(Today’s post was written by a guest writer, my dad, Ken Lengel. Enjoy!)
This article has been in the works in my heart and mind for some time now.
I have been thinking about how believing Christians: evangelicals, fundamentalists, and non-affiliated believers alike, have become more and more like the world in their behavior.
I have been struggling with this issue as I raise my two teenage sons. We have been working thru the concepts of worldliness and being separated unto God.
But before we get to far along, let’s start with a definition from Webster’s on the meaning of worldly.
Worldly is commonly defined as “of, relating to, or devoted to this world and its pursuits rather than to religion or spiritual affairs.”
This is a vital building block of defining what being worldly is and how one ought to view the many liberties taken by believers in the name of grace and Christ.
This article can hardly cover the topic of worldliness in any great depth, but I will attempt to summarize one of the more pressing arguments used by believers to promote and live worldly lives while declaring their actions acceptable under grace and before a holy God.
Straw Man Argument #1 – The Bible doesn’t say I can’t (fill in the blank).
Many believers use this argument to support different behaviors. Rather than falling into the trap of mentioning a specific behavior, I want you to consider the following.
If the Bible doesn’t say you can’t (fill in the blank again), Does it say that you can?
If you can’t answer in the affirmative, it means that the choices you make in these cases require you to follow principles in the Scriptures to determine if an activity helps you to relate to God or to the world.
People mistakenly think that because we are under grace and not the Mosaic Law, that we no longer are responsible to follow principles on how to live our lives. They believe that because there is not a specific command against doing a specific thing, allowance of the behavior is left up solely to a person’s conscience.
However, the law of Christ is what governs how believers ought to live and behave. In the New Testament alone, there are over 1100 commands given to believers. In them can be found many principles that can be applied to the choices we make.
Let me challenge you with this… How much time have you spent searching the Scriptural commands in the New Testament to determine how to avoid sin?
Paul stated when discussing grace: “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid.” I believe that all of us, myself included, can spend more time making sure our lives are not a reason for grace to abound.
It is much easier for believers to simply say that they are under grace, so they can do what they want, as long as their conscience does not bother them. (more on that in another article.)
This straw argument is one that is commonly used by believers to justify certain behaviors because God didn’t specifically mention all things directly related to future cultures. Because of this, believers have taken it upon themselves to use this argument to justify many behaviors not pleasing to God.
In addition, we live in a time and culture where the nuancing words is preferred rather than discussing the exact truth of a matter. People find ways to cover their tracks as a defense mechanism. They use the Word of God to deceive or mislead people by asking them “to believe all things”, when in their hearts they know that they have not revealed the entire truth to us.
So, after all this, why is this important?
Let me close with this.
Those who live apart from God, separated from Him, have stated: Eat, Drink, and Be Merry, for tomorrow we die.
Believers who are worldly have slightly altered the statement to: Eat, Drink and Be Merry, for today we have grace and tomorrow we have Heaven.
It’s time to ask ourselves, (behavior announcement alert – go to your safe space if you need it) if we listen to the worlds’ music, watch the worlds’ entertainment, and participate in the worlds’ behaviors, how are we able to be the salt of the earth? How are we different from unbelievers? How are we then separated from the world?
Is it only by love whereby non-believers should know we are His?
Shouldn’t our behaviors and actions scream from the hilltops, “this world is not my home”.
Or perhaps, maybe it is.
Perhaps you aren’t seeing people repenting of their sins any longer.
Did you ever think that no one seems to know what is sin any more?
I fear we, as salt, have lost our influence in a lost and dying world, because there is very little that differentiates our lives from theirs.
How are you different from those you know without Christ?
Can that difference be attributed to being a believer?
May the answers open our eyes.