Saturday, November 26, 2005

Overcoming the World

What is the World?
The world and all that is in the world is described as 'the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh and the pride of life' (1 Jn. 2:16).

How does the world try to separate us from Christ?
It seeks to conform us to its own image (Rom. 12:1-2) rather than that we should be conformed to the image of Christ (Rom. 8:29).

In what which ways does the world seek to conform us to its image and separate us from Christ?
It works to this end by:
1) blinding us against the loveliness and excellency of Christ by its attractions;
2) deadening our spiritual senses in order that we do not see our need of Christ;
3) engaging our hearts and affections rather than Christ;
4) giving us excuses for neglecting Christ (Luke 14:18-20);
5) taking away our time and energy by the cares of this life.

What is the world's strength?
The strength that the world has in us lies in the natural enmity of the carnal mind and sinful heart to the things of God. The flesh is a worldly spirit to whom the things of God are foolishness (1 Cor 2:12) and the world is able to play upon its desires (Ezek. 33:31).

How does the devil make use of this world?
The devil as the god of this world blinds men against the gospel of God (2 Cor 4:4) by 1) overrating the value of the things of this world and underrating the eternal (Gen. 3:4-5); 2) emphasising afflictions in this world more than the afflictions of eternal condemnation in the world to come.

How do we overcome the world?
We overcome the world by our faith (1 Jn. 5:4).

How does faith overcome the world?
Faith unites us to Christ (1 Jn. 5:5), from whom the world tries to separate us (Jas. 4:4). Faith lays hold of every part of the armour of God, and is the crucial part of that armour ('above all taking the shield of faith' Eph. 6:16).

Where does the strength of faith lie?
Faith as that which unites us to Christ communicates strength from Him to us. As the vine communicates life to the branches, so Christ is our life (John 15:4; Col. 3:4) and we can do all things through Christ which strengthens us (Mk. 9:23; Phil 4:13; John 15:5). Christ dwelling in our hearts by faith is the hope of glory and strengthens us with might in the inner man (Col. 1:27; Eph 3:16-17). As Christ has overcome the world, so we through faith in Him are able to do likewise (John 16:33; Rev. 3:21).

What is the perspective of faith?
Faith as the the evidence of things not seen, sees beyond this present, temporary world to the recompence of the reward and lays hold on eternal life, which is to know Christ (John 17:3; 1 Tim 6:12). It perseveres as seeing Him who is invisible and esteeming the reproach of Christ more worth than anything this world can offer (Heb 11:27-27). It sees death as gain not loss (Phil; 1:21-23; 1 Cor. 5:1-2).

How does the Christian fight against the world?
The world is a deadly enemy to whom no ground can be given without wounding the soul. The Christian therefore uses the weapon of all prayer to resist temptation or to seek cleansing when he falls (Eph. 6:18). He uses this world carefully as though he used it not and conscious of the account of stewardship that he must render (2 Tim. 2:4). He does not give his heart or thoughts predominantly to the things of this world to be conformed by it but seeks to have his heart in heaven and his mind renewed (Col. 3:1-2; Rom. 12:2; Rom. 8:6). He fears that which he loves most in this world as potential idols and he seeks submission to God's providence and contentment which is the antidote to covetousness and counts all things loss in comparison to Christ (Heb. 13:5; Phil. 3:8).

What promises are made to those that overcome the world?
Those that overcome the world are promised in this life the blessings of adoption and communion with Christ and ultimately entering into the everlasting joy of their Lord (Rev 2:7, 17; Rev. 35, 12, :21).