Know Your Enemy: The World
1 John 2:15-17; John 17:15-16, 18
As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Ephesians 2:1-3 (NIV)
The three faces of the enemy:
- The Devil’s deceptions
- The flesh’s desires
- The world’s values
Definition of world: “Cosmos” in Greek
- The universe or earth
- The people of the earth
- The ways of sinful people
Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever. 1 John 2:15-17 (NLT)
Love for the world and love for God are incompatible.
What the world has to offer:
- Cravings for physical pleasure (lust of the flesh) – animal instincts, unbridled lust for anything that feels good in the moment
- Cravings for everything we see (lust of the eyes) – materialism, greed, envy, jealousy
- Pride in our achievements and status – finding worth through social comparison, desire for power and control, oppression of those less powerful
Physical pleasure, material possessions, achievements, and status are not bad things, but they are not the things that matter most.
What the world offers is self-focused and provides only temporary satisfaction and benefit. What God offers is other-focused and has eternal rewards.
Spiritual practices to combat the world’s values:
- Service – selflessly and sacrificially care for the needs of others
- Gratitude – be thankful for what you have rather than focusing on what you wish you had
- Generosity – give generously first and live on the rest
- Empowerment – use your resources to help others move forward
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Romans 12:2 (NIV)
Don’t conform. Every follower of Jesus must constantly wrestle with the question, “In what ways have I conformed to the culture around me?”
Be transformed. Every follower of Jesus must constantly seek to think and act more like Jesus in every area of life.
I’m not asking you to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one. They do not belong to this world any more than I do…Just as you sent me into the world, I am sending them into the world. John 17:15-16, 18 (NLT)
We do not belong to the world, but we are sent into the world because God loves the world and is committed to rescuing it.
The Church is to be a countercultural force in the world (a resistance movement).
Our weapon is love.
- Can you think of examples where the Church at large has conformed to the world’s values? Why is it so easy to assimilate into the culture around us?
- Discuss the three general things that the world has to offer (see 1 John 2:16). This is how the world wages war against the values of God and the children of God. How do you experience this battle in your own life? How do you see it playing out in the people around you?
- How does social media contribute to the battle with the things the world has to offer (e.g., physical pleasure, everything we see (materialism, greed, envy), and pride in our achievement and status)?
- Read Galatians 6:4. Why does social comparison tends to lead on the one hand to feelings of superiority, arrogance, and pride or on the other hand to inferiority, self-doubt, and anxiety rather than contentment, peace of mind, or healthy self-worth?
- Discuss how the four spiritual practices help to transform us and keep us from falling for the things the world has to offer. How does serving others selflessly defeat the lust of the flesh? How does generosity and gratitude keep materialism and greed at bay? How does empowering others keep us from focusing excessively on our achievements and status?
- Pick two of the four practices to practice this coming week. Tell someone about what you are doing and why.