Many in God's Church are being lured back into the world! Countless others find its pull so strong that their spiritual growth is being stunted. You need to know — and avoid! — this deadly trap which Satan is using to ensnare the very sons of God!
THE salvation of many in God's Church is hanging by a thread! This very instant their eternal destiny hangs in the balance. Unless these careless members can be jolted into an awakened sensibility — they will forfeit their eternal life. They will forever lose their golden opportunity to share in the glories of eternal sonship in the family of God! It's high time these members of the Church of God understood how they — at least many of them — are dangerously near losing out on the most wonderful opportunity ever offered to any being in all the aeons of eternity! What is this hidden trap into which some have already fallen, and into which many others are about to be ensnared? What is this great danger — this deadly peril — facing the members of the Church of God — right at this very instant? They are being lured back into Satan's world!!!
World Corrupted Through Lust
Two thousand years ago, the Apostle Peter was inspired to speak of the "glory and virtue" to which God has called us. He then explained that it is through God's "exceeding great and precious promises" that we become "partakers of the Divine nature" (II Peter 1:3, 4). But... before we can become partakers of God's nature, it is first necessary that we escape "the corruption that is in the world" (verse 4). Notice how the world has been corrupted. "Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having ESCAPED THE CORRUPTION that is in the world through LUST" (verse 4). According to this verse, the whole world has been corrupted through lust! Today's world is even more corrupt. Many members in the Church of God seem to forget that they were once called out from a very corrupt world. They forget that they grew up in a world that was utterly corrupt through the carnal urge to lust, to covet — to wrongfully desire everything imaginable.
How the Saints Escape
How do the saints escape the world's entanglements? "For if after they [Church members] have escaped the POLLUTIONS OF THE WORLD through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome [by the pollutions of the world], the latter end is worse with them than the beginning" (II Peter 2:20). This verse clearly reveals that IT is POSSIBLE for members of God's Church to become entangled in and be overcome by the world — after they have first escaped its many pollutions. We are then told that "it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them" (verse 21). To return to the corruptions and pollutions of this vile world — after having escaped through conversion — is like a washed sow returning to her wallowing in the mire, or a dog returning to eat its own vomit! Yes, this is the way God Almighty looks upon members who go back into the hell-bent world.
It is a sad fact that many are returning to the mire and vomit of this world — many are being lured away from the wonderful opportunity of sonship in the Kingdom of God, and are returning to a bankrupt world that — in comparison to the unspeakable splendours of sonship in the very family of God — has nothing whatsoever to offer! I know of one lady in God's Church (who once showed the fruits of God's Spirit in her life) who returned to the world which she had known before her conversion — the world of drunkenness, smoking and other fleshly sins. She then became a persecutor of the Church of God. Another man I know of was finally lured back into the medical world where he could earn scores of thousands of dollars annually. He loved the praise of men, and he lusted after mammon. He may be able to have more of these "pleasures of sin" now than he would have had, had he continued diligently, patiently obeying God; but he was very short-sighted. He has taken a flying leap right toward the Lake of Fire. One baptized member recently left the Church — because she fell to lusting after another man, and became willing to give up her husband, her child, her Church and her God — and her very salvation! In recent months more than one member has left the Church — because of his love (or lust!) for a woman who was not a member. In each case the member was willing to become "unequally yoked" with an unbeliever, rather than patiently wait for Almighty God to provide him a wife in His due time. Such short-sighted members are about to forfeit their very eternal life because of their lust toward a worldling! These are only a few specific examples of some of the very members of the Church of God who have been enticed back into the world — lured by its glittering glamour. These — and many others like them — are being lured by an itching, longing, lustful desire to get here and now the forbidden things which this world has to offer — things which God forbids them to have! Here are some of the things which, right this instant, are exerting strong pulls upon members of God's Church: mammon (riches, material possessions), sexual gratification (fornication, adultery, etc.), excessive drinking of alcoholic drinks, smoking, and numerous other lusts and illicit pleasures of this world. And I might add, T.V. addiction. Watching too much T.V. and/or the wrong type of programmes is a very corrupting influence in the lives of many. God Almighty certainly wants His children to enjoy the right kind of pleasures (Psa. 16:11). But there are many "pleasures of sin" (Heb. 11:25) which God forbids us to partake of, because He knows that such pleasures have a kickback — that they boomerang right back on us. God doesn't want us to get the hangovers, headaches, pains, sickness and death that go with the wrong kind of pleasures. Food can be very good but gluttony is a sin; alcoholic drinks are fine, but drunkenness is a terrible sin; sex in marriage was created by God as a supreme expression of love, but fornication, adultery, homosexuality and other sexual vices are evil and always exact terrible penalties.
