Perhaps it’s because I have a little bit more time in the Summer to watch too much of the news, but it seems to me that at an ever increasing rate we see things we never thought we’d see and find ourselves asking “what in the world?!” However, while events such as: four U.S. citizens getting caught trying to organize ISIS like attacks on our own shores, two heinous murderers escaping from maximum security incarceration with the help of a prison worker who gave them power tools hidden in frozen meat, a young racist man with a deluded mind and a seared conscience executing nine people in a church one hour after being welcomed into their Bible study, and a famous older man who sadly and tragically thinks he’s a woman and makes the magazine covers at every grocery checkout aisle may disappoint or discourage us, as believers in Christ and students of God’s Word these events should not surprise us. Why do things happen that cause us to ask “what in the world?”, it’s because of “what’s in the world!”
Definition Of The World…Before we get to what’s in the world, we need to take a moment and be clear about our definition of “the world.” The Bible speaks of “the world” as a generic term for the created universe (John 17:5). Genesis chapter one clearly states that God created all that is and when He took a moment to peruse His work He made the repeated conclusion that it was good. The world in this sense had no faults or fallen-ness at the start, but due to the following sin of man, the crown of Creation, the rest of the created order has since been held in bondage and is negatively impacted until the day of final and full redemption (Romans 8:18-25). The second definition of “the world” refers to humanity at large. When John 3:16 states that “for God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son…”, it does not mean that the Father’s primary concern in sending Jesus to die on the cross was His overwhelming love for rocks, hills, trees and streams. No, although Jesus’ work will affect all of Creation, “the world” spoken of in the Bible’s most famous verse means humanity, those who by means of believing in Him do not perish but will have everlasting life. The third and final definition of “the world” is a system and society that is organized without God and which is set in its entirety against God (John 17:14). This is the operative meaning of the term for our purposes this month. So, that being said, “what’s in the world?!”, this system and society that is against the Lord, His Word, and His Anointed One?
Deception Is What’s In The World…Being at home more than normal these past couple of weeks, I have been taking some of the solicitation calls that usually fall to my wonderful wife. One day I answered the phone from an “unidentified number” on the caller ID (almost always a sure indicator of an unwanted call) and there was a delay between my “hello” and a response from the other end of the line (yet another tell-tale sign of an unwanted call!). When a foreign sounding voice finally did begin to speak, the “gentleman” told me that he was from Microsoft and asked if our computer was running slow. I told him that at times it did seem to take too long for certain operations to take place. (Of course most everybody would say that their computer runs slow, especially when you see that terrible spinning wheel that just keeps going and going and going and…!). He said that was confirmation of his diagnosis that our computer was in danger. But he had good news for us; he was there to help! All I had to do was go to my computer and follow a few simple instructions that would allow him to remotely correct the problem. Whether it was the Holy Spirit or just intuition or merely watching too many WINK News Call for Action spots on tv I do not know, but an immediate sinking feeling came into the pit of my stomach. I told the man as kindly as I knew how that I would not be allowing him remote access to my computer and that I would see a local technician if indeed there was a serious problem that manifested itself. He kept talking for a moment before I wished him a good evening and hung up the receiver…A couple of nights later I again took a similar phone call, with seemingly the same voice telling me the same information. This time I told him that in no way, shape, manner, or form was I going to do as he asked and wished him a good evening. I did not give him opportunity to say anything more before hanging up the receiver…A couple of nights after that, for the third time I again took a similar phone call with seemingly the same voice telling me the same information. I did not yell or scream but told the man in no uncertain terms that if he was legit then I doubted that his number would show up as unidentified and that he would be contacting me by phone asking me for remote access to my computer. I went on to say that I would never, under any circumstances, trust someone who behaved in such a way. Surprisingly, before I could hang up the receiver, he admitted to me that “he was not legit” and hung up the phone on me!…Only a few days later while watching WINK News Call for Action my wife and I heard a report about a woman who got a phone call like the ones that I had received. She followed the man’s instructions, gave him remote access, and in short order her computer that had been running a little slower than she liked was now not running at all and thousands of dollars were gone from accounts that she had linked to online banking…Maybe you hear that someone fell for such a deception and wonder how anyone could be so foolish and naïve. However, before judging her too harshly, let me ask, haven’t you fallen for deceptions before? (If your answer is no, then you’re probably deceived right now!). The Bible clearly tells us that the world system is under the deception of the evil one and seeks to deceive people in every way (1 John 5:19-20; Rev. 12:9), especially in the matter of blinding people to the truth of the gospel (2 Cor. 4:4). The world will tell you that they have the answer to your problem, whether that problem be a computer that runs slow, a bank account that’s empty, a heart that is lonely, or a life that is dull. All you have to do is follow a few simple instructions, make a few easy payments, lower a few standards, gulp a few beverages, or pop a few pills and all your problems will be over! Of course the world that is good at promoting the fleeting pleasures of the night of doesn’t tell you about the lingering pains of the mornings after! Go after the world’s deceptions and, whether you recognize it now or later, you will find that your life is being remotely controlled, going places you never thought you’d go and doing things you never thought you’d do. Don’t fall for the world’s deceptions! Follow after God’s truth (John 8:31-32)!
