Sunday, June 9, 2019

"This Evil World" and How it Wounds the Christian

In scripture, we read about this evil world (e.g. Nehemiah 4). “This evil world” identifies the common commitment of worldly people in their carnal minds, evil desires, and depraved consciences. Evil lifestyles, conduct, and conversation—this is the “course of this world” (Eph. 2:2), that which is common among worldly people. 

The Christian who wants to practice godliness in all sincerity should be mindful of the existence of this undivided power of darkness. It opposes and besieges anyone who practices true godliness, and it seeks to obstruct and thwart everyone in his holy work (Matt. 12:26; Col. 1:13). The whole world, which lies in wickedness (1 John 5:19), is always seeking to defile the believer (James 1:27) and to lead him down the wrong path.

There are three specific horns by which the evil world mortally wounds many souls and completely overthrows godliness in many hearts when no appropriate action is taken against it. 

The first horn of the world is its wrong traditions and customs. These customs are entirely opposed to the right practice of true godliness that admonishes the believer, “[B]e not conformed to this world” (Rom. 12:2). On the contrary, such customs engender worldly conformity, calling the believer to the idolatrous, pagan, devilish practices common to the age. When the godly object to these practices the world labels them “legalists.” Many sinful, capricious people challenge the church as a collection of extremists or narrow-minded souls. Therefore, the world often succeeds in enticing the careless children of men with the glitter of its outward appeal, though such things run contrary to the God of Jacob (Ps. 81:4).

The second horn of the world is wrong, though celebrated and distinguished, role models. These important and prominent people are lauded for their brazen activity. Their example is impressive enough for others to follow their lead (Ps. 106:35; John 7:48). The world exalts such people to a position of desirability and envy, identifying them as intelligent and respectable people who are to be admired, and uses such celebrity people to wound the soul and hinder godliness. The defense for a man’s wickedness becomes the example of some celebrity who is highly regarded and popular and who has done—or neglected to do—the same things to which he himself aspires. Because of such celebrities, a man is able to justify his conduct by reminding himself, “Well, I am not the only one. Everyone else does it.” This has resulted in untold harm to true godliness. Therefore, we must be on our guard against being gored by this horn.

The third horn of the world is its erroneous and evil premise of reward and recompense. Thus the world turns on its head the ordained justice of God—blessings for righteousness and cursings for wickedness—by making it difficult, and even punishable, for the godly to live holy lives. Further, the world lends its hand in aiding ungodliness, proclaiming it fashionable (Num. 22:7, 16–41). Often the godly who resist such wickedness are branded as uncooperative, intolerant, bigoted, backward, and otherwise disagreeable to the modern age. By contrast, the world promises everything to those who conform and adapt to its ways. They are welcomed and loved by great and small alike.

The person who sincerely wants to practice godliness must arm himself thoroughly for defense against these three horns. The practice of godliness in this evil world is a strenuous undertaking that must undergird the whole of life, like a good yeast that must permeate every part of the loaf. This undertaking is not one that can be accomplished by the believer’s own strength. It is necessary to earnestly warn against an antagonistic power—this evil world—that opposes those who walk in true godliness and works. However, it is just as necessary for the encouragement of godly people to point out that there is a divine power, the united kingdom of grace, that is on the side of all who sincerely surrender their hearts and souls to practice true godliness (2 Peter 1:3).