An old bluegrass album of the Blue Sky Boys I have in my library contains a grand old gospel song which dates from the 1920's. It depicts the struggles Christians in a small rural church had back then in coming to terms with their faith in Jesus and the world around about them:

"Some folks jump up and down all night, and D-A-N-C-E
while others go to church to show their brand new H-A-T
and on their face they put great gobs of P-A-I-N-T
and then they'll have the brass to say they're S-A-V-E-D

I know some girls in this town who are so N-I-C-E
they do their hair in the latest styles, yes, B-O-B-B-E-D
they go to parties every night, drink W-I-N-E
and then they'll have the brass to say they're S-A-V-E-D

I've seen some boys lean back and puff their S-M-O-K-E
while others chew and spit out all their J-U-I-C-E
they play their cards and shoot their guns and drink their P-O-P
and then they'll have the brass to say they're S-A-V-E-D

I know a man I think his name's B-R-O-W-N
he prays for prohibition and he votes for G-I-N
He helps to put the poison in his neighbor's C-U-P
and then he'll have the brass to say he's S-A-V-E-D


It's G-L-O-R-Y to know I'm S-A-V-E-D
I'm H-A-P-P-Y because I'm F-R-Double E
I once was B-O-U-N-D by the chains of S-I-N
But its V-I-C-T-O-R-Y to know I've Christ within."

(The Blue Sky Boys in Concert, 1981, Rounder CD 11536, YouTube Clip availble)

Parents soon forget the things they struggled with when they were young and they often criticize the wrong issues in the younger generation when they harp that the world is going to pot, or worse. The evils of the world they tell us are all due to Sex, Drugs, Rock n Roll. If these things just went away everything would be fine. That's naive of course. But, in every generation God's kids have their own unique struggles in becoming Christ's men and woman so that they live "In the world, but not of the world." I suppose every sincere follower of Jesus moves from time to time from the extreme of monastic withdrawal from the social life of the world to the opposite pole of "going with the flow" in careless abandonment to the pleasures and vices of the present age. Neither extreme represents God's path to wholeness and well-roundedness.

However, we are definitely not to "love this present world". James the brother of Jesus and pastor of the early church at Jerusalem describes a worldly life-style as spiritual adultery. If we live like the rest of the world we have prostituted our relationship with Christ. We are in fact giving our affections to idols. "You adulteresses", James writes, "Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God. Whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself God's enemy" ( James 4:4).

When the Bible urges us to not love the world, it is not the world of nature that is in our Father's mind. The created order and all that it contains is here for us to enjoy and use wisely. The Greek word translated "world" in the New Testament, (kosmos), means the world system, the prevailing philosophy of the age, which is based on self and self-interest. It is not people we are to avoid, reject and stay away from. God very much loves the people of this planet and wants us to be involved in their reconciliation to a waiting Father.

Satan, not Jesus, now rules the world system and his purpose for man is death, ruin, destruction. The appeal of the world is towards worship the great god S-E-L-F. Knowing this central fact helps us to identify and refuse the many messages from the world and its dark lord. These enticements and solicitations barrage our senses daily. The enemy's clever advertising messages come to us on TV, at school, at work, while we are watching television, sitting in a movie---in every area of daily life we are urged us to improve ourselves, to buy things because they will make us more popular, famous and important. We should, it is claimed, let go of old fashioned inhibitions and outmoded religious scruples in order to experience the delights of Sex, Drugs, Rock n Roll.

Of course there are certain moral absolutes that Christ expects of all His followers, such as no sexual expression before marriage, no homosexual conduct, no illegal drugs, no drunkenness, and so on. Excessive alcohol causes us to lose self-control. Mind-altering drugs open us to demonic deception and spiritual confusion---a person who says he is a Christian but ignores these major issues may not be a Christian all, but could be self-deceived.

But beyond these "heavy sins" lie are all sorts of gray issues. In giving His kids freedom, God does not hold us to sets of rules. It's up to us to learn to choose wisely. Fortunately for us, God is patient, kind, and full of mercy. He has been raising sons and daughters successfully for thousands of years, so He knows how to help us. He is well known for His loyal-love.

It is by making good choices that we grow strong in the faith and thus become whole persons in a very broken world. For example, some activities we are free to take part in may not be wrong or immoral, merely a waste of time or money. Our time and energy could be better spent elsewhere. Some friends are worthwhile and edifying, others drag us down. Most contemporary TV shows and movies assume sexual immorality and violence are the social norm. Much rock music is sadly base and sensual. Why do we bother with base and degrading things? Why don't we seek out the best life has to offer and refuse the cheap and tawdry? Why not aim for excellence, artistic greatness, holiness and beauty? Because of our fallen, sinful natures it is hard work, I think, to cultivate a love for genuine beauty, fine art and good music. It's easier to lay back and default towards immediate gratification and the temporarily pleasureful. Sin, after all, does offer "pleasure for a season." Unfortunately a life full of these things whose origin is of the world does not prepare us for the unbounded sensory grandeur and delights of heaven, but for a final end in which we (like countless others before us) find that we have been discarded by a Holy, Just Judge. Perhaps we may find to our own shock and horror that we have become unfit for, and incapable of inheriting, something as demanding as eternal life with Christ.

The pleasures of the world not only are ephemeral and fading, our love of them makes it impossible for us to respond to the Father's love. When this happens we lose contact with the only possible source of joy, happiness, fulfillment available anywhere in the universe.

The "world" is, in fact, not a friendly place for true Christians. For many, the discovery that this is the case comes only after painful experiences such as bankruptcy, failed romantic relations, or ruined health. Sooner or later the words of Jesus come true in experience, "If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you." (John 19:9)

If the central disease of sin has to do with our selfishness and pride, then God's cure for our ills has much to do with self-denial. This comes to us when we begin to embrace the Lordship of Jesus Christ in our lives daily. It is then we put our neighbor needs ahead of our own and gain our Heavenly Father's longing to see that men are saved from themselves and from a path of self-destruction.

Following Jesus Christ the Lord is the most exciting adventure known to men or angels. It is in order to give us the best that our Creator asks for our wills, our hearts and our affections.

"You are not your own , you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your bodies." (1 Corinthians 6:20)




The Apostle John, who began to follow Jesus when he was a teenager, later wrote the following words of great wisdom:

"Do not love the world or the things in the world. If any one loves the world, love for the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the pride of life , is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world passes away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides for ever." (1 John 2:15-17)

Living according to the World produces mediocrity and conformity:

"Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove (in experience) what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect." (Romans 12:1, 2)

Likewise the Apostle Peter writes,

"Beloved, I beseech you as aliens and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh that wage war against your soul." (1 Peter 2:11)

Paul's advice to young Timothy is,

"There is great gain in godliness with contentment; for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world; but if we have food and clothing, with these we shall be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and hurtful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is the root of all evils; it is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced their hearts with many pangs. But as for you, man of God, shun all this; aim at righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness." (1 Timothy 6:6-11)

Paul write to urge us to avoid close binding ties with non-believers:

"Do not be mismated with unbelievers. For what partnership have righteousness and iniquity? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, 'I will live in them and move among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Therefore come out from them, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch nothing unclean; then I will welcome you, and I will be a father to you, and you shall be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.'" (2 Corinthians 6:14-18)

Paul writes to the Church at Philippi:

"Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, do; and the God of peace will be with you." (Philippians 4:8, 9)

Lambert Dolphin's Place | | July 20, 1990. March 16, 2019