Plans can help us further our spiritual growth, for God often works through our strategies to mature us in the faith. But despite the plans we make, there will certainly be many obstructions to prevent us from growing to spiritual adulthood. Innumerable obstacles can stand in our way in the Christian life, and for centuries theologians have grouped them into three major categories: the world, the flesh, and the Devil. Today, we will look at the world and the way it can get in the way of our obedience to our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ.
The sciences of anthropology and sociology demonstrate how every culture and society in the world is structured by its own taboos, customs, and restraints. Generally speaking, the person who lives within a particular culture behaves according to its accepted rules. Usually he will avoid what his society forbids and do what it praises. Customs and restraints are almost always determinative of the behavior of most people in any given society.
This is especially clear when it comes to teenagers. It is easy to see how the behavior acceptable to a teenager’s peer group often defines his worldview. Adulthood does not change things all that much, for our peers still have strong impact upon what we do, at least unconsciously. Societal customs, more often than not, determine our thoughts and behaviors even when we are full grown.
For the Christian this should not be. Humankind has been at constant enmity with God since the fall into sin (Gen. 8:21; Eph. 4:17–19), and when large numbers of unregenerate people join together, they produce fallen cultures that endeavor to exalt themselves above God. Only our Father’s restraining providence stands in the way of their success (for example, see Gen. 11:1–9).
Consequently, Paul warns us not to be conformed to this world; rather, our minds and hearts are to be bound by the will of God as revealed by Jesus Christ and recorded in Scripture (Rom. 12:2; 2 Tim. 3:16–17). Though we will always have to fight the influence of the world, as we prayerfully study God’s Word and ask the Spirit to apply its message to us, our lives will become transformed and reflective of the image of our Creator in Christ Jesus our Lord (1 Cor. 2:14–16).