The World - A Love/ Hate Relationship

Scripture: 2 Timothy 4:10, John 12:31-32, John 3:17
Date: 02/07/2015 
It is a challenge to be a Christian when the culture of the world is moving downward. Sharing God's love with others keeps it alive in our hearts, too.
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Note: This is an unedited, verbatim transcript of the live broadcast.

Scripture reading: 1 John 2:15-17

“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love 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 pride of life is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away and the lust thereof; but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever.”

Good morning, church family. I’d like to thank the choir for that fine song. I enjoyed the theme in that combination of familiar tunes.

Our message today is dealing with the subject of the world; a love/hate relationship. Now, I could make lots of excuses but it’s just a fact that I was a difficult child. I’m sure there are reasons and psychiatrists could probably find more excuses than I could come up with. I remember in particular one time, my mother becoming so exasperated with my bad behavior. And she was only about 5’ 3”. I was a teenager at the time, but she took me by the throat and she shook me. And then when she realized that she had become temporarily possessed, and that I might question her parental affection she said, “I love you. But sometimes I want to kill you.”

Have you ever experienced a love/hate relationship? Have you known couples before that seem like they’re incessantly fighting, but if you were to ask them they would say, “Oh, I love her,” or “I love him.” And you wonder how they could survive together. It seems they have a love/hate relationship.

When you read in the Bible, sometimes it appears that the Christian is called to have a love/hate relationship with the world. Of course you just heard our Scripture reading: love not the world. That’s a commandment to not love the world. And then of course what is the most favorite, or most famous, Scripture in the world? “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son.” So here on one hand, we are commanded, “Don’t love the world.” On the other hand, we’re being told, “God so loves the world.” And we expect that we are to emulate that behavior. So it becomes confusing sometimes. What is to be the attitude of the Christian with, and toward, the world?

Well, keep in mind that in the same way that God loves the sinner and hates the sin, He loves the world but He hates many of the things in the world and worldliness. Now, the world, the Bible tells us, is our enemy. I’m not talking about the people in the world, but the attitudes of the world. See the devil is called the prince of this world. And the characteristics of his kingdom can be seen—it’s worldliness. And it’s worldliness that eventually drowns and strangles true Christian spirituality.

I have a number of Scriptures for you today. They’ll not all be on the screen, you may want to take some of them down. And there’s a lot more than I’ll be able to share with you. James 4:4, “You adulterers and adulteresses. Know ye not that friendship with the world is enmity…” in opposition to “…is enmity with God. Whoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.”

How comfortable are you in this world? After an evangelistic meeting where I believe it was Dwight Moody was preaching on the second coming, some lady afterwards she got up and stormed out. Made so much noise, you could hear the swishing of her skirt as she exited. He came up to her later and she was pacing back and forth in the foyer. And he said, “I could see that you looked disturbed when you left. What was the problem?” She said, “How dare you!” He said, “Pardon me?” She said, “How dare you pray that Jesus come quickly. We don’t want Him to come quickly. I don’t want Him to come quickly. It would mess up all of my plans.” And yet, you’d be surprised how many people there are in the church who, if they were really asked, “Can you pray, ‘Even so come Lord Jesus.’ Do you want Him to come now?” they’d say, “Well not just yet.”

You know when I travel and I do weeks of prayer and devotionals at the different schools and academies, a very common theme when I talk about the second coming is some of the young people express discomfort with the concept of the eminence, the soon coming, of Jesus. And I’ll probe a little bit and I’ll try to find out why. And they’ll say, “Will there be marriage in Heaven? Will there be babies?” And you know what the heart of it is, they’re afraid if Jesus comes before they enjoy some of the blessings of life (having a family, getting married, having children) they’re feeling like they’re going to get left out. Well, that you can understand. But what’s really bad is some people believe that the coming of Jesus will interfere with their worldly pleasure, with their positions, with their passions. And there seems to be this war raging between the spirit and the flesh; between the world and what God has called us to do.

The world attracts us away from Christ and it happens very slowly and imperceptibly. It’s not a new dynamic. You can read in the Bible, Paul is about to be executed, 2 Timothy 4:10. Someone that Paul mentions in his other letters as one of his associates, his supporters, he says, “For Demas has forsaken me.” Paul’s in prison, you need all the friends you can get when you’re in jail. In Bible times they did not have three square meals a day at the prison cafeteria. Your friends provided for you. And when you were in prison and you lost a friend, it was a real loss. “Demas has forsaken me, having loved the present world.” Now you and I are looking for a different world, the future world, right? So when we talk about worldliness, we’re talking about the prince of this world, the present world, and the characteristics of that world that are at war with the principles of God.

Now you might be thinking, “Doug, we don’t really need to hear a message about worldliness, what we need is the Holy Spirit.” And it’s because I believe our greatest need is the Holy Spirit I feel it’s imperative that we talk about the creeping erosion of the world into our thinking, into our lives. Let me see if I can illustrate.

If you’ve got a tooth infection and maybe you need a root canal, sometimes the dentist will say…and I can say this because our dentist is outside, he doesn’t hear me right now. Sometimes our dentist will say, “I can’t do that until you take some antibiotics and the infection subsides.” I know of somebody recently, they had a badly inflamed gall bladder and they needed surgery. And so they said, “Well please, for Heaven’s sake take it out.” The doctor said, “We can’t take it out yet, it’s still hot. It’s inflamed. We need to give you something to get it to calm down and then we can deal with it.”

