James 1:27b: “…and to keep oneself unspotted from the world” (NKJV). “…and refusing to let the world corrupt you” (NLT). “…and guard against corruption from the godless world” (MSG). “…and who remains true to the Lord—not soiled and dirtied by his contacts with the world” (TLB).
1 John 2:15-17 MSG, “Don’t love the world’s ways. Don’t love the world’s goods. Love of the world squeezes out love for the Father. Practically everything that goes on in the world—wanting your own way, wanting everything for yourself, wanting to appear important—has nothing to do with the Father. It just isolates you from Him. The world and all its wanting, wanting, wanting is on the way out—but whoever does what God wants is set for eternity.”
Romans 12:2 Phillips, ““Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mold.”
Colossians 2:8 NLT, “Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers[a] of this world, rather than from Christ.”
Titus 2:12, “Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age.”
James 4:4, “Don’t you realize that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God? I say it again: If you want to be a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God.”
2 Peter 1:3,4, “As His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.”
The Greek word for “unspotted” is, aspilos, it means, unstained, undefiled, spotless, and pure, without blemish or defect (outward condition) and figuratively in a moral sense, pure (inward character). James has already spoken to this subject…“Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness…” (James 1:21).
“The distinctive mark of the Lord Jesus throughout His earthly years was holiness. Even though He ate and drank with sinners and interacted to win them, He was ‘holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners’ (Hebrews 7:26). And Paul says in Romans 1:4, that Jesus Christ was ‘declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness.’ We live in a polluted, defiled, sin-laden atmosphere today, and yet God expects us to be holy in our spirits, souls, and bodies. Paul prays, ‘May your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ’ (1 Thessalonians 5:23). So the cross gives us power to face the world with victory and with purity. “But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world” (Galatians 6:14).” –Steven Olford
The “world” here is not the earth or the physical globe on which we live. The “world” is the Devil’s system of values. The systems that operate our culture are not God’s. The Greek word translated “world” is kosmos, which means “the world apart from God.” The world's systems generate and sustain our government and politics, entertainment, fashion, religion, business ethics, medicine and health care, culinary tastes, social programs and institutions, education, science and technology, economics, and the use of power. The world's systems have formed much of our belief systems and attitudes, and these in turn have shaped our conduct.
“Kosmos, the sum-total of human life in the ordered world, considered apart from, alienated from, and hostile to God, and of the earthly things which seduce from God.” –Vincent
Kosmos gives us our English words “cosmos” (the ordered universe), “cosmopolitan” (literally a citizen of the world!) and “cosmetics” (those things we put on in order to bring order out of chaos).
There are four different words for “world” in the New Testament: 1) The earth, 2) The inhabited world, 3) Age or generation, and 4) An adorned system of values.
James is not writing about the material creation but the fallen world system headed by Satan.
John 12:31, “Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out.
John 14:30, “I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming, and he has nothing in Me.”
John 16:11, “of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.”
2 Corinthians 4:4, “Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News.”
Ephesians 2:1,2, “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience.”
1 John 5:19, “We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one.”
When we realize just what the world is, we know why God inspired James to write verse 27b, “Do not be soiled and dirtied by contacts with the world” (author’s paraphrase).
“Think of the world like an ocean filled with water. Believers are to be like boats, the boat's purpose is fulfilled when it is in the water (in the world), but it's function and usefulness deteriorates when water gets in the boat. When too much of the world gets into believers they are defiled. Saints must keep their "vessels" firmly anchored in the water of God's holy word but not let the water of the world get into their "vessel"! Paul has a parallel thought writing to young Timothy to take of the truth that “…if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work” (2 Timothy 2:21). –adapted from preceptaustin.org
Again consider our companion verses, 1 John 2:15,16:
“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.”
John is prohibiting his readers from a love relationship with any and all specific aspects of the fallen, evil world system and he will amplify this in verse 16 as under the umbrella of those things that incite “The lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life.”
The love of the world will displace our love for God. And why worldliness excludes God’s love or is incompatible with the love for God, because there is nothing in the world, the kosmos, which is of the Father, the love of the world is utterly incompatible with the love of the Father.
“All that it can boast of, all that it can promise, is only sensual, transient gratification, and even this promise it cannot fulfill; so that its warmest votaries (devoted admirers) can complain loudest of their disappointment.” –Adam Clarke
For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.”
