Chapter 11: battle front where Satan…

Chapter 11: battle front where Satan…

Chapter 11 showed us the battle front where Satan and his demonic forces attack Believers by lying, deceiving and twisting the truth. The goal is to get Christians on the wrong path. Most Christians are familiar with this battle front. But there are two other battlefronts that they need to be aware of.
Chapter 12a reveals that there is also a battle to control what Believers think.

Worldliness takes place in the mind, the place where people are infiltrated by the attitudes, ideas and beliefs of the world. These attitudes and beliefs compromise the moral values and blind people to the truth of God by sending them on the wrong path
So we have examined the battle front where Satan and his demonic forces attack the truth of God. We learned that on that front the battle consist of resisting the lies and standing for truth like Jesus did in the wilderness. Satan and his demons will come to them twisting the truth, lying about what God said, and deceiving Christians with false truths in order to weaken their resistance or deceive them.
There is a second battle front where demonic forces attack through “Worldliness,” i.e. they try to control what Christians think.
Do not love the world, nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. And the world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God abides forever.

Worldliness consists of the ideas and attitudes of man that Satan uses to compete with God’s view of truth. In other words it is the kind of “thinking” that tries to validate mankind’s view of life and the truth without God’s help. “Worldly thinking” then influences man’s flesh (i.e. sinful nature) so that he indulges in his own selfish pleasure (selfish passions, pride and greed).
Worldly thinking or “worldliness” will have some truth in it. So worldliness is often based on false teachings that blind people to the truth and lead them away from God
4 The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. (2Co 4:4 NIV)
In the letter to the Romans Paul reminds us to offer our bodies as “living sacrifices” and be transformed by changing our worldview. In order to do that we have to sacrifice worldly thinking, i.e. we get rid of the way we use to see and understand the world.
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God– this is your true and proper worship. (Rom 12:1 NIV)

We change our way of thinking by getting rid worldly ideas like:
• My experience proves it’s true (pragmatism)
• True knowledge is found when we become one with spirit (mysticism)
• We don’t’ need God’s help to figure life out (idealism)
• What is true for you is not necessarily true for me (relativism).
In the following verse Paul tells us that we would not even be able to examine the truth in God’s Word until we change our way of thinking.
2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is– his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Rom 12:2 NIV)
That’s because there is a big difference between the two views of life. There is such a clear-cut difference between the Biblical view and the worldly view that James warns us that being friends with the world makes us God’s enemy.
4 You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. (Jam 4:4 NIV)

James, the brother of Jesus, and the Apostle John both help us understand what worldly thinking is made of,
the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life– comes not from the Father but from the world. (1Jo 2:16 NIV)

15 Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. (Jam 3:15 NIV)

As Christians we are no strangers to worldly thinking. All of us, with the possible exception of very young children, grew up with it, were trained by it, and understood life through it. Worldly thinking was passed down to us from Adam and Eve. We learned to live life selfishly focusing our minds on satisfying our passion, our greed, and our pride. These are the same characteristics that Satan revealed in his fall; and they are imitated daily in the world today.

John labels these worldly characteristics as the “lust of the flesh,” the “lust of the eyes,” and the “pride of life.” The lust of the flesh has to do with the strong desire to satisfy the impulses that rise up in our sinful nature and is commonly linked with the body. It is the view that says, “If it feels good do it.” The lust of the eyes has to do with the things that we see or the things that catch our eye and desire. That can manifest as greed, envy or craving to possess things we see and can enjoy. The pride of life is the attitude that I am above others, i.e. thinking too highly about our self. It is the desire to focus our life on our self without God; and it can be conveyed by the desire to control or conquer others.
James describes the nature of worldly thinking as earthly, unspiritual, and demonic. To be “earthly” means this wisdom is a limited, i.e. it can only know what is in the space and time around us. It cannot know anything beyond like heaven or eternity. To be “unspiritual” means that it is a natural view, i.e. it is not influenced by the Spirit. That means it can only know things from fallen man’s knowledge and understanding.
The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit. (1Co 2:14 NIV)
“Demonic” wisdom basically means it is knowledge that comes out of Satan’s worldview, and communicated in things taught by demons (doctrines of demons). It is the kind of wisdom that rejects God as the source for knowledge.

Satan’s Rules for Life Contradict God’s Rules for Life

Now since Believers were first trained to live their lives “selfishly,” the highest priority is changing their way of thinking so that they can learn to live their lives “unselfishly.”
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God– this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is– his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Rom 12:1-2 NIV)

15 “If you love me, keep my commands. (Joh 14:15 NIV)
When a Believer begins to obey the Word of God and train his mind to see the world from God’s point of view, he enters the battle zone. It’s like floating along in a stream and suddenly deciding to change direction, he finds himself fighting against the flow of the stream. Now he has to work hard to reach his destiny because he is being opposed by the flow of water. The World system is like the flow of water in the stream. It makes life difficult because the principles of living from the world are absolutely opposed to God’s principles of living. The world hates God and all who are united with Him.
19 If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. (Joh 15:19 NIV)
That’s why John commands Believers not to pay any attention to the world.
15 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. (1Jo 2:15 NIV)

Worldly wisdom, basically, uses humanity’s limited, worldly insights and knowledge to solve life’s problems and find happiness without the guidance of God. Some of the world’s systems will work for a season and even produce some happiness. But its ability to work isn’t the issue. The issue is the end result; and the end result is tragic:
“There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” (Prov. 14:12).

