God delivers His people from worldliness in three ways:
1. Initial deliverance.
Every true work of grace in the heart of a sinner includes radical deliverance from the world and a lifestyle of worldliness. The umbilical cord that tied us to the womb of worldliness is cut when we are born into the kingdom of God. This happens for two reasons. First, Christ died to cut the cord between sinners and the world. As Galatians 1:4 says, Christ “gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father.” Christ didn’t come just to deliver His people from eternal condemnation, great as that is, but it was the Father’s will that Christ would also deliver them from this present evil world. All the beatings and spittings that He bore, the shame of His nakedness, the shrouded heavens, and His cry of dereliction happened because He gave Himself for those whom He determined would be wrenched out of this present evil world and brought into the kingdom of God.
Second, the Holy Spirit makes the Father and Son’s intention effective in applying the saving virtue of the death of Christ. As Paul says in Galatians 6:14, “God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.” The apostle is saying that, by the applying work of the Spirit, the cross of Jesus Christ was so powerful that it made the world totally undesirable to him. The world lost its fair colors and became positively homely.
Dear parents, has the beauty of Christ dimmed the beauty of worldliness for you? Has Christ crucified the power of the world over you? Has the love of the Father in Christ so conquered your love of the world that it no longer has dominion over you?
2. Continued deliverance.
God works out continued deliverance in the believer’s life. In the initial implanting of grace, He breaks the dominion of sin and the world. They no longer reign; however, they do remain in the soul. The remnants of worldliness yet cling to the born-again believer. The desire for the approval of those who are living by the standards and goals of the world is not altogether dead. Believers are still tempted to conform to the world, whether because of peer pressure or the desire for economic advancement.
Deliverance from this kind of inherent worldliness is possible only by doing the will of God, John tells us (v. 17c). But what does that involve?
- We must realize that it is crucial to fight against worldliness. If we are not convinced of that as parents, we will make little progress with ourselves and our children. James 1:27 tells us, “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” The purity of our walk with God is directly related to our commitment that we will not allow any of the world to stain the garments of righteousness that God has given us.
- We must use every means to conquer worldliness. We must listen repeatedly to sermons, saturate ourselves with Scripture, meditate on the Word, read books that can make us wise to salvation, and pray without ceasing. We must fellowship with believers, observe the Lord’s Day, evangelize unbelievers, and serve others. We must be good stewards of our time and money. With the Spirit’s blessing, our example will be a powerful influence upon our children.
- We must trust our great High Priest and His Spirit. When the power of the world threatens to invade our souls, we can take comfort in remembering that our great High Priest prayed, “Father, I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world [here world is used in the sense of this earth], but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil” (John 17:15). When every defense seems down, and we are most vulnerable to yielding to the enemy of our souls, we may yet hope for deliverance through the intercession of Jesus Christ and the preserving power of His Spirit. We may cry out, “Dear Savior, were it not for Thy intercession, and blessed Spirit, for Thy preservation, in the hour of temptation we would have been swept into evil.”
As Spurgeon wrote, “I thank God that when temptation is present, He removes my desire, and when desire to sin is present, He removes the temptation.” That, friends, is the gracious gift of Jesus Christ who promises that He will pray for us in the hour of temptation that our faith will not fail (Luke 22:32).
3. Perfected deliverance.
If we are believers, full deliverance will be ours in the age to come, which, says John, “abideth for ever!” Heaven is in our hearts and in our deepest affections, yet the world and the devil are still at our elbow. But in the age to come, nothing but righteousness will dwell in the new heavens and the new earth. The world that is under the curse of God, and the prince of the power of the air will be no more. Satan and all of his followers will be banished to eternal perdition. And the people of God will shine in the firmament of God’s glory.
In conclusion, we all face the danger of worldliness that Paul lamented in Demas who “hath forsaken me, having loved this present world” (2 Tim. 4:10). Though Demas had prayed and worked with Paul, witnessing his tears as he wrote his pastoral letters, Demas eventually forsook the godly apostle because he was bewitched by the world. Dear parents, beware of anything that is rooted in worldly success. We must die to this.
As you strive to fulfill the vows you make when your children are baptized, may Jesus Christ Himself draw near to you with His Word. May God so work in you and your children that the world will lie as dead at your feet as you are dead to the world. May God richly bless you and your children with His covenantal mercies and place His divine approval on all your efforts to preserve your covenant children from the sinful enticements of the world.
Bringing the Gospel to Covenant Children
By Joel R. Beeke