A friend told me she can’t bear to look at social media right now, because so many are posting about all the free time they have now. Ha! She was already over-extended as it was. Now, thanks to the current health crisis and school shutdowns she’s “a shell”: schooling her children, caring for her parents, continuing her job, and more.
When I asked how I could practically help her, she asked if I could text her some Scripture regularly.
I wonder, could you, too, use some refreshment from God’s Word during this crisis? If so, follow along on Instagram and Facebook. Today, I’ll include some brief thoughts from Luke 13 right here on the blog.
Jesus’ Response to Tragic, Headline News
In Luke 13, some people tell Jesus the tragic news of the day: Pilate has killed some Galileans, mixing their blood with the blood of their animal sacrifices. Rather than responding with something like, “That’s awful!” Jesus asks, Do you think these were worse sinners than other Galileans because they suffered this way? “No,” he answers his own question,” “but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish” (v. 3).
Jesus than takes a turn sharing another tragic headline news story with them. A tower in Siloam fell on eighteen people. Everyone died. Again, he asked, were they worse sinners than others because this happened to them? “No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish” (v. 5).
While you and I may (hopefully!) escape death by the current health crisis, we will all perish, unless we repent of our sin. Let Jesus’ response to tragedy serve as a wakeup call.Luke 13 goes on to share about the only two possible destinies for everyone on this planet:
1) For those who don’t repent, “…there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God but you yourselves cast out” (v. 28).
2) Those who do repent, though, will experience life beyond death: “And people will come from east and west, and from north and south, and recline at table in the kingdom of God” (v. 29). Imagine stretching out and talking and laughing and feasting with Jesus.If you are in Christ, THIS is your future. This is your hope.
If this is not you, turn from your sin to Jesus, and He will welcome you to His table!
PS: I should explain this picture. Iren enjoys reading the paper with his grandma. While he’s reading the comics section in this photo rather than a tragic news story, may it serve as a reminder that you can still have joy because of the future Jesus has secured for you . . . with Him!
Do you feel inadequate to help teens in your life? Maybe you think you need a crash course in emojis as well as an active Snapchat presence before you can influence them for good.
You Aren’t Adequate to Help Teens
Maybe you’ve never gotten too close to teens because you’ve been afraid you wouldn’t know how to answer their questions or deal with their needs. Or maybe you’ve barraged them with Bible verses, but woken the next morning wondering, Did I really help them? Were my comments even relevant, or did I just heave a heavy burden on their back?
In one sense it’s not a bad place to be, realizing you have nothing to offer unless God works in their lives. Jesus knew what He was talking about when He said, “Apart from me you can do nothing.” You and I will always be insufficient this side of heaven.
But today, I hope to point you in the direction you need to head in order to be able to help teens with anything and everything. I’m not saying there’s no room for a varied education—I love to learn!—but if I could advise you, I’d tell you to learn one subject inside and out. I’d encourage you to learn to apply it from every angle to any person’s life situation.
The Gospel Is Adequate to Help Teens
Are you ready? It’s the gospel that your teen needs—yes, for salvation (Rom. 1:16), but also for life. He or she needs you to help them see how Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection has everything to do with their Friday nights and Monday mornings . . . and everything in-between.
Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.
Did you catch that? These people received the gospel by faith (in the past), they’re standing firmly in it (in the present), and they’re being saved by it (in the present and in the future).
What is this gospel which is saving them? Paul continues:
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures (vv. 3–4).
Why It’s So Tough to Apply the Gospel
“But Paula,” you protest, “if everything my teen needs (and everything I need) is found in the gospel, then why is it so tough to make that connection and to apply it to everyday situations?”
I think it’s because we don’t fully grasp the gospel’s significance and outcomes for our own lives. Also, it’s easier to deal on the moral, what-I-can-see-with-my-eyes level. Connecting the dots to how teens need the gospel means we must want more than just outward conformity.
I wonder . . . do we? Do we really want their hearts to be captured by God, or are we just after outward conformity to rules that make us feel comfortable when they’re abided by?
