Spirit of the World

How is it that a Christian upbringing doesn’t protect some children from taking up the world’s values and abandoning the faith they were raised to?

This is a perplexing problem for many families and churches. I believe that part of the problem is the “Spirit of the World”. I expect there are many homes where the spirit of the world is given room to work and where that spirit is even given rights over the children. Let me explain.

Toxic World

We are warned that everything in the world is contrary to God. “All that is in the world” – that’s “everything that is in the world” – is not of God’s character.

“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man loves the world the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.” 1John 2:15.16

The world and God the Father are so separate that there is nothing in this world that is consistent with who and what the Father is. So, for us to walk with God we need to have no connection with the “world” and its value systems.

The world is toxic to our spiritual life. We are “in” the world, but we are not “of” the world, and the world will hate us, because we are separated from it in spirit.

“I have given them your word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.” John 17:14

Pied Piper

The “world system” is ruled by satan. He is called “the prince of this world”.

“Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world comes, and has nothing in me.” John 14:30

He seeks to get people entangled with the processes of the world. He wants them tied up in the cares of this life and the affairs of this world. So, like a Pied Piper, he plays the world’s tunes to seduce the hearts and minds of men and women, boys and girls.

The devil’s key strategies involve catching us up in the things of the world, and specifically “the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life”. He wants you living by your natural appetites and impulses, the stimulation of what you see and desire, and your pride in yourself.

The “spirit of the world” asks you to buy in to the world’s values in your heart. No matter what you appear to be on the outside, the devil wants you lusting after the world in your heart. That way you become an idol worshipper and the devil has spiritual rights over you and your children.

How it Works

About 100 years ago the western culture was heavily influenced by Bible teaching and Christian values. People were taught to fear God and to accept responsibility, thinking of others rather than self. That did not make the whole culture Christian, but it did make the culture basically safe and the people basically responsible.

But in each successive generation the devil tried to lure people away from faith in God and the fear of God. He knew that his greatest ally was the weakness of the human heart. Just as Eve was easily seduced away from obeying God, each generation is seduced away from God’s holy standards.

In a god-fearing culture, the devil could not get everyone living in open lust and immorality, but that is what he wanted them to do. So, he settled for asking one generation to give in to the “spirit of the world”.

The devil asked people to build an altar in their heart for the worship of worldly pleasure. That pleasure was fairly harmless and safe, held in place by the morality of the culture. But by getting people to “give place to the devil” in their heart, the devil had rights over their lives and their children.

Queen

Spiritual Slavery

Jesus warned that what we give in to gains power over us. The things we worship, lust after or even secretly serve become our masters. We become spiritual slaves to those things.

“Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I tell you, Who ever commits sin is the servant of sin.” John 8:34

The Apostle Paul explained it this way …

“Don’t you know that to whom you yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants you are to whom you obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?” Romans 6:16

People who are simply going along with the world are actually servants of satan.

“In time past you walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now works in the children of disobedience” Ephesians 2:2

Next Generation

What the parents did in moderation the children were encouraged to do in greater measure. Mum enjoyed listening to the latest music in her day, and so her daughter listened to the latest music in the daughter’s day. However, instead of the popular songs being about innocent themes, the new generation listened to songs with immoral messages. The process was effectively the same, but the moral content had changed.

When the parents tried to caution their children those kids ignored the warning. The parents had done the same thing in their day, so those parents did not have the authority to stop their kids from doing the “same” thing in this new generation. But the stakes had been raised by the spirit of the world. Now the relatively “innocent” activities had become more morally dangerous.

The Pied Piper had the parents and the children trapped in his strategy. Neither could break from the direction he was leading them.

On It Goes

The grandchildren did what their grandparents and parents had done. They followed the cultural standards. Just as grandpa and mum had kept up with the fashion, fads and standards of the world in their day the kids now kept up with the fashion, fads and standards in their new day.

The problem is that the standards had slipped to a level shocking to the grandparent’s generation. Grandma didn’t think that sleeping around was fine. She didn’t think that defying parental instructions was OK. She didn’t want her grandchildren to be destroyed by immoral and godless living.