The World's Powerful Pull
God certainly knew that this evil world would exercise a very powerful pull upon His begotten sons. That's why He has called us out of it. We must be in the world, but He has commanded us not to be of it (John 15:18, 19; 17:9-18). Jesus said: "I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world" (John 17:15, 16). Why does God continually tell His children to beware of the corrupting influence of this world? Firstly, Satan the devil is "the god of this world" (II Cor. 4:4). The devil has organized the present world order, this world's civilization, its chaotic world system. And it does not take much enlightenment to see that this world is truly deceived, corrupted, mixed-up, chaotic, evil, hate-filled and very decadent. God refers to today's civilization as "this present evil world" (Gal. 1:4). Does this include all nations? Yes. "The whole world lieth in wickedness" (I John 5:19).
"A Friend of The World?"
The Apostle James admonished Christians to "keep themselves unspotted from the world" (Jas. 1:27). God loves the people of the world (John 3:16), but He hates the evil ways of this world's system. He knows that the ways of the world lead to unhappy, sick, degraded, poverty-ridden, empty and mixed-up lives. God will not compromise one iota with Satan and his civilization. God calls those who get too involved in this world adulterers and adulteresses: "Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God" (Jas. 4:4). A truly begotten son of God cannot be of the world and of God — cannot keep one foot in the world and one in the Kingdom of God — cannot serve the God of the World Tomorrow and the god of this present evil world. A member of God's Church cannot do both. He must choose between God and His ways and Satan's world and its evil ways. What does God say is the real motivating force behind this present satanic world? "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him" (I John 2:15). But why can't one love the world, and still have God's love 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" (v. 16). The whole world is based on vanity, self, lust and greed. What will happen to this present satanically oriented world? "And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever" (verse 17). But why is it, brethren, that members of God's Church can't see the folly of becoming wed to this world — of partaking of its evil ways — and of perishing with it? Can't we see that the only thing which will survive this present civilization and this age is the perfect character which is now being formed in those who are the begotten sons of God?
Saints to be Pacesetters
God's Word reveals that it is "the saints [who] shall judge the world" (I Cor. 6:2). See also Daniel 7:27; Revelation 20:4. But how can we learn to judge this present evil world, if we sink to its level, allowing ourselves to be corrupted by it? Do we think we will ever be able to rule and judge the whole world, showing them how to live rightly, when we haven't first proven our total submission to the perfect rule of our Creator? Jesus Christ said the true believers are to be "the LIGHT of the world" (Matt. 5:14) and the "SALT of the earth" (verse 13). We are to let the light of our example shine out for this darkened world — so they can see the true way of God and glorify Him (Matt. 5:16). We are to be the PACESETTERS — the TRAILBLAZERS — for the whole world! We must, by our Godly examples, show this world how to live. Regrettably, however, some members of Christ's Body do not set a very good example — do not really let their light shine for the world to see. They are-letting the world influence and lead them — letting the world corrupt them by its devious ways. God commands us: "Be NOT CONFORMED TO THIS WORLD: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God" (Rom. 12:2). What will happen to those who become careless towards this world? What will be the lot of those who return to the ways of this present evil world — to those who become corrupted by it? It would have been better never to have been born — better never to have seen the light of day, better never to have understood the precious truth of God — than to turn from His way, after being once enlightened (II Pet. 2:21, 22). God repeatedly warns us to beware of the world — to beware of its sinister, corrupting influence. The lustful glamour of this world is an ever-present, glittering pull, and continually exerts a most powerful tug upon our human nature. The natural lust of the flesh and of the eyes is continually nourished by a greedy, money-mad world — a world which well knows how to play upon this lust-prone weakness of human nature. Advertisers fully understand the weakness of the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes. Never before in the history of man has he been so barraged with a continual stream of pictures, ideas, ads which are deliberately calculated to arouse lust in the human heart. And... to some in the very Church of God, the lustful pull of this world proves too great for them to resist — just as it was in the days of the apostle Paul. Paul tearfully wrote: "For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica" (II Tim. 4:10). He told the young evangelist, Timothy, that those in Asia had turned away from him and from the truth of God: "This thou knowest, that all they which are in Asia be turned away from me: of whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes" (II Tim. 1:15).
