According to the Scriptures"Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel... By which also ye are saved... unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures" (1 Corinthians 15:1-4)

A Tale of Two Kingdoms


By Dr. Peter Masters


The Scripture texts are John 3:19; 8:23; 12:31; 14:16-17; 14:27; 14:30; 15:19; 16:8; 17:9; 17:14-16; Luke 16:13; Romans 12:1-2; 1 Corinthians 3:18; James 4:4; 1 John 2:15-17; Revelation 18:4-5.

One of the greatest of all the changes in evangelical Christian life over the last few decades is in the attitude to worldliness. Slackness, even indifference, to worldliness came in first among shallower churches, then more recently among some of the best. Now, worldliness is regarded as an outdated and irrelevant concept which only overscrupulous and rather narrow-minded people worry about. Yet once it was seen as almost the number-one enemy of God's people.

Even pastors often say, 'I am progressive,' meaning that they do not mind worldliness. They make the duty of being IN the world an excuse for scrapping all inhibitions about what Christians should or should not do. Worldly Christianity is in.

Any sense of danger or wrong seems to have vanished, as worldly activities are increasingly taken up by churches, whether in the tastes and pursuits of members, or in the music and format of worship. Where have the faithful pastors gone? What has happened to that sturdy breed of officers who once held churches close to the Lord and His Word?

Believers everywhere need to hear once again the basic and vital teaching of Christ, about two kingdoms so utterly different in character, rule and culture. These are, of course, the kingdom of the world-order, and the kingdom of God. The first is implacably hostile to the second, while the second struggles to rescue souls from the first, but is never to merge with or befriend it.

It is clear that Christ does not merely refer to the planet when He speaks of 'the world'. This is not a matter of geography. He uses 'world' to describe a society in rebellion against God -- a godless world-order. As the texts unfold we shall see a tremendous chasm between Christ's kingdom, and this world-order, or between believers and worldlings. This is about a spiritual battle that runs throughout all history.

The 'world' is a society in which men love 'darkness rather than light' [John 3:19]. This is a strong statement, telling us that this society decidedly and wilfully prefers sin, championing it against light. It is the language of conscious, calculated choice, involving intense opposition to light, and this is how we must see the world. ...

Our term 'worldliness' is not just another word for sin, but it points to a particular kind of sin, namely, to any activity or goal that clearly identifies with or approves of the distinctively godless works of this world-system. This world is a society dedicated to success and happiness without God. It feels free to abuse His laws. So many of its recreations, entertainments, plans and schemes say 'We do not need God and we do not want God.' ...

Many Christians and churches today seem to have abandoned their distinctive citizenship and allegiance, crossing constantly between the two kingdoms almost daily. Have we no remaining sense of Christ's separation of Himself from the world? ...

It is quite jarring to take in the full sense of the phrase, 'the prince of this world' [John 14:30]. Satan, the vicious enemy of human souls, and the bitter enemy of Christ, is the architect and the commander of this world-system. He shapes and fashions its thinking and its recreations. How can we betray Christ and indulge in his destructive dainties? Satan orchestrates atheism and immorality. He nurtures human self-sufficiency, steers the entertainment industry to pervert and pollute souls, and corrupts so many secular pleasures. Is Christian worldliness anything less than defection and treason? ...

The world will always be deeply suspicious of Christians who are true and loyal to Christ, because they are so different [John 15:19]. They have been taken out of the world, and have nothing in common with its values. ... When the world gives prime television time to 'Gospel' rock, enjoying and applauding its performers, it does so because 'Christians' have made themselves indistinguishable from worldlings, and have renounced their cause. ...

'And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God' (Romans 12:1-2). 'Conformed' refers to how impressionable we are to external influences and pressures. The world can easily press its tastes and ways upon us, just as the soaps shape society. 'Transformed' is from a Greek word that usually refers to inner change. This is the only defence against vulnerability to the world. In mind and heart we must be shaped by God's Word, and then the outer person will not be malleable and easily twisted to worldliness. The apostle, like the Lord Himself, talks here about opposites: the possibilities of being conformed to the world, or transformed and renewed by the Word. These cannot be blended as many attempt to do today. ...

In secular life we are to use the best methods we can devise for operating businesses and professions, but when it comes to the church, God has laid down the methods. Smart schemes and gimmicks that come from the secular thinking have no place, and anyone who does not understand the difference between secular business and Gospel worship is practising foolishness [1 Corinthians 3:18]. ...

The tragedy of our day is that if Demas lived now, he would not be obliged to leave either full-time service, or the church, if he wished to be a worldling. He could serve both kingdoms at the same time. ...

Worldliness is in loving (and using) the style of music and song which is the 'badge' of an anti-God, anti-morality culture. It is a sin committed wherever Christian distinctiveness is surrendered It is committed in any pursuit of activities or goals clearly identified with this world's aims. ...

Worldliness is friendship with, or use of, anything from which God and His standards are militantly excluded, no matter how skilful and accomplished. It is also going beyond modesty and moderation in possessions and luxuries, or in concern for appearance, to gain happiness or approval. ...

Last Update: 6/24/2005

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