All she wanted to do was enjoy the “world” as it was offered to her in her day. It was “innocent” fun. It was the best the world had to offer. She gave her heart and soul to it and it seemed to do her no harm.

A Sinister Spirit

When a person gives in to the Spirit of the World they give themselves and their generations to that spirit. It will continue to lead each successive generation into open rebellion against God, gross immorality and complete abandonment of all that is holy and righteous.

And that’s where we are right now. The kids who are sleeping around, taking drugs, doing whatever they want to, when and how they want to do it, are simply fitting in with what the “spirit of the world” tells them to do.

When their parents try to caution or stop them, the parents have no ability to intervene. That’s because the parents were just as much under the power of the same spirit themselves. The parents cannot resist the devil’s work while they are still perfectly happy about their own course in following the spirit of the world in their day.

Two Spirits in the Home

Many Christian homes worship the Spirit of God and the spirit of the world. While the parents try to promote godly values and Christian lifestyle, another spirit has full right to work in the hearts of the children. That other spirit is the spirit of the world.

The parents are oblivious to this unseen subversive spirit, because all their Christian friends also have dual worship in their homes. It seems normal and innocuous to chase the world’s values, entertainment, values, objectives, processes and the like. Science, education, fashion, technology, lifestyle, popular culture, ambitions, morality, and everything else, are seen as normal things to love and pursue, just like all the other people in the “world”.

The spirit of the world is backed up by television, movies, magazines, music, radio, newspapers, the education system, western culture, popular fads, secular role models, universal value systems, and the lusts in the heart of each child.

So, which spirit do you think is likely to win out in the home?

God’s spirit is much more powerful, but the devil has “legal ground” in the heart of the children, due to the parents’ willing worship of the world. He also has the family’s total attention and heart commitment.

Renounce the World

The only way to deliver your home from the spirit of the world and the all pervasive seduction of your children is for you to repent of your commitment to the world and its values. You need to repent and renounce the worldly values which you hold dear. You have to stop loving the world.

If you do not break your affection for the world you will have a wide open door for the devil to walk into your home and to lead your children out into the worst worldly values available.

It is time for you and your family to develop a new lifestyle, such as Paul had when he declared, “For me to live is Christ!”

Not Easy But Desperately Important

I don’t think it will be easy for some families to break from the spirit of the world. I’m not telling you to do this because it’s easy. I’m telling you about this because it’s desperately important.

As you “turn your heart” toward your children you must face the challenge of dealing with the place the world has taken in your heart and in your home. You ignore this challenge at your peril and at the price of your future generations!

Big Bang Culture

Why do you think today’s scientists came up with a Big Bang? Hmmmm???

In an age when everyone wants ‘instant’ success, easy solutions, quick fix, five minute meals and sudden deliverance why not come up with a Big Bang Cosmology?

Big Bang encapsulates the worldview of the instant gratification culture.

Causeless Creation

Take a look at the Big Bang and what it represents in terms of cultural values. All of a sudden something that wasn’t there came into virtual spontaneous creation, in a big, big Bang!

The Big Bang does not connect to cause. It is causeless creation. It is the happy accident that made our very existence possible, by sudden, unbelievably enormous spontaneous generation. A random chance lucky event is supposed to have happened.

And that’s what most Westerners are living for. They want to be the lucky person in the right place at the right time to enjoy a causeless benefit.

Big Bucks

Western culture has lost sight of the notions of hard work, reward for effort, diligent productivity, earned benefits, personal achievement by persistent endurance, and so on. The gambling culture, Hollywood hopefuls, stock-market dabblers, get-rich quick investors and budding entrepreneurs often base their hopes on nothing more than luck. They want to be the one who is struck by chance, lucky to pick the right winner, picked out of the crowd, favoured with fame and fortune, and all by pure happenstance.

While not all westerners are suckers for the get-rich quick, instant success, easy road delusion, there is a strong undercurrent of luck-based hope in the culture. The dream of big bucks is held in the chest of many people, without them ever intending to put in the hard yards to earn such benefits.

Mindless Chance

A key quality of chance is that it is mindless. It is not connected to morality. Chance blesses the undeserving as readily as the worthy.

