Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world….” (John 18:36, N.K.J.V.)
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. (1 John 2:15, N.K.J.V.)
Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend to the world makes himself an enemy of God. (James 4:4, N.K.J.V.)
For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? (Mark 8:36, N.K.J.V.)
When we hear or read the word “world” our instinct is to equate it with the word “planet.” In this way, the “world” becomes the sum total of the rocks, mountains, valleys, deserts, streams, rivers, oceans, plants, and trees of planet Earth. Interestingly, though, this is not how the New Testament primarily uses the word.
The Greek word our English New Testaments most often translate as “world” is kosmos. This word occurs over 200 times in the New Testament, including the four verses I’ve cited as my opening texts for this post. Kosmos can have different meanings, but for the greater part it refers to an order or an arrangement.
When used in this way, the “world” becomes the arranged order through which Satan rules the human race. This explains how Jesus could rightly call him “the ruler of this world (kosmos)” (John 12:31). Satan is the ruler because, as we read in Ephesians 2:2, lost people walk “according to the course of this world (kosmos),” and that course is ordered and arranged by Satan, whom the verse calls “the prince of the power of the air.” Along the same lines, 1 John 5:19 says the whole world (kosmos) lies under the sway and control of Satan.
The point here is that God doesn’t mind the Christian loving planet Earth’s mountains, valleys, streams, rivers, oceans, plants, etc., but He has major problems with the Christian loving the world order through which Satan controls the Earth’s inhabitants. This order includes the “world’s”: banking industry, political realm, movie industry, television industry, publishing industry, internet, print media, news media, advertising industry, fashion industry, false religion realm, sports realm, alcoholic beverage industry, drug industry, gambling industry, and any other industry or realm that operates by and large outside the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
It’s this world order that is characterized by “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life” (1 John 2:16). It’s this world order that has so-called “wisdom” that is rated as mere foolishness with God (1 Corinthians 3:19). It’s this world order into which false prophets and deceivers have gone (1 John 4:1; 2 John v.7). It’s this world order that hates Christians (1 John 3:13). It’s this world order that made Paul and the other apostles feel like its “filth” (1 Corinthians 4:13). It’s this world order that is not worthy of being graced by the presence of God’s persecuted people and martyrs (Hebrews 11:32-38).
This is the world order from which we Christians are commanded to keep ourselves separated. While it’s true that we have to live and function in the order to some degree (1 Corinthians 5:9-10), we should never be of it (John 17:16). We belong to God (Romans 8:9; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20), not to Satan (Matthew 13:36-38; John 8:42-44). We are citizens of heaven, not this “world” (Philippians 3:20). Therefore, our separation should be evidenced in our priorities, goals, pursuits, standards, and opinions. It should be seen in how we spend our time, energy, and money. We should stand out from Satan’s world order as clearly as light stands out from darkness (Matthew 5:14-16; 1 Thessalonians 5:4-5) and sheep stand out from goats (Matthew 25:31-46).
1 John 2:17 tells us this “world” (kosmos) is passing away. That’s why it isn’t a good idea to attach yourself to it or align yourself with it. For the Christian, however, the promise is that he or she will surely overcome the “world” (1 John 5:4-5). This promise comes with a guarantee because our Savior, Jesus, first overcame the “world” (John 16:33).
But how sad is it that a world order established and entrenched by Satan keeps all the human race’s lost people constantly under his sway? I can think of only one thing sadder, and that is the fact that so many truly born-again Christians have become so comfortable in the order. Rather than stand out from it, they’ve made themselves at home in it.
And so I’ll ask you, Christian, does this describe you? If it does, then I’ll remind you that you are failing miserably at the command of separation from the “world.” Remember, not only does this order hate you, it’s the same order that got your Savior crucified. That means that you dishonor His name every time you let the order pour you into its mold and get you to thinking and operating like it does. Yes, that’s hard preaching, but it’s high time that we Christians stopped dancing with Satan’s “world” and went back to dancing with the one that brought us: Jesus.