Lust for Riches
Jesus also warned that some will let the "cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches" cause them to become spiritually unproductive (Matt. 13:22). These Christians become "choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection" (Luke 8:14). Satan knows that he can overthrow a certain percentage of God's people if he can only get them to set their hearts on material things. Never before in the history of the world have there been so many material, physical blessings of every type and description. God Almighty even promised this great wealth to the people of Israel, but He also forewarned that this wealth could become a snare — if it weren't appreciated and rightly used (Deut. 28:47, 48). That is why Jesus Christ continually warned His followers of the danger of being drowned in their lust for material, physical possessions: "Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth'' (Luke 12:15). The apostle Paul also admonished: "And having food and raiment, let us be therewith content. But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition" (I Tim. 6:8,9). Paul said that some of the believers, even in his day, had been corrupted by setting their hearts on material things: "For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But thou, O man of God, flee these things (verses 10, 11). Certainly riches and wealth of themselves are not evil. God desires that we prosper (III John 2; Mal. 3:10-12). Material wealth can be used to God's honour and glory (I Tim. 6:17-19). But all too often people become snared in the lustful pursuit of fleeting physical possessions.
Covetousness is Idolatry!
Believe it or not, some in the very Church of God have become lax in paying their tithes and in giving of their offerings to God and to His Work. They have thereby hurt the very Work of God, and they have also cut themselves off from God! Remember, "covetousness... is idolatry" (Col. 3:5). The moment you covet anything, you instantly cut yourself off from the real source of all blessings. Until an erring member repents of his idolatrous lusts, God will not hear him. His prayer will not ascend above the ceiling if his heart is filled with covetousness! And... brethren, you need to realize that it is as easy and as natural to covet as it is to breathe. Remember, the whole world has been corrupted through lust (II Peter 1:4). We were part and parcel of this evil world — before our conversion. After we repented, a lot of this world and of its wrong ideas and ways still lingered in us. The pull of the world will often tug more violently at us once we repent than it did before we were enlightened by God's Spirit. Here is one way that many in the Church of God are being snared into sin. They are having too close a fellowship with the world! This is very dangerous. This does not mean that we should look down upon the world, or act cold, distant, superior to those still held in the world's grip. We should be warm and friendly to those in the world; and we should want to sec them brought to the knowledge of the truth, to real repentance and become the sons of God. Furthermore, we should have pity on the deceived billions of this world.
"Come Out... Be Separate"
But, we need to be sure that we don't become too friendly with the world — though we should love the people in the world — even our enemies (Matt. 5:44). Jesus commonly ate with the "publicans and sinners," but He didn't let them lead Him astray. Rather, He set them the proper example! God says we are not to be a friend of the world. We are commanded to "come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord" (II Cor. 6:17; Rev. 18:4). Furthermore, God shows that "the ways of the wicked seduceth them [the righteous]" (Prov. 12:26). If we are too close to those in the world they will pull us down — will corrupt us. Like a good apple in a basket of rotten apples, so we will become just as rotten and corrupt as the world — if we have too close an association with it. We can't be bosom companions of those in the world without being seduced and corrupted by their wrong example. "A little leaven leavens the whole lump" (I Cor. 5:6). This is why God Almighty commands us: "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers" (II Cor. 6:14). This principle applies in business as well as in the marriage relationship. Any member of God's Church who marries an unbeliever is courting disaster, and will be led into sin and untold suffering. Any member who ties himself closely in business with an unbeliever will have many difficulties, and will often be led into sin. The following example reveals how dangerous it is for us to fraternize too closely with the world. Jacob's daughter, Dinah, foolishly decided to go out and visit the Canaanitish daughters of the land. She also "dated" the Canaanitish prince, Shechem, and thereby brought untold sorrow, suffering and misery upon Jacob's household. "And Dinah the daughter of Leah... went out to see the daughters of the land. And when Shechem the son of Hamor the Hivite, prince of the country, saw her, he took her, and lay with her, and defiled her" (Gen. 34:1, 2). (Gentiles have often been rather permissive in their outlook toward fornication.) This was written for us as an object lesson so we can avoid the pitfalls into which others fell. "Now these things were our examples to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted" (I Cor. 10:6).
