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Christians and the World – 9/10/23

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Christians and the World – 9/10/23


Matt Nestberg


September 10, 2023


1 John, 1 John 2:15-17


This summer I started reading, I really enjoy reading biographies, Ron Chernow’s biography called Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr. As a refresher, if you don’t know who John D. Rockefeller was, Rockefeller was born in 1839, and in 1870 he founded the Standard Oil Company. With the discovery of oil in western Pennsylvania, Rockefeller began refining it into kerosene. because, if you can imagine, in the mid-19th century, most homes in America were lit still with whale oil. And so, Rockefeller said, “We got to do better than this.” They figured out how to refine oil from the ground into kerosene and used it to light people’s homes.

Rockefeller controlled, at one point, 90% of all oil in America at his peak. His personal wealth, at its peak, was nearly 3% of the entire US GDP, which in today’s dollars would be $27 billion in one year. His total wealth was between $350 and $400 billion, making him the wealthiest man in human history, only recently rivaled by Elon Musk. Standard Oil was so large, in fact, that when the Supreme Court dismantled it in 1911, thirty-four companies were created from the one company, Standard Oil. Two of those were Chevron and ExxonMobil. Today in Fortune 500’s list of the wealthiest companies by financial revenue, Chevron is 24, and ExxonMobil is 8. Those are just part of what Standard Oil was back in its day. That is Rockefeller’s business and economic legacy.

He was an interesting guy. As you read biographies about people, you read sometimes interesting and sometimes tragic things. Let me give you a couple of examples to help you know him better. One of the tragic things that you read is as they began to get oil out of the ground and refine it into kerosene, they didn’t know what to do with one of its byproducts, which was gasoline. The internal combustion engine was only in people’s minds at that point and was not being produced, so they didn’t know what to do with gasoline, and so many refineries, under the cover of darkness, dumped it into the Ohio River. Now, you can imagine what barrels and barrels and barrels of gasoline does to a river ecologically. But also, you can imagine when coal-fired ships are sailing down the river, spilling red hot coals into a gasoline-soaked river, what happens? And that’s what happened. That’s one thing.

Another thing is that John and his wife Cettie were famously thrifty. They wouldn’t spend money on anything unless they had to. They were famously thrifty! Chernow tells a story about the Rockefeller kids one year clamoring for bicycles. They had four kids. John suggested that they buy a bicycle for each child. And his wife Cettie said,

“No, let’s buy one for all of them.”

John replied,

“But my dear, they don’t cost much.”

And she said,

“I know. It’s not the cost. If they have just one, they’ll learn to give up to one another.”

Which is a great idea and come on! Buy everybody a bicycle! You’re a millionaire at this point, a multimillionaire! In fact, they were so cheap, their kids wore lots of hand-me-downs and cheap clothes and were so thrifty that John Jr. sheepishly confessed later in life that until the age of eight, he only wore dresses to church because he was the youngest of four and all his older siblings were girls. That’s John Jr. in a dress, one of his sister’s dresses. Now, this is classic parenting. Not only do you make me do humiliating things, you take pictures while I’m doing humiliating things. I mean, just the therapy costs alone! It would have been cheaper just to buy him his own clothes, right?

But Rockefeller was also a Christian. He grew up in a home where his dad was an absent adulterer, and his mom was religiously conservative with strict Puritan tendencies. He took after his mom. He didn’t want to be like his dad at all. Rockefeller became a very devout Northern Baptist with strict adherence to the Baptist norms of that time. Each morning before breakfast, he gathered his family in prayer, and if you were late for prayer, you paid a one-penny fine. Their Sundays were structured with time devoted to worship, prayer, Bible study, and reflection. Sunday was a day set aside for the Lord.

And of course, Rockefeller was committed to abstaining from all activities that he considered, and the church considered worldly or even the appearance of those things. He completely abstained from alcohol, tobacco, playing cards, or going to the theater. And “theater” is not movie theater. This is the mid-19th century. Theater is the opera or plays. The Rockefellers had tickets to the Philharmonic, but they considered going to the theater for an opera that operas were worldly, so they would not go see an opera, but they would go to the Philharmonic.

