You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God?
Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. – James 4:4
“And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door;
and its desire is for you, but you must master it.” – Genesis 4:7
When you were born again with your sins forgiven, you were covered by the blood of Christ and clothed with the righteousness of Christ. We are to be a holy people set apart for God, not entangled again in the world. Scripture reads “the Lord is my shepherd,” not “the world is my shepherd.” We should heed the words of the apostle Paul:
In effect, you were given spotless and pure clothes of “white” to wear (and you have also become as a “virgin” again to sin):
However, even after we are born again, we must still confront sin on a daily basis and prevail over it, for if you return once again to the ways of this world, you will again be tarnished by sin. While we remain in this fallen world, we must contend with this awful sinful pull every single day of our lives. Just because you are born again doesn’t make this pull go away, for we are still in our mortal fleshly bodies until death. The teaching that a born-again Christian no longer commits sin (ever) is a false teaching (see Beware the Wolves). Luke 9:23 says that you must deny yourself daily, and we read that “sin is crouching right at the door,” ready and waiting to devour us:
Now I fully confess right here that it’s much easier to write (and read) this chapter than it is to actually change your worldly habits. Truth be told, I have found this to be one of the hardest things to do. Also notice that this is the only chapter in the entire book which starts with two Scripture verses at its head! This fallen world (and the schemes of man) call out to your flesh every single moment of every single day, bombarding you with lust of the flesh and lust of the eyes temptations (entertainment, media, books, internet, movies, etc.), which are blaring out in staggering volume and frequency from this fallen world and fallen man.
Scripture also warns that excessive cares and concerns for this material world can be a significant risk for your eternal salvation. They can hinder your ability to focus on God and they can also steer you back into sinful behavior and idol worship. We are not to idolize the things of this world (money, fame, power, possessions, etc.), for they are snares which can draw you away from following Christ. Riches (the love of money) in particular is called out as a specific snare to be very wary of.
Also, do not fall victim to the deceptions of the “once saved always saved” false teaching. One who is born again can later fall away, go apostate, backslide, turn back, or quit the faith. Please re-read the chapter on Persistence where this topic was covered in much more detail. The great apostle Paul wrote that he strived to remain pure and undefiled. Now, if even the great apostle and inspired writer could have disqualified himself, how much more should we also be diligent to remain spotless and without blame before Christ, lest we be found once again naked (i.e., not covered by and clothed in the righteousness of Christ) on the great Day of Judgment:
However, we are able to prevail by the power of Christ who lives in us, but must keep our eyes fixed above and not on the things of this world:
And while it’s true we are to share the gospel message with the lost, it is not true that we are to continually socialize them, partaking in their worldly activities. We are to be “set apart” for Christ:
The more you are around immorality, sensuality and the things of this world, and the more you watch, listen and participate in such things, the further from God you will again drift. We must be every so mindful to remain as a “virgin” bride of Christ (see 2 Cor 11:2, Rev. 14 – undefiled by sin as much as humanly possible) and strive not to dirty (pollute) our “white garments” again with sin (see Rev. 3:18, Rev. 7, Rev. 19 – white clothes indicating purity) so we will not be ashamed when we stand before Him on Judgment Day (Phil. 1:20, Rev. 7).
So, I’m simply going to state the obvious here:
- It’s best to fellowship with those who love and serve the Lord,
- It’s best not to go to bars, social clubs, casinos, nightclubs and other such places (and no, this is not where you go to share Christ, as a general habit),
- You will find many old “friends” are no longer “friends” due to your change in activities and they fall away from you (and probably mock you) as you decline to participate in their worldly/fleshly gratifying activities. So be it.
In distilling this chapter down to a simple question, I would phrase it as: Are you striving to understand and partake of the ways of man or the ways of God? It is by that distinction you can discern the difference between living in the Spirit vs. living in the flesh (world). By understanding the ways of man, you may be able to manipulate them for your own fame and fortune, but you will not be able to manipulate God on the great Day of Judgment – for all the ways of man lead to death. On the other hand, if you understand the ways of God, they lead to eternal life. This choice is yours to make. Each and every day, you must choose to move towards Christ, or back towards this world.
The Parable of the Sower given in Matthew 17:3-8, 18-23 is relevant here, symbolizing someone who hears and accepts the word of God (believes, is born again), but then the cares of the world (thorns) choke it out. Make no mistake about it, seeking again the things of this world after you have been born again will drown out God. This also completely contradicts any “once saved always saved” false teaching you may hear! Those who sow to the flesh will reap corruption.
