The worldly world is a constant enemy for the Christian. It seems always to be with us, clamouring for our attention and seeking to dazzle our eyes. Like Bunyan’s pilgrims we cannot avoid making our way through “Vanity Fair”. These days the distractions can be portable and may even accompany us everywhere we go unless we are careful about the devices and technology we carry. Even lawful things can occupy the heart to an unlawful extent.
Christians need to remind themselves daily that they are not to be overcome by the world. Rather, they are required and equipped by God to put a vain world under their feet. It is possible to be more than conquerors through Him that loved His own. The following questions and answers are a guide through this important duty. They have been prompted by Richard Alleine’s book, The World Conquered by the Faithful Christian, which is highly recommended. Alleine was an English Puritan minister in the 17th century.
What is the World?
The world and all that is in the world is described as “the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh and the pride of life” (1 Jn. 2:16).
How does the world try to separate us from Christ?
It seeks to conform us to its own image (Rom. 12:1-2) rather than that we should be conformed to the image of Christ (Rom. 8:29).
In what ways does the world seek to conform us to its image and separate us from Christ?
It works to this end by:
1) blinding us against the loveliness and excellency of Christ by its attractions;
2) deadening our spiritual senses in order that we do not see our need of Christ;
3) engaging our hearts and affections rather than Christ;
4) giving us excuses for neglecting Christ (Luke 14:18-20);
5) taking away our time and energy by the cares of this life.
What is the world’s strength?
The strength that the world has in us lies in the natural enmity of the carnal mind and sinful heart to the things of God. The flesh is a worldly spirit to whom the things of God are foolishness (1 Cor. 2:12) and the world is able to play upon its desires (Ezek. 33:31).
How does the devil make use of this world?
The devil as the god of this world blinds men against the gospel of God (2 Cor. 4:4) by
1) overrating the value of the things of this world and underrating the eternal (Gen. 3:4-5);
2) emphasising afflictions in this world more than the afflictions of eternal condemnation in the world to come.
How do we overcome the world?
We overcome the world by our faith (1 Jn. 5:4).
How does faith overcome the world?
Faith unites believers to Christ (1 Jn. 5:5), but the world tries to separate them from Him (Jas. 4:4). Faith lays hold of every part of the armour of God, and is the crucial part of that armour (“above all taking the shield of faith” Eph. 6:16).
Where does the strength of faith lie?
Faith unites believers to Christ and thus communicates strength to them from their Saviour. As the vine communicates life to the branches, so Christ is their life (John 15:4; Col. 3:4) and they can do all things through Christ which strengthens them (Mark 9:23; Phil 4:13; John 15:5). Christ dwelling in their hearts by faith is the hope of glory and strengthens them with might in the inner man (Col. 1:27; Eph. 3:16-17). As Christ has overcome the world, so they through faith in Him are able to do likewise (John 16:33; Rev. 3:21).
What is the perspective of faith?
As the evidence of things not seen, faith sees beyond this present, temporary world to the recompence of the reward, and lays hold on eternal life, which is to know Christ (John 17:3; 1 Tim. 6:12). It perseveres, as seeing Him who is invisible, esteeming the reproach of Christ worth more than anything this world can offer (Heb. 11:27-27). It sees death as gain, not loss (Phil. 1:21-23; 1 Cor. 5:1-2).
How does the Christian fight against the world?
The world is a deadly enemy, to which no ground can be given without wounding the soul. The Christian therefore uses the weapon of “all prayer” to resist temptation and to seek cleansing when he falls (Eph. 6:18). He uses this world carefully, as though he used it not, and is conscious of the account of stewardship that he must render (2 Tim. 2:4). He does not give his heart or thoughts predominantly to the things of this world to be conformed to it, but seeks to have his heart in heaven and his mind renewed (Col. 3:1-2; Rom. 12:2; Rom. 8:6). He fears those things which he loves most in this world as potential idols and he seeks submission to God’s providence and contentment which is the antidote to covetousness, and counts all things loss in comparison to Christ (Heb. 13:5; Phil. 3:8).
What promises are made to those that overcome the world?
Those that overcome the world are promised in this life the enjoyment of the blessings of adoption and communion with Christ, and ultimately entering into the everlasting joy of their Lord (Rev. 2:7, 17; Rev. 3:5, 12, 21). They will inherit all things as sons of the living God (Rev. 21:7).
Matthew A Vogan