If you want the former (and oh, how I hope you do!), you have to get to the heart behind why they’re doing what they’re doing. The bad news is this will take longer. It’s not as easy as just saying, “Stop it!” or “Fix it!” You have to dig deeper to root motives.
But the good news is when you apply the gospel to heart issues, it has the potential to bring about real, lasting change from the inside out. So how can you begin?
4 Practical Ways to Get Started
Here are four tips for you as you seek to apply the gospel to teens’ lives (or anyone, for that matter).
Meditate on gospel truths. Familiarize and re-familiarize yourself with the gospel. Think about it. Pray prayers based on it, read books about it, and memorize verses about it. Talk about it with Christians and non-Christians. Pray that God would restore your wonder in what He has done for you through Christ. Breathe it, live it, talk it, and sleep on it. Don’t get over it.
Interact with teens. Approach them in church and show interest in their lives. Go see the play they’re acting in. Invite them to go shopping with you. Or come over to color with you (yes, coloring is fun for big people, too!). Love the teens around you; don’t just try to change them. Get to know them, listen well to them, and enjoy them. (Click here for ten practical ways to push past social anxiety.)
Pray. Rather than focusing on the fact that you don’t feel relevant, pray for the teens around you. Ask that:
God would help you see them as He sees them.
He would fill you with love for them.
They will “get” gospel truths and implications.
He will do what only He can do and give them full, abundant life in Christ.
Apply the gospel to their life situation. If your teen still has a glazed-over look, it’s possible you didn’t explain it clearly, or it’s possible their heart is hardened and their eyes are blinded to the good news. But know that the fault never lies with the gospel itself. It is, and continues to be, as Romans 1:16 says, “the power of God for salvation.”
Click over to TrueWoman.com, and practice applying the gospel to a specific teen’s struggle.
“Titanic Sinks Four Hours After Hitting Iceberg” . . . “ON THE MOON! And It’s ‘One Giant Leap for Mankind’” . . . “Diana Dead.” All these headlines were breaking news at one time, but now they’re . . . old news.
For many Christians, the gospel isn’t much different. I don’t know about you, but for most of my life, I thought of the gospel as good news for unbelievers but old news for believers.
Boy, was I wrong.
The Gospel Is Still for You, Believer
News flash: The gospel isn’t mainly for your unbeliving neighbors!
But don’t just take my word for it. In Romans 16:25, Paul writes to believers, “Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ.”
Did you catch that? It’s the gospel that strengthens us as believers. The simple, familiar story of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection on our behalf.
Here’s another verse, written about believers, that clues us in that the gospel isn’t mainly for our lost neighbors: “The gospel, which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and increasing—as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth” (Col. 1:5–6).
Is the gospel bearing fruit and increasing in you and me? (Hint: If we’re not regularly rehearsing gospel truths, it probably isn’t.)
I like how Tim Keller puts it: “The gospel is not just the ABCs but the A-to-Z of the Christian life.”
Today I’m writing over on TrueWoman.com. Catch the rest of this post there.
Then, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Have you tended to think of the gospel as good but old news . . . or as good news for today and tomorrow and the day after?
My husband and I counted down the days. On Friday, December 15, Lucasfilm released the eighth Star Wars movie, The Last Jedi. We were there. Early. My hubby is the kind of fan who already knew the first two words of the upcoming film (“We’re not . . .”).
So naturally, after we married a couple of years ago, Trevor and I had a Star Wars marathon. He introduced me to all I’d missed out on in my deprived life up until that point. Now, I have to say, I’m a fan. In fact, I agreed to let Trevor design Iren’s baby announcement around Star Wars.
Consequently, today I’m sharing three ways Star Wars villain Kylo Ren points to a greater story. Check it out, and be encouraged. If you’re in Christ—no matter how dark your world may look—the dark side will not win.
3 Ways a Star Wars Villain Points to a Greater Story
If you saw the last Star Wars movie, The Force Awakens, you’ll remember Han Solo talking about how a young boy who was once a Jedi apprentice turned to the dark side and destroyed Luke Skywalker’s fledgling Jedi academy.
