Does This World Own You? Or Are You Just a Foreigner Here?
Summary: The carnality of the world we live in will either control us, or be mastered by us. The fast track to becoming an enemy of God is to become friends with this fallen world (James 4:4). Your life on this earth will be most fruitful and pleasing to God if you remember that “our citizenship is in heaven” (Philippians 3:20).
1 Peter 2:11, KJV Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims [Amplified Bible: as aliens and strangers and exiles], abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul.
Hebrews 11:13, 16a All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth… [16a] They were longing for a better country — a heavenly one.
• Foreigners, strangers, pilgrims, aliens on earth. That is the perspective that God wants us always to keep in mind. As the old hymn goes, this troubled world is not my final home. Heaven is!
• God has created us humans as three-in-one beings — spirit, soul, and body (1 Thessalonians 5:23). The “body” part of us — and to some degree the “soul” — has a tendency to want to root us deeply in the things of this fallen world. Our part, as followers of the Lord, is to resist the lure of the world and to “set our affection on things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:2, KJV).
1 John 2:15-17 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world — the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life — comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.
• This verse forces a crucially important question on each of us? — Do you love the world? If you do, the apostle tells us that love for God the Father is not in you.
• Why? Because “everything in the world — the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life — comes not from the Father but from the world.” There are hundreds of things around us that will attempt daily to provoke our lusts. The world will ceaselessly try to draw us with appeals to our flesh, our eyes, our pride.
• But the apostle John reminds us that this “world and its desires pass away.” By contrast, there is eternal life for those who pursue the will of God in contrast to serving the world’s carnal offerings.
Romans 12:2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will.
• So what are we to do? Answer: Determine steadfastly that you will “not conform to the pattern of this world.” By contrast, make it your daily goal to “be transformed by the renewing of your mind” into conformity to God’s will.
• The Amplified Bible says it well: “Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs].” The world we live in has its own “customs,” many of which are in total contradiction to God’s standards. For example, our American culture’s immodest dress code is, sad to say, carried by some into the church. Worship services in some churches resemble more a concert than the desired participatory worship of the entire congregation. Christian divorce rates in America have caught up to those of nonbelievers. Conformity to the world is overtaking the church!
James 4:4 You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.
• One of the main problems we face is “friendship with the world.” Darkness hates the light, evil hates the good. So those who try to live their lives openly in Christ’s light often are persecuted by those who chooses the evil ways of the world (2 Timothy 3:12).
• God gives us a choice: (1) Choose to serve Him and to live godly lives for Him as “foreigners and strangers on earth”; or (2) Choose to be a friend of the world, but an enemy of God. Personally, I would not want to have God consider me His enemy! So how I decide to live in this world has eternal consequences.
John 17:15-18 My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world.
• There is a profound truth here: Jesus sends us “into the world” (vs. 18). He does not take us out of it (15). We are called to obey His Great Commission and to be the light of the world and the salt of the earth (Matthew 5:13-14).
• But while we are sent by Him into the world, we must remember that we are “not of the world” (16), and we should live accordingly. Summarizing what we have seen above:
• We are foreigners, aliens, strangers, pilgrims on this earth.
• Heaven is our real home.
• We must not love the world with its affections and lusts.
• In contrast to heaven, the world and its desires will pass away.
• Do not allow yourself to be conformed to the world’s ways.
• By contrast, allow God’s word and Spirit to transform and renew your mind.
• Don’t get friendly with the ways of this world, or you’ll be God’s enemy.
• Remember, said Jesus, you are “in” the world, but “not of” the world.