Bible Study Notes:


Spiritual Warfare
Battlefront # 1: The World


These notes are from a transcript of the postings during Bible Study on Thursday Nights at 8 PM at Bible Study Chat at Churchusa.com.
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John points out three things that make up the world system that is contrary to the love of God: man’s sinful cravings, the lust of his eyes, and pride in who he is and what he does. These all come from the sinful world system. The devil seeks to alienate our affections from God by the things of this world, which provoke man’s sinful cravings and center on his selfish pride.


Although the battleground of our spiritual conflict is the mind, we basically fight on three battlefronts: the world, the flesh, and the devil.

Battlefront # 1: The World: In the Greek, "world" is cosmos. In the evil sense, it is the world order or system, beautifully arranged and organized to function without God, opposed to all that is true in Jesus Christ. It is composed of things not evil in themselves, but satan weaves them into a world order so he can take man's heart away from a true relationship with God, and center him on things which are temporary.

1 John 5:19 We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one.

Jesus said in John 14:30: I will not speak with you much longer, for the prince of this world is coming. He has no hold on me,

Who has dominion or rule over this world in the present age? According to the Bible, the evil one or the devil has rule or dominion. He is called the "prince of this world". How did he gain rule over the world? When Adam and Eve sinned, they committed high treason against God and brought the whole world under control of the evil one.

Luke 4:6 And he [devil] said to him [Jesus], "I will give you all their authority and splendor, for it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to."

When satan was tempting Jesus in Luke 4, he bragged that the kingdoms of the world "has been given to me". Although satan is a liar, in this he spoke the partial truth. He is the current owner of the world, but the kingdoms hadn’t freely been given to him, he tricked Adam and Eve out of their place of authority.

The devil knew that one of Jesus’ goals was to rule and reign over the world system, and the temptation here was to take a short cut to do so. Instead of going the way of the cross, satan was offering Jesus "an easy way out". All Jesus had to do was bow down and worship satan, which of course He would not and did not do.

John 16:11 and in regard to judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned. John 12:31 Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out.

Hallelujah! satan’s days are numbered because he has been condemned, and will be driven out. So he is working even harder to deceive the world because he knows his time is short. And one of the easiest ways he deceives us is through the current world order.

Acts 26:17-18 I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.'

Those who do not believe are currently in darkness and under the power of satan. They need to be rescued from the prince of this world and turned from darkness into light, coming under God’s authority, receiving forgiveness and a place with the others who have faith in Jesus.

I John 2:15-17 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.

The word that John uses for love here is agapao {ag-ap-ah'-o} meaning to welcome, to entertain, to be fond of, to love dearly, or to be well pleased, to be contented at or with a thing. This from the same root word as agape, which is the kind of love the Father has, 100% unselfish, unconditional, flowing out to all.

Unhappily many give that same kind of unconditional acceptance to the things of the world, accepting them as truth, welcoming them, entertaining them, being fond of them, getting attached to them, and becoming contented with them. All the while these worldly things, which are not necessarily bad in themselves, are being used to deceive that person into losing his/her eternal life.

John points out three things that make up the world system that is contrary to the love of God: man’s sinful cravings, the lust of his eyes, and pride in who he is and what he does. These all come from the sinful world system. The devil seeks to alienate our affections from God by the things of this world, which provoke man’s sinful cravings and center on his selfish pride.

Sinful cravings is the same Greek word as lust, which we’ve already looked at. Pride of life in the Greek is alazoneia {al-ad-zon-i'-a} meaning empty, boasting talk; an rude and empty confidence, which trusts in its own power and resources and shamefully despises and violates divine laws and human rights; and an ungodly and empty belief which trusts in the stability of earthy things.

Can you love the world system and the Father at the same time? The Bible says you can’t. Yet how many Christians try to "ride the fence" and indulge their physical needs and be "pleasers of men" while also trying to serve the Lord? No wonder many do NOT walk in victory! To be content in Christ, you must get discontented with the WORLD, and refuse to be deceived by its charms.

