“Wrestling With Romans”
Love Not the World (Chapter 12 Verses 1-8)
There was a day when worldliness was easily understood (vv1-2). It was simply the person who smoked, drank alcohol, went dancing, or went to the movies, all this, and this alone was the sum of what it meant to be worldly. But then Christian liberty was discovered, God was Lord of the conscience and no one else, and rightly so. Jesus Christ died to set us free from the tyranny of tradition. Many of the taboos that Christians shunned had any biblical authority whatever. They were simply the death-throes of a generation of pompous folk who sought to be more righteous than God. You ever noticed how many things some Christians have that God missed out in his word, they know better, and so make up the deficiencies. We must stand in the freedom Christ died to give us, or you deny his very blood. But then the pendulum swings the other way, and we come perilously close to license (1Peter 2.16). When we’re so taken up with playing football, going to the movies, listening to music (different genres), all legitimate things, to such an extent the means of grace are being missed, or they are becoming a drag, then the warning bells should be ringing. It is important that we are always checking the balances, it’s important because of Paul’s injunction here. And it’s important because we’re not to love the world or the things of the world (1John 2.15).
The world, society organized by fallen human nature, is what Paul means here, we need to be aware of it’s characteristics. It is demonic, it’s controlled by Satan (1John 5.19), he is it’s prince (John 14.30), and in control of it’s children too (Ephesians 2.2). Now it’s a fact, like it or not, Satan can take over Christians too, the Lord himself addresses Peter, one of his men – how? As Satan! (Mark 8.33). He was doing the devil’s work. Again Peter, “Simon, Simon, Satan has desired to have you” (Luke 22.31). In other words, Satan has you Peter. The reality of a back-slidden Christian is that he or she is in the control of the devil. The world is hostile to Jesus. There is hostility there, an antithesis put there by God himself (Genesis 3.15). Sometimes the enemy comes all guns blazing, or roaring like a lion (1Peter 5.8), sometimes it’s his wiles and schemes (Ephesians 6.11), or like an angel of light (2Corinthians 11.14). Then he’s invisible, tolerant, smiles upon the Church, puts his own men into pulpits even. But the hostility is still there believe me, malignant evil. And any display of good will has but one purpose, to destroy the gospel, to smother it. To destroy our testimony, to make us so worldly, that we’re a denial of the Christ who bought us (Psalm 1.1). Paul’s answer is here (Romans 12.1-2).
(© James R Hamilton, written September, 1997)