Monday, November 23, 2009

The Seduction of the World and the Jealousy of God

As we approach “Black Friday” (supposedly the largest shopping day of the year), it is important to be reminded of the biblical warning, “Beware of worldliness!” In no uncertain terms, the Bible repeatedly warns us against the seduction of this world. Consider these commands: “Do not be conformed to this world” (Romans 12:2)! “Do not love the world or the things in the world” (1 John 2:15)! Worldliness is dangerous because it exposes our true love; it exposes the fact that we are driven by the search to satisfy our passions with things other than God. James reminds us of this fact when he explains the source of sin, saying: “But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire” (James 1:14, ESV).
How serious is worldliness? Consider James’ rebuke: “You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God” (James 4:4)? The Scriptures could not be more clear. Either you love the world and the things of this world or you love God, for “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other” (Matthew 6:24, ESV).
The Bible presents God as a loving, faithful God who takes a rejected and despised woman, beautifies her, showers her with fine clothing and jewelry and makes a vow (covenant) to be her husband (Ezekiel 16). Within this covenant marriage, God warns that His bride is to have no other Gods, make no idols and not bow down to any other gods, “for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments” (Exodus 20:5-6).
In other words, God is a jealous husband who demands faithfulness. He promises to be all-satisfying, so when his bride seeks satisfaction in something or someone other than Him, He is provoked to jealousy, for His bride commits spiritual adultery. This covenant marriage relationship between God and His people is the basis for James’ calling the people in his congregation an adulterous people, for by their desire to find satisfaction in this world and the things of this world, they have turned away from God, their faithful husband.
This warning is necessary for the western church today. Worldliness is so rampant, so pervasive, that is has become the expected norm and has spawned the market-driven culture in which we now live. Beware of worldliness! I preach to myself and my family, and I appeal to you and your family: beware of worldliness!
How can we know if we are worldly? Here is a two part test — it is not a perfect test, but at least it is a beginning.
Part 1: Take some time out this week to write out your weekly schedule. Write down every activity, no matter how insignificant it may seem to you. Where are you investing your time?
Part 2: On another sheet of paper, write out your budget. Now, look at your check register, credit card and bank statements, cash flow. Where are you investing your money?
I think that this two part test will expose, at least in part, where our hearts are, for where you spend your time and money reveals what you treasure, and “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21). Beware of worldliness!

The Gospel Coalition

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