James 2:2-4 Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in shabby clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, "Here's a good seat for you," but say to the poor man, "You stand there" or "Sit on the floor by my feet," have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?

James gives us an example here of judging things from a worldly viewpoint. The world honors wealth, fine clothing and jewelry. If in your Christian assemblies you give this man the seat of honor and special attention, while ignoring a poor person in shabby clothes you are judging according to the world’s values.

James says if you do this you become judges with EVIL thoughts. Evil here is poneros {pon-ay-ros'} meaning pressed and harassed by labors; bringing toils, annoyances, perils; of a time full of peril to Christian faith and steadfastness; causing pain and trouble; bad, of a bad nature or condition; in a physical sense: diseased or blind and in an ethical sense: evil wicked, bad.

Not only are these thoughts wrong because you are judging from a worldly viewpoint, but these thoughts bring oppression, annoyances and perils to Christian faith and stability. And you have become blind to the truth that is in Jesus and the equality that exists in Christ.

James 2:6 But you have insulted the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? Are they not the ones who are slandering the noble name of him to whom you belong?

James further develops this thought. It’s like he’s saying, "DUH, these rich boys are the ones that exploit you and drag you into court. They slander Jesus’ Name and now you’re giving them honor? Wake up! This is how the world thinks!"

James 2:8-9 If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, "Love your neighbor as yourself," you are doing right. But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers.

James also tells them that by following the ways and attitudes of the world they are violating the "royal law" found in Scripture, that they should love their neighbors as they do themselves. When you discriminate against a Christian brother or sister because of a worldly attitude, you are sinning.

1 John 5:19 We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one.

We began discussing our struggle with the world, or cosmos, which is the evil world order or system, beautifully arranged and organized to function without God, opposed to all that is true in Jesus Christ. It is composed of things not evil in themselves, but satan weaves them into a world order so he can take man's heart away from a true relationship with God, and center him on things which are temporary.

1 John 2:15 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

We are told not to love the current world system or anything that it promotes. Even though on the surface some of these things may seem lovely, they ultimately do not promote the love of God.

Now the problem with the world system is that we are smack dab in the middle of it! LOL It confronts us daily at our jobs, through the media, through newspaper and magazines – everywhere we look the world system is trying to squeeze us into its mold.

In fact, a lot of our un-Christian motives sneak in because we are unaware of the vast effect that the world system has on us. And today, as in James’ day, worldly ways of thinking and doing have even crept into the church. And we are so used to these things that we don’t even recognize them.

It is a real challenge to even begin to discern those things in our every day life and culture that are contrary to God. And this is part of our warfare. Scientists tell us that our brains record everything that comes into our senses, every second of every day of our lives

.Now we can’t always remember much of this, it’s true. But this is a problem of retrieval, not storage. And even recording everything that happens to us, scientists also tell us that the average person only uses 10% of his brain capacity and power throughout a lifetime.

So what we allow into our minds is stored there, and who knows how it affects us on an unconscious level? Most of us are not nearly careful enough what we let come into our thoughts. A very common example is TV advertising. Most of it is rank nonsense and full of lies. But we allow it to soak into our brains, usually not bothering to evaluate what it is saying.

And advertising is designed that way … to creep in on us unawares, and then flare up when we are trying to make a decision to buy something. Those silly little lyrics will pop in our heads and (the advertisers hope) seduce into buying their brand whether we really need or want it or not. This is mental manipulation and it should concern us.

In other words, whatever trash you allow to accumulate in our minds will negatively affect us sooner or later. Be careful what you let take residence in your head!

1 John 5:4 This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.

The bad news is that the world system is all around us and sometimes even in us. The good news is that there is a defense and a cure for a worldly attitude. John tells us that obedience to God and faith overcomes the world and gives us victory.