John wouldn’t touch alcohol or be seen in its presence. In fact, one story that Chernow tells is that Rockefeller accepted an invitation to a party, and before the party, he snuck over to the people’s house and snuck in without telling anybody. And when he found empty beer bottles, he left, withdrew his invitation, and didn’t go to the party. He didn’t want to be near it at all.

I thought of Rockefeller when I was reading 1 John 2. I’ve been reading this biography, and I’ve been reading about Rockefeller and how he didn’t want to be worldly and how he defined that, and then we come to 1 John 2:15-17, where John says, “Don’t love the world.” And it seems that Christians have had interesting and varying understandings of what it means to love the world for all of our history, for probably two thousand years. Worldliness or loving the world is what John addresses next in this book. Now, the text is, I think, pretty straightforward. It’s got a command with some reasons behind that command that John gives us. So, we’re going to look at the command and talk about the reasons and hopefully get some applications from it.

So, first of all, the command. The command in verse 15 must be the main point of the text because everything else follows from that command in the text. The command is

“Do not love the world or the things in the world.”

The word for world that John uses is the pretty much straightforward word “kosmos” that’s used throughout the New Testament, used 185 times. In this context, it means “the system of fallen humanity that is hostile to God.” That’s the world. The word for [world] he uses it in 1 John 5:19 when he says,

“We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.”

And the word for ‘love” is the standard word for love, “agapao.” That’s means a steady, devoted participation.

So, when you read the New Testament and it talks about “love” and the “world,” there’s a couple of different things that you may notice. First of all, we are told that God loves the world. John 3:16 (same writer as 1 John) says,

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”

God loves the world.

But what we see is that God loves the world in a redeeming way. It’s a love which redeems, which is good. And John warns us against a love which participates. “Do not love the world or the things that are in the world.” Commentator John Stott says it this way. He says,

“Viewed as people, the world must be loved. Viewed as an evil system, organized under the dominion of Satan and not of God, it is not to be loved.”

So, that’s it. That’s the command. “Do not love the world or the things that are in the world.”

And now, John spends the next couple of verses unpacking reasons for that command. So, there are three of them. Here they are. Number 1, first reason is exclusivity. John says that love for God is mutually exclusive from love for the world.

“If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”

John was with Jesus and heard Jesus say you cannot serve two masters.

“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”

James, also a follower of Jesus and his brother, in James 4:4 said,

“You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore, whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy with God.”

Love for the world — a love which participates as mutually exclusive from love for the Lord.

John gives the second reason. So, the first one is exclusivity. The second is incompatibility. John says that the world and God are separate in their core desires; therefore, love for God and love for the world is incompatible in the same heart. Verse 16, he says, “For all that is in the world” And I’m going to skip the middle part of verse 16 right now; I’m going to come back to in a second. He says,

“For all that is in the world … is not from the Father but is from the world.”

So, whatever he says the world is, what he says in verse 16 is that it’s not from the Father but is from the world. In other words, the values and desires of the world are not from God. Therefore, it’s incompatible to say, “I love God, and I love the world and the things that are in the world.” It’s incompatible. John says that if someone loves the world, they don’t love God because all that is in the world is not from God. So, to say that we love both is empty talk; it’s meaningless because they are incompatible.

And third, the third reason is perishability; the world is perishing. Verse 17,

“And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.”

So, John here weighs the world or love for the world with eternal significance. This is not a moment where we can just say, “Well, potato, potato. Agree to disagree.” John says this is eternal life. This is connected to eternal life or death, doing God’s will is connected to love for God, which is connected to eternal life. Loving God, doing his will, eternal life — John draws all those things together. Everything else passes away. Only one kind of person remains, the one who does the will of God and abides forever, lives forever.

Brothers and sisters, Heaven is filled with people who love God. That’s who’s in heaven. Heaven is not filled with people who prayed the right prayer or kept the correct list or affirmed the popular cause. Heaven is filled with people who love God. So, those are the three reasons that John commands. John commands do not love the world, brothers and sisters, or the things that are in the world because of exclusivity, incompatibility, and perishability. Great! We have John’s command.

Now, what is the world? We hear he says don’t love it or the things in it. So, what is it, right? Isn’t that a good question? And that is what he describes in the middle of verse 16 that I skipped a minute ago. Let’s go back and get John’s description. He says,

“For all that is in the world — the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life — is not from the Father but is from the world.”