The Lord cannot fill us with the Holy Spirit when we’re still infected with worldliness. Now, keep in mind the baptism of the Holy Spirit is different than the working of sanctification and the washing of the Holy Spirit. I can prove my case. If you could simply pray, “Lord baptize us and fill us with the Holy Spirit,” and BINGO—you get it as you are first introduced to Christ, then why did Jesus make the disciples walk with Him and make them learn and develop the sanctified life before Pentecost? They had to learn to divorce themselves from the world; that their hearts, their vessels, would be prepared for the filling of the Spirit. That’s why they spent ten days in prayer putting aside their differences, repenting of their sins, and then they could be cleaned.

You know, another way you might illustrate and it’s very simple, if you’re thirsty and you’ve got a hose with plenty of good, clean water, clear, crystal, tasty, sweet water, and an unlimited supply, and you’ve got a pitcher and you’d like to drink some of the water, you use some of the water first to clean the pitcher if it’s a dirty pitcher. You don’t just take the clean water and put it in the dirty pitcher and start drinking because, well, then you’re going to drink the dirt. First you use some of the water for cleansing, then you use the water for filling. That’s how the Holy Spirit works. First God sends His Spirit to cleanse us from the worldliness. Then when our vessels are sanctified, we are fit then to receive the baptism of the Spirit.

Now I’m not saying you have to be perfect before you’re fit for that. Obviously the apostles were not, but I think we’ll all agree they went through a genuine conversion before they were filled with the Holy Spirit. How many of you would like to be filled with the Holy Spirit? Then it’s appropriate for us to talk about this poison of worldliness that very slowly erodes our faith.

You know, we had an excellent Sabbath School presentation this morning from Teri Fode. We were not comparing notes, but it ties in perfectly with what we’re talking about now.

I look back on my experience as a Christian and I am ashamed to tell you that in some respects I am more worldly now than I was when I first accepted Christ. Of course when I first accepted Christ I was not living in the city with a television, I was living in a cave with virtually nothing but a Bible. And it’s a little easier to keep your mind focused on the Lord in a situation like that, than when you’re involved with so many of the distracting dynamics of the civilized life. And that scares me. Because it’s impossible for us to get to Heaven when our hearts are full of the world. And I figure if it’s a concern of mine, it may be a concern of yours.

Are you worried about the world clouding your spiritual relationship with the Lord? Is it just me? The influences all around us… And sometimes it’s a real struggle to be spiritually minded and to make sure that our love for the Lord is supreme when we’re surrounded by so much worldly influence.

We all know about the cooking frog scenario. You all know what I’m talking about? For those of you who don’t know, please don’t do this at home, but they say that if you take a frog, a live frog, and you toss him in a pot of boiling water he will jump out from the shock. He might still die later from the scalding, but he’ll at least try to get out. But if you put a frog in some tepid water in a pot, and then slowly, very slowly, turn up the heat, because of his amphibious nature and the way his blood operates he will never make… if you do it slow enough, you’ll eventually have the water boiling around the frog and he’ll be ready to eat. He’ll die and he’ll never get out because you very slowly turned up the heat. And the frog gets cooked. That’s where the expression “the cooked frog,” “boiling the frog…”

That boiling the frog scenario happens with Christians. The devil is an expert at very slowly changing our thinking imperceptibly. He does it through the commercials between the good programs. He plants influences and he slowly rubs off the edges of conviction and dulls our perceptions. And little by little…

You know how a wedge works? You cannot split an oak tree with a rock. But if you take a wedge, and it’s got a sharp point… I used to split rail fences out of oak. I cut probably 8 foot 2 sections, 8 foot 2 inch sections of an oak round. It would be about, oh, 18 inches across. And I would split them into fence posts and I would sell them in town. You can’t just split one of those with a hammer. You’d have to start with a little point. And I had a series of wedges. And I’d get a little point in and then I’d place another wedge and tap that little point in, it would widen and I’d place another one, tap it in, it would widen. And I could split the whole tree across. How many of you men have done this before? You can split a tree in two. It makes you feel very strong.

But do you know how it happens? You get a little wedge in, and once you get that little split begun you just keep increasing it. And this is how the devil gets into our thinking. He just needs a little entering wedge. Jesus said it’s like leaven. “A little leaven leavens the whole lump.” It just takes a little influence and pretty soon it permeates the whole. And this is the way the worldliness begins to take possession of our thinking.

And if we make no effort to guard against it, we’ll look back one day and find out that we are completely worldly, nominal Christians and it came upon us and you cannot put your finger on the day when it happened. It happens little by little. So, if you make no conscious effort to resist the encroachment of the world on your thinking, you will certainly someday be a worldly Christian, if there is such a thing. It happens little by

little, step by step. And we need to pray that God will give us the grace not to let that take us over.

Have you ever heard of back-jumping, back-hopping, back-leaping? No. How does a person go backwards? They slide. They slip and they slide and it’s slow. It’s imperceptible. And this is the way the devil operates.

There’s a risk when I talk about a message like this, and I’m willing to take this risk, that I’ll be accused of being behavior oriented, of being legalistic, judgmental. Whenever you talk about living a Holy life, the devil always has his representatives that use their battle cry and their battle cry consists of things like: moderation, tolerance, balance. And what’s really implied by that is you need to moderate a little sin with your Holiness. You need to balance a little bit of evil with your sanctification. And really, that’s the suggestion.