While God represents moral responsibility and accountability, random-chance events are devoid of such impositions on morally hedonistic society. So chance gets the vote and God gets the gong.

And that social value system is celebrated in the Big Bang. Just as culture wants to exist outside of moral accountability to God, science has ruled God out of the picture and enshrined “chance” in His place. A happy accident is now the source of human existence in our universe.

Society and its science have their feet anchored firmly in fantasy. Their only hope is luck. Their only morality is random chance events. Their only meaning is accidental.

Connection Lost

In order to enshrine luck in such a primal place in human existence something else had to be displaced. God has been displaced by luck. Our connection with order, intelligence, design, purpose, morality, responsibility, accountability, fulfilment and meaning has been lost.

Luck does not give us order, intelligence, design, purpose, morality, responsibility, accountability, fulfilment or meaning. Western society is now disconnected. We are drifting in space, happy for a lucky accident, but unsure of anything.

We should expect such society to drift into slavery, shame, defeat, hopelessness, suicide, immorality, addiction, weakness and delusion. There is nothing to protect it from these things.

Who is to Blame?

Do we blame false science for creating a vain culture? Or do we blame a vain culture for seeking a false science?

People who have thrown away their connection to the Living God have sought substitutes for themselves. But there is not substitute for the awesome reality of the God of miracles.

They have collected the elements of a pseudo-culture: government, science, education, order, direction, meaning, purpose, morality and religion. But without the Living God activating each one it is empty and vain.

True culture is anchored on God. It is anchored on the Fear of God, godly morality, responsibility, accountability, divine power, grace, salvation, and so much more that God presents to us in His Word, the Bible.

Stand Out

While western culture crumbles, due to building itself on sand, we should expect godly families to stand out from the crowd. They will display all the qualities that come from being connected to the Lord of the Universe, God of Creation and Father of us all.

Godly families will have meaning, morals, purpose, power, authority, wisdom, fulfilment, understanding, hope, direction, resolve, responsibility and power. They will be able to take action and bring hope where others are wallowing in emptiness.

However, that will also place on godly families the responsibility to act for the good of the foolish and hopeless ones who have bought into the lie of luck, in place of the grace of God. Because God’s children love their neighbour, they will seek the good of those foolish and deluded people around them.

By God’s grace those stand-out godly families may well be the salt that saves a rotting society and the light that shows the way to lost souls.

The Real Bang!

The Big Bang is a fizzer. It fizzles out in the light of God’s reality. It fizzles out in its inability to provide a guiding light to those who worship it. It fizzles out as an explanation for reality and as a sign of our times.

The real ‘bang’ in our society is not in the hands of those who love luck and happy chance. The real ‘bang’ is in the hands of people connected to the God of all eternity, Almighty God, our Creator.

Society is not going to be built on empty pseudo-science which worships the shallow values of a shallow culture. It is going to be built by people who do know their God and who can therefore do Exploits!

“And he will corrupt with flattery all such as do wickedly against the covenant: but the people that do know their God will be strong, and do exploits.” Daniel 11:32

It’s All about ME

A Makeup artist to a world famous celebrity interrupted a photo session with a nation’s President to ask if anyone had a blender (food processor) for mixing her special health mix. She then went on to ask every dignitary she met if he or she could find a blender for her. I won’t tell you who or where, but I know people who witnessed this ridiculous and self-indulgent process.
These antics are laughable, but reveal a level of arrogance and self-absorption that goes along with Western culture. It is summarised in the phrase “It’s All About Me!”

It’s All About Me!

Most people who live by the “It’s all about Me!” philosophy would probably deny that they live that way. Most selfish, self-absorbed people cannot see their behaviour through other people’s eyes.
This post is an attempt to prompt you to look again at what you do and what you say, to see if you are guilty of the “all about me” mindset.
Westerners mostly act on impulse to satisfy inner promptings which are their reactions to various stimuli. Rather than living with restraint, learned responses, consideration for others, submission and the like, Westerners are taught to view life through their own lens. Westerners are likely to say what they think, without thinking. They will speak their mind first, and possibly never consider the inappropriateness of what they said, or the selfishness of their perspective.

