Hindrances to Discipleship: The World - page 6

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From the Fall 2012 issue of Knowing & Doing:  

Hindrances to Discipleship: The World

by Thomas A. Tarrants, III, D.Min.
Director of Ministry, C.S. Lewis Institute


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  His first point is very direct and sobering: those who love the world no longer have the love of God dwelling in them. As Matthew Henry observed, “The more the love of the world prevails the more the love of God dwindles and decays.”  Love of the world drives out love for God. This, of course, is exactly what we just read from Jesus and James. John also gives insight into the nature of worldliness. The Greek word translated “desires” (“cravings” in the NIV) of the flesh here denotes desires that are morally corrupt. They are aroused through the desires of the eyes, things we see, and produce covetousness. And they stimulate pride, leading to pretentious display of our possessions.19

Gaining Freedom from the World

  The dangers and snares we have been considering are the fruit of living for this world not the world to come, living for time not for eternity. We are looking through the wrong end of the telescope. J.I. Packer says,

Today, by and large, Christians no longer live for heaven and therefore no longer understand, let alone practice, detachment from the world. Does the world around us seek pleasure, profit and privilege? So do we. We have no readiness or strength to renounce these objectives, for we have recast Christianity into a mold that stresses happiness above holiness, blessings here above blessedness hereafter, health and wealth as God’s best blessings and death not as thankworthy deliverance from the miseries of a sinful world but as the supreme disaster and a constant challenge to faith in God’s goodness. Is our Christianity out of shape? Yes, it is, and the basic reason is that we have lost the New Testament’s two-world perspective that views the next life as more important than this one and understands life here as essentially preparation and training for the life hereafter. And we shall continue to be out of shape until this proper otherworldliness is recovered.20

  How do we proceed? C.S. Lewis said, “You and I have need of the strongest spell that can be found to wake us from the evil enchantment of worldliness.”21 A vital step for Americans would be to give careful attention to what the apostle Paul urged upon the believers in Rome as the only proper response to God’s grace:

With eyes wide open to the mercies of God, I beg you, my brothers, as an act of intelligent worship, to give Him your bodies as a living sacrifice, consecrated to Him and acceptable by Him. Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mold, but let God remake you so that your whole attitude of mind is changed. Thus you will prove in practice that the will of God is good, acceptable and perfect (Rom. 12:1–2 PHILLIPS).

  Clearly some in the Roman church were infected with values, attitudes, and behaviors of the world. Paul urged them to give themselves wholeheartedly to God and stop allowing the world to shape their lives. Through radical abandonment to God they could be transformed by the process of the renewing of their minds, then begin to understand God’s will and live in obedience to Him and experience genuine transformation. The Message further clarifies verse 2: “Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out” (Rom. 12.2).

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