So since it’s faith and obedience that brings us victory over the world, these are two topics that we should be daily trying to learn more about in our Christian lives. It is almost amusing the many hours believers spend on trying to find out when Jesus is coming again, which is something He told us we CAN NOT know, and yet spend little or not time on topics such as these that we are told we MUST know.

Romans 12:2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will.

 Weymouth’s translation says it very simply this way: Do not be like the people of this world, but have a new mind. Then you will prove for yourselves what God wants you to do. That will be good. It will please God. And it will be all right.

Paul tells us not to be conformed to this world, or not to let the world squeeze us into its mold, but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds through the Word of God.

Conform is suschematizo {soos-khay-mat-id'-zo} meaning to conform one's self (i.e. one's mind and character) to another's pattern, or to fashion one's self according to the world in this context. So when you strive to "fit in" and "be like everyone else" you are letting the devil mold you into his pattern.

So a Christian’s reason for doing anything should NEVER be "everybody’s doing it". He should always strive to do what the Word says. And the Word will transform us, which is a change from within which changes our behavior, speech and attitudes.

Renewal is anakainosis {an-ak-ah'-ee-no-sis} meaning a renewal, renovation, and a complete change for the better. As we renew our minds with the Word, a change in thought patterns occurs, which brings a change in habits, attitudes and patterns of behavior.

It’s like totally remodeling a house. You tear out all the old fixtures, plumbing, flooring and wall coverings, and make everything new. You still have the same brain, but you can remodel it by the Word into something new and beautiful, full of light and emptied of all its trash.

Colossians 2:8 See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.

What forces in the world should we be aware of that will spoil us or take us captive? Philosophy, intellectualism, vain deceit, idle fancies, plain nonsense, and human traditions.

I John 3:13 Do not be surprised, my brothers, if the world hates you.

Of course if we do resist these worldly forces that are trying to take us captive, we will be looked on as weird, perhaps even hated because we are "not like everyone else". It should come as no surprise that the world hates what is different from it. Remember that the current world order is under the control of the evil one.

John 14:16-17 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever-- the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.

The world cannot accept spiritual things because it cannot see or know them. It cannot understand the Counselor or Holy Spirit that lives in us and guides us. The world will think you are crazy for trusting in something you can’t see.

John 15:33 "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."

The good news is that since Jesus has overcome the world system, we can too! The first step is to ask our Teacher the Holy Spirit to reveal to us the deceptions of the current world system, and give us wisdom to come out from under their influence.

John 17:11 I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name--the name you gave me--so that they may be one as we are one.

We are also protected from the influence of the world by the power of the Name of Jesus. What a mighty weapon against the subtle wiles of the evil one! Truth and lies cannot exist together. The more of the truth that is in Jesus that you allow in your mind, the more you will recognize and refuse the lies of the evil world system.

Lord, help us recognize all the deceptions in the culture and world system that we live in by the wisdom of the Holy Spirit. Give us wisdom to overcome this influence and know the truth that sets us free. In Jesus Name. AMEN

Previously we discussed the mind as the battlefield for our spiritual conflict, and have looked at the process of temptation, yielding to lust, sin and death. We’ve talked about the fact that it is what is in our minds (also called the heart or the soul) that determines our attitudes, character and walk. We also discussed one battlefront: the ungodly world order that satan tries to use to deter us from the right path. Next   topic will be the other two battlefronts: the flesh and the devil.

Father as the mind is the battlefield, help us be on guard as to what we allow to enter our minds. Open our eyes to the worldliness around us and vaccinate us with the Word so we won’t be infected by the ways of the world. As we have faith in and obey you, we declare that we are victorious and overcome the world, in Jesus Name AMEN.

 

Remember, whenever God gives us a revelation, the devil tries to steal it from us. Guard your hearts and meditate on what you've learned! And put it into practice.

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Original lesson 3/25/99
Revised: May 03, 2001