The things of this world—when compared to pleasing God and eternal life, when informed by an eternal perspective—will be exposed as being worthless. But there is a future in godliness, and for all who do the will of God. They, by contrast, will live forever.

What Matters Most

How about you? Which will you choose? Will you pursue the deceptive, temporary pleasures of worldliness? Or do the will of God, which contains the promise of eternal life?

Maybe, as you read this chapter, you realize you're drifting. Or maybe you're in headlong pursuit of worldliness. You may realize your affection for the things of this world is strong, your love for Christ weak.

And you feel trapped, entangled in the net of worldliness. Despair sets in. Condemnation comes to call. You'll never change. You'll never be able to give up the things of the world you love so much. You might as well not even try. You're beyond hope.

Yes, resisting worldliness requires strenuous effort. It's an inside problem and hard heart-work will be needed to effectively cut it out. And it's a lifelong battle. We must resist its influence until our dying breath.

However, this isn't a battle fought by sheer willpower or teeth-gritting self-denial. We can't overcome worldliness on our own. We are not sufficient. A much greater strength is required.

But take heart! All that we need to overcome worldliness has been provided for us.

The antidote to worldliness is the cross of Jesus Christ.

Only through the power of the cross of Christ can we successfully resist the seduction of the fallen world. The Savior's death on the cross is what makes possible forgiveness of sin and provides power to overcome sin. And the cross is the attraction that draws our hearts away from the empty and deadly pleasures of worldliness.

If you want to begin immediately to weaken the influence of worldliness in your life, take the sound advice from that great physician of the soul, John Owen:

"When someone sets his affections upon the cross and the love of Christ, he crucifies the world as a dead and undesirable thing. The baits of sin lose their attraction and disappear.

Fill your affections with the cross of Christ and you will find no room for sin."13

Do you want the world to lose its appeal? Then crowd out worldliness by filling your affections with the cross of Christ. Crucify the world as a dead and undesirable thing by meditating on the love of the Savior. Resist the bait of the world by gazing at the wondrous cross. For it is "the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ," wrote Paul, "by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world" (Gal. 6:14).

Charles Spurgeon urged us to "dwell where the cries of Calvary can be heard."14 If we will do this, then the things of this world will indeed "grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace."15

What should consume our thoughts and affections is not resisting worldliness but the glory and grace of God revealed at the cross. We must take the sin of worldliness seriously, to be sure; that's why we wrote this book. But its eradication is not an end in itself. Resisting worldliness is absolutely vital but not ultimately most significant.

Jesus Christ is most important. We must fight worldliness because it dulls our affections for Christ and distracts our attention from Christ. Worldliness is so serious because Christ is so glorious.

While resisting worldliness is this book's theme, exalting Christ is its aim. That's why I've closed this chapter, and why we'll eventually close this book, surveying the wondrous cross on which the Prince of Glory died.

Meditate on the cross. Consider the wonders of the Savior who died for sinners and rose victorious over sin and death. Dwell where the cries of Calvary are louder than the clamor of the world.

Worldliness: Resisting the Seduction of a Fallen World    

Copyright © 2008 by C. J. Mahaney, ed.
Published by Crossway Books, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers
1300 Crescent Street Wheaton, Illinois 60187

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the publisher, except as provided for by USA copyright law.