Danger Is What’s In The World…Just over two decades after World War I had been billed as the war to end all wars came World War II in which millions upon millions of people were killed. The world, which had always been a dangerous place, now seemed much more so as man’s inhumanity to man was put on open display in a way like never before and bombs that could potentially destroy pretty near the whole of the human race were beginning to be unveiled. In light of this danger and in the aftermath of World War II, two important alliances were formed. The first was NATO (the North Atlantic Treaty Organization) and the other was the Warsaw Pact. The former was led by the United States and consisted of mainly democratic nations in Western Europe and the latter, comprised of Eastern European communist and dictatorial regimes, saw the Soviet Union firmly ensconced in leadership. The idea behind both organizations was that if any member of their respective alliances were to be attacked, it would be seen as an act of war upon all the aligned nations and would incur the wrath of the group as a whole. Although this would lead to a multi-decade Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union and though terrible battles would break out in Korea and Vietnam, the knowledge that a nuclear conflict would bring about a mutually assured destruction (a policy known as MAD) kept the “hottest” of wars from breaking out for the remainder of the twentieth century. Leaders in both prominent nations realized that the world was a very dangerous place; and that fear kept them from making certain cataclysmic decisions…James 4:4 clearly tells us that friendship with the world system makes us an enemy of God. We could talk about many dangers that are in the world, but the main danger the world system contains is that to be in unity with it is to necessarily align one’s self against the Lord! Far from the situation of mutually assured destruction that existed between the USA and the USSR, the world system will be destroyed by an enemy that is so far superior in every way that when He considers all His adversaries combined, He merely laughs (Psalm 2:4).
Defilement Is What’s In The World…One of my favorite passages in all of Scripture is the fifth chapter of Mark’s gospel. The first 20 verses recount how one long possessed by a legion of unclean spirits that made him more of a monster than a man was set free by the authoritatively spoken commandment from the lips of Jesus, the King of kings and the Lord of lords! The chapter then moves to tell of a woman who was made both ill and outcast for twelve years of her life by an unclean issue of blood. Earthly doctors had accomplished no benefit for her but when she caught one touch of the hem of the Great Physician’s garment she was immediately delivered and made whole. Mark 5 ends with Jesus coming to the house of Jairus’ 12 year old daughter who had went from sick to dead during the delay caused by the healing of the woman with the issue of blood. Christ, after having been laughed at for saying that the girl was merely asleep instead of dead, proceeded into her bedroom with the parents and three of His disciples. One touch and two words later a lifeless heart began to beat again, cold stiff hands turned warm and nimble again, eyes closed now opened again, and hopeless parents now hoped again! If you haven’t read Mark 5 in a while, I hope you’re inspired to do so just now! That being said, one may be asking what all these miracles from this blessed chapter have to do with our present point of the defilement that’s in the world. Glad you asked! The demoniac man was possessed by a multitude of unclean spirits, the woman was made unclean by an issue of blood, according to Old Testament law the body of the young dead girl was unclean and would make anyone who touched her unclean for a number of days. The world defiles, the world makes unclean those who pass through it and are affected by it (James 1:27). Yet Jesus, rather than being made unclean by the unclean, made the defiled delivered when He came on the scene of their lives!