So, two basic categories of what he describes here. He talks about passion for what I don’t have and pride in what I do have. Passion for what I don’t have — the desires of the flesh, the desires of the eyes. That’s envy, covetousness, and greed. That is, desires of the flesh are what assaults me from within, things that rise up within me. Desires of the eyes are what I see from without; it assaults me from without. This is passion for what I don’t have. And pride of life — the word “life” John says elsewhere in 1 John. He takes the same word, and it’s translated into English “goods” because that’s a good translation. Pride in possessions, pride of life, or pride in possessions is a good translation. That is pride and arrogance in what I do have — passion for what I don’t have, pride in what I do have, setting my heart and my mind and my affections on those things. And characteristic of what the world loves is that it places great significance and value in externals and temporary things and very little value on eternals.

John’s description is the essence of the world — the desires of the flesh, the desires of the eyes, and pride in possessions. And there are three things that I want to point out about his description that I think are helpful. They are this — Number 1, John’s description is inward. John describes the essence of loving the world to our hearts. And that’s what God always goes for is our hearts, not our lists, but our hearts. That’s what he wants. And John drives it inward. Old school Bible commentator F.F. Bruce said,

“Worldliness does not lie in the things we do or the places we frequent; it lies in the human heart, in the set of human affections and attitudes.”

So, number 1, he drives it inward.

Number 2, the description he gives is varied. What I mean is the desires of the flesh or eyes and pride of life are difficult for us to peg externally because a person can look really good and be super worldly or not. A person can look really bad, whatever that means, and be super worldly or not. It’s varied. There’s no way we can say it just looks like ______. That person’s worldly.

Years and years ago, I think it was when Peter was preaching through Romans the first time at North Hills, he used the phrase, when talking about the flesh, what we wrestle with, the desires of the flesh, he talked about suit-coat flesh and tank-top flesh, not that there’s anything wrong with suit coats or tank tops. That’s not the point. But you could say flesh that looks good or formal or cleaned up and flesh that doesn’t look cleaned up, looks bad. Either way, it’s what? Flesh. It’s flesh. It’s not Spirit. It’s flesh. And that’s what John’s saying here is that it’s varied. It might look really good, what you think looks good, or it might look really bad.

And then the third thing is … So, it’s inward, it’s varied, and it’s timeless. The description John gives here is that passion for what I don’t have and passion for a pride in what I do have is timeless and cultureless. It’s as true in the 21st century West as it was in the 1st century East. It has nothing to do with America, and it has everything to do with America. It has nothing to do with the time in which we live, and it has everything to do with the time in which we live. It is timeless and cultureless. It’s not just, boy, I’m glad we’re not worldly anymore. It has renewed applications in every age and in every culture. Timeless — that’s God’s Word.

So, we talked about John’s command and the reasons for it. We talked about what worldliness is, the desires of the flesh, desires of the eyes, and pride in possessions. So, what is a Christian to do? What are we to do when it comes to culture or the world? I’ll use those terms interchangeably. When we talk about how we view the world or how we view culture or things that we receive, how do we do that? How do we live in this world? Are we to build communes? Are we to build high walls to keep the bad people out? Christians have tried that for centuries, either by isolationism or asceticism. Isolationism — by keeping other people away, or asceticism — by depriving myself of anything that’s good or that I enjoy. And it doesn’t work. You know why? Because I can build walls that keep all you bad people out. I still have to deal with my heart. I still have my heart with me, and I can’t build a wall high enough or strong enough or thick enough to protect me from my own heart. It’s still there. The desires of the flesh will be there. So, what is a Christian to do? Jesus said,

“I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one.”

Jesus doesn’t desire, I don’t believe, for us to build the walls and to get out of the world, but to stay in and be protected from the evil one.

So, let’s talk about that. My goal here is to give us a framework of how we can view the world, the culture around us and, as Christians, use discernment. Nancy Pearcey in her book, Total Truth, gives a gospel-centered framework of creation, fall, and redemption. And I think that framework … She applies it to all of her Christian worldview. I think that framework is helpful when it comes to how we look at the world and decide what can we receive, what do we need to reject, and what can be redeemed if we look at things of how God created, what sin has done, and what redemption can do. So, let me unpack that just a little bit for us and see if we can apply it to worldliness.

