If you think God's values and the world's values can coexist, then think again. Every week as I counsel men, I'm painfully aware of the war of mind and body and spirit raging between the two. Sometimes I feel as though I'm taking an unreasonable stand. But then I recall the words of Scripture: "Do not love the world or anything in the world" (1 John 2:15). To the apostle John, the world represented everything outside his front door.

He was simply following Jesus' lead. Before His departure, Jesus gathered His men and proclaimed: "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" (John 15:19). His message to those early disciples still calls to us: Blending with the world is not how one follows Jesus.

The good news is that when men get serious about their walk with God, they feel a deep, intuitive conflict of the soul where unholy alliances with the world, once accepted, must now be broken. It's a Spirit-induced recognition that they've been mixing cocktails of spirituality only to produce hangovers of the soul. They start feeling the tension of spiritual warfare, some for the very first time. And as the battle lines of identity and values become clear, God's man must choose.

Those battle lines eventually loom large. The world obviously cherishes image over substance, comfort over character, indulgence over ethics. It confuses net worth with self worth. It values things over people. And all of these whacked-out priorities pollute our relationship with God and with people.

Another great apostle, James, pulled no punches either: "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this... to keep oneself from being polluted by the world" (James 1:27). Naturally, you wouldn't willingly expose yourself to a deadly poison, such as anthrax. But would you let yourself be overcome with hedonism? Would you breathe in the fumes of narcissism or grab a handful of materialism and expect to suffer no ill effects? Such things poison a growing relationship with God. Check yourself.

Yes, the world offers its regimen of values that can sicken our faith. Yet we can replace them with the values of Jesus - a set of life-nurturing traits He was looking for in His followers. Men who were able live out these qualities would be blessed, or literally, "live large." The development of these changes of heart, changes of purpose, and changes of lifestyle accomplish two things in God's man. First, these traits cause him to contradict the values of society. Therefore, they represent the plan of God for overcoming the world's influences in his life.

Read Matthew 5:1-11 this week and ask God to help replace the values of the world  with these values of the heart. You will be blessed if you do this - Jesus guarantees it!

Kenny

Kenny Luck is the Men's Pastor at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California. He is also the Founder and President of Every Man Ministries which helps churches worldwide develop and grow healthy men's communities. Please visit www.everymanministries.com for more information.