Divine Perception of this World

By Nelson Thomas Mumbai

What is happening to the world”, asked a distraught man pointing out the latest developments in central Asia. He is not alone; many from around the globe express the same feeling. On one side, the world is reeling under an unparalleled pandemic of the recent times with a death toll of more than 45 lakh already. Along with that the natural calamities like hurricanes, wildfires and the political instability in many nations are playing havoc in the society. Even in such a difficult situation, certain groups of people do not hesitate to unleash terror in the name of their faith! Can man be so hard-hearted and cruel?

Another disastrous reality that we seldom notice is that the international community is concerned about the sufferings of certain groups of people, but ignores the pain and horror of many others. Many bloodbaths in the African nations go unnoticed. Sad to notice that most media is biased; politicians and even governments are not transparent. No wonder the common man feels helpless and hopeless looking at the world at large.

As Bible believing Christians, what should our perspective be of this rapidly changing world scenario? As we are bombarded with such painful and disturbing news through various mediums, what should our response be?

Let us briefly consider how the Lord Jesus Christ viewed the world when He was on earth. Remember the Lord Jesus referred to the world number of times in different contexts. Sometimes He meant the age or dispensation; or it was a reference to the earth, inhabited world, humanity or even the standard of living of this world. We will focus on Christ’s view of the world in a general sense without going into the details of those different connotations, yet highlighting the ethical aspect.

1. The present world system is temporary, Matthew 24:21; 25:34 cf. 24:25

The world has a beginning and it will have a sure end too. Apostle John wisely puts it, “And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.” (1John 2: 17). The deterioration of the world system has already begun. That’s not just an assumption. Anyone who carefully considers the world events knows it well that as the days go by more than developments, we would see declensions only.

Yes, there may be claims of progress in many areas, but the overall condition of the world at large is pathetic. Is it not the reason why many try to flee from their own countries even risking their lives? As they see the ever deteriorating quality of lifestyle in their land, they are worried about their future and of their children.

The scripture reveals that no politician or government can really fix the issue of the world. They may make tall claims to make a better world, and even try for it, but they cannot. The creator Himself spoke of the end of the world, and so that must be true. (cf. James 1: 10, 11; 2Peter 3: 10)
That’s why godly men with spiritual outlook refused to live for this vanishing world, but sacrificed everything for eternity. Of course we should sympathise with the suffering ones and do whatever we can to help them. However, the foremost charitable work for the helpless one is to point out the reality of this world and prepare them for eternity.

William MacDonald has put it wisely, “When a bank is breaking, smart people do not deposit in it. When the foundation is tottering, intelligent builders do not proceed. Concentrating on this world is like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.”

The well-known words of Jim Elliot is noteworthy in this aspect; “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”

2. The present world system is controlled by the wicked one, John 12: 31; 14: 30; 16: 11

The Lord Jesus repeatedly referred to a ‘ruler of the world’ who is Satan himself. Earlier, the devil had claimed the ownership of the whole world. (Matthew 4: 9) Paul calls him the “god of this age”. (2Corinthinans 4: 4) John writes, “The whole world lies in the power of the evil one.” (1John 5: 19b) All these and several other scripture portions reveal the satanic influence upon the world system. No wonder he is called the “prince of the kingdom of Persia” in Daniel 10: 13.

The practical implications that emerge from this reality are threefold:

a. We cannot expect anything better from such a world system.

In spite of the enormous efforts by various agencies and spending of massive resources, the end result is chaos. Look around and notice the confusion prevailing in almost every country whether in the political realm or in any other aspect. Each one is using all kinds of falsehood for their own survival and ultimately the common man is struggling.

Why is it so? The underlying factor is, when the driving force behind natural man is not divine, it is bound to fail sooner or later.

b. We should have the discernment to see satanic traps. Cf. Matthew 18: 7

The world has enough ways to seduce and snare a God-fearing child of God. The inherent sinful nature within us and the never-satisfied cravings of our eyes along with the ever present ego are some of the fallen natures of man being used by Satan to trap us. (1John 2: 16; 1Timothy 3: 6)

As mentioned earlier, in spite of the progress in various fields, the moral state of the world deteriorates day by day. That’s the reason why the shameful things of yesterday have become today’s honourable things. (Philippians 3: 19). Sad, many born again Christians fail to discern this deception and fall into the trap of the world by adopting the immoral worldly style without any shame.