Now those words do have their appropriate place, and there are people who do not understand how to use that. It is important for us to understand how to tolerate and when to tolerate, how to have balance, how to have moderation. But those same words can be abused. And they become the battle cry of the worldly in the church. Don’t be deceived by that. There’s some things that you are not to tolerate. There’s some things you’re not to moderate. There’s some things you are not to balance. Some things are just plain wrong. And you’ve got to stand up and let people know that. You’ve got to be bold in proclaiming that.

The Bible tells us that we are to have a Holy hatred of the world. Now hatred is a strong word. Sometimes I’ll hear the kids say during dinner, “I hate broccoli” or something. And I’ll say, “Don’t say ‘hate.’” That’s the strongest word. Save that word. Save it for when it really means something. You know, we use the words ‘love’ and ‘hate’ recklessly don’t we. Those are very strong words. Say, “I intensely dislike Brussels sprouts.” That will work. But don’t say, ‘hate’. But the Bible tells us that we are to hate the world. We are to hate evil. And it’s to be a Holy hatred.

Jesus hated sin. Sin is what kills us. The Bible tells us in Psalm 97:10, I like this, “You who love the Lord…” Who here loves the Lord, let me see? “You who love the Lord, hate evil.” Do you hate evil? Or do you tolerate evil? Do you moderate evil? Do you balance evil? We’re to hate evil. And that means sometimes you need to speak up and say, “That’s evil. That’s wrong.” And take the risk of looking like a wide-eyed fanatic. And that’s how they looked at Jesus.

Job 1 tells us that he was a perfect man, one who feared God and eschewed, hated, avoided, loathed evil. Again, Proverbs 8:13, “The fear of the Lord…” The Bible says that the third angel’s message is consisting of “Fear God and give glory to Him.” What does it mean to fear God? It says here the fear of the Lord, Proverbs 8:13, is to “hate evil.” That’s what it means to be a God-fearing person.

Psalm 119:128, “Therefore I esteem all thy precepts concerning all things to be right and I hate every false way.” We are to esteem, to respect, to regard what God teaches as right, and hate everything evil.

Jesus is speaking here, John 15:19… If you’re uncomfortable with this message, please reserve your comments for your prayer time with the Lord because this is a Bible teaching friends. John 15:19, Christ said, “If you were of the world, the world would love its own. But because you’re not of the world, because I’ve chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.

Now, I’m not suggesting that you ought to go out there and see how much you can get the world to hate you. There are people who believe in righteousness by virtue of being obnoxious. They think that the more obnoxious they can be that must mean they’re doing everything right. I think we ought to be attractive and winsome people. But I can guarantee if you’re living Godly, if you’re living a Holy life, the world is going to hate you. You are going to make the world uncomfortable; for the same reason that the enemies of Jesus crucified Him. It was not the goodness of Christ that… or the evil of Jesus that threatened them, it was the goodness of Jesus that made their evil stand out.

Christ also says, John 7:7, “The world cannot hate you,” this was before they were commissioned, “but me it hates because I testify of it that the works thereof are evil.” If you have the audacity to tell the world that it’s evil, they’re going to hate you. Why did they hate Jesus? He tells us. He says, “Because I testify the works thereof are evil.” Is there ever a time for us to specify that there are things in the world that are evil? Is there I ask? Yeah. The church is I think becoming too complacent. We want to be accepted. We want to be politically correct. We think somehow that through compromise we’re going to have more influence. We actually lose our influence through compromise. I don’t know who it was that said, but somebody said, “By adapting the Gospel to the age many have crippled the Gospel.”

Now back to our opening Scripture. Turn with me please to John, first John, first letter of John chapter 2, verse 15. I’ve memorized this passage. But there are three main areas that are addressed in here. And let’s read this together and identify these three primary areas. “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world.” Now he’s not saying to hate the world right after God says He so loved the world. It’s the same author who said both things, John. 1 John 2:15. I’m sorry, thank you Dear. 1 John 2:15. 1 John 2:15. “Love not the world neither the things that are in the world. If any man loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world,” and here he identifies the three categories of what we are to hate, “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life is not of the Father but of the world. And the world passes away and the lusts thereof, but he that does the will of God abides forever.”

Why do we not want to love the world and these things? Because those that do will pass away. But those that love God and His will, will live forever. How important is this message? Life and death. It’s a life and death message. The world will kill you. The worldliness will drown you.

Now you notice that when man first fell in the Garden of Eden when Eve was tempted (and you could also apply this to Adam) the same three areas where she fell are the three areas that John identifies. Notice he says, “Lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, pride of life.” In Genesis 3:6 when Eve was at the forbidden tree, and when the woman saw the tree that it was (1) “good for food.” What would that be? Lust of the flesh. (2) “pleasant to the eyes.” Lust of the eyes. (3) “a tree desired to make one wise.” “You will be as God.” The pride of life.

Those same areas where Eve fell are the three main areas that encompass all sin. It really does get summarized in that area. When Jesus was tempted in the desert by the devil in the wilderness how many temptations came? Three primary temptations that deal with the same three areas. He said, “Turn these stones into bread.” He was hungry. The lust of the flesh. He said, “Cast yourself…” Oh, he showed Him the kingdoms of the world. And he said, “If you’ll fall down and worship me all this will be yours. You will be king of the world.” That’s the pride of life. And he showed Him the kingdoms and their glory. And he said, “Cast yourself off the temple because angels will bear you up.” And that would be representative of the lust of the eyes. No, that was when he saw all the kingdoms, I’m sorry. The pride of life, “You’ve got this power,” was when he cast himself off the temple. You’ve got the same three areas where Eve fell are the same three areas where Jesus overcame, and these are the same three areas that we all wrestle with.