When I saw who that boy became, I was reminded of a few ways the new Star Wars villain, Kylo Ren, parallels our actual enemy, Satan. (Spoiler alert for those who haven’t yet seen The Force Awakens!)
Just as Kylo Ren was once a Jedi apprentice, Satan was once a good angel of light.
We know this because all God created was good, not evil. Genesis 1:31 shows God standing back, assessing His creation:
God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good (emphasis added).
Both Kylo Ren and Satan rebelled against their former masters.
Just as Kylo destroyed Luke’s academy, at some point before Genesis 3:1, Satan rebels against God. Jude 1:6 fills us in on his journey to the “dark side”:
The angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day.
Both Kylo and Satan were wounded but given more time to work their evil.
After Kylo was defeated and scarred by Rey, Kylo retreated to his dark master, Snoke. We’ll see his fight continue against “the light” in some shape in The Last Jedi.
Similarly, God cast Satan out of heaven, but he was allowed to continue his work on earth for a time:
The great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. And I heard a loud voice in heaven saying “Therefore, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!” (Revelation 12:9-12).
Satan was then crushed at the cross, as it had been foretold in Genesis 3:15:
“He [the offspring of the woman, Jesus] shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”
Hebrews 2:14 tells us:
Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself [Jesus] likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil (emphasis added).
Yet the devil still limps around, like the scarred Kylo.
Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8).
Why didn’t God put a complete end to Satan long ago? Pastor John Piper explains it well in thisexcellent sermon:
Jesus Christ will be more highly honored in the end because he defeats Satan through longsuffering, patience, humility, servanthood, suffering, and death, rather than through raw power. And the more highly honored the Son is, the greater the joy of those who love him.
Ways This Star Wars Villain Does Not Point to the Greater Story
This is where the similarities between Kylo and Satan end. Because while Kylo and the other evil members of the First Order continue their terror in that galaxy far, far away, no one will ultimately continue Satan’s work.
Jesus Christ has risen to ensure that the darkness will not overcome the light. He is the stronger one! Soon Satan, sin, and death will be utterly and completely done away with. Revelation 20:10 gives us a glimpse into the future:
And the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.
This is incredible reason to rejoice! As epic as the Star Wars movies are, they are just that . . . movies. But Satan’s final demise (and sin and death’s) is as sure as a Star Wars nerd cooking up a terrible Rey parentage or Snoke origin theory.
It was so good to get your email and hear that you’ve been a Christian for almost a year now:
I’ve loved it, but it is also pretty overwhelming as I am just developing as a Christian and so many things are being thrown my way. Things such as Anglican tradition, special holidays, different perspectives of the Word and Christ, ways to act as a Christian woman, you name it.
I am not sure how long you’ve been a Christian, but I am pretty sure it’s been longer than I have been. Do you have any tips or advice you could pass on, which will help me in my journey with God as a new Christian? Advice regarding getting through the Word of God, praying always, listening to God, applying God to every aspect of my life, etc.?
First, praise God for giving you the gift of faith in Christ’s once-for-all sacrifice for your sins. I’m so excited I have a new “sister” in the family of God.
I’m sorry that the excitement of your new life in Christ has been crowded out by others throwing lots of stuff your way.
Don’t ever get over Christ and what He has done for you.
My main advice is this: Don’t ever get over Christ and what He has done for you. Remember that you contributed nothing to your salvation. You were dead spiritually.
And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him [Christ], having forgiven us all our trespasses (Col. 2:13).
Dead people can do nothing! God gave you the gift of faith in His Son. Without this gift, you would not have been able to see how beautiful His offer of salvation is:
By grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God (Eph. 2:8).
Guard yourself from believing that God will be more pleased with you if you read Scripture, pray, go to church, etc. Some Christians refer to these activities as “means of grace.” That’s because they’re not acts we do for God; they’re ways God graciously makes us more like Jesus.
