When Scripture repeatedly warns about something, we really should pay some close attention. If we think we can just ignore such warnings we are simply fooling ourselves, and setting ourselves up for a big fall. Indeed, the many clear-cut commands found in the Bible are not to be taken as mere advice.
Yet plenty of Christians think they can just do their own thing and not pay any attention to the host of warnings and danger signs posted in Scripture. They really are fools when they take such a course of action. As we are strongly admonished:
“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it – not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it – they will be blessed in what they do” (James 1:22-25).
So we must take these warnings seriously. One of the oft-heard warnings found in the Bible is the danger of worldliness, of letting the world dominate our lives and priorities. We are told so often to avoid this danger, and be very wary of compromising our faith by becoming too cosy with the world and the world system.
Yahweh through Ezekiel for example warns the people about this: “You say, ‘We want to be like the nations, like the peoples of the world, who serve wood and stone’” (Ez 20:32). That was always a temptation for ancient Israel and it is too for Christians today.
James offers a clarion call in this regard: “You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God” (James 4:4). So does John: “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them” (1 John 2:15).
Paul makes it clear when he says this: “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:2).
And Jesus himself spelled this out quite plainly: “If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you” (John 15:19). Yet way too many believers simply spurn such commands and think they can dance with the devil and waltz with the world and not get burned.
They think they can just emulate the world, copy the world, cosy up to the world, and embrace the world’s values and mindset. Well they can, but it will always be to the detriment of their own faith. As Jesus also said, “No one can serve two masters” (Matthew 6:24).
If we want to be a friend of the world and please men, then we cannot be a friend of God and please him. It is that simple. The two are completely incompatible, and we all must choose who we will give our ultimate allegiance to.
Of course to say all this is not to claim that sold-out Christians cannot be successful in worldly endeavours or secular work. There are plenty of strong Christians who do great in their particular fields, whether it be a Tim Tebow in football, or a Ben Carson in neurosurgery, or a C. S. Lewis in literature.
They have all excelled in their fields, yet maintained a consistent Christian witness. They did not allow the world to squeeze them into its mould. Yet many believers who are successful at something do succumb to the siren calls of the world, the flesh, and the devil.
Simply look at the various pop stars of today who enjoy worldly success but have abandoned their faith in the process. I have discussed some of these elsewhere on this site, but another recent example can be mentioned. It seems pop star Katy Perry, who was raised in a strong Christian home, has finally declared her allegiance.
So she has said she will put fame and fortune ahead of God. She has come to the place where she is renouncing her faith in order to make it big with the world and worldly fame and praise. What a tragic choice to make. This is how one article covers the story:
“Pop singer Katy Perry opened up about her views on God and theology in a recent interview with Marie Claire, telling the magazine that she’s no longer Christian and that she doesn’t believe in heaven, hell or ‘an old man sitting on a throne.’
“Perry did tell the outlet, though, that she believes in a higher power — a paradigm that holds her accountable. ‘Accountability is rare to find, especially with people like myself, because nobody wants to tell you something you don’t want to hear,’ the singer said. ‘I actually don’t trust people who start to turn on me because they get scared of telling me the truth.’
“Perry also rejected traditional theological labels, but said that, though she has left her evangelical faith behind, she still feels close to the Lord. ‘I’m not Buddhist, I’m not Hindu, I’m not Christian, but I still feel like I have a deep connection with God,’ she said.”
So Christianity has to go it appears. But our souls, like nature, abhor a vacuum, so it seems she has filled her spiritual emptiness with pop trendy religion. The piece continues, “Marie Claire reported that Perry gets her connection to spirituality through the writings of Eckhart Tolle, an author known for his popular books about metaphysics and spirituality. She also practices Transcendental Meditation, a form of mantra meditation.”
Not surprising of course. Seeking fame, popularity, fortune and the good life of course clashes with biblical Christianity. It is all about putting sin and self first, the very things which must be mortified in the Christian faith. And she latches on to a non-demanding, self-serving form of New Age Movement beliefs.
Tolle’s NAM mumbo-jumbo is all about self, and getting what you want. It has nothing to do with surrendering to a holy, righteous God who demands our all. And the Tolle nonsense is replicated in much of the Christian world. As I documented elsewhere, there is barely a bit of difference between what Tolle preaches and what cotton-candy preachers like Joel Osteen proclaim: billmuehlenberg.com/2009/05/18/will-the-real-gospel-please-stand-up/
So right now the world has captured Perry big time. She has renounced her own faith and decided to be her own god. Hmm, where did we hear this before? Oh yeah: back in the garden when Satan told our first parents: “you will be like God” (Genesis 3:5).
As Martyn Lloyd-Jones once said, “The greatest danger confronting the Christian is not so much the opposition of the world as the enticements of the world.” Tragically we see this played out with Katy Perry. She has “sold her soul to the devil” for worldly fame and success. And she said exactly that. See here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=10rx15v28yk
Obviously we need to pray for Katy Perry that she returns to her senses and returns to her faith. But right now she is headed for a lost eternity – all so that she can be some big-cheese pop princess. That is a fool’s bargain.