Now you should find some comfort here, because you thought you had fifty areas you were struggling with, right? Isn’t it good to know there’s really three, only three things left you need to worry about? But they’re pretty big areas cause those are general areas. Let’s look at them individually. The big three.

You’ve got the lust of the flesh. Now principally when I say the lust of the flesh what first comes to your mind? People think about sex, right? But that’s not the only area. Let me read some of the list that is given to us in God’s Word. Galatians 5. We all want the fruits of the Spirit. Have you noticed that before Paul lists the fruits of the Spirit he says you need to deal with the lusts of the flesh? If we want to be a Spirit-filled church we cannot ignore that we are being crippled and handcuffed to the lusts of the flesh and say, “I want to be Spirit-filled.” You’ve got to first cut the chains.

And it says here, “Here are the works of the flesh, they’re manifest (they’re evident), which are these (here we go): adultery, fornication (similar categories), uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, with wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such the like of which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past,” I’ve got this in blue in my notes, “they that do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

Now when I review that list, there are some things in there that make me nervous. I’m not going to tell you, God knows what they are. And I bet when you review that list, there are some things that make you nervous. And he says then that “they that do these things will not…” It’s not that there’s a waiting list. They “will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

And by God’s grace and through the power of Jesus we need to get the victory over the lusts of the flesh. Listen to this one: Titus 2:12, “teaching us that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts we should live soberly…” He talks about drunkenness in the other list. “…righteously, and Godly in this present world.” Is it possible for us to live soberly, righteously and Godly in this present world? Why else would Paul command us to do it if it was impossible? And that means that we need to be able to rein in our carnal lower nature that so often leads us astray. Peter puts it this way, “that you no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God.” We need to be living for the will of God.

Now, since I already showed you a picture of food, let’s talk about that for a minute. That’s one area where our age is very vulnerable, and in the church. Now how many would agree here, and I’ll talk about this in just a moment, that adultery and fornication is a sin? Would we all agree? And pornography, that’s mental fornication, those are sins. Those are sins of the flesh where a person allows the drives and desires of the flesh to go against what’s morally right because they’re being controlled by their animal nature.

Now God gave you that drive and in the confines of a sanctified marriage that conjugal relationship is blessed. God gave you taste buds, right? He wants you to enjoy your food. But you know, of course, some people eat to live and some people live to eat. It can go both ways. And we sometimes will condemn one area of following after the lust of the flesh and we’ll mock and laugh at the other.

I’ve done it, I admit it, it’s just true. You go to a potluck, right, and there’s such a big buffet, and there’s so many things that look good. And before you know it you go through line, and because you just wanted to taste a little bit and… If someone ever wants to question whether or not we have faith, all you’ve got to do is watch people at a potluck. They’re heaping it on, they don’t know where it came from, they don’t know who cooked it, they don’t know what their kitchen looks like, they don’t know what’s in it. And they go back for seconds. Right? Ah, see, we’re laughing now. See what I mean?

And you go through line and you pile it up and you take twice as much as your stomach was designed by God to contain. And you know, I’m ashamed. Sometimes I come away from potluck and I go home and I can’t even eat anymore the rest of the day because I’ve stored up for winter. And yeah, you distend your whole stomach. And then when you do get hungry you’re inclined to overeat next time because you never feel like you’re full, your stomach’s stretched out that big.

I’ve got a friend, she was a radiologist. And she was a lady who had one of those metabolisms where she just never gained weight. But she had an incredible appetite her whole life. Lived into her 90’s and she said, “Doug I thought it would get better when I got older, but I still have this incredible appetite.” And she told me one time, because she was an x-ray doctor she drank this solution where you can x-ray your stomach. And she said she was so embarrassed. Because here she was this petite woman and she looked at this x-ray of her stomach and she said it filled her torso. She said, “I was so embarrassed. I didn’t realize I’d stretched my stomach out where it was three times what probably a normal person’s stomach was.” And she said, “It’s because I wasn’t gaining weight I figured I could just eat more and more and more.”

Gluttony is a sin. And it not only manifests itself if we gain weight. The Bible tells us that we ought to have control over our passions. And eat for strength and not for drunkenness. Here’s that Scripture: Ecclesiastes 10:7….17. Ecclesiastes 10:17. “Blessed are thou old man when thy king is the son of nobles and thy princes eat in due season…” That means eating at the right time. “…For strength and not for drunkenness.” We ought to be eating at the right time, not nibbling all day long. And especially in a country where we’ve got such copious quantities of good things to eat. There’s so much food. And when so many in the world are hungry, that it’s real easy for us to lose that self-control for simplicity. And it ends up being a lust of the flesh.

Then, of course, we do know about the passions of sex. You can scarcely watch a commercial where they’re not trying to use the sex drive to sell everything from toothpaste to rototillers. And you know, the way to sell something to a society that is sex-saturated is to try and tell you somehow when you buy this new oil for your car, it’s going to make you sexier. And it’s amazing to me how these marketing advertising geniuses connect almost any product… the computer—it’s going to make you sexier. This variety, this brand of computer, whatever it is.

