The Christian who is “worldly” is the one who is devoted to or engrossed in worldly interests rather than in things relating to Christ and His kingdom. The King James Version of the Bible refers to the worldly person as being “carnal,” a word which literally means “fleshly.” More recent translations use terms such as “unspiritual,” “sinful,” or “of the world.”
The worldly Christian is not concerned about those things “that pertain to life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3). Rather, he or she is characterized by spiritual indifference, instability, and lack of discipline. He or she is contaminated (James 1:26) and rebellious against God (James 4:4). He or she is a “friend of the world” (James 4:4) and a lover of pleasure rather than a lover of God (2 Timothy 3:4).
The worldly Christian takes a halfhearted stand for that which pertains to the kingdom of God; therefore, he or she easily falls victim to almost any temptation or false teaching that comes along. He or she gives “lip service” to a form of doctrine, but ignores any real substance: “From such people turn away!” advises Paul (2 Timothy 3:5). The spiritually minded Christian, on the other hand, is one who:
• “Will seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” (Matthew 6:33)
• Takes a stand against the “spirit of this age” in order to establish an identity with the family of God
• Enjoys a certain perception and spiritual discernment which comes from prayer and from walking in the Spirit (Philippians 1:9–11)
• Seeks and experiences constant renewal at the foot of the cross (1 John 1:9; 2:1)
• Desires to be “filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God” (Philippians 1:11)
• Knows that “to be spiritually minded is life and peace” (Romans 8:6)
1. If a Christian inquires about how to be victorious over the world and how to become a spiritually minded person, commend his or her interest in spiritual growth.
2. In order to set the stage for new attitudes and goals, encourage the person to consciously renounce all sinful, selfish desires; to ask forgiveness for them; and to ask God for spiritual renewal: “Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve. . . . But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15). Share “Restoration,” – Christian Biblical Counsel: SEEKING FORGIVENESS AND RESTORATION, emphasizing 1 John 1:9 and 2:1. Also share Romans 12:1, asking the person to make a conscious presentation of his or her life to God.
3. Advise being prepared for adversities, temptations, and failures which come to us all when we determine to keep ourselves “unspotted from the world” (James 1:27). God will not permit temptations to overwhelm us (1 Corinthians 10:13), and He will never leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5; John 14:16).
4. Recommend faithfully reading and studying the Bible and practicing daily prayer. There is no substitute for these if a person desires to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. As we practice these disciplines, a hunger and thirst for righteousness begins to develop which will send us back, again and again, to His presence for confession, renewal, growth, and knowledge: “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water” (John 7:37–38). This habitual cycle of thirsting and coming to drink will become an indispensable part of one’s life.
5. It is often necessary to change one’s lifestyle and circle of friends in order to pursue life in the Spirit without encumbrances. Recommend seeking out dedicated Christian people for fellowship, and building new interests and outlets through service in a Bible-oriented church: “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:24–25, NIV).
6. Pray with the inquirer for genuine commitment. Pray for immediate spiritual victories to confirm that commitment.
7. Finally, challenge the person to set some immediate spiritual goals and to work on them, monitoring his or her progress from victory to victory.
“Base your happiness on your hope in Christ. . . . Live in harmony with one another. . . . See that your public behavior is above criticism. As far as your responsibility goes, live at peace with everyone. . . . Don’t allow yourself to be overpowered by evil. Take the offensive—overpower evil with good!” (Romans 12:12–21, PHILLIPS; selected phrases).
“Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another. . . . It is good neither to eat meat nor drink wine nor do anything by which your brother stumbles or is offended or is made weak” (Romans 14:19, 21).
“Do the good things that result from being saved, obeying God with deep reverence, shrinking back from all that might displease him. For God is at work within you, helping you want to obey him, and then helping you do what he wants. In everything you do, stay away from complaining and arguing, so that no one can speak a word of blame against you. You are to live clean, innocent lives as children of God in a dark world full of people who are crooked and stubborn. Shine out among them like beacon lights, holding out to them the Word of Life” (Philippians 2:12–16, TLB).
“Yet every advantage that I had gained I considered lost for Christ’s sake. Yes, and I look upon everything as loss compared with the overwhelming gain of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I did in fact suffer the loss of everything, but I considered it mere garbage compared with being able to win Christ. For now my place is in him, and I am not dependent upon any of the self-achieved righteousness of the Law; God has given me that genuine righteousness which comes from faith in Christ. Now I long to know Christ and the power shown by his resurrection; now I long to share his sufferings, even to die as he died, so that I may somehow attain the resurrection from the dead” (Philippians 3:7–11, PHILLIPS).
“If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. . . . And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him” (Colossians 3:1–2, 17).
“Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever”
(1 John 2:15–17, NIV).
The Billy Graham Christian Worker’s Handbook; World Wide Publications, 1984, 1996