, he saw a famous Nigerian preacher there in hell, named Benson Idahosa (see video beginning at 12:00).  This man had been a Pentecostal, power-and-prosperity preacher that started a denomination, a primary school, a secondary school, Benson Idahosa university, a hospital, and a television ministry with a potential viewing audience of 50 million people. He helped many people, preached in 125 nations, and had many followers.  He claimed to have raised nine people from the dead, and was said to be the leader of over seven million Jesus people worldwide.

According to an article by a Nigerian Baptist minister named Israel Oluwole Olofinjana, "[Idahosa] dressed flamboyantly, used the best cars and pursued big projects with big budgets."  I have listened to some of his messages and read that Idahosa used to say "If your Jesus is poor, my Jesus is rich."

When Jesus showed this man to Samuel in hell, he referred to him as His son. But Samuel said part of the reason he ended up in hell was covetousness and worldliness.  He was not the only person to see Archbishop Idahosa in hell.  Another pastor named John Noah from Bayelsa, Nigeria also saw him there (see video).  Still another Nigerian brother, named Ibrahim, a born again believer in Jesus Christ, who was shown a vision of hell after a forty-day fast, saw Idahosa along with other top Nigerian pastors in hell (see article). Every matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses (see 2 Cor 13:1; Mt 18:16; Deut 19:15), and three credible witnesses have duly established this matter.

Archbishop Margaret Benson Idahosa
That should wake us up!  If worldliness can cause you to miss heaven, then we’d better know what it is and avoid it by the power of the Spirit.  Let’s first look at what the Scriptures teach us about the world, and then define worldliness on that basis.

In the Bible, the Greek word for "world" is "kosmos," meaning “orderly arrangement, that is, decoration; by implication the world (in a wide or narrow sense, including its inhabitants, literally or figuratively [morally]): - adorning, world.” (Strongs).  Here are some Scriptures where that word is used:

No Profit in Gaining the World
Jesus said, "For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Mat 16:26)

"For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits himself?” (Luk 9:25)

"For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?” (Mar 8:36)

Religious People of this World
He once spoke to the Jews who did not believe in Him.  And He was saying to them, "You are from below, I am from above; you are of this world, I am not of this world. Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins." (Joh 8:23-24)

Even today there are religious people who consider themselves children of God, but they are of this world.  Therefore, they will die in their sins unless they believe that Jesus in the Christ, and follow Him as their Lord and Savior.

Hate Your Life in this World
Have you ever heard anyone say, "I'm lovin' life!"  Others may not say that, but they are still seeking to make an enjoyable life for themselves.

Jesus said, "He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal. (Joh 12:25)

The World Cannot Receive the Spirit of Truth
“That is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.” (Joh 14:17)

We Are in the World by Not of this World
"If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you.” (Joh 15:19)

"I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world."  (Joh 17:14-16)

The Kingdoms of this World
"Again, the devil *took Him to a very high mountain and *showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory;" (Mat 4:8)

At the appointed time, the kingdoms of this world will become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ.

"Then the seventh angel sounded; and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, 'The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever.'"  (Rev 11:15)

Until then, the kingdoms of this world belong to satan.

God’s Kingdom is Not of this World
Jesus answered, "My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm."  (Joh 18:36)

The Wisdom of the World
Paul said the world in its wisdom did not come to know God:

“Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.” (1Co 1:20-21)

For the wisdom of this world is foolishness before God. For it is written, "He is THE ONE WHO CATCHES THE WISE IN THEIR CRAFTINESS";  (1Co 3:19)

The spirit of the World
Many times people talk about catching the spirit of something like a holiday or a sporting event or a celebration.  They are talking about the spirit of the world.

“Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God,”  (1Co 2:12)

The Ruler of this World
Jesus said that satan is the ruler of this world, who has been judged, and he will be cast out of the world he rules:

"Now judgment is upon this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out.  (Joh 12:31)

"I will not speak much more with you, for the ruler of the world is coming, and he has nothing in Me;  (Joh 14:30)

“And concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged.”  (Joh 16:11)

The World is in the Power of the Evil One
We know that we are of God, and that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.  (1Jn 5:19)

Using the world
Sometimes we have to use the world, such as a laptop, a phone, or a car.  Paul said those who use the world should do so as if they did not make full use of it.

“And those who use the world, as though they did not make full use of it; for the form of this world is passing away.”  (1Co 7:31)

Concerned for Worldly Things
“But one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how he may please his wife, and his interests are divided. The woman who is unmarried, and the virgin, is concerned about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and spirit; but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how she may please her husband.” (1Co 7:33-34)

Paul warned against becoming worldly in your concern about how you can please your spouse. If you are married, please see A Warning for Married Christian Couples.

The Sorrow of the World
"For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death."  (2Co 7:10)

Many songs express the sorrow of the world, but the Bible says that kind of sorrow produces death.  Likewise the funerals of those who are spiritually dead also express worldly sorrow.   The same is true of many novels and secular TV programs.  The one kind of sorrow that is good is repentance from sin, which leads to salvation!

Crucified to the World
"But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world."  (Gal 6:14)

The Age of this World
And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. (Eph 2:1-2)

The Elementary Principles of the World
There is something known as the elementary principles of this world, which are manmade rules and traditions, based on their philosophy.  We don’t live by these empty deceptions, or submit ourselves to them, but have died to them.  We live according to Christ and are captive to Him.

“See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.”  (Col 2:8)

“If you have died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world, why, as if you were living in the world, do you submit yourself to decrees, such as,”  (Col 2:20)

Keep Yourself Unstained by the World
There is such a thing as pure and undefiled religion in the sight of God.  It involves keeping yourself from becoming polluted by the world.

“Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.”  (Jas 1:27)

Escaping The Corruption in the World
The apostle Peter spoke about escaping the corruption that is in the world: “For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.”  (2Pe 1:4)

“For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and are overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first.”  (2Pe 2:20)

Friendship with the World
Unfortunately many Christians today have become adulterers, because they were betrothed to Christ alone as His Bride, but they are in bed with the world. They have become friends with the world.  “You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.”  (Jas 4:4)

Do Not Be Conformed to the World
"And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect." (Rom 12:2)

Do Not Love the World
“Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.”  (1Jn 2:15-16)

The World Doesn’t Know Us, It Hates Us
“See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.”  (1Jn 3:1)

“Do not be surprised, brethren, if the world hates you.”  (1Jn 3:13)

Since the world did not know Jesus, it does not know us, but hates us. Everyone who seeks to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.  If you are not being persecuted and the world doesn’t hate you, then you need to examine yourself to see if you have become a friend of the world.  Woe to you when all men speak well of you.

Greater is He that is in You Than He That is in the World
“You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.”  (1Jn 4:4)

From the World
“They are from the world; therefore they speak as from the world, and the world listens to them.”  (1Jn 4:5)

Overcome the World
“For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world--our faith. Who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?”  (1Jn 5:4-5)

Defining Worldliness
The modern term “worldliness” comes from the biblical expression “of the world.”  That is a very broad term -- as broad as the world is, since it means being friends with the world or being like the world or loving the world or the things of the world.  It may involve going along with the spirit of the world, catching that spirit, agreeing with it, and living in accordance with it.  It may involve making full use the things of the world.

Anytime a disciple of Christ becomes concerned with the things of this world, their interests are divided between Christ’s interests and the world’s.  So we must be very careful not to let those concerns take us away from serving the Lord. It is best not to be divided in our interests, but to be devoted.

Jesus was in the world but He was not of this world.  And he said the same about His disciples, too.  We are in this world but not of it.  Others are from the world, and they speak as from the world.  Therefore the world listens to them.

