We have finished Paul’s exposition of the armor of God in Ephesians 6:10–20, a passage that emphasizes what we are to do when we face the enemies of our Creator. Even though our chief enemy is Satan, we also contend against two other powerful foes: the world and the flesh. We will now take a break from our look at Ephesians to look at these three enemies in more detail. A few lectures from Dr. R.C. Sproul’s teaching series Keeping in Step with the Spirit will guide us.
Today we will look at the threat the world poses. Each of us is well aware that every culture operates within the guidelines of particular taboos, customs, and other restraints that are both written and unwritten. Although individuals in any society occasionally rebel against these rules, the majority agrees to live within these boundaries, generally speaking. Most of the time, people do what their culture approves of and refrain from what it forbids, at least in public.
This is particularly true of teenagers, who operate within their own adolescent culture and whose actions are largely defined by what the peer group sees as “cool” and “uncool.” These standards, more often than not, define a young person’s worldview. We should not think, however, that this is necessarily less true for adults. As we age, we often become less self-conscious; nevertheless, societal customs play a large part in what we think about, what we approve of, and how we behave.
Had there never been a fall into sin, following the world’s customs would not be objectionable. Yet Adam’s transgression introduced a world order that is wholly at odds with our Creator. The fallen cultures of this present evil age seek to exalt themselves and live independently of God. When Scripture sets the world over and against the Lord, it has in mind not the created order in itself but the ways of the world and people in creation that are wholly opposed to our Creator (1 John 2:15).
Rather than being conformed to the fallen world order, Romans 12:2 tells us, our minds and hearts must be conformed to the will of God as revealed by Jesus Christ and recorded in Holy Scripture. The prayerful study of God’s Word with an eye to allowing the Holy Spirit to apply it to our lives will make us less conformed to the ways of the fallen world and more transformed into Christ’s image.