Definition of Oxymoron? A “Worldly” Christian/Messianic . . .

If there is any word in text today that is less understood by believers than the word worldly?  Is there any word that is ignored more?  Rationalized more?  That is because more often than not, it testifies against us – to us.  I am convinced that it is the biggest problem in the assemblies today.  It is why I picked the title that I did.  Worldly shouldn’t be so hard to understand.  It is explained quite clearly in the text – by the text.

1 Corinthians 3:1-3 (CJB) 1  As for me, brothers,

I couldn’t talk to you as spiritual people

but as worldly people,

as babies,

so far as experience with the Messiah is concerned.

2  I gave you milk, not solid food,

because you were not yet ready for it.

But you aren’t ready for it now either! 3  For you are still worldly!

Isn’t it obvious from all the jealousy

and quarreling among you

that you are worldly

and living by merely human standards?

The word worldly is a translation of the Greek word σαρκικός sarkikos and is used as an adjective.  An adjective names an attribute and is related to a noun in that it modifies or describes the noun.  In this verse, and so that there is no misunderstanding, the noun is you.

If you contrast this with the other word in the first verse spiritual or πνευματικός pneumatikos which is also and adjective, again describing the noun which is you.

The difference that the Rabbi Sha’ul (Paul) is contrasting is worldly vs. spiritual.  Sha’ul is quite eloquent when he states in his question in verse 3:

you are worldly and living by merely human standards”

The first word we need to examine concerns our walk which is περιπατέω peripateō.  Phonetically: per-ee-pat-eh’-o and it is translated in the Septuagint (translation by the 70) as 2 separate Hebrew words (I have left parts out of the dictionary entries to keep this shorter):

  1. דָּרַךְ‎ dārakh Primary to the meaning of this verb is the concept of setting foot on territory or objects, sometimes with the sense of trampling them.Dārakh is used in reference to “treading grapes” or “treading the winepress.”The verb is also used figuratively for “treading” or “bending” the bow. This idiom comes from how a person steps on the bow in order to bend it and string it.
  2. הָלַךְ‎ hālakh The basic idea carried by the word is movement of some type, usually of peopleNot only is it used of people and animals to describe “going” or “walking,” but hālakh can also describe the “going” of inanimate things, such as: Noah’s ark, the wheels in Ezekiel’s vision,  the moon, etc . . .Numerous figurative uses are also found for this verb. Among these we find it used as an expression of death in the familiar phrase, “to go the way of all the earth”Another figurative use of hālakh means simply “to live,” either in a good sense or in a bad sense. Isaiah speaks of those who “walk righteously, and speak uprightly” (33:15).

    Isaiah 33:15 (CJB) 15  He whose life is right and whose speech is straight,

    he who scorns getting rich by extortion,

    he who shakes his hands free of bribes,

    stops his ears against talk of bloodshed

    and shuts his eyes against looking at evil.

    Consider Prov. 15:21,  “Folly is joy to him who lacks sense, But a man of understanding walks straight” (NASB).

    Thoralf Gilbrant, ed., “2050,” in The Complete Biblical Library Hebrew-English Dictionary – Gimel-Zayin, (Springfield, IL: World Library Press, Inc., 1998), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “2050”.

The reason we need to look at the Hebrew word before we look at the Greek is because the Hebrew informs the Greek.  The Hebrew word Mashiach, informs the Greek word Christos, which you may know as the English word Christ.  Without understanding the Hebrew Mashiach, we can not possibly understand the Greek Christos as it is used in the text because the Greeks didn’t believe in a prophesied Christ.  Christos is the most suitable word the Greeks had to translate anointed of God – Mashiach. It is the Hebrew understanding that the Greek translates.  This should make sense to you – after all, the Rabbi Sha’ul was a Jew and early Christianity was just another sect of Judaism.
In the Classical Greek (non-biblical Greek usage):

Peripateō literally means “to walk (pateō [3823]) around (peri [3875]).” It is one among many of the members of pateō compounds. Peripateō became particularly associated with “walking and talking” or “walking and teaching.” This happened to such an extent that Peripatetics were recognized as a unique philosophical group. Specifically the Peripatetics were associated with Aristotle, who used to deliver his lectures (“walkings,” he called them) as he walked. He probably got this idea from Plato, his teacher. Gradually, however, the term lost its specificity and became linked to philosophers in general. The metaphoric sense, “to live, to conduct one’s life,” did not truly become common until the Septuagint (Liddell-Scott; cf. Seesmann, “peripateō,” Kittel, 5:941).