So pursue these means of grace as gifts, not as duties. Here are a couple means of grace I’d start with:
1. Get involved in a solid church.
You need community; Christianity is not a solo sport. Here are three websites that can help you find solid churches in your area:
All Scripture points to Christ, so this is where you go to look for and at Him. Ask an older, godly woman who has walked with God awhile to teach you how to read and study God’s Word. Here are a few posts I’ve written on the subject that will help:
Then take a deep breath. It’s okay that there’s so much you don’t know right now. I’ve been raised on the Bible since I was a little girl, and there’s still so much I don’t know! Above all, set out to know Christ.
As you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving (Col. 2:6–7).
One of my favorite quotes of all time is by Robert Murray M’Cheyne: “For every look at self take ten looks at Christ.”
It’s fine to explore some of these other things, but above all, keep the main thing the main thing. Or rather, the main Person the main Person: Christ Jesus, our Savior and Lord. As you do, I can say with Paul:
I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ (Phil. 1:6).
“Will I go to hell if I’m not a virgin?” a single girl asked me.
I wish I could scoff, “Of course not!” But the truth is, it all depends . . .
Hell: Our Default Destination
Let’s start with this basic understanding: Every person’s default destination is Hell. That’s because without exception:
All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23).
While our culture ridicules the notion that sex is off-limits to everyone other than a man and a woman united in marriage, God says otherwise.
We all sin in countless ways, but let’s specifically address this girl’s question about choosing to have premarital sex.
While our culture ridicules the notion that sex is off-limits to everyone other than a man and a woman united in marriage, God says otherwise.
First Corinthians 6:13–20 explains:
The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her?
For, as it is written, “The two will become one flesh.” But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
Choosing to have sex outside of marriage is sin, and all sin results in death—physical death and eternal death in hell (Rom. 6:23).
That’s because our God is stunningly more holy than we can imagine:
You who are of purer eyes than to see evil and cannot look at wrong (Hab. 1:13).
Believe me, I get how hard it is to swallow the fact that all of us deserve hell. To us, hell seems like “a divine overreaction.” But as author Randy Alcorn writes:
If we understood God’s nature and ours, we would be shocked not that some people could go to hell, but that any would be permitted into heaven. Unholy as we are, we are disqualified from saying that infinite holiness doesn’t demand everlasting punishment.
So the million dollar question is this. How can this girl who is no longer a virgin—and how can you and I—exchange our one-way ticket to hell . . . for heaven?
How to Exchange Our One-Way Ticket to Hell . . . for Heaven
We can’t on our own. But Someone has done it for us. Jesus chose to endure hell for you and me so we might have the option of entering the joys of heaven.
He [God] made him [Jesus] to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God (2 Cor. 5:21).
Jesus chose to endure hell for you and me so we might have the option of entering the joys of heaven.
Because of our sin, you and I deserve hell. But Jesus has made a way for us, instead, to enjoy Him forever in heaven. In response to this girl who asked, “Will I go to heaven if I’m not a virgin?” I have to ask:
Have you accepted Jesus’ unbelievably heroic, extravagant gift?
Have you confessed and turned from your sins?
First John 1:9 promises that:
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Hell will be full of those who have sinned sexually (and in other ways). Heaven will also be filled with people who formerly sinned sexually (and in other ways). What’s the difference? It has nothing to do with the sins you’ve committed, but with whether you have embraced the Sin-Slayer, Jesus Christ, your righteous Substitute . . . and turned from your sin as a result.
PS: I am indebted to Randy Alcorn for his insights on hell in chapters 3 and 4 of his bookHeaven.
Editor’s Note: This post was written as part of the 15-Day Heart Prep series for True Woman ’14.
My whole life I’d struggled to defeat the power of sin—with no success. But after I began studying Romans 6–8 with a couple friends, all that changed.
Some of it was old news. You know—Jesus came to earth, lived a perfect life, died on a cross, was buried in a tomb, rose from the dead three days later, and then went back to heaven. When I was growing up, I’d rehearsed the story every Sunday at the communion table.
But I’d never connected the dots. I’d never understood how these facts about Jesus applied to me—how they changed everything about me.
