Saturday, January 05, 2013


The new year of 2013 will be different than the year 2012 in many ways. But, in some ways, no matter how many years Providence may grant us, they will always be the same. Our enemies remain the same. 

In simple language those enemies consist of the world, the flesh, and the devil. 

But the clear testimony of scripture is that all three are defeated and we are to walk in that victory over each. Let's look at some implications of this at the beginning of this year of our Lord, 2013, and in our first three posts of the new year.
The first one is our enemy___the world.
The scripture clearly says that we are not to love the "world." [1 John 2:15] In fact, James states in no uncertain terms that anyone who loves the "world" is an "enemy of God." [James 4:4]
The term "world" is used several ways in the bible however, so let's be clear about what "world" the scripture is really speaking of when it is declared to be our enemy. 
The scriptures speak about the created "world"__mountains__oceans__the beauty of nature itself__but these things are not our enemy. [The earth is the Lord's and the fulness thereof.] This "world" is, in fact, our responsibility. We are to take care of it [terra firma] and use it wisely as the first couple, Adam and Eve, was instructed to do. 

There is also the use of the word "world"  in scripture that speaks of the people who make up a society and refers to the people of any nation. However, God loves people [For God so loved the world] and has clearly expressed that love according to our gospel message concerning the work of the Cross and we are commanded to live in His example of that love. This, even with our enemies.

But the word "world," when spoken of as an enemy and NOT to be loved, is referring to a "world system" that is found to be in total opposition to the reality of God and especially His control over our lives. It is a philosophy of life opposed to God as the source of life. 

Anything that establishes a "system of values" found that is to be centered on man [humanism] and contrary to the purposes God has for us in love and the freedom of the Spirit is our enemy and is called our enemy in scripture. The principles that govern this meaning of "world" are force, control, greed, covetousness, self-centeredness, and sensual pleasure. 

Such a system may often be found in politics, religion, even in marriage and family life, which would render that system a "worldly" thing in biblical terms. 

1 John 5:19 says, "We know that we are of God, and the whole [here it is] "World" [any system that leaves the true God out] lies under the sway of the wicked one. [Speaking of the devil whom we will address later.] 

So it doesn't matter whether it is politics, religion, marriage, church or family, if it is built on forced control, sensual pleasures, gluttony, greed, or self-centeredness, it is our enemy and we are NOT to love it.  

Who would have thought?    

Not many think clearly about religion being "worldly" or a marriage being "worldly," except when immorality is found present, or a political system being "worldly." But by biblical definitions religion, church-life, and even marriage can be and are often found to be based on control, greed, self-centeredness thus being an enemy of the Spirit. 

The religion of the Terrorists would be easily classified as "worldly" by all of us. But a religious, forcefully male-dominated, selfish, greedy Southern Baptist local entity called a church [Southern Baptist being my heritage] or a Southern Baptist pastor's marriage and family life [again, my heritage]  built around control and force would biblically quality as "worldly" as well.

Our enemy the "world" is perhaps best understood when seen in the light of 1 John 2:16-17. It is there that we find this enemy broken down clearly into three aspects with destructive consequences.

Those aspects include first of all "The Lust of the Flesh." [Gluttony] This is to be understood as any of our appetites being given control over us or our purpose in life given over to gratifying the those appetites. Appetites are NOT, within themselves, sinful at all, but they are NOT to be esteemed as life itself. To "glut" means "to fill beyond capacity, to satiate, to indulge in excess." 

So, while the senses are not sinful as seen by it not being a sin to eat or drink to live, [Or to satisfy any other appetite we have.] when given over to gluttony in any appetite, whether it's for sex, food, drink, whatever, such appetites become a "worldly" thing as described in scripture and is our enemy. That, because to live to eat, or drink, over-indulge in sex, or gluttony of any nature, is opposed to the Spirit. 

The "Lust of the eyes" [Covetousness] is another aspect of our enemy the "world" as seen in scripture. This is a longing to possess, the desire to have, an eagerness to have at any cost. The "lust of the eye" is covetousness as the "Lust of the Flesh" is gluttony.

Then, the final aspect of the "world" mentioned in 1 John 2 is the "Pride of Life. [Self-centeredness] This refers to a vain display of who we are or what we have and an attempt to have the spotlight shine on us. Gluttony, covetousness and self-centeredness all reflect on what the "world" is with man as it's center and God dethroned in His purposes. What an enemy the "world" is!

We all develop our own personal patterns by which these three aspects of the "World" exert their influence on us and would dominate our lives and shape our thoughts without our, somehow, seeing the "flesh" [which we'll see next] as crucified or put "to death" is how scripture says it. 

So how, then, do we deal with this enemy of ours called the "world?"

Our defense is the work accomplished on the Cross by our Lord. 1 John 5:4-5 we're told that our defense is "faith in God" and the finished work of Christ. In other words, our victory according to 1 John 5:4-5 is NOT dependent upon us at all, but on our faith [a gift] in what He has done that produces our salvation experience in Christ as we rest on His finished work.  

We are saved [delivered] by faith, then, as we grow in our knowledge of and appreciation for our Lord and His work on our behalf and rest in that accomplishment, [living by faith] we overcome the world and it's pull on us. 

As you can see, our focus is NOT to be the enemy, the "world" but on the enemy's defeat at the hands of our Lord on the Cross. The world is a defeated enemy and we are to live in that victory.

Paul said in 11 Corinthians 5: 14-15 that the "Love of Christ: constrained him. [Drove him to do and not do certain things.]  The overwhelming love of Christ for us, manifested when He died for us on the Cross, calls forth our all in response. We have here a true scriptural basis for the great hymn by Isaac Watts :

When I survey the wondrous Cross
On which the Prince of Glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pur contempt on all my pride.

Our enemy the "World" lies defeated by the Cross in 2013 as in every other year. Live that out in faith this new year.

Paul B.


Aussie John said...


You've certainly hit your stride running!

Thank you for such a pertinent article for this time of year, as many freshly made "New Years Resolutions" will be "worldly".

So good to see you use 1Jn 2:16-17!

I often wonder what would have been different if the religious life I was raised in, and went on to minister in, had not been so traditionally "built around control and force", much of it ever so subtle, never-the-less, control and force of humanistic desires and ambitions.

What think ye?

Wonder whether we learned that from governments, or, they learned it from us? :)

Bob Cleveland said...

It is interesting that what God loved .. enough to send His Son .. has become our enemy. Knowing all the while that the problem would be man .. whose addition to the world made that which was "good" into something that was "very good".

Reminds me of what one of John Ankerberg's guests once said (may have been Erwin Lutzer, but I don't recall for sure): Sin isn't a "bucket of stuff" you can sit around and look at. It's man's misuse, according to man's sinful nature, of what God gave man, for good.

I guess we're good like that .. there's not much we can't mess up.

Anonymous said...

Mankind seems to be incurably idolatrous because generation after generation, and universally, the signs of brokenness, fear and anxiety are evident.The world, the flesh and the Devil are the natural enemies of Jews, Muslims, Christians, and of all mankind. Who will save us from drowning in our weakness, because we are helpless? Only Jesus Christ is able to turn us from darkness to light, and to deliver us from the power of Satan unto God. The divine Jesus alone is able to de-activate these stubborn idols in our lives, through the power of His Holy Spirit. By on-going belief in the divine person of Jesus Christ, and by continuous trusting in the efficacy of His atoning work on the Cross for us, we are and shall be saved. Praise His name ! Thanks Paul, for showing us how subtle these idols can be. I suppose one could add such good things as nationalism, culture and constitutions to the danger list.