Resisting the Seduction of a Fallen World
C. J. Mahaney, ed.
Crossway, 2008, 191 pp., ISBN 978-1-4335-0280-4
C. J. Mahaney leads Sovereign Grace Ministries in its mission to establish and strengthen local churches. Additional contributors include Craig Cabaniss, Dave Harvey, Bob Kauflin, and Jeff Purswell. Resisting worldliness is the book's theme, but exalting Christ is its aim. (35)
"We will never be useful to the world if we are being deeply shaped by the world. And we will be shaped by the world without intentional efforts not to be." (John Piper, Foreword)
The Bible forbids unworldliness clearly in I John 2:15. (16) Doesn't this sound old-fashioned? And how can we evangelize the world if we don't relate to it? (17)
"A love for the world begins in the soul. It's subtle… It begins with a dull conscience and a listless soul." (20)
"We've softened. We've lost clarity. Within a generation, worldly and worldliness have lost most of their meaning…." "Today, the greatest challenge facing American evangelicals is not persecution from the world, but seduction by the world." (22)
"…is your lifestyle obviously different from that of the non-Christian?" (24)
God forbids us to love the fallen world. "While remaining in the world, we're not to become like the world." (26) "Worldliness, then, is a love for this fallen world. It's loving the values and pursuits of the world that stand opposed to God. More specifically, it is to gratify and exalt oneself to the exclusion of God." (27)
"What are your goals? Do they move you forward--to financial security, more friends, successful kids, a certain position at work, learning a craft or trade? Or do they drive you upward--to obeying and glorifying God above all else?" "What dominates your mind and stirs your heart?" (27)
"A sinful craving is when a legitimate desire for financial success becomes a silent demand for financial success…." (30) "We might be too polite to boast aloud, but secretly we revel in what we have and what we've done." (31)
"There's no future in worldliness." (32)
"Only through the power of the cross of Christ can we successfully resist the seduction of the fallen world." (34)
"For most Americans, media is the omnipresent backdrop of life." "Popular culture, especially entertainment media, often lulls us to ignore our battle with the flesh." (41) "Just because we don't instantly mimic all we see doesn't mean our hearts aren't negatively affected by the programs or films we watch." (42)
What about legalism? The solution is not about lowering our standards. "When 'engage the culture' is a euphemism for 'watch whatever everyone else is watching,' our witness is weakened, not strengthened. It's foolish to think the gospel will spread more powerfully if we hide its transforming effect in our lives." (45)
"The more subtle the message…the more crucial the need for perceptive viewing." (50)
"Filthiness, foolish talk, and crude joking are 'out of place'--they're forbidden not because they're on the list of some arbitrary 'banned words' list, but because they reflect the heart and attitude of those who disregard God and his Word." "Grace changes us from the inside out, and a changed heart will lead to a changed vocabulary." (55)
"In light of God's holiness, immorality should lead to weeping, not laughing." "We demean both God and sex when we obscenely joke about it." (56)
"God's help often comes in the form of a fellow believer who will listen, ask questions, pray, correct, encourage, and follow up." "It's wise to place televisions and computers in public areas of the home so viewing is always open to others." (64)
"Can we listen to too much music? Could there be consequences we're completely unaware of?" (68)
"What motivates us to like the music we do? Is music entirely neutral?" "Most important, are my music choices consistent with the gospel that has saved me?" (70)
Music affects our emotions in profound ways. (71) It can deeply affect us. "The passions music draws out range from noble to base, from simple to complex, from God-Glorifying to sensual." (7) Music is a carrier. It tends to get its meaning from the things that surround it. It carries content, context, and culture. (73)
"It's not uncommon for Christians on Sunday mornings to worship Jesus for his substitutionary death on the cross, then sing songs during the week that exalt the sins he died for." (74)
"Over time the lyrics to songs can weaken our defenses, blur our discernment, and redirect our affections toward the world." (75)
"Materialism is fundamentally a focus on and a trust in what we can touch and possess. It describes the unchecked desire for, dependence on, and stockpiling of stuff. In some people it's more painfully obvious than in others. But it pervades every heart." (93)
"Consumerism was the triumphant winner of the ideological wars of the 20th century…." (94)
"In exposing materialism, the real issue for Christ is not the stuff around us but the stuff within." (94)
"Simply stated, coveting is desiring stuff too much or desiring too much stuff. It's replacing our delight in God with joy in stuff." "Covetousness is choosing earthly trinkets over eternal treasure." (95)
Luke 18:24 says it is difficult for the wealthy to enter the Kingdom. "But this doesn't mean God is biased against the rich; it means the rich are often biased against God." (97)
"Covetousness chains the heart to things that are passing away." (99)
De-materializing our lives is just work. Grace doesn't make it easy but it does make it possible. (111)
"Few things reflect the heart of God more than giving graciously." (111)
"Any biblical discussion of modesty begins by addressing the heart, not the hemline." (119) "Modesty means propriety. It means avoiding clothes and adornment that are extravagant or sexually enticing." "Immodesty…is the act of drawing undue attention to yourself. It's pride, on display by what you wear." "Self-control is, in a word, restraint. Restraint for the purpose of purity; restraint for the purpose of exalting God and not ourselves." (120)
"A woman's taste for beauty can be an imitation of God's character, but it can also become corrupted." (124)
"As Christian women in the church you can be either a blessing or a distraction…." (127)
For girls, fathers are absolutely essential to the cultivation of modesty. (130) " We must teach them God's perspective of modest dress and educate them about the temptations of men." (131)
The Scripture says God loves the world (John 3:16) and we are to be in the world (John 17:18).
The Bible shows us reality by means of a story that includes creation, fall, redemption, and consummation. (141)
We are to interact with the world in three ways:
1. Enjoy the world, God's earthly creation. A biblical worldview enhances our enjoyment of the world because it represents God, it helps us know him, and it is his gift to us to enjoy.
2. We are to engage the world. In Genesis we were given the privilege of filling and governing the natural world on God's behalf.
3. We are to evangelize the world. We have the privilege of being His ambassadors, proclaiming the good news about Jesus. "Evangelism lies at the core of God's campaign to restore his entire creation…." (162)
"Our daily lives in all their variety--vocation, relationships, study, community involvement, artistic endeavors, leisure--have the potential, when pursued for God's glory, to demonstrate something of the gospel and its effects." (166)
"Enjoying the world, engaging the world, evangelizing the world--all are ways by which God calls us to be in the world and love the world." (168)
Appendix A. Modesty Heart Check
There are discussion questions for each chapter at the end.
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