And it’s amazing to me how many times they try to connect it with that. You know why? Because the average American has cut the reins and they have given vent to their passions. And sex in our society, it’s like shaking hands. Isn’t that right? If two people begin to date nobody even bats an eye if they’re living together within a few weeks. They just figure, “Well, you know, they need to find out if they’re compatible.”

And you’ve heard me say before that if a prospective couple wants to find out if they’re compatible they don’t need to share a bed, they need to share a checkbook. Right? The number one cause for divorce is not because their plumbing’s incompatible. The number one cause is financial difficulties. We’ve been deceived.

And I can’t go too far with this, but I’ll just say that the epidemic of pornography is much bigger than any of us knows. It’s easier for people to get on the phone… I was listening to the Minirth-Meyer Clinic radio program. Some of you have heard that locally. It’s easier for people to get on the phone and to say, or to confess to their pastor, or confess to their support group, “I’ve got a problem with alcohol.” It’d be difficult, but it’s easier to do that. Or to say, you know, “I’ve got a problem. I’m a foodaholic.” But not too many people are ready to say, “I’m a sexual pervert. I’ve got a problem. Will you pray for me?”

So there’s this disease, there’s this cancer, that not only is in the world blatantly, but there’s so much of it even underneath the surface in the church. But we know it’s still not acceptable yet. And so, little by little, it begins to erode the spirituality. The lust of the flesh.

You know, not only would we think about food and things like the sex drive, but the Bible talks about something else. It’s slothfulness. People who, their love of ease, they don’t want to do anything. That’s carnal. The Bible says in Proverbs 26:14, “As a door turns upon its hinges, so does the slothful,” that means the lazy person, “upon their bed.”

If Solomon was alive today he would say, “As the man reaches for the remote control so does the slothful man.” You know we spend so much time just plopped down like couch potatoes, in front of the television set, and we are lovers of ease and idleness. That is the lust of the flesh. It’s not wanting to do anything. God said, “Six days thou shall work.” He wants us to get out and use our bodies and be active, be productive, do something for the Kingdom and because we love ease, and we turn on our beds and we don’t want to do anything. I could go on, but there won’t be time.

The lust of the eyes. We’ve talked a little bit about the lust of the flesh. Now this category of the lust of the eyes, it actually bleeds over a little bit into the lust of the flesh. Because you can think of examples in the Bible where somebody’s lusting with their eyes turned into lusting with their flesh. Right?

Like Sampson who did not want to deny himself. He fell in love with a Philistine woman. It was something he should not have. But he said, “Get her for me. She pleaseth me well.” And he started to whine to his parents. He just had to have her. “I cannot live without her.” And you know what? Before the wedding was over he was disgusted with her. It went from a love to a hate relationship. Isn’t that right? If you know the Bible, that’s what happened. He saw her, he thought, “I can’t live without her. She’s the one. Beautiful. Got to have her.” Before the wedding was over he found out what was on the inside. She betrayed him. And he never even consummated the marriage with that woman. Had to have her. Lust of the eyes. It never even became physical.

People become infatuated. David, walking on his roof saw Bathsheba. And this should be a lesson here. You know I don’t write these things out so sometimes it’s prudent for me to pause and think through how to say this. Ladies, you need to be aware that men are looking. Don’t be bathing in public where they can see. Is that right? And so, there was this lingering look.

Now I think David became infatuated with her beauty. And you know, let’s face it. How many appreciate beauty? Only six of you? Come on. Does God want us to appreciate beauty? He’s designed us (that’s another thing that the Lord has pre-wired us) if you’re normal, we’re to appreciate beauty. That’s not a bad thing. I appreciate beauty. And you know, there’ll be a time where Karen or I will conversate with each other and we will acknowledge this person or that person, male or female, they’re an attractive person, a good-looking person. It doesn’t even have to be a person. We appreciate beauty. And it’s okay to acknowledge that. You’ve got to be careful about telling a person they’re beautiful because you can destroy them, cast a snare for their feet.

And David saw this woman and he said, “Woo. I’ve only got ten wives. I think eleven will make me happy.” And so he gets his servant, he says, “Who is she? Is she available?” And he comes back and he says, “Ah, that’s Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah. I can’t live without her. She’s so beautiful.” The lust of the eyes. It was not the lust of the flesh yet. It became that.

It also manifests itself in materialism. Now, it’s okay to see something that is beautiful, that is available, that you can have. It’s not always wrong. I mean, when you go shopping, think about how much you are enjoying or appreciating beauty or evaluating with your eyes when you’re out shopping whether or not you want something. But if your decision is being determined by your eyes, “I must have it…” It’s like Ahab looked at Naboth’s vineyard and said, “Oh it’s so beautiful, such lush…I’d like to have it, it’s right by me.” And he just had to have it at any cost. Even though in his mind he said, “It’s not mine and he’s not selling it.” He had his wife kill the man so he could get the lust of the eyes.

And so, when you’re out shopping it’s not wrong to look at something and appreciate it, but then you’ve got to transition; somewhere you’ve got to flip that breaker switch in your mind between the desire of the eyes and the calculation of the brain where you’ve got to reason and say, “Do I need it? Is it okay? Is it appropriate? Does God want me to have it?” Sometimes you just say, “I’ve got to have it!” Your credit card is run up to it’s limit. “I don’t care; I’ve got to have it.” We’re not thinking anymore with our brains, we’re thinking with the lust of our eyes.

