Overcoming Worldliness

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Q. Christians nowadays are very worldly. What is the cure for worldliness?

A. Before we get to the cure, let’s understand the disease. The word “worldly” translates the Greek word “kosmikos“, and means “having the character of this present corrupt age”. It appears 5 times in the NASB:

1 Tim 4:7 But have nothing to do with worldly fables fit only for old women. On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness;
• 1 Tim 6:20 O Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you, avoiding worldly and empty chatter and the opposing arguments of what is falsely called “knowledge”—
• 2 Tim 2:16 But avoid worldly and empty chatter, for it will lead to further ungodliness,
• Titus 2:12 instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age,
• Jude 1:19 These are the ones who cause divisions, worldly-minded, devoid of the Spirit.

Note that the opposite of “worldly” is “godly”. So the cure for “worldliness” is “godliness”.

Now what does the Bible say about godliness? The word “godliness” appears 15 times in the NASB. I won’t list them all here as you can look them up in a concordance, but the relevant ideas here include:

1. Godliness has to be pursued and comes with discipline:
1 Tim 6:11 But flee from these things, you man of God, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness.
• 1 Tim 4:7 But have nothing to do with worldly fables fit only for old women. On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness;

2. It is most profitable in conjunction with contentment:
1 Tim 6:6 But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment.

3. It is manifested by good works and holy conduct, not just talk:
1 Tim 2:10 but rather by means of good works, as is proper for women making a claim to godliness.
• 2 Pet 3:11 Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness,

So to avoid being a worldly person, we have to aim for godliness, be content, and practice it. And what does the Bible teach about contentment? There are two levels.

1. The first is being content with what we have: our wages, our food, our clothing; and not desire what we don’t have:
Lk 3:14 Some soldiers were questioning him, saying, “And what about us, what shall we do?” And he said to them, “Do not take money from anyone by force, or accuse anyone falsely, and be content with your wages.”
• 1 Tim 6:8 If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content.
• Heb 13:5 Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, “I WILL NEVER DESERT YOU, NOR WILL I EVER FORSAKE YOU,”

2. The second level goes higher, being content in whatever circumstances we are in, including difficult times, times when we are in need and suffering:
2 Co 12:10 Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.
• Php 4:11 Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.

The reason one is content under such desperate conditions is because he is totally focused on Christ, who promised He will never desert us or forsake us.

So my long answer is that to overcome worldliness we need to be centered on Christ and develop a close walk with Him. To do so is to become a godly person who has overcome the world.