It wasn’t just Jesus who died—I died with Him. It wasn’t just Jesus who was buried—my old self, packed with sin, was buried with Him, too. And when Jesus burst out of that tomb with brand-new resurrection life, I, too, was given new life! Galatians 2:20 sums it up well:
“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
For the first time, I understood Jesus didn’t die to forgive me of my sin and leave me in it. He died to forgive and to free me from the power of sin! Suddenly I realized I didn’t have to be jealous of that beautiful woman. I didn’t have to hate that person for excluding me. I wasn’t powerless anymore.
For the first time, I understood that Jesus didn’t die to forgive me of my sin and leave me in it. He died to forgive and to free me from the power of sin!
“We know that our old self was crucified with Him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. . . . So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 6:6–11).
My New Identity
I realized that I had a new identity now: Dead to sin, alive to God, and in Christ Jesus (Rom. 6:11). My only job? Believing it to be so and living in light of that truth.
From that point on, I saw God begin to change not only my outward behavior but even the hidden desires of my heart. Whether I actually became a Christian at this time or not, I can’t say. I asked Jesus to save me as a young child, but this was the first time I really understood why the Good News was such good news! This was the beginning of my whole new life.
Your Whole New Life
How about you? Are you “in Christ”? If all your trust is in His righteousness and not yours, the answer is “yes!” Now it’s up to you to remember, believe, and personalize these truths. The old you is dead and buried, you’ve been raised brand-new in Christ! Believe it. Live in light of it.
What about you? Are you looking within, or are you looking to Christ?
I think these words of Jesus are the scariest I’ve ever heard:
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.
“On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’
“And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness'” (Matt. 7:21–23).
Check out the résumé of these people to whom Jesus will refuse entrance into heaven:
They claim that Jesus is their Lord, the One who rules their lives.
They publicly teach about Jesus with passion and authority.
They cast out demons in Jesus’ name (something I definitely haven’t done!).
They do miracles—actual miracles—all in Jesus’ name.
Jesus says people will be shocked when He’ll ask, “Who are you? I never knew you.”
News flash: hell is for good people, too. People like you; people like me.
Tell me, do you:
Read your Bible?
Volunteer at the soup kitchen?
Tell people about Jesus?
Rescue helpless animals?
Go on mission trips?
Help in the church nursery?
If so, you’re good enough to go to hell.
You’re headed to heaven not because you were good enough, but because Jesus was good enough for you.
But if good people go to hell, then who on earth is good enough for heaven?!
And if your hope is in being good enough to get into heaven, you’re headed straight to hell.
I’ve heard Mark Vroegop say it like this: “Works don’t work.” Check out Romans 4:5 to see what he means:
To the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness.
In case “does not work” sounds like a permission slip for a lifelong vacation, let me clarify. In 2 Peter 1:5–7 we’re told:
Make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.
“The gospel is not opposed to effort but [it is opposed] to earning,” the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible explains.
There’s nothing wrong with good works—as long as they flow out of gratitude for the grace you’ve been shown by Jesus. You’re headed to heaven not because you were good enough, but because Jesus was good enough for you. He bore God’s wrath toward your filthy and your “good” works, and He gave you the record of always having been 100 percent good.
If you recognize that you’re good enough to go to hell, please, oh, please, would you stop counting on your “good works” to earn you a spot in heaven? Turn to and trust in the only One good enough to secure eternal salvation for you—Jesus.
Not only are there enemies against you out there (Satan and the world), there’s an enemy within you—your very Self or “flesh.”
Self is made up of your passions and desires that are opposed to God and His ways. At one time, all of us were slaves to Self, willingly bowing to its every whim and demand:
We all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind (Eph. 2:3).
You can hear the defeat in this message I received from someone recently who’s experiencing slavery to Self:
I read some of your recent posts, and it sounds like you’re able to do the one thing I struggle with most—filling my time with heavenly thoughts instead of thinking of my sexual needs! The worst part about it is that I sometimes feed those needs! We’re all sinners! AAAAAGGGHHH!
What this person doesn’t realize is that they’re not sexual needs; they’re sexual desires. And Self’s desires can be beat. How? Not by self-effort! As Andrew Murray says, “Self can never cast out self.”