Bottom line: The point of this is the overall focus of our thinking from birth was based on the world’s view of life. The Bible says this kind of thinking is demonic. So that old way of thinking has to be totally scrapped! A steady dosage of Bible study has to be our highest priority if we want to change the Believers way of thinking.
A Believer can’t just exchange a few pieces of wrong information for a few pieces of right information. He hasn’t been called just to learn a few Bible stories and biblical guidelines. Romans 12:2 calls for a complete, radical transformation of the mind. Our whole worldview has to be changed so that it sees eye to eye with God’s Word.
“…but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…” (Rom 12:2 NIV)

Notice that the heart of worldliness is proclaiming man’s independence from God. It is the idea that man can solve his own problems, be secure and find fulfillment in life without submitting to God or following His plan. It is the basis for Satan’s rebellion which is why it is called demonic. This is attractive to the sinful nature, which is why it is also a personal reflection of Satan. It is living out life according to the will of Satan.
Worldliness takes advantage of man’s limited wisdom and knowledge and is shown in his desire for power and to control or manipulate. For example, worldliness believes security and happiness are found in wealth (see Eze 27:3-36 NIV). Unfortunately, this idea has even crept into the church in the form of the contemporary “Health and Wealth Gospel.” Not only is it taught, but many contemporary Christians are pursuing wealth for its own sake.
10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. (1Ti 6:10 NIV)

Christians should keep in mind that Satan is a master at deception and he can make the goals and ideals of worldliness very attractive, things like: personal success, peace in the world, feeding the poor etc. These types of goals and ideals are examples of doing good things the wrong way, i.e. man is choosing to solve these problems on his own without God’s guidance.

Understanding biblical worldliness and adding this knowledge to the information we have already gathered from “God’s story,” helps to clarify the spiritual battle even more. God’s story is all about the restoration of His creation; and the battle that humans face with the world involves the restoration of man’s heart to God. God is not interested in territories, dominions, power or authority. These things already belong to Him through the work of Jesus Christ.

“…that power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come 22 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church,…” (Eph 1:19-22 NIV)
God’s plan includes separating Believers from the world completely by changing the way they understand the world.

How Does a Believer Keep From Being Influenced by the World?

Knowing that Satan is still the god of this world, temporarily, and that the whole world is under his rule, helps us to understand God’s plan for keeping us from being influenced by the world. Even though a Believer is set free from the authority of sin, the sinful nature in him is still attracted to the evil in the world. That’s why the Devil counters God’s plan by attempting to influence the mind of a Believer with worldly thinking. God has a simple way to avoid this type of influence, He simply says (commands): “Do not love the world or anything in the world.”

Christians have to break all ties with the World and renew their minds by flooding it with Scripture. They have been called out of the world. They have become citizens of a heavenly kingdom where there is a whole new way of thinking, and a higher code of conduct. They have been born of God and placed in a new position in God’s kingdom. They have a new spirit that enables them to obey the will of God so that they can be the “light of the world.” They become “outsiders” just passing through this world on their way to heaven. So Paul reminds them that they alone, truly have the freedom to choose and they are obligated to choose to stop conforming to the world, i.e. to stop thinking like the world.
19 If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. (Joh 15:19 NIV)

18 We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the One who was born of God keeps them safe, and the evil one cannot harm them. (1Jo 5:18 NIV)

13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, (Col 1:13 NIV)

14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. (Mat 5:14 NIV)

20 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, (Phi 3:20 NIV)

Christians have to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives and keep themselves from being polluted by the world because they are now fully capable of participating in the divine nature. That doesn’t mean that they become little gods, it means they are now able to live holy, righteous lives. They have been left in the world because they have a part to play in God’s plan to restore all creation. Their part in God’s story is to gather God’s people by evangelizing them.
God has given Christians a way to attract the people of the world. It’s through the message of the gospel and the good behavior of God’s people in the midst of a dark world. When we reveal God’s righteousness through our words and deeds we expose the sinfulness of the world, showing that they are living the opposite of God’s holy character. Just like Jesus did when He came to earth and lived a perfectly sinless life.
Bottom Line: Knowing that Christians are separated from the world, and that they walk in the opposite direction of worldly thinking, John encourages Believers to keep pressing forward because it is through their obedient faith that they will defeat worldliness. Notice that John states this as fact,
4 For every child of God defeats this evil world and we achieve this victory through our faith. (1Jo 5:4 NLT)
By faithfully obeying the Word of God they are living in accordance with God’s will and rejecting Satan’s will. John can say this boldly and confidently because that is what happened to Jesus when he stayed faithful to the Father.
“These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”
(Joh 16:33 NAU)


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