God forbade the people of Israel to marry the Canaanites — for a very good reason. God told Israel: "Neither shalt thou make marriages with them; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son" (Deut. 7:3). But... why did God forbid Israel to marry the Gentiles? "For they will turn away thy son from following me, that they may serve other gods: so will the anger of the Lord be kindled against you, and destroy thee suddenly" (v. 4). Yes, God knew that the Israelites should not become yoked to the Gentiles in marriage — for that would cause the people of Israel to serve and worship the pagan gods of the heathen — and would bring frightening curses upon them. This same principle applies to the people of God's Church — to "spiritual Israel." If members of the Church of God date and marry the unconverted "spiritual Gentiles" of this world, then they are going to be turned away from serving the true God, will begin to serve false gods, and will thereby bring terrible curses, including — if they aren't very careful — the second death upon themselves! In the past, all too many in the Church have carelessly dated "outsiders" and have often got into trouble. This is wrong! This is a sin! And it should not be done by the begotten sons of God! One young man, a 24-year-old member of God's Church, recently became ensnared into seriously dating a non-member woman who is almost twice his age. His association with her began rather innocently — purely on a business level. After the untimely death of her husband, she began to cry on his shoulder, and the next thing you know, they were contemplating marriage! How can you make sure you do not become corrupted by the world? Realize that, though we have to be in the world, we must not be of it! Don't conform to this world! Don't become unequally yoked with unbelievers. Don't let yourself be spoiled by wrongly associating yourself too closely with those in this world!
Weeping at Christ's Coming
At Christ's second coming, what will be His attitude toward those who have become careless in their associations with those of this world? "But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My Lord delayeth His coming; And shall begin to smite his fellowservants, and to eat and drink with the drunken; The Lord... shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth" (Matt. 24:48-51). How many in the very Church of God have been careless in this respect? How many have actually, literally, begun to eat and drink with the drunken? If you have, then beware! Watch out! For you are getting careless, and arc standing on very dangerous ground. How can we make sure that we don't let the pulls of this lustful world draw us back into its vortex of certain destruction? Beware of lust — of coveting after those things which you shouldn't have. Remember, too, that God tells us it is easy to "neglect so great salvation" (Heb. 5:3). "Therefore, we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip" (verse 1). We are commanded to examine ourselves to see if we are really in the faith (II Cor. 13:5). And we are admonished! "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling" (Philip. 2:12). Brethren, all too many of you have let down. Many have become ensnared in fleshly lusts — including fornication, adultery and other sins of the flesh. The Bible shows that no such person will inherit the Kingdom of God (I Cor. 6:9-11). We must "lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us" (Heb. 12:1). "Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God... Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright" (Heb. 12:15, 16). Are you willing to sell your "spiritual birthright"? your one and only chance for eternal life — for a few fleeting pleasures — for a few lustful, fleshly titillations? Remember, once Esau had sold his birthright, "he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears" (verse 17). When Jesus Christ returns to this earth — in the very near future — some members of God's Church are going to be surprised, shocked, ashamed, saddened, rejected — "there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth" (Matt. 25:5-12,30)!
"Confidence... at His Coming!"
Here's how we can make sure we aren't drowned in the lusts of this present evil world. "If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above... set your affection on things above, not on things of the earth..." (Col. 3:1, 2). If we seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness (Matt. 6:33), if we set our affection on heavenly things, and if we are very careful not to become enmeshed in this world and its lusts — then we will stand confidently before Jesus Christ at His second coming! "And now, little children, abide in Him; that, when He shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before Him at His coming" (I John 2:28). Brethren, it is high time that careless members of God's Church repent of this sin of fraternizing too closely with the world! It is time we were more careful in our associations with Satan's world. Love the people of the world, but don't fraternize too closely with them!