It would be impossible to list every thing that is in the world that one could possibly love.  But some of the things it includes are what we call society and culture, along with its language – both verbal and non-verbal, its expressions, arts, entertainment, recreational activities, sports, competitions, hobbies, leisurely pastimes, politics, wealth and riches, images, icons, idols, literature, fables, fairy tales, myths, legends, educational institutions and programs, other institutions, networks, clubs, technology, social and other media, websites, fashions, styles, decorations, adornments, costumes, world order, thrones, titles, organizations, arrangements, values, principles, ideas, concepts, structures, systems, fraternal orders, secret societies, pursuits, holidays, parties, celebrations, festivals, events, awards, ceremonies, customs, religions, rituals, and rites.

There are simply too many specific things to possibly list in those general categories, but they include secular movies, secular television, cartoons, video games, recreational use of alcoholic beverages, smoking cigarettes and using other tobacco products, idealism, omnism, liberalism, racism, humanism, individualism, intellectualism, universalism, hedonism, tourism, commercialism, materialism, wealth, luxury, jewelry, gambling, tattoos, body piercing, worldly hairstyles and clothing, as well as dancing and secular music, such as rock, rap, and reggae.  Even vehicles can be considered worldly treasures, and can even become idols. Therefore it is impossible to fully define the sin of worldliness.

Putting it All Together
From these Scriptures we’ve learned many things. I trust that the sin of worldliness will no longer be a forgotten one for those who read this post and take to heart the things written in it.  The devil who is satan is the ruler of this world, and he doesn't want you to know or believe that the sin of worldliness exists.  He is the prince of the power of the air, and the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. His kingdom is of this world, and the glory he has is the glory of those kingdoms. He already stands condemned and will one day be cast out.

There is a spirit of this world, which the world embraces.  They have their wisdom, their elementary principles, and vain philosophies.  They may hate certain aspects of the evil empires, and seek to avoid involvement in those things.  But they do not accept the Spirit of Truth.  In fact, they cannot receive Him.

This world is full of corruption.  Just as surely as it’s iron gates and pipes and vehicles are rusting away, so too the world itself is undergoing decay from it’s corruption.  That’s why we need the Lord Jesus Christ in order to escape the corruption in the world, since the world will be condemned with its ruler and destroyed.

Worldliness is a deadly sin!  What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and yet loses his own soul? So many believers today have become friends with the world.  They have become so enamored with the world that they have lost their first love for the Lord Jesus Christ.  In fact, they don't even realize any more what they are doing that is actually worldly or what it means to be worldly. 

We need to keep ourselves from being stained by these things.  We need to hate our lives in this world and follow Jesus. Rather than being of the world, we are supposed to overcome the world by our faith.

If you will ask the Lord, He will expose any worldliness that you have allowed to creep into your life.  If you have committed adultery with the world, then repent.  Cry out to Him for mercy and forgiveness.  Ask Him to draw you back to Himself and deliver you from those traps of the devil.

Come out from among them and be separate from the world.  Let us return to the Lord and He will heal us.

"Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts. Let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will freely pardon." (Is 55:6-7, NIV)

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. Most other Scriptures taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version® NIV®, unless otherwise noted.
Author's note: If you enjoyed this post, you may also like Separation from the WorldHoly Living in a Perverted World, Come Out of Her, What's Wrong with the Prosperity Gospel?, Garments of Godliness, Keeping Your Body Pure and Holy, Keeping Sundays HolyFaith Works!Alcohol and Cigarettes -- Ten Divine Revelations, Godly Attire and Adornment -- Seven Divine Revelations, Rock, Rap, and Reggae Music -- Three Divine Revelations, Tattoos and Body Piercing, Visitation of Jesus to Samuel Oghenetega, Ibrahim's Experience in Hell, Demonology 301, and One Thing. I highly recommend reading, Only the Holy -- Three Shocking Testimonies, Restored Truth, and Holy Fire Baptism. You may find the Main Directory for this blog at Home, and also access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master."

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission.


  1. Denis, you're welcome. Please consider enrolling in our discipleship training, next quarter begins tomorrow.


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