God is permanent. He was and is and is to come. The world, on the other hand, is rapidly unravelling. We see it all around us. COVID 19 has created a “new normal” that is setting the stage for the end time beast system. There are new mechanisms of control in the categories of information, speech, privacy, and even movements. None of these things should come as a surprise to Bible-reading Christians, though. We know that, should the Lord tarry, we are heading toward a time of great persecution for the saints. The Bible tells us to “love not the world” and its systems, but some of us are still having trouble letting go of our white-knuckled grip. We must make a choice now, because our decision marks us either way. We can’t love both God and the world.
Love Not The World
“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”1 John 2:15
The word for “world” in the Greek is “kosmos.” According to the DAKE Study Bible, it means “order, behavior, fashion, and government of this world system.” It’s the same word used in John 17:16 when Jesus says about the saints, “They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.” And, in even stronger language, it’s the same word as in James 4:4. Here, Paul is comparing those who love the world to those who are unfaithful to their spouse (our first love, God). “Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.”
We are in this world for a purpose: God’s purpose. We have a job to do for Him. The more we find our pleasure, our meaning, our fulfillment, and our success in the world’s terms, the further away we get from the plans and purposes of God. We’re all in the middle of a spiritual war. Getting caught up with the world is like fraternizing with the enemy. 2 Timothy 2:4 says, “No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier.” We have to keep our eyes focused on Jesus instead of getting distracted by the world.
Three Classes of the World’s System
“For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.”1 John 2:16
Lust of the Flesh
Galatians 5:19-21 mentions 17 works of the flesh. “Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like…” The verse finishes with a stern warning, “…of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”
Looking at the list, some are obvious big-sin “no-no’s” like murder, adultery, fornication, and sorcery. But some can kind of creep up on us if we aren’t careful, like selfish ambition and even dissension. Also, some Christians today have succumbed to idolatry, putting their faith in a president as a savior. Some have embraced heresies that people must follow the Torah to be righteous (the Hebrew Roots Movement) or conquer the seven mountains of influence for Jesus to return (NAR). In any case, it is all about the here and now. It’s all about living for a moment in the physical instead of seeking for God and the spiritual.
Lust of the Eyes
This category is about wanting what we don’t or can’t have. It includes sexually lustful thoughts for someone to whom one is not married. It can also include covetousness, or wrongfully desiring things that do not belong to us like a better position or material items. Finally, it can include idolatry. This is a much misunderstood term today. People tend to think of idols as little figures the pagans worshiped in Bible times, but an idol is anything on which “our affections are passionately set; an extravagant admiration of the heart.”
In simple terms, it’s anything we love above God. It’s easy to say we love God above everything else when we aren’t in a position to have to choose between them. There may come a time when we are asked to give up our possessions, our families, or even our own lives. We have to come to terms now with Who/what comes first for us.
The Pride of Life
Pride is the original sin, according to Ezekiel 28. Of the three categories, this one seems the most dangerous to Christians. It’s all about the biggest idol of all: self. (Did you notice that idolatry is in all three categories?) This one includes position/power, riches, beauty, strength, and vanity. Now, these are not bad in and of themselves. In fact, some are great blessings from God. The problem begins when it becomes about seeking after honor and applause from men instead of giving the glory to God. This one also includes self-righteousness, the idea that being “good” makes us better than others. Of course, we all want to be obedient and right with God, but the Bible is clear that only God knows the whole story. We should never be prideful but should seek to remain humble at all times.
The Two Marks
“And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart…You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.”Deuteronomy 6:6, 8
Depending on where we place our allegiance, every person is either marked by God or marked by the world. The Bible speaks of a spiritual mark on our forehead representing our thoughts, our desires, and our focus. The mark on our hands represents the way we actively live and use our time, talent, and resources. We are living for one or the other whether we know it or not, and there IS a spiritual mark there.
But every day we get closer and closer to the actual end time system and the physical mark of the beast. Now some say that the church will be raptured before that system comes online. Others, however, see the scriptures as indicating that the church will be here. One thing is for certain, though. At that time, sides will be chosen, once and for all.
For Some, The Spiritual Will Become Physical
For those whose eyes are set on the world, the spiritual mark will lead them to seek for a physical one, indicating an allegiance to the beast/world system. It may come with a vaccine, a chip, or a tattoo, and it will be required in the right hand or the forehead to continue having the comfort, security, and pleasure of this world. But it will also come with damnation to to hell. The Bible says that when Esau sold his birthright, there was no repentance, though he sought it with tears. Those who take the mark of the BEAST sell the birthright of their humanity. That decision is one permanent thing in this temporary world.
On the other hand, for those who reject this world system and live for God alone, the mark of God will abide on them. Those will be hated for His namesake as they stand in opposition to the antichrist and the world. They might lose the physical comforts of this life or even have to lay their lives down, but they will retain their souls.
A Permanent God and a Temporary World
“And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.”1 John 2:17
1 John 2:15 tells us to “love not the world,” and Luke 14:28 says that we must all count the cost of following after Christ. This life is but a vapor. What temporary, worldly things will you be willing to give up in order to stay true to an everlasting God? Now is the time to settle it in our hearts what our choice will be. Now is the time to tune our focus even more keenly toward God and put our resources in action in obedience to Him. One day, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. On that day, God willing, we will have crowns to lay at His feet.
Don’t forget to subscribe to the mailing list on the upper right corner (or at the bottom on a phone). If you like timely articles, try The Fruit of the Spirit During Times of Crisis. In that one, I chronicle my friend Jason’s time in China as the Coronavirus was revenging there. Or, Instead of Fear, Choose Faith in God’s Promises. In that one, we look at the 5 basic kinds of fear and the promises from the Bible that speak to each one. Also, check out my YouTube Channel where I read my blogs out loud and have a separate playlist of hymns from our talented, anointed 16-year-old-worship leader Hannah.