Thoralf Gilbrant, ed., “3906. περιπατέω,” in The Complete Biblical Library Greek-English Dictionary – Pi-Rho, (Springfield, MO: Complete Biblical Library, 1991), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “3906. περιπατέω”.

In the B’rit Chadashah (New Covenant or New Testament),

Thus in the New Testament peripateō takes on particular significance and denotes the general life-style—ethical, moral, religious.

Through the Spirit’s work believers can live/walk as godly people, pleasing to God;

in contrast they may walk as children of darkness according to the spirit of this present evil age.

Thoralf Gilbrant, ed., “3906. περιπατέω,” in The Complete Biblical Library Greek-English Dictionary – Pi-Rho, (Springfield, MO: Complete Biblical Library, 1991), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “3906. περιπατέω”.

If we wanted to sum up “human standards” or “walk,” we could say:

Our walk is the life-style we lead concerning our ethical, moral and religious devotion (or lack of) to the one true God which results in one of 2 paths (wide and narrow come to mind?):

  1. Spiritual – walking as godly people pleasing to God
  2. Worldly – walking in darkness (just the opposite of God since the text tells us He is light and there is no darkness in Him)

How does the Rabbi Sha’ul sum it up?

 “you are worldly and living by merely human standards”

Based upon what we have just discussed, we could rewrite Sha’ul’s words so that we can understand what he is saying better.  We could do this by expounding it thus:

You are walking in darkness and not living by godly standards and what God considers worthy and Holy which He has more than adequately instructed us about and how to do in His word, but you are instead living by UN-godly standards set up by humans and what they consider to be worthy.

Dr Michael Brown recently did an on-air interview with defrocked Pastor Frank Schaefer where he stated:

 “It would seem the Word of God is not sitting in authority over you

but that you are sitting in authority over the Word of God . . .”

By Sha’ul’s definition, this would be another way of saying worldly“sitting in authority over the Word of God.”

There is an application for this – a litmus test if you will, that is hard to ignore or rationalize (attempt to make the unreasonable sound reasonable):

 1 Peter 1:14-16 (CJB) 14  As people who obey God,

do not let yourselves be shaped by the evil desires

you used to have when you were still ignorant.

15  On the contrary,

following the Holy One who called you,

become holy yourselves in your entire way of life;

16  since the Tanakh says,

You are to be holy because I am holy.”

The bolded letters in this verse, “You are to be holy because I am holy.” is a reference to several verses in Vayikra (Leviticus – which means “He called”).

 Godly standards which are Holy standards because He is Holy,

or human standards which are worldly standards and the antithesis of holiness?

YOUR ENTIRE WAY OF LIFE . . .

I remember a youth pastor’s teaching when I was about 16 years old.  He was trying to help us understand how to live the life God
would have us lead and he did so by stating a very easy thing to remember and apply:

If it is not for Him, it is against Him!”

It was this very message that got me to thinking as a young man about the things I considered worthy based on my own human standards. As a result, I got rid of all of my concert shirts from Foghat, Black Sabbath, Kansas, Ozzy, Pat Traveres, Fleetwood Mac, Billy Squire, April Wine, Van Halen, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Kiss, Dio, etc

These shirts were not honoring to God.  They were not for Him. They did not honor Him.  They were not Holy.  They were “human standards” which can be summed up in the  mantra “Drugs, Sex, and Rock & Roll.”  This mantra is supposed to be our OLD NATURE when we surrender to Messiah, not something we keep.  In fact, they are deal breakers for getting into heaven:

 Galatians 5:19-21 (CJB)

19  And it is perfectly evident what the old nature does.

It expresses itself in

sexual immorality,

impurity

and indecency; 20  involvement with the occult

and with drugs;

in feuding,

fighting,

becoming jealous

and getting angry;

in selfish ambition,

factionalism,

intrigue 21  and envy;

in drunkenness,

orgies

and things like these.

