Jesus Condemns Worldliness
"I saw another angel . . . having great authority, and the earth was illuminated with his glory. And he cried . . . with a loud voice, saying, ‘Babylon the great is fallen . . . and has become a dwelling place of demons, a prison for every foul spirit, and a cage for every unclean and hated bird! For all the nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication . . . and the merchants of the earth have become rich through the abundance of her luxury.' " -Revelation 18:1-3, emphasis added
The first lesson of Revelation 18 is that worldly possessions can't buy spiritual life, but they can buy spiritual death. What we see in the first three verses is the drunkenness of the nations, their fornication, and their living for everything that God will not give them.
If you possessed all the paintings, money, stock, and comforts of life, but lost your own soul--what would you give back in exchange for your soul? That is what Revelation 18 is about. You can have it all on earth, but miss it all in heaven. What a sobering warning! God therefore says, "You rich, weep and howl for your miseries that are coming upon you! Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver are corroded, and their corrosion will be a witness against you. . . . You have heaped up treasure in the last days. . . . You have lived on the earth in pleasure and luxury" (James 5:1-6).
From the Old Testament in the Garden of Eden through today, and to the end of time, God says to all peoples: "Get away from the worship of this world!" Don't lay up treasures that when you leave home you are afraid something might happen to them. Don't have so many possessions that you cannot sleep if you forget to turn on the burglar alarm. Don't have so much stuff that you cut your vacation short because you have to get back to protect it. The care of riches is covetousness and idolatry. So the Lord says, "Give it to Me!"
Anything can be worshiped. Worship, simply stated, is "anything which captivates and draws us toward itself." Here are the most common examples plus questions to help you evaluate whether or not you worship something other than God.
Work Worshipers: These are workaholics who are so captivated by work that they are irresistibly drawn to work all the time. Can you give up your career and your goals in your field to the Lord if He calls you to change directions for Him?
Escape Worshipers: These persons want to escape reality by worshiping the effects of alcohol or drugs, and thus they become alcoholics or drug addicts. Can you completely stop taking whatever substances help you escape reality, and give your life to the Lord? If not, you worship the effects that substance gives you. The Lord says, "You cannot worship both that and Me."
Pleasure Worshipers: These may worship pleasure in the sensual realm, and thus become sex addicts, perverts, or burn with adulterous lust. Can you completely end all selfish sensual pleasure pursuits-pornography, fornication, sodomy, and adultery-and repentantly give those desires to the Lord to deal with in His perfect time and way?
Wealth Worshipers: These persons are drawn by the allurements of wealth and possessions. They may become like the materialistic, greedy, and selfish rich fool Jesus spoke of -one who only planned for prosperity, eating, drinking, and enjoying life. Can you completely give up your money, security, and power into the Lord's control? We cannot keep anything that we grasp onto-only what we give away will last forever.
Self Worshipers: These are drawn to the praise of man, and thus they are proud, inward-seeking, calloused, and unfeeling self-centered persons. Can you give up your pride, self-seeking, self-absorption, and self-focus to humble yourself, deny yourself, and take up your cross to follow Jesus?
The ultimate test of whether or not you worship something other than God is quite simple: Can you give it up today? When nothing satisfies you--you are on dangerous ground!
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