So, first of all, creation. When we look at the world around us, we need to start with how God created it. It helps us understand the world. God created everything good, right? Genesis chapter 1, when God created the world, he created it good, and his fingerprints are all over it.

“The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof,”

Psalm 24:1. No part of creation is intrinsically bad or evil “for everything,” Paul says in 1 Timothy,

“everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving.”.

Nancy Pearcey writes,

“Being spiritual cannot be defined simply in terms of roping off and avoiding certain parts of creation — whether movies, cards, dancing, or makeup.”

And she lists things that would be in very conservative Christian circles.

“While hating sin, we should exhibit a deep love for the world as God’s handiwork, seeing through its brokenness and sin to its original created goodness. We should be known as people in love with the beauties of nature and the wonders of human creativity.”

When she says, “love for the world,” she’s talking about that redemptive love, not that participatory love. So, we begin, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, we begin by looking at the world with the lens of God created this good.

And then we see, just as we follow the gospel story, what sin has done to the world. The world, even the natural world, is affected by human sin, Genesis chapter 3. Romans 8 says that “creation groans” under the weight of sin. Though evil and disorder are not intrinsic in the material world, they are caused by human sin, which takes God’s good creation and distorts it to evil purposes. This is why Paul can say in Romans 14,

“Nothing is unclean in itself.”

It becomes unclean when sinners use it to express their rebellion against God. Do you remember Romans 1 when Paul says that we

“exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images,”

for created things. We exchanged worship of the Creator for created things. That is the essence of sin. That’s the essence of fallenness. It’s the disposition of the human heart to use created things either for good or for evil, for the worship of God or for itself. John’s language in 1 John 2 addresses and sounds like what Paul says about the human heart and the warnings of idolatry. Our hearts are bent towards God’s kingdom or towards the desires of the world, the flesh, the eyes, and pride in possessions. Really, at the heart of 1 John is worship. We either … Whether we eat or drink or whatever we do, we either do it all to the glory of God or we do it all to the glory of self or to the glory of the created thing. That’s why everything that’s good in the world is perverted for terrible ends.

Albert Wolters labels this dichotomy, this culture for worship of God or culture for idolatry … He labels it “structure versus direction,” structure being how things are created versus how they are used, direction. Structure refers to the created character of the world, which is still good after the fall. Think about it. Art, music, science, gender, sexuality, work. It’s all good. God created it good. That’s the structure. Direction refers to whether or not we direct those structures to serve God or idols. And so, he urges us to ask two questions — What is the original structure that God created? And number 2, how is it being distorted and directed towards sinful purposes? So, brothers and sisters, when we look at the world, we can see the structures. We can look and say, “God created this good.” But how is it being directed and distorted for sinful purposes?

And that brings us to redemption. So, we talked about creation, fall, and then redemption. How can we be a part of Christ’s redeeming of all things. Paul defined sin in Romans 14 as whatever doesn’t proceed from faith, anything that’s not directed towards God’s glory and service. Therefore, Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 10,

“Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”

That’s a great verse to memorize. It’s a great verse to apply as we think about what is worldliness, what is loving the world? “Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”

And with that in mind, we could add a third question to Albert Wolters when he said,

“What is the original structure? How is it being directed or distorted towards evil purposes?”

The next question Christians ask is

“Can it be redeemed, that the direction is renewed to God’s glory?”

So, what does that look like, Church? How can we view culture and view the world through this lens of how God created it, what sin has done to distort it, and what Christians can do to redeem it? These are good questions because some Christians might look at culture as hopelessly fallen. People on the more conservative, fundamentalist view of Christianity might look at culture and say, “It’s all going to hell. I just need to get out of the way for the fireworks show” and say, “It’s hopelessly fallen. There’s nothing you can do; so, we’ll just stay separate.”

And then there are people, there are Christians, who take the opposite approach. They say, “The creation is fallen. There’s nothing you can do about it,” and they don’t apply redemption to it. We can fall off on either side of the cliff. Let me give you two examples.