I warn you now as I have warned you before:

those who do such things will have no share in the Kingdom of God!

Did you notice that last verse?  Those who do such things (sex, drugs, involvement with the occult, and “things like these”) will have No share of the Kingdom of God!  This means you will NOT go to heaven! It couldn’t be any clearer!

I have posted before that the verses that convicted me to call upon the His Name for salvation are from Ephesians 5.  In context to what we are talking about, let’s list a few:

 Ephesians 5:1 (CJB)

1  So imitate God, as his dear children;

Ephesians 5:3 (CJB) 3  Among you there should not even be mentioned

sexual immorality, or any kind of impurity, or greed;

these are utterly inappropriate for God’s holy people.

 Ephesians 5:8 (CJB) 8  For you used to be darkness; but now, united with the Lord,

you are light. Live like children of light,

Ephesians 5:10 (CJB) 10  try to determine what will please the Lord.

Ephesians 5:11 (CJB) 11  Have nothing to do with the deeds produced by darkness,

but instead expose them,

Ephesians 5:19 (CJB) 19  sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs to each other;

sing to the Lord and make music in your heart to him;

Have NOTHING TO DO WITH the deeds(works) produced by darkness . . .

This verse caused me to examine my record collection as well.  I had 411 albums as a 16 year old.  A lot of money – a lot of works produced by darkness . . .

They were not produced to honor him.  Many of them were openly and blatantly against Him.  Simply put, they were not Holy.  I thought, if it is not for Him, it is against Him.  At the urging of the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit), I called a brother over to help me break every single one:  From AC/DC to Zappa, each were destroyed.

My drug paraphernalia, my concert shirts, my record collection – my former nature . . . works produced by darkness – Gone!

Another definition of worldly from the text:

1 Corinthians 13:3 (CJB)

3  I may give away everything that I own,

I may even hand over my body to be burned;

but if I lack love, I gain nothing.

How is this worldly?  Simple.  Not only is this part of the same letter where they are told they are worldly earlier in the letter, they are told that worldly is living by merely human standards . . . Love is a godly standard – a Holy standard because God is love!

 1 John 4:7-8 (CJB)

7  Beloved friends,

let us love one another; because love is from God;

and everyone who loves has God as his Father and knows God.

8  Those who do not love, do not know God;

because God is love.

So if you sell everything you own and give it to the poor, it means nothing if it is done without love.  If it is done without love, you have done it by a human standard – a worldly standard and not a Holy standard – a godly standard.

King Saul was worldly when he went to see the doctor.  Not because he went to the doctor, but because he didn’t go to Adonai first! When he made the treaty?  Worldly!  Again, he did not go to Adonai first.  We all know what happened to King Saul as a result . . .

I was fired from a Christian band that was fairly successful locally.  The leader is a talented guy and worship leader at 2 churches.  One of our first gigs together was for a new church plant for the Evangelical Lutheran Church.  They were very nice people but that did not erase the fact that we were helping to promote a church plant  for an organization (ELCA) that allows congregations to ordain gays and lesbians.  This is not a godly standard, this is a human standard – a worldly standard.  One of the famous ELCA churches is her church . . .  yes “HER.”  They even have a bible at her church that genderizes God into a female . . . Goddess rosaryies, kundalini, gay . . . our “mother.”  That doesn’t mean the ELCA church that we played for is anything like her church, however,  the fact that the ELCA ordains gays just goes back to what Dr Brown said in his interview:

 “It would seem the Word of God is not sitting in authority over you

but that you are sitting in authority over the Word of God . . .”

 One day at a church picnic that we were playing for, the band leader reached over and asked me if I would have any problem with playing a secular tune at the church outing.  I said, “I can’t.” The band leader knew that I couldn’t because he had asked me earlier to come play at a church where they play  secular music and I said “I couldn’t.”  He told me to just drop out until they started playing Christian music again.  ~ Sigh ~  It happened a few more times before I was let go.  Obviously, my unwillingness to “cross the line” or at least blur it, was not what he was looking for.  Was it love that it happened 3 times before I was let go – that it happened in the first place?  That would be judging his heart or “intent” and Adonai alone does that . . . Would our concerts have been so awful if we had just played worship music instead of secular music as well?