“The lust of the flesh…”
“Lust,” in Greek is, epithumia from epi, at, toward., and thumos. having one’s passion toward. The root verb epithumeo, means “to set the heart upon,” it is a neutral term denoting the presence of strong impulses or desires, yearnings, longings after or passionate craving (whether it is good or evil is determined by the context) directed toward an object.
“Lust is the insatiable appetite to indulge in pleasures that inflame the flesh but never satisfy. “Flesh” is that urge within us toward total autonomy and rebellion, toward being our own little gods accountable to no one, responsible to no one, obeying no one, respecting no one, and running our own little world to suit ourselves. It is that continual tug of self-centeredness and selfishness within each of us that fights to keep us from being wholly devoted to God.
James 1:14.15, “But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.”
“These fundamental desires of life are the steam in the boiler that makes the machinery go. Turn off the steam and you have no power. Let the steam go its own way and you have destruction. The secret is in constant control. These desires must be our servants and not our masters; and this we can do through Jesus Christ.” –Warren Wiersbe
“Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts” (Romans 6:12).
“Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul” (1 Peter 2:11).
“Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart” (2 Timothy 2:22).
“The lust of the eyes…”
Eyes that continually want more riches and possessions but always remain covetous. “I see it. I want it. I take it!” The cravings and lusts stimulated by what is seen. It started with Eve in the Garden of Eden, “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate.” (Genesis 3:6).
Solomon whose eyes saw all that the world had to offer and who partook of most of this world's offering had this warning… “Whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I did not withhold my heart from any pleasure…Then I looked on all the works that my hands had done and on the labor in which I had toiled; and indeed all was vanity and grasping for the wind. There was no profit under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 2:10,11). And “Keep your eyes straight ahead; ignore all sideshow distractions” (Proverbs 4:25 MSG)
Job learned this lesson, “I have made a covenant with my eyes; why then should I look upon a young woman?” (Job 31:1).
David, who in his late 40's or early 50's had a serious eye problem: “And from the roof he saw a woman bathing, and the woman was very beautiful to behold.” (2 Samuel 11:2). We all know the outcome of his “lust of the eyes!” Later he will write, “I will refuse to look at anything vile and vulgar” (Psalm 101:3).
Jesus said, “But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28).
“Lust of the eyes speaks of...Inordinate desires after finery of every kind, gaudy dress, splendid houses, superb furniture, expensive equipage, trappings, and decorations of all sorts.” –Adam Clarke
Pornography damages users and victims alike. It feeds lustful desires in ways that can never satisfy. True satisfaction is found only when we give our affections to eternal things to a right relationship with our heavenly Father and with those He has created in His image.
“The pride of life…”
“Pride in Greek is alazoneia it means, originally, empty, braggart talk or display; swagger; and thence an insolent and vain assurance in one’s own resources, or in the stability of earthly things, which issues in a contempt of divine laws. The vainglory of life is the vainglory which belongs to the present life…“Vainglory” occurs only here and James 4:16, “But now you boast in your arrogance. The vainglory of life is the vainglory which belongs to the present life” –Vincent
Now we can see how the three descriptions of the world relate to each other. The first two — lust of the flesh and lust of the eyes — refer to desires for what we don’t have. And the third — the pride of life — refers to the pride in what we do have. The world is driven by these two things: passion for pleasure and pride in possessions.
“Pride of life" will be reflected in whatever status symbol is important to me or seems to define my identity. When I define myself to others in terms of my honorary [or earned] degrees, the reputation of the church I serve, my annual income, the size of my library, my expensive car or house, and if in doing this I misrepresent the truth and in my boasting show myself to be only a pompous fool who has deceived no one, then I have succumbed to what John calls the pride of life.” –Gaebelein
John continues with a final thought about the world, “The world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever” (1 John 2:17).
The world is passing away every moment that the clock ticks. The world is inching that much closer to total destruction. In other words, whatever it is that you are coveting that this world offers you, it is going to go up in smoke sooner than you think. Every day you live you are getting closer to the world passing away. Why in the world would you anchor yourself to something that is temporary, something that is passing away?