It’s All About Selfishness

The “all about me” mindset is actually selfishness at work. It is pride, arrogance, self-focus and self-indulgence. Those are evil things, morally. Mankind was not created to live selfishly. When we live with our own interests, thoughts, plans, intentions, will and self-expression as our focus we are living in pride. We are living in sin; since we created to live for God not self.
Using “It’s all about me” as a reference point we can get a clearer picture of selfishness at work.

“Me” the Destroyer

Millions of friendships and marriages are destroyed because of the “It’s all about Me” mindset. “Me” is a destroyer. Relationships involve two people in agreement. When one of those people is centred on their own self then agreement is hard to achieve. The only way two can be in close agreement in such a case is for one person to idolise and become slave to the other.
When a relationship is anchored in one of the parties it is not a relationship at all. Being a “Me” person denies others any real relationship with you. It also stops you from opening yourself to them.

“Me” Talk

“I’m annoyed with you” is a statement of the ‘Me’ mindset. “How dare you treat me like that” is a statement of the ‘Me’ mindset. “You make me so angry” is a statement of the ‘Me’ mindset.
Every time someone looks at life from their own perspective the “It’s all about me” mindset is revealed. They may never say “It’s all about me”, but their focus and statements clearly betray that they see everything from their own perspective.
Some people don’t actually ‘talk’ their “Me” focus. They let it be heard in their body language. Sub-vocalisations (grunts, sighs, etc) are often used to express exasperation, disgust, disapproval, disagreement, and so on. Body language such as frowning, scowling, turning away, shaking the head, and so on, may be used to “voice” the “Me” focus.

“Me” Gets Personal

When a person has a “Me” focus they are already very ‘personal’ about things. They impose their own personal perspective on the issues at hand, and so they will invariably attach their feelings to their dealings with other people. It will all get very ‘personal’.
Everything is already ‘personal’ for them. They start out personal and that’s where it all bogs down. If a “Me” person is offended or upset they will be offended or upset with another person. This is extremely damaging to relationships, because the “Me” person will berate, scold, or otherwise deal harshly with the person they see as having upset their “Me” perspective.

No Me At All

Another way to unearth the “Me” focus is to see what life and conversations would be like if there was no “Me” in the picture at all. Imagine a situation where one spouse has forgotten to do what they promised to do.
In a “Me” situation frustration, exasperation, disappointment or sore feelings would likely steer the words or tone of response to express how the “Me” person felt about the other’s failure. The person who failed would be seen as and be treated as the “problem” in the situation.
Words of rebuke, scorn, anger, frustration or the like would be dumped on the person who failed to do what they promised to do.
If there was no “Me” in the picture, the only response would be to solve or deal with the problem created by the forgetfulness. The problem would be the problem, not the person. The issue would be assessed and fixed. The relationship would continue undamaged. It would not get ‘personal’.
If forgetfulness in the other person was a problem then forgetfulness would be dealt with as a problem. Forgetfulness would be the problem. The forgetful person would not be the problem. It would not get ‘personal’.

Looking for “Me”

I’ve said enough here to get you thinking and hopefully make you aware of the “Me” elements in your life. I challenge you to start looking for “Me” in your thinking, attitudes and relationships.
If you are Western you have a “Me” problem.
Even if you are life’s victim and never get to raise your voice at anyone, you will have a “Me” problem, probably something like “Pity poor me”. There is no escaping “Me” in our selfish Western culture, unless we have “died to self”, “crucified our flesh” and are now living by the power of Christ within us.
But that’s not an escape clause for you. You have no alternative but to be like Christ. And that means you have to stop being a “Me” person. It’s not all about you. It’s about Christ being formed within and God’s Kingdom coming on the earth.
I pray that God open your eyes to see yourself as He sees you – so you will be transformed to be the way He wants you to be.

The Fatherless World

Australians celebrated Father’s Day earlier this month and so the subject of Fathers and Fatherless-ness came to my attention. Here are some of the thoughts I shared in recent weeks on the subject.

Fatherless-ness

The absence of true ‘fathering’ has been so endemic in western culture that most people take for granted a condition which is really a state of ‘father-less-ness’. Even in homes where the dad is present the condition of fatherless-ness can still exist. Not to mention the increasing number of homes where dad is not there, or the dad who is there is not the biological dad to the children.

