C. T. Hussey, Cardiff, Wales
The English word "world" is used to translate a variety of words found in the original Scriptures, meaning at different times the material land or earth, the habitable earth, mankind, an age or dispensation, a period of time and so on. We ought never to attach an exclusive meaning to a word separated from its context. For instance, the apostle John uses the same original word in John 3. 16, "For God so loved the world", as in 1 John 2. 15, "If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him". In keeping with the first quotation we sing "God loved the world of sinners lost and ruined by the fall". The latter quotation however refers to the world as that which embodies the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life. The devil used this aspect of "the world" successfully when attacking the first Adam. He was unsuccessful when he approached the second Adam along similar lines for the prince of this world came and had nothing in Him, We are taught in the Scriptures the power of our threefold enemy, the flesh within, the world without and the devil who uses the attractions of the world to entice the evil longings of the flesh within. Such enemies are too powerful and subtle for us but we rejoice because "greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world", 1 John 4. 4. The Lord has said "be of good cheer; I have overcome the world", John 16. 33. The world which believers are not to love, I John 2. 15, and to which they do not belong, John 17. 14,16, and from which they have been taken, is that which is not of the Father, 1 John 2. 16.
Description. The world is spoken of as this present evil age, Gal. 1. 4. Its character is evil and in practice it is corrupt, Eph. 2.1-3. How different are man's descriptions of it. This is said to be an enlightened, scientific, progressive world, all these flattering expressions being used by man to inflate himself. The world with all its fancied wisdom does not know God, 1 Cor. 1. 20-21. The Christian rejoices in the fact that it is the day of grace and of salvation, a blessed fact stripping man of any reason for pride. All that is not of the Father is opposed to Him and is organised by the god of this world who blinds the eyes of them which believe not lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ should open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light.
Organization. The world as a system is a masterpiece of opposition by imitation. Industrially all is organised under the slogan "unity is strength", whether relating to employer or employee. The objective is to get profit and material gain promising a heaven on earth by rejecting and sneering at the promise of a future heaven. The world, unlike Abram, sees no advantage in looking for a city whose founder and maker is God but rather looks at the plains of Sodom. Laying up treasure in heaven forms no part of the creed of the world. The material and the transitory dominate; the spiritual and the eternal have no attraction. The world rejects the liberty that is in Christ Jesus and emphasises the alleged brotherhood of man promising a spurious liberty. The liberty in which the world indulges is really licence to indulge the baser passions in unrestrained surrender to the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life.
The World's Religious Unity. The world however must have a religion so the god of this world has produced one that is easy and self gratifying, which rejects all that is inconvenient and displeasing to the flesh or that does not meet the demands of that human wisdom by which the world knows not God. It is a religion that exalts man and despises the stigma of the cross. It has for its slogan "Religions of the world unite'*. The religious world presents one of the greatest dangers to the true saint of God and should be feared and avoided. The unity by compromise and the sacrifice of truth proceeds apace producing small amalgamations at first which in their turn are absorbed by the still larger "mergers".
The Entertaining Religious World. Many years ago a well known preacher wrote a tract entitled "The devil's mission of amusement". In it he suggested that whereas in the early days of the church men said "These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also", the position has since been reversed and the world is turning the church upside down. Worldliness in the church is a positive danger today and reduces its spiritual effectiveness.
Those who would sometimes resist the introduction of "aids" to the Gospel are accused of being too heavenly minded to be of any earthly use. So often we may be too earthly minded to be of any use to heaven. Again, the introduction of that which is questionable is justified by another slogan "We may change our methods but not our message", a saying which is the more dangerous because it contains an element of truth. How often changed methods have resulted in a dilution of the message to accommodate the new method.
May those challenging words of Paul come home to us with fresh force, "But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world", Gal. 6. 14.
The world has nothing left to give, It has no new, no pure delight.
Vain world farewell, from thee I part, The voice of God has reached my heart.