I used to belong and play drums on a worship team for a church that played NFL games in the sanctuary on the big screen.  Nothing says, “God edifying day of worship” better than to have a 10 foot tall video of cheerleader cleavage right above the drum set . . .  ~ sigh ~

After Torah study one week as shul – a particularly tense Torah study that ending up in “a select few” among us denigrating Christianity as being clueless, the leader and one of the top Torah scholars at the shul made plans to go see the new James Bond flick . . . of course watching James Bond have sex on the movie screen would not be against Torah, right?  ~ sigh ~

Why do I bring these up?

No matter what your rationalization (attempt to make the unreasonable sound reasonable), the NFL is not Holy.  Secular music is not Holy.  Secular movies are not Holy.  By definition, they are:

 Worldly based on human standards and not godly ones.

 They are works produced by darkness. They are NOT works produced for edification of God –  they are not works produced to glorify His name.  They are NOT promoting Holiness.  They are about human standards.  Teams, players, lyrics, bands, movie stars . . .  the list is long but the reality is very human – very worldly.

None of these things will be in the Kingdom of Heaven, which ironically, is one of the main things Yeshua (Jesus) taught about – the Kingdom of Heaven.

The text testifies against the human standard – the worldly standard.

No matter how many ways man tries to justify – to rationalize the text, it testifies against them none the less:

Titus 2:11-12 (CJB)

11  For God’s grace, which brings deliverance,

has appeared to all people.

12  It teaches us to renounce godlessness and worldly pleasures,

and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives now, in this age;

1 John 2:15-16 (CJB)

15  Do not love the world

or the things of the world.

If someone loves the world,

then love for the Father is not in him;

16  because all the things of the world

  • the desires of the old nature,

  • the desires of the eyes,

  • and the pretensions of life

are not from the Father but from the world.

Is the NFL godly – does it promote Holiness?  Which part?  The scantily clad cheerleaders?  The idolatry of teams and players on teams by the masses?  The utter greed of the league with its 501c (as in the same things churches have: tax exempt status)? The commercials about Viagra?  Or beer?

How about Hollywood?  Sex, murder, drugs . . .  another long list.  Holy because He is Holy?

Secular music?  Where do you draw the line if you do?  Everyone will have a different standard.  What some call good, others will call bad.  In the end they are all human standards – darkness.

Can we change the text to a human standard?

Psalm 33:3 (CJB with secular added to make a point)

3  Sing to him a new (secular) song,  make music at your best among shouts of joy.

There is only one standard – the standard set by our Father in Heaven . . .

You see, we have to change the text to live the lives that some of us choose to live within the church body – within the assembly. When we do that, we are no longer under the authority of God’s word, God’s word is under our authority.  Maybe that is why there will be many on that day that will say:

 Matthew 7:21-23 (CJB)

21  “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord!’

will enter the Kingdom of Heaven,

only those who do what my Father in heaven wants.

22  On that Day, many will say to me,

‘Lord, Lord! Didn’t we prophesy in your name?

Didn’t we expel demons in your name?

Didn’t we perform many miracles in your name?’

23  Then I will tell them to their faces,

‘I never knew you! Get away from me, you workers of lawlessness!’

 worldly

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About Even If Ministries

Dani'el 3:17-18 (CJB) 17 Your majesty, if our God, whom we serve, is able to save us, he will save us from the blazing hot furnace and from your power. 18 But even if he doesn’t, we want you to know, your majesty, that we will neither serve your gods nor worship the gold statue which you have set up.”
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3 Responses to Definition of Oxymoron? A “Worldly” Christian/Messianic . . .

  1. jmbannister says:

    so when someone says this is the reason some people stop talking to you….be thankful and pray for those as they are blinded by their worldliness…Yeshua was clear that if we aren’t following him then we are following the world

    this is a bold piece of writing, thought provoking and the truth

  2. Pingback: We love the anti-christ! | evenifministries

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