There are many ramifications of fatherless-ness, impacting deep into the soul and psyche of a child, be that child male or female. Dads provide a level of input and nurture in a child’s life that is hard to quantify, but which is definitely real in human experience.

Two Contributors to the Problem

Fatherless-ness is promoted by the actions of both fathers and children. It is wrong to lay all the blame at the feet of the fathers, just as it is also wrong to lay all the blame at the feet of the children. Both fathers and their children co-operate to frustrate the father’s role in our culture.

Mostly people do themselves and their families harm in ignorance. Most people are lulled into a value system that is dictated by cultural and social norms. Therefore it is easy for them to simply do what others around them are doing. This ignorance and lack of clear guidance is itself an evidence of the ‘fatherless-ness’.

What is ‘fatherless-ness’?

Fatherless-ness, by my own definition (sorry for those who have an alternative take on the subject), is the state of being effectively lacking the key contributions which a godly father, under divine authority, is meant to bring into the life of his children.

There may be a dad in the picture, and that dad may appear to be everything a dad should be. He might play sport with his children and help them with their homework. He may be his children’s best friend and may spend much time with them. But if that dad does not function in the life of the child as God wants him to then that man’s children are ‘fatherless’.

So, What is a Father?

Fatherless-ness needs to be clarified by an understanding of what a true father is. Once again I am going to rely on my own definitions here. A true father, as I understand it from the Bible, is the source of divine authority in the child’s life. The father is the ‘source’ and the ‘guide’, protector and provider for his children.

A father who does not connect his children with divine authority, expressed through the father in the father’s fear of God, is a man who is failing in his calling and who is leaving a deficit in the life of his children.

Fatherhood is a high and holy calling. It is a divine privilege and holy mission. It is a divinely sanctioned appointment, where a man becomes God’s ambassador in the life of his children. That man must also be God’s ambassador in the life of his wife, such that the wife supports him in his ministry into the whole family.

Anything less than that is a compromise of true fathering. When a father fails to be a true father, he leaves his children with some level of ‘fatherless-ness’. If a child is given ‘less’ fathering than God intends for that child, then the child experiences fatherless-ness.

Not Enough Fathers

The Apostle Paul noted that there are plenty of instructors but not many fathers (1Corinthians 4:15). You will find many people willing to give you their opinion and to enlist you into their cause, but you will not find many people who are willing to function as a father in your life.

Fathering, as we saw earlier, is a high and holy calling. It involves levels of sacrifice and dedication to the good of the child. Not many people in our culture are willing to be self-less. They are much more keen to look out for what makes them happy and for the easiest path they can take.

Consequently we have a fatherless world. Whole communities are at the mercy of those who wish to exploit them. Cultural standards and community wealth have been abducted by people who wish to exploit and manipulate. There have been no ‘fathers’ willing to fight for the rights and heritage of their children.

The Sell-Out

Consider what happens in the endless cycle of elections which western democracies are subjected to. Prospective leaders make promises, luring the voters to hand over their lives to political processes. To win the votes the contenders mount a suite of promises, lures and special offers, which they will give to the voters if they sell themselves to that party or candidate.

This is in effect a sell-out of the personal rights and the community assets. Progressively, through succeeding generations, we have sold out our community standards, community assets, community harmony, community security and so on. And what did we get in return? All we received were temporary benefits, or, worse still, broken promises.

Real Fathers Don’t Sell-Out

True fathers are not bought with cheap political promises. Real fathers don’t sell out their children’s inheritance. So how did we get sold out so cheaply?

There is an absence of true fathers! Our cultural and community state is the clearest indication that we live in a ‘fatherless’ world. There are no fathers protecting, reclaiming and providing the community wealth that previously existed. We are all living in the scraps of a former culture where fathers existed and where fathers built a heritage for their children’s children.

But, through successive generations of men who are not true fathers, and children who wish to rebel against their fathers, we have been delivered the remnant of a former kingdom. Some people still believe we possess what now only exists in memory. But we have been stripped of our inheritance.