The first would be the conservative, fundamentalist view that the world is hopelessly fallen. And so, as Christians, they are prone to say, “Let’s make a list (when we think about worldliness and applying John’s command) of the things that the world loves” that may or may not be sinful in and of themselves, or probably not, but the world loves them. That makes them sinful because that makes them worldly. So, we make that list. Not loving the world means we take note of the things that the world loves, and we avoid those things. Have you ever heard that? If you grew up in conservative Christian homes, you probably have. I did. We had a list of things that we weren’t allowed to do because they were worldly.

I’ll give you a funny one. You know what Big League Chew bubblegum is? We weren’t allowed to chew it. Do you know why? Because it’s in a pouch, and it’s shredded just like chewing tobacco. That’s why. It looks like the world; so, it’s worldly. Now, that’s funny. And I didn’t care because we ate every other kind of bubble gum, right? It didn’t matter except for that at some point it was cool when we were playing baseball. But we weren’t allowed to. Well, that’s the kind of thing that we can do. We can make these lists and say, “Avoid these things because the world loves them.” I’m not sure the world really loves Big League Chew that much, but you get the idea. And so, what happens is Christians end up being about twenty-five years behind fashion because we mark the fashions, the clothes, the material things that we are to avoid, and then the world moves on and then we’re like, “Oh, now we can do those things because they don’t care anymore, right?” And so, we end up being a couple of decades behind. But Church, there is a danger in manmade lists attempting to define what worldliness is by a set of actions because worldliness is in the human heart, and it results in not doing God’s will.

This is how John D. Rockefeller could keep the list. He was a list guy. He could keep the list — no cards, no theater, no alcohol or tobacco — while seemingly missing some of the other parts of doing God’s will in his business practices. It’s like what Jesus said about the Pharisees — straining at a gnat and swallowing a camel — because you can follow the list. And if you’re a list person (I am one) we are good at following. Just give me the list, and I’ll hit it, right? But lists are deceptive because they tend to commend those who are condemned and condemn those who need to be commended because if you’re a list person, you can keep the list and think you’re good. And you’re not. And you can be as worldly — desires of the flesh, desires of the eyes, and pride in possessions — as anybody in your heart. But you kept a list, and you believe you’re okay. And you could even say if things start to go bad in your life, you’re like, “What are you doing? Jesus, I kept the list.” Right? Are we list people?

And then there’s people that are in this room that have sensitive consciences. And you may know about the lists, and you’re not good at it because you’re not a list person. And so, you live under this shame and guilt like you didn’t keep the list! That’s how you live when actually you are seeking in your soul not to be worldly, to not pursue the desires of the flesh, eyes, and pride in possessions. You’re just not a list keeper, and you end up living in condemnation when you should be commended and encouraged. Lists are deceptive. They teach us the wrong thing. John drives for the heart, not the list. And then to the to those who are the list keepers, we need to hear that John drives for the heart. And we also need to, when we think about creation, fall, and redemption, that God offers redemption, not for us to just say, “It’s all fallen.” That’s the first thing.

However, another application will be on the other end. The popular trend in today’s Christian circles is the opposite. It’s to embrace the fallen parts of creation without applying redemption. And let me give you an example. F.F. Bruce wrote his commentary in England fifty years ago in the 1970s, but the way he describes what’s happening in his day sounds a lot like today. He says,

“The prevalent secularism of western man has so influenced some Christian thinkers of our own day that they endeavor to ‘re-state’ Christian doctrine or Christian ethics in terms which would be equally relevant whether one believed in God or not — sometimes, indeed, in terms which would make better sense if the living God were dismissed from our thinking. Whatever such a ‘re-statement’ may properly be called, it cannot be called Christianity.”

The contemporary climate of opinion in the world in which we live largely surrounds Christian sexual ethics and LGBTQ issues where Christians are called upon to affirm and give applause to things that people struggle with in the world and to jettison the Christian sexual ethic and in favor of the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes. I’ll give you a recent example from this summer.

Derek Webb, who is a former Christian singer with the Christian group Caedmon’s Call and others … Derek has actually sung here. He’s been on this stage years and years ago, singing with other Christian artists. This summer, Derek released a song and accompanying music video called Boys Will Be Girls. You can see where this is going. That’s a screenshot of Derek at the beginning of the music video. He’s standing in a church with a cross in the background. He’s calling the Church to celebrate cross-dressing and transgenderism, among other things, not to bring compassion and love, as Jesus does, and redemption, but rather to leave people in sin and celebrate it. I just want to be clear of the difference there. It’s faux compassion and love. It’s not real compassion and love. At the end, he’s singing with former Christian worship leader Matthew Blake, who is transgender and goes by the name Flamy Grant. It’s a play on Amy Grant, Flamy Grant. This is Derek and Matthew towards the end of the video after Derek’s makeover. He’s the one in the blue hair. Matthew is the one in the red hair at the end of the video.