The result of such a wrong influence is an unfruitful spiritual life. The word of God is not effective in their lives. Apart from that, the joy and freshness of spiritual life is lost. (cf. Matthew 13: 22; 16: 26; Mark 8: 36). The adverse effect of adopting worldly fashion is not confined to one’s own life, but it will definitely alter even the life of generations. What a pity; gaining the whole world and losing the generation!

c. We should not be surprised at the hostilities. John 15: 18, 19

When the value system and lifestyle of Christian believers are intrinsically contrary to the world, conflict is bound to happen. That’s why Christ warned, "If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” (John 15: 18, 19)

It’s impossible for a believer to stay true to the word of God and be a friend of this world. James makes it very clear, “Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” (James 4: 4)

What strong words James the brother of Jesus Christ is using to describe a professing Christian’s affection for a worldly pattern of life. A true born again child of God cannot love that which God hates. It is in response to such an uncompromising stand of a Christian the world is unleashing antagonism and hatred against believers.

As the Lord Jesus warned in advance, if the world hated and crucified Him, what more shall we expect from this evil world. (cf. 1Peter 4: 12) Down through the centuries, millions of godly men and women have sacrificed their lives holding on to their faith in Christ. It’s foolishness to expect an easy path today.

3. God has a definite plan for this world.

There are some who think, God created the world but He has failed to keep it in order, so He has abandoned it to fend for itself! No, that is not true. Even though God has permitted the evil one to have his way, God is still on the throne. (Isaiah 40: 22, 23: Daniel 2: 21; 4: 17) He has a well-designed program in connection with the redemption and the restoration of His creation.

We read that “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” (John 3: 16, 17). Amazing indeed, God loves the inhabitants of this world irrespective of their spiritual, moral condition. In His grace and mercy God wants to save them from their sinful life and its consequences.

The incarnation of Christ and His work on the cross of Calvary was part of this eternal program. (Galatians 4: 4) Every born again Christian should have a clear idea of these divine purposes for the world so that we invest our time and resources wisely for eternal benefits. Consider carefully the life of our Lord Jesus Christ. He was very much sure of His priorities, hence He avoided activities that were not part of His mission.

Even though the society He lived in had enough issues under a foreign rule, He never interfered with those matters. He made no efforts to topple the government or even called for an agitation. Even when the public wanted Him to be their king, He avoided it. (John 6: 15) The Lord made it clear to Pilate the Roman governor, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.” (John 18: 36) We need such clarity on our relationship and responsibilities in connection with this world.

A careful study of the scripture is necessary to discover these divine programs in an orderly manner. (Matthew 22: 29) Notice few things regarding this:
a. Testifying truth to the world, John 18: 37
b. Enlightening the world, John 8: 12; Matthew 5: 14
c. Saving the world, John 3: 17; 12: 47
d. Preaching the gospel, Mark 16: 15, 16
e. Separating a people for Himself, John 17: 6 (Acts 15: 14; 1Peter 2: 9)

These are some of those major programs God is involved in this world today. The prince of the world has already been judged. Yet there awaits a series of judgments on this world. (John 16: 11; Acts 17: 31) One day God will set up a new heaven and new earth. (Isaiah 65: 17; 2Peter 3: 10; Revelation 21: 1)

Apostle Peter says that the awareness of such a plan of God should motivate us to live a holy and separated life in this uncertain world. (2Peter 3: 9 – 13) Rapid changes, whether political, economic or environmental, should not trouble a believer on the contrary it should remind us of the true state of this world.

Let us be conscious of the perilous days, the brevity of our time and the vastness of our responsibilities. Before it’s too late, let us involve ourselves in those things in which God has a concern.


Related topics: Five Things a Christian should know about the World // Separation from the world.



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