You can’t rescue yourself from Self, but there’s a Savior who can! God wants to save you—not only from His wrath against your sin—but from slavery to your sinful desires. If and when you put all your faith and trust and hope in Jesus’ sacrifice for your sin, your old self was put to death with Jesus:
We know that our old self was crucified with him [Jesus] in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin (Rom. 6:6).
Galatians 5:24 tells us,
Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
Do you belong to Jesus Christ? If so, consider yourself dead to sin and dead to Self. Then rely on the powerful Spirit of Jesus Christ who lives in you in order to defeat Self on a moment-by-moment basis.
You used to have just one way of living—it was always and only life in the flesh. Life controlled by your natural, sinful desires and drives. Now, though, if Jesus has made you a brand-new person with brand-new desires and power to do right, you can “walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh” (Gal. 5:16). Each day, each moment, you have two choices. You can either:
1. Operate in the flesh.
2. Operate in the Spirit
At any given point, only the flesh or the Spirit will be in charge. Just as you can’t run backward and forward at the same time, you can’t live in the flesh and the Spirit. Galatians 5:17 says:
The desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other.
Until God gives you an eternal, sinless body, you are going to experience an ongoing fight between the flesh and the Spirit. You will decide whom you allow to gain the upper hand by the choices you make. Which is more evident in your life, the works of the flesh or the fruit of the Spirit?
We’re profiling our enemies in this blog series (click here for your first enemy). Your next enemy might come as a surprise to you. It’s . . . the world.
When you think of the world, you might think of exploring Paris and New Zealand and the Ivory Coast (how exciting does that sound?!). The world seems like a neutral space full of endless possibilities for adventure. It is . . . right?
It all depends on what you mean by “world.”
The World as It First Was I love the poem in Proverbs 8:22–31 where Wisdom is personified as a woman remembering the time long ago when she had a front-row seat as God handcrafted the physical world. I can just hear her excitement as she leans forward, a sparkle in her eye, and recounts,
“I was beside him, like a master workman, and I was daily his delight, rejoicing before him always, rejoicing in his inhabited world and delighting in the children of man” (v. 31).
After Wisdom watched God create the first dust of the world and the earth with its fields and the first man and the first woman, she saw Him put them in a beautiful garden. Then she watched as He talked and walked with the man and his wife (Gen. 3:8).
Unfortunately, she was also there when our first parents turned their backs on Wisdom and chose instead to rebel against God. The whole world was placed under a curse (Rom. 8:20–22).
The World as It Now Is
The sad fact is, you’re not living in an environment that’s for you, like a tomato plant in a sunny greenhouse. Your life in this world is more like a tomato plant that’s been thrown into a pitch-black furnace room in the bowels of a factory.
Satan is the major influence on the ideals, opinions, goals, hopes, and views of the majority of people. His influence also encompasses the world’s philosophies, education, and commerce. The thoughts, ideas, speculations, and false religions of the world are under his control and have sprung from his lies and deceptions.
So while God’s created world is still good, the whole world system is not. First John 2:16 warns us,
All that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world.
If you want to learn more about what this means, check out John Piper’s sermon on this verse. Here’s a little taste:
Love for the world pushes out love for God, and love for God pushes out love for the world. . . . If your love for God is cool this morning it’s because love for the world has begun to take over your heart and choke your love for God. The love of the world and the love of the Father cannot coexist.
The World as It Soon Will Be The next verse in 1 John gives us another reason not to love the world:
The world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever (2:17).
Did you catch that? This world that feels so solid is really just temporary. It’s going out of fashion. God is going to judge the world (Acts 17:31), and then He’s going to make it brand-sparkling new!
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Rev. 21:1–4).
How can you be sure that you won’t be judged with this present world but will live in the new world with God? John 1:9–13 explains:
The true light, which gives light to everyone [Jesus], was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
Have you “received” Jesus? Or is your love for this present world keeping you from loving Him? Will you repent and ask God to help you love Him more than this world system?