In the style of all other Mahaney books - this one is relatively short (a small in shape book) but packs a powerful punch. And ends like everything else does in Sovereign Grace life - with a proclamation of the gospel.
Five Sov Grace guys write in this - on different ways we are not to "love the world, or anything in the world" - from John's small letter toward the end of the Bible.
Mahaney starts with the intro of 1 John 2.15. "Whatever the reasons, this verse makes you uncomfortable. It invades your personal space. You're afraid if you get too close, these ten little words might come between you and the things in this world you enjoy. You're reluctant to discuss worldliness because then you might have to change." (18)
"What dominates your mind and stirs your heart?" (27) This is a good tell-tale sign of what you love.
This is what CJ comes back to in the last chapter (written by Purswell). "Worldliness does not consist in outward behavior, though our actions can certainly be an evidence of worldliness within. But the real location of worldliness is internal. It resides in our hearts." (29) I think the time I learned about this the most in my life was the 3.5 years I lived in RDU after graduating seminary. Right after seminary I had gotten completely out of consumer debt - it felt freeing and great! Then, I wanted to have more stuff, had some low-paying part time jobs, and still wanted more stuff. I got so far into debt I considered bankruptcy. God was telling me I had a materialism problem. But, even though graciously and mercifully I am out of consumer debt now, I know I still have a problem with it. That is why I do not own a credit card, I try to live on a budget, I periodically send my financial thoughts and standings to people who care about me - especially in this area - and I try not to go to places where I will struggle and have the temptation to want or buy. I rarely go clothes/stuff shopping - and even going over to peoples' homes prove dangerous because I live in a 800 square foot apt with all mostly used furniture. God is good and gracious to me in so many ways - I need nothing. I pray He continues to drive out materialism in my life.
"For sin carries with it the seeds of dissatisfaction and destruction." (33)
Craig Cabaniss writes next on our hearts and media in terms of worldliness. "The hazard is thoughtless watching. Glorifying God is an intentional pursuit." ( 40). I have also learned this lately. I could watch tv all day - there are so many channels. Now, unless I have something specific in mind to watch - I don't turn it on. It is too dangerous to me to just pick random things and watch nothing. Filling my mind with mindless things.
"Covetousness is a desire for something or someone that God has not provided." (51) This is another area it is hard for me. I look (especially at facebook) and see girls "in a relationship" and wonder why I'm not. Or listening to country music brings at these longings and desires. But, also being in church or seminary surrounded by godly men who are married brings out these desires. Having the desire to get married is not wrong - it is hopefully God given and will be God-fulfilled one of these days - but if I put too much emphasis on it - then it becomes the end - the marriage isn't the end - the Gospel is.
"If we're forbidden to speak with filthiness and crude sexual humor, we're equally prohibited from listening to it when we have a choice." (55) It is a heart matter - whether it comes out of our mouth or into our ears.
Bob Kauflin - worship leaders extraordinaire for SG - wrote worldliness and music (go figure). "Listening to music without discernment and godly intent reveals a heart willing to flirt with the world." (71) Note Bob doesn't say you can't listen to anything but Christian music. No, he says to discern why you listen to it and what desires it brings out in you.
Dave Harvey, who also wrote When Sinners Say I Do, talked about our hearts and stuff. "Gratitude subverts greed. It's an expulsive antidote to covetousness in the heart. Gratitude is not a feeling, and it isn't based on present circumstances. It is recognition of our dependence on God and others - an act of humility that battles pride in our possessions. Grateful speech takes the attention off ourselves and places it on another, whether that's the God of our salvation or the spouse who washes our clothes. Gratefulness is recognition that God is always good and always right in his dealings with us." (110)
CJ write on clothes - mostly of course for women, but he also hits on a few pages for Dads of daughter and husbands of wives. Our dress should reflect the gospel as well. A compliment that a former b-friend paid me one time was "I never have to worry about the way you dress." That was the highest compliment he ever paid me. Do I struggle sure - especially when my weight is where I want it - but God is good and gracious and wants me to reflect that to a lost and dying world. My dress should be different than the worlds. Our churches should be different in its dress than what we see on Saturday night out at the mall. Why isn't it?
Jeff Purswell, Dean of the Pastor's College, finished with our exhortation to love the world. Odd huh? We are to enjoy what God has given us for the reasons He has given it to us - to glorify Him and exalt His name throughout the world.
If you want a good kick in the pants (how's that for southern slang) - then pick this up and read it with a highlighter!