You know what Jesus said about that. Mark 9:47, “And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out. For it’s better for thee to enter the Kingdom of God with one eye than having two eyes cast into Hellfire.” If you can’t control your credit card (I’m translating here for you) cut it up. For it’s better for you to not have that new dress or that new car or that new tool or whatever it happens to be, than to file bankruptcy. Right? The lust of the eyes.

The lust of the eyes is also especially epidemic with the one-eyed monster Boob Tube that most of us have in our homes. Psalm 119:37, “Turn away my eyes from looking at worthless things and revive me in your way.” Karen and I were just talking last night. We were watching 3ABN and were talking about television. And we’re just wondering whether or not we should toss them out. And we’re praying about that because I’ll tell you what: It’s amazing how, when you get your TV as a Christian (some of you, of course, you’ve always had them) you resolve, “I’m only going to watch good things.” How many have made that resolution?

And, but it’s real easy while you’re watching good things to see upcoming attractions for things that aren’t as good. And the frog begins to boil and he doesn’t know it. And the wedge gets in and the tree starts to split. And the termites start to eat away at the foundation and, little by little, all of a sudden one day you’re sitting down and you’re watching something and your conscience isn’t doing what it used to do and you’re going, “What happened? I thought I resolved a while ago I’m not going to watch this kind of junk.”

Now maybe you don’t expect me to talk to you like this, but I’ve seen it happen to me. Have you seen it happen to you? Don’t get comfortable like that cause it’s killing you spiritually. It will kill you spiritually. Listen to what David said, “Turn away my eyes.” He’s praying. I think we need to pray this prayer. Amen? I think we need to say, “Lord, turn away our eyes from looking at worthless things and revive me in Your way.” We need to pray for a revival.

You know what happens before He revives us in His way? We have to say, “God turn away my eyes from beholding worthless things.” And that would probably just be the programming time between 12 midnight and 12 midnight. How many of us would admit most of it’s worthless? All six of you will admit it. Come on. Most of it? I’m going to give you a big window here. Isn’t most of it worthless? But how much… (I won’t ask for a show of hands) We spend a lot of time beholding worthless things. The lust of the eyes.

Psalm 101:3, “I will set no wicked thing before my eyes.” We would never commit adultery. We wouldn’t think of fornication or violating our marriages. We wouldn’t murder. We wouldn’t even lie. But we will vicariously enjoy watching other people do that. Now, follow me. See if this makes sense. Jesus said, “If a man looks upon a woman and lusts after her in his heart, he has committed adultery with that person in his heart.” He has committed a sin in his heart. He has not committed physical adultery. The other person doesn’t even know what he’s thinking. But there’s a record that he has sinned in his heart. And he needs to repent of that. Would you agree? It’s an attitude of sin.

If we are sitting down and we are enjoying evil that we are supposed to hate, if we’re being entertained by evil, if we’re being entertained by people murdering, if we’re being entertained by people lying, if we’re being entertained by people flaunting wicked things…murder, deception, greed, pride and all these things are extolled and flaunted. And we vicariously are participating in these things. Can you imagine the record that we’d have to face in the judgment for all the sin we’re accountable for because we endorsed and supported willingly by beholding it? Amen? We’d have a pretty heavy record to deal with. But I think that we need to really consider some of us have not prepared our hearts for the reception of the Holy Spirit because our vessels are so full of worthless things that we have placed there through the lust of the eyes. I’m sorry. No I’m not.

The pride of life. Now, I could probably summarize this by talking about possessions, power, position, popularity. You think about Nebuchadnezzar walking on his roof and he says, “Is this not the great Babylon that I have made for the glory of my kingdom and my excellency, my majesty.” There was a proud man. Proud of his position, his accomplishments, his possessions. And he was getting ready to lose everything. The pride of life. Just the general pride of life.

You know, at the heart of that pride of life is wanting to be God. That was the devil’s first sin. That’s what he held before Eve, “You will be as God.” And people like that power. That’s why some people are materialistic and they want money because of the power that it brings.

Speaking of the religious leaders… Hold that thought. Going back to our Scripture where the Bible says, “Love not the world neither the things that are in the world.” Who was John writing to? Was he writing to the Roman Pagans? Or was he writing to the church? Do you understand that because he was writing to the church, that the church has a problem loving the world. The church has a problem with the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the pride of life. This is a message to the church.

And so, back now to what Jesus said to the religious leaders. Matthew 23:5-7, “But all of their works they do to be seen of men. They make broad their phylacteries, they enlarge the borders of their garments, they love the uppermost rooms in the feasts and the chief seats in the synagogues, and the greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, ‘Rabbi, Rabbi.’” They like to be seen. They like the position. They like to…the titles, “Doctor, Rabbi.” And they flaunt these things. The pride of life. That won’t get you into the Kingdom.

Now, I don’t want to take those things much farther. I could go on and on with any one of them. But I think we all know that we are easily distracted with varying degrees of the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.

Jesus said that we need to ask for grace to know how to live in the world without the world being in us. Would you agree that’s a challenge? I really enjoyed Teri’s talk during Sabbath School where she says, “How do you witness as a Christian when you’re working in a Pagan environment and you’re trying to represent Jesus?” That’s a struggle. And if you don’t feel that struggle, that’s not a good indicator.