The Clarion Call

The time has long come where a clarion call is going out to the men of our culture to become real men and true fathers. It is the destiny of today’s generation of men to deliver us from a Fatherless World.

Of Lords and Monarchs

Who is ruling you impacts who you can become. So take a moment or two to audit your own allegiances and discover your limitations.

Christians are familiar with the confession, “Jesus Christ is Lord”. That is a key element of personal salvation. Those who wish to be saved by the life and ministry of Jesus Christ must confess Him as Lord of their life. That brings them salvation.

“If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Romans 10:9

Making that statement as a true confession can only be done with the assistance of the Holy Spirit.

“….. no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Spirit.” 1Corinthians 12:3b

The problem for people is that they are entangled with many different lords and monarchs, without realising it. The process of coming under Christ’s Lordship, then, is not as straight forward as one simple confession. It must be real and it usually involves a progressive revoking of other sovereignties along the way.

Many Lords

God’s people are frequently entangled with mixed allegiances and other lords who exercise some level of rule in or over their lives. The prophet Isaiah identified this in his prophecies.

“O LORD our God, other lords beside you have had dominion over us: but by you only will we make mention of your name.” Isaiah 26:13

Note Isaiah’s candid admission that God’s people have had other lords ruling over them. He also recognises that only God will be able to deliver them into a pure allegiance only to Him.

This is the predicament of most Christians. They are in practice polytheistic. My son, Stephen, goes so far as to speak of a Pantheon of idols which each culture gives allegiance to. Christians in western culture still hold most the west’s deities dear in their hearts. These other deities are lords which rule over the Christian, despite the confession of Christ as Lord.

Western Idolatry

The west idolises success, money, education, sex, materialism, fame, self-will and independence as just some of its cultural values. These are idols that are worshiped. Some people give their whole life to the pursuit of these things.

When people become Christians they will likely still continue to worship these cultural values. They will worship them as idols. And that brings them under dominion and lordship of those things.

How We Get Lords

When we worship something or give in to something outside of God’s moral order we become enslaved by it. It may be sin or an idol that we worship.

“Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say to you, Whosoever commits sin is the servant of sin.” John 8:34

“Don’t you know that whoever you yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants you are to whom you obey; whether of sin to death, or of obedience to righteousness?” Romans 6:16

God is Our Only King

Christians only have one king, The Lord God. Jesus and Almighty God are one God and so I could also rightly say that Jesus Christ is our only King.

Christians in the early church refused to bow to the Roman Caesar, saying that they had only one King and that was God. This put them at odds with the ruling power, since it proclaimed Caesar to be a god.

In the early days of the nation of Israel God ruled over the people through His agents the prophets and judges. God was their king. When the people demanded a human king God specifically noted that the people were rejecting Him from the place of their king.

“And the LORD said to Samuel, Hearken to the voice of the people in all that they say to you: for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them.” 1Samuel 8:7

Replacing God as King

When we seek anything or anyone else to rule over us other than God, Himself, we are rejecting Him from the rightful place as King of our life. If we worship money or success, or chase relationships, fame or popularity, we are rejecting God. We are replacing Him as King, with another.

By that means we end up with many lords who have sovereignty over us. But we have not only offended and rejected God we have denied ourselves our own personal sovereignty.

Voiding Our Sovereignty

We have incredible personal sovereignty as subjects of the Living God. If the God who created all things is your King, and you have a direct line of succession from Him, then you are about as sovereign an entity as anything could be. You have pretty impressive personal privilege when you answer directly to God and Christ. That is exactly what we do as Christians.

We are not under the lordship of priests, pastors or church leaders. We are not under the lordship of temporal kings and government masters. Kings and governments serve our social existence, but we do not answer to them. Since the Roman days and back 1,500 years before then, to the days when Moses withstood the King of Egypt, we answer, as God’s servants, directly to God, Himself.

So when we choose to worship any intermediary sovereign, or come under the lordship of any other person or thing we are voiding our sovereignty. When you worship money you decimate your personal rights before God. You subordinate yourself to something lower than yourself. The same is true when you worship success, fame, political ambitions, career, relationships or people who you revere.

Worship anything but God at your peril!