Bite Sized Theology

Bite Sized Theology – Worldliness

Genesis 3:1-7 is a description of our fallenness. Our nothingness.

There are some things we need to recognize in what happens in this passage:
1) God’s Word was questioned – “Has God said,…”
2) God’s Word was twisted – “You will not surely die:”
3) Man was said to be lifted up to be like God – “you will be as gods, knowing good and evil.”
4) Adam and Eve exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served a created thing rather than their Creator (Romans 1:25)
5) They are now characterized by worldliness

Life on the outside (of the garden) is dominated by worldliness. So, the question is,

how do we define worldliness?

There are lots of definitions out there. What I want to do here is to give us a bottom line description of worldliness. And here it is –

Worldliness is performance based living

Within the Lord of the Rings, some of the most intriguing characters are the Ring Wraiths. These nine human kings, great kings of old they’re called, who were given rings from the Dark Lord Sauron. And when they were given these rings they were bewitched by Sauron, they were enslaved by Sauron, and they actually became less than human– in that now they were no longer visible to the human eye. They were kind of in between physical existence and this other world, and they were enslaved to do his will.

If you’ve seen the movies, they have these suped up monk robes, where the hood comes down and you can’t see the inside. They have these massive arm holes in the robes. And I remember asking the question, ‘why are they wearing these robes?’ Well, Tolkien actually tells us why they’re wearing these robes.

Listen to this, Tolkien writes,

“The black robes are real robes that the Wraiths wear to give shape to their nothingness.”

These fallen men have a profound sense of their fallenness. They have a profound sense of their nothingness. And they wear these robes, not because they like robes, but these robes are their way of covering that fallenness, of covering this profound sense of nothingness.

The story of the Ring Wraiths is really not a fictional story. Well it is a fictional story, but it’s not because it captures all of our experience this side of the Fall.

That we wear robes. We have a profound sense, we can’t articulate it and it takes years in your 20’s and 30’s and 40’s before we can really begin to get a sense of the depth, of our own fallenness. But we wear these robes to cover our fallenness.

We put on the robe of sex (pornography, wandering thought-life), we put on the robe of money (we never have enough for what we really want), we put on the robe of power, we put on the robe of vocational achievement, we put on the robe of educational achievement, we put on this robe and that robe and we’re wearing all these different robes in an attempt to cover our fallenness, in an attempt to cover our nothingness. But we do not only put on robes of sex, money and power, we also put on religious robes.

This is why James, for instance, talks about pure and undefiled religion, because we are a people, I am a person, who will put on religious activity: I will put on social concern, environmental involvement, animal rights, as a robe that is my attempt to cover my own sense of fallenness and brokenness.

THIS is worldliness.

Note: Doug Wilson wrote a good piece on Discerning Worldliness.

Worldliness is…

  1. Performance-Based Living
  2. Looking to lesser things as ultimate things
  3. Indulging in desires as if they are the ultimate fulfillment of life
  4. A disposition contrary to following God’s will
  5. Enmity with God
  6. Seeking God’s favor on our own
  7. Inordinate love of lesser goods
  8. Conditional identity
  9. Whatever makes sin look normal and righteousness look strange. ~Kevin DeYoung in THE HOLE IN OUR HOLINESS

Quotes about Worldliness

Worldliness proposes objectives which demand no radical breach with man’s fallen nature; it judges the importance of things by the present and material results; it weighs success by numbers; it covets human esteem and wants no unpopularity; it knows no truth for which it is worth suffering; it declines to be a ‘fool for Christ’s sake. ~Iain Murray

Bite Sized Theology is a series which provides definitions and discussion of theological terms and concepts. It’s designed to help you think biblically.