It’s like one time, Pastor Billy Sunday was preaching about worldliness in the church. And somebody who was a Christian came up and they were a little irate and they said, “Pastor Sunday you’ve got to stop this. You’re rubbing the cat’s fur the wrong way.” Billy Sunday said, “Well, the cat needs to turn around and then I’ll be rubbing the cat the right way.” He said, “He’s heading the wrong direction.”

We need to know how to be in the world without the world being in us. It’s something like a boat in the water. As a matter of fact, it’s peculiar when you see a boat on dry land. A boat is very natural in the water, that’s where it belongs. They’re made to be in the water. But they’re made to float on the water. When the water gets in the boat, then they sink. Then you’ve got a catastrophe. We’ve got some water in the boat right now. You get too much water in the boat, it goes down.

That also happens in individual’s lives. Either Jesus will keep you from sin or sin will keep you from Jesus. The Bible will keep you from sin or sin will keep you from the Bible. The church will keep you from sin or sin will keep you from the church. And there are some people who are trying to maintain a Christian experience and go to church while they’re still loving the world and eventually the love of the world completely displaces the church and they don’t show up in church anymore because they were drowned in the world.

You can’t float anymore, a boat will not float unless (I don’t know what the scientific formula is but) you need to have a certain amount of air in the boat displacing the volume of the water. And once you reach that critical point where you’ve got more water in the boat than you’ve got air in the boat, it sinks. If you don’t have more of the Lord and His Word and His Spirit in your life, there’ll be nothing to keep you floating as a Christian. You sink. But Jesus said it is possible to stay in the world and not let the world be in you.

1 John 4:5, He says, “I have given them…” I’m sorry. “They are of the world, therefore they speak of the world and the world hears them.” The people in the world are of the world, they speak of the world, the world understands them because they’re on the same wavelength.

Then in John 17, in his dying prayer Jesus said, verse 14, speaking to the Father, “I have given them Your Word. And the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not pray that you should take them out of the world.” I’m not saying here that you should get a space suit and insulate yourself or become some esthetic monk and go live in the monastery. You’ve got to learn to be in the world without the world being in you.

Jesus said, “I’m not praying that You take them out of the world. But that You should keep them from the evil one.” Our prayers should say, “Lord keep us from temptation.” Amen? “They’re not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them by Your truth. Your Word is truth.” Would you like to be sanctified? Would you like to know how to be in the world without the world being in you? Jesus tells us right here, “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your Word is truth.” Christ in His Word is the truth that will keep us inoculated against the disease of the world.

Then He makes it very clear, “As You have sent me into the world and I have also sent them into the world. As for their sakes I sanctify myself that they also might be sanctified by the truth.” The truth will have a sanctifying influence. You and I are commanded not to be overcome by the world, but to overcome the world.

John 16:33, our Lord said, “These things I have spoken unto you that you might have peace.” Does this message make your fur rub the wrong way? It’s supposed to give you peace. Here’s why. In the world you’re going to have tribulation but be of good cheer. Christ says, “I have overcome the world. I have overcome the world. If you follow me, you can overcome the world because I have given you an example that you should do as I have done.” Don’t be overcome by the world, but you can overcome the world. You can be in the world and yet live like you’re living in a different Kingdom.

1 John 5:4-5, “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world.” You’ve heard about the new birth. Here’s the evidence. If a person is born of God, they can overcome the world. There not being drug around by the world. “And this is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcomes the world but he that believes that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”

Part of the reason that we can overcome the world is because we’re looking for a better one. Our kingdom is not of this world. John 12:31, “Now the judgment of this world is come. Now shall the prince of this world be cast out.” The devil is the king of this world. Christ is inviting us to be ambassadors of a different world. John 18:36, “Jesus answered, ‘My kingdom is not of this world.”

Remember when Christ was standing before Pilate and the people were accusing Him of being the king? And Pilate’s getting ready to hand Christ over because he said, “Look, if you claim to be a king and Caesar’s the king, I have to hand you over even though you look like an innocent man to me.” And Jesus gave him an out. He said, “Are you a king?” He said, “You say that I’m a king, but my kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would fight to deliver me from you. Yes I’m a king, but not of this world.” It’s so obvious that Jesus was not the king of this world because they killed Him. The world wanted Barabbas. Who do you want?

We have been called to follow Christ. The first thing He asks us to begin with is to preach, “The kingdom of God is at hand.” It’s a new kingdom, it’s a new world. It begins here in this life. We are naturalized as ambassadors of a different kingdom. And because we’re becoming participants of another kingdom, even though we’ve grown up speaking the language of the world, and eating like the world, and thinking like the world, and talking and dressing like the world, the Lord is asking us to be ambassadors in this world of a different kingdom.

Now, since we have not been in that kingdom yet, all we’ve got is the manual to find out what it’s like, it would make sense to us we’d want to know something about the behavior, the customs, of that other kingdom. As ambassadors we’re here to represent Jesus. We ought to be talking different. We should be dressing different. We should be eating different. We should be thinking different. Spending our time, our means differently because we are citizens of another kingdom. If we’re too comfortable in this world, we destroy our witness. You witness the best when you stand out. I don’t suggest, you know, that you wear burlap to work so you can be a witness and stand out. But don’t let your light go out. Don’t be so afraid. Don’t put it under a bush.