“The world is passing away. It is only a puff, a phantom, a bubble, a mirage which will melt away as you try to approach it; there is nothing substantial in it. He who does the will of God abides for ever. Not, ‘He that does some great thing to be seen of men,’ not, ‘he that builds a row of almshouses,’ or leaves a great mass of money to charity when he dies, because he could not possibly carry it away with him, not, ‘he that sounds a trumpet before him to let everybody know what a good man he is;’ not, ‘he that must needs outdistance everybody else;’ but, ‘he that does the will of God abides for ever.’ Obedience to the will of God is the pathway to perpetual honor and everlasting joy.”–Spurgeon (edited by the author)
When we love anything more than the true and living God revealed in the Bible, we are worshiping it. Whatever it is, it won't last. And it won't be able to help us when our plans shatter, our health fails, or death beckons. Only the one true and living God can help then. Beloved, time is passing, have you chosen the eternal love of the Father for the passing, empty love of the world? “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:26).
Why are we to “guard against corruption from the godless world?” Why are we not to love the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life? Because all of those desires are passing away and it offers absolutely nothing for eternity. Anchor yourself to the things that are eternal. One day you will understand that if you don’t understand it now.
Those who make the things of this world their god are doomed to failure! Wealth, power, fame, honor, and such things, are all passing away. People hoard money, and inflation steals its value. But God says, “he who does the will of God abides forever.”
How do I stay unspotted from the world?” Just say, “Whatever!”
In our present culture there is growing an indifference to the things of God, Just try to talk to Post-Millennial’s, AKA: Generation Z (today’s teens, born from the late 1990s to 2000) about God to, you may very well get a “Whatever” from them.
“Whatever” definition: “Indifference to what a person is saying!” Also: “Who cares!,” “Get a Life!” “Whatever floats your boat.” “Whatever rattles your cage.” “Yeah right!” –The Urban Dictionary:
The popular term “whatever” topped a list of the five most annoying phrases, easily beating “you know,” according to a poll by New York based Marist College. Also used as “Evs,” and “w’evr” or “W.E.”
God has His “Whatever’s”, Philippians 4:8,9, “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.”
But the Bible gives us three basic “Whatever’s” by which you can live your Christian life, to keep yourself “unspotted from the world.”
Do you want to know how God desires for you to live your life? Just say, “Whatever!” Every questionable thing in life is covered in these three verses, for example, should I smoke, drink, take illegal drugs, have sex before marriage…Those plus many other “doubtful things,” like, what should I wear, where should I go, and with whom. Everything is covered by these three “Whatever’s!”
They are found in 1 Corinthians 10:31; Colossians 3:17; and Colossians 3:23.
1. 1 Corinthians 10:31, “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or WHATEVER you do, do all to the glory of God.”
Glory is seen in God’s children. Who are God’s children? “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:12,13).
“Whatever you do.” At work: Christians are the best workers. At play: Christians never blow up, fight or curse, and they play fair. At school: Christians never cheat or get bad grades. At home: Christians are the best husbands, the best wives. At church: Christians never gossip, never complain, never cause trouble. “Do all things without complaining and disputing” (Philippians 2:14).
2. Colossians 3:17, “WHATEVER you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” Here’s that same verse from The Message, “Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way.”
3. Colossians 3:23, “Whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men.” Philips translation: “Whatever you do, put your whole heart and soul into it, as into work done for God, and not merely for men.”
I submit to you that you cannot do something with all your heart unless you have a clear conscience. 1 Timothy 3:9, “Holding the mystery of the faith with a pure conscience.” Acts 23:1, “I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day.” 2 Corinthians 1:12 (NLT), “We can say with confidence and a clear conscience that we have lived with a God-given holiness and sincerity in all our dealings. We have depended on God’s grace, not on our own human wisdom. That is how we have conducted ourselves before the world, and especially toward you.”
Let me conclude with the number one rule in life! Never, never, never go against your conscience! If something inside you says, “This is wrong!” Who put that thought in your mind? I don’t care what pressures are brought to bear against you, listen to your conscience! Better to say “NO” than to live with a life filled with regrets!
Unless otherwise noted, the New King James Version of the Bible was used. Also The New Living Translation (NLT); The New American Standard Bible (NASB); The Message (MSG); The New Century Version (NCV); The Amplified Bible (AMP); The King James Version (KJV), The New Life Version (NLV); English Standard Version (ESV); J.B. Phillips New Testament; Easy to Read Version (ERV); Common English bible (CEB); NET Bible (NET) and The Living Bible (TLB). Contemporary English Version (CEV).