Watching a grown man being painted in a parody of womanhood is absurd, and calling people to applaud it in the name of Jesus is blasphemy. It’s disgusting and pitiful and really sad and heartbreaking and worldly. It’s difficult for many Christians to understand because artists and activists like Derek and Matthew, who are steeped in Christianity, borrow from Christianity with words like “love and compassion” and redefine it not as Jesus did. Jesus was the friend of sinners. He came with love and compassion to redeem, not to stay in it. That’s why he came. And those ideas of love and compassion are distorted with the celebration of things that Jesus pities, not celebrates. This is worldly, and it doesn’t bring redemption into the hurt that the fall has created. Our job, Church, is to see how God created sexuality and gender, to see what sin has done to it, and to bring redemption. A woman is to be celebrated. A man is to be celebrated as God created. This is what we bring into the world. It leaves people in the fall and even joins people in the pursuit of the desires of the flesh, the desires of the eyes, and pride in possessions.

Jesus said in John 15, same writer,

“If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore, the world hates you.”

And right now, the world hates Christians who don’t celebrate the LGBTQ community, the lifestyles. To them, Christians are the problem; you are the problem; you and I are the problem because we don’t celebrate — not not tolerate, celebrate. And so, we are viewed as the problem, and the world hates you. Jesus said they would. I don’t think they hate Derek Webb, not according to the comments that were on YouTube with his video. But John says you can’t have both. When God says either-or, you can’t have both-and. You can try to have both-and; you can pretend you have both-and, but you can’t have both-and. John says,

“If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him, and the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.”

In other words, the danger that John warns us of here is that when God says either-or, you can’t say both-and. You can’t say, “I can love God and money. I can have friendship with the world and friendship with God. I can love the world and the things that are in the world and love God and have eternal life.” God says you can’t. You can’t.

Whatever form it takes — whether you are the conservative list keeper or you are the one that’s tempted to abandon Christian ethics — whatever it takes, it can look good or look bad. They’re both wicked. They’re both flesh. They’re both worldly. Brothers and sisters, whatever it takes, John addresses it seriously to connect it to eternal life. “If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”

And so, Church, I really this week was wrestling over how to end, and I wanted to end with some positive, Joel-Osteen encouragement for the week. And first of all, John doesn’t. The passage is actually, I think, a warning. It’s … you know the phrase “shot across the bow”? That’s a Navy term. It’s a “Hey, watch out! If you keep going down this road, it doesn’t end well.” But also, brothers and sisters, Christians, if you back up to the previous texts, you have overcome the world. That’s your encouragement. Through Jesus Christ you don’t have to be gripped by the world. The world doesn’t have power over you, but Jesus has power over it. So, even if you’re hated, through Christ you overcome the world.” Let’s pray.

Thank you, God, for today to be in your Word, to be with your people. I love these brothers and sisters here in front of me. I’m so thankful for your Church. And I ask, Lord, that you would apply anything good, anything helpful, encouraging, things that would be beneficial to our walk with you … Anything that I’ve said that falls into that, that you would apply it to our hearts. Anything that hasn’t been helpful, that you would burn it away. Be with your people, God. Help us to be able to discern what can be received, what needs to be rejected, and by your grace, what can be redeemed by the power of the gospel.

As we look at the world, we pray that you would give us your power to be salt and light to people that need you. Thank you for your mercy and grace because we can look at all these things and say, “Man, I just don’t hit it 100%. I really don’t want to be that way, and yet I am.” And yet we have to remember that 1 John 1:9 says,

“If we confess our sins, he’s faithful … [you are] faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness”

every time. And we just need that grace. We need that grace because we can’t keep the list. We can keep it for a while, and then we can’t. And so, we need your grace day by day. And thank you for your grace and forgiveness in Jesus’s name. Amen.