It’s like that railroad man, many years ago. There was a train wreck. And the judge brought some people into court to find out why these two trains collided. And they asked this railroad worker, they said, “Were you waiving your lantern?” He said, “Yes. I was there on the tracks waiving my lantern.” And as they dismissed him, he walked away from the podium and mumbled under his breath, “Glad they didn’t ask me if the light was on in the lantern.” And some of us are waiving our lantern but there’s no light in it. We’re losing our witness in the world. There’s nothing more important to the Christian than knowing and doing the will of God. Am I right?

I remember years ago when the man first walked on the moon. And, you know, most of the people around the world that had television were rightly tuned in to see this historic event. How many of you remember that when man first walked on the world? And I remember meeting one person who told me, “It never happened. It was all a government plot. They spent the money on other things.” And they really believed there was a conspiracy and that it was all done in Hollywood and there really wasn’t anybody who had walked on the moon.

But there was this one family that had all gathered around to watch Neil Armstrong come down the ladder and to take his first steps on the moon and listen to those historic words and as the family was gathered around and they were just completely absorbed and thrilled with this historic event. A little girl in the family came stumbling out of bed and she wanders into the living room. And she sees the T.V. and she says, “I want to watch Howdy Doody.” And the family turned and looked at her. Of course Howdy Doody was on too, but it was a different channel. And she began to throw a tantrum because she wanted to watch Howdy Doody. Any of you remember those days? It’s a children’s program.

You know, sometimes I think that’s what we’ve done to the Lord. He’s inviting us to participate in Heaven and we want to see Howdy Doody. We’re preoccupied with what’s happening here on earth. We want to be entertained with the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.

A little Jewish Hasidic boy was playing hide-and-go-seek in New York with some of his friends. And it was his turn to hide and I guess maybe he hid too well, but evidently his friends got tired of looking for him or they got distracted with another baseball game that they were called to. And they all went off to play. And after waiting and waiting for his friends to come and find him, he finally came out and he realized they had just abandoned him. They’d left him there by himself hiding. He began to cry. His grandfather came downstairs and saw the boy was crying and he said, “What’s the problem?” He said, “Well I was hiding and they didn’t want to play anymore and they didn’t come looking for me.” Grandfather realizes this is a good opportunity to teach a lesson. He said, “You know, this is something like what God puts up with.” He said, “God is wanting us to find Him. And the world is not playing fair. And God is crying because we become so preoccupied with other things, we stop looking for Him. We’re preoccupied with the games and the cares of the world. And the Lord is saying if we’ll search for Him with all our hearts, we’ll find Him. But if we’re distracted with the world and the cares of the world, then we won’t find Him.”

Worldliness. You could probably think in your life what it might mean. It has a different definition for each one of us. But worldliness is strangling the church. And the message of John and the message of Jesus two thousand years ago has never been more vital, it’s never been more appropriate than today, that we do not love the world or the things in the world. For if any man loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that’s in the world: the lust of the flesh, the lust of the flesh and the pride of life is of the world. And the world is going to pass away and the lust thereof. But he that does the will of God will live forever.

We need to ask God to help us identify these areas where the vessel needs cleansing. We need to pray that the Holy Spirit will prepare us to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit by purging us from that crust of worldliness that’s defiling our vessels. That’s my desire. I want to fix my eyes on Jesus, friends. How about you?

I want to pray that God is going to help me know how to not waste my time beholding worthless things, but to be revived by His Word. Is that your prayer? If you mean that, there’s a song we’re going to sing about that. Please turn in your hymnals, take the world but “Give Me Jesus,” 329. And we’ll stand as we sing our closing song.


Can I give you a test before we sing our last verse? Which disturbs you more: A lost soul or a scratch on your new car? Which disturbs you more: Your missing the worship service or missing a day’s work? A sermon ten minutes too long or lunch a half an hour late? A church not growing or a garden not growing? Your Bible unopened or a newspaper periodical unread? The church work being neglected or housework being neglected? Missing a good Bible study or missing an interesting T.V. program? Are you disturbed more by the millions who do not know Christ or your inability to keep up with the neighbors and their possessions? The cry of the multitude for bread or missing a piece of German chocolate cake? Your tithes decreasing or your personal income decreasing? Your children being late for Sabbath School or late for elementary school? Which really disturbs you the most?

When the Lord has first place in our hearts it will be evident in simple things like this. How many of you would like to have Jesus have prominence in our life? Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. If that’s your desire, let’s sing our closing verse together.


Father in Heaven, Lord, of course we know that You have been a witness as we have explored a practical message today about how to better live the Christian life. How we might each one examine ourselves and determine if we be in the faith. Or if we’re little by little being distracted and lulled to sleep by the sedatives of the world. Lord, I pray that You will revive us. Help us to recognize where we are spiritually that we might have our eyes washed and we can see through the Holy Spirit how we stand before Thee. Lord, it’s tempting sometimes to make the gate wide and broad to Heaven but we know Jesus said it’s narrow, because so many in the church are going to be indifferent about worldliness. I pray, Lord, that we will long after the filling of the Spirit. And if there are things in our lives, our hearts, our vessels, that are obstacles to that filling, help us to recognize that; and by your Grace and through the same Spirit that we might gain the victory. I pray, Lord, that we, like Jesus, may overcome the world and not be overcome by the world. Bless each person here. We all apply this message differently in different areas. Help us in practical ways to experience revival, that we might represent You in this church family and as we witness in the community. Thank You, Lord, for the Good News that we can have peace because You have overcome the world. And we’re asking these things in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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