Perspective is key. Remember, for a Christian, “friendship with the world is hostility toward God.” You are also commanded not to entangle yourself in worldly affairs, for “our Christian citizenship is in heaven,” not this fallen world. A good parable from The Pilgrim’s Progress is helpful here: 
I can’t warn you strongly enough not to underestimate how hard the world tries to draw you back into it, with nonstop, glitzy, flashy, sexy, seemingly glamorous allures and temptations, shouted from the rooftops and all secular media sources 24/7/365 at full volume. It is truly staggering how much noise the world makes in an attempt to drown out the simple message of the gospel, and also to allure the newly born-again baby Christian back into the clutches of sin and eternal death. The deadly allure of the world aims to pull you back in and draw you away from Christ!
So be on guard, for many will quit the faith, even after starting out as you now have, and many will turn back to the ways of this world – longing again for their old sinful ways, habits, behaviors and friends. We should heed the strong warning given to us by the example of Lot’s wife, who longed again (looked back to) for the ways of sin after leaving Sodom, and was therefore turned into a pillar of salt (see Genesis 19). Always remember that Satan, the devil, “prowls around like a roaring lion” seeking to turn you back any way that he can!
One last matter for this chapter: A conscientious Christian, a son of God, a “new creature” in Christ, should evaluate their lifestyle and re-examine any habits or behaviors that may have carried over from before their conversion (when they were born again) – things such as smoking, drinking alcohol, etc. Scripture tells us that “we are no longer our own” and that we are “living stones” in the temple of God. We should strive to “do all things to the glory of God.” Harmful habits and behavior may need to be addressed; let your conscience be your guide. I’m speaking here to behaviors that are not expressly forbidden by Scripture.
ON CONTINUED SINS
I would like to add one important teaching note to this chapter, so you do not get discouraged, and that is about the continued fight with sin even after one is born again (see the false teaching: A Christian No Longer Sins).
Even after one is born-again, you still retain your old fleshly nature as well as your new spirit nature in Christ. They will wage war with each other (Matthew 26:41, Romans 7:14-25, 2 Corinthians 4:16, 1 Peter 2:11). But if you fall down and sin, confess your sins before Christ, who is faithful and just to forgive you (1 John 1:9). His mercy, compassion, lovingkindness and grace are absolutely massive. Just pick yourself up, again walk in the Spirit, ask the Lord for wisdom to deal with whatever weakness you have, as well as for His strength and guidance (Psalm 23:1) going forward. One of my favorite verses helps a lot here:
Remember the teaching of Christ also. Peter once asked Jesus how many times he should forgive those who sinned against him (see Matthew 18:21-22), probably expecting to hear the number three, or five and even suggested the number seven (i.e., a small number of times). However, the Lord answered with the number “seventy times seven” (i.e. 490). Now the actual number given here isn’t the important part (we are not to interpret that as a literal 490 times we are to forgive sins), what’s important is the magnitude of the number – it’s an ENORMOUS number which was far, far above anything that Peter might have even remotely imagined in his own mind! This again demonstrates that the depths of the love, kindness, mercy and grace of God are very great indeed!
The subject at hand continues in the next chapter which discusses changing your entertainment habits, for they are very much related.
FALSE TEACHING(S) YOU WILL ENCOUNTER:
And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.” – Luke 9:23
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age. – Titus 2:11-12
Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” – 1 Peter 1:13-16
For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin. – Romans 6:5-7
Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.
What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be! Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness? But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in further lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification. – Romans 6:12-19
My son, if sinners entice you,
Do not consent. – Proverbs 1:10
Do not be deceived: “Bad company corrupts good morals.” Become sober-minded as you ought, and stop sinning; for some have no knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame. – 1 Corinthians 15:33-34
Do not let your heart envy sinners,
But live in the fear of the Lord always.
Surely there is a future,
And your hope will not be cut off.
Listen, my son, and be wise,
And direct your heart in the way.
Do not be with heavy drinkers of wine,
Or with gluttonous eaters of meat;
For the heavy drinker and the glutton will come to poverty,
And drowsiness will clothe one with rags. – Proverbs 23:17-21
Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul. Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation. – 1 Peter 2:11-12
For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. – Romans 8:5-8
So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh— for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. – Romans 8:12-14
“Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” – Matthew 26:41
Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. – James 4:7
A little leaven [sin] leavens the whole lump of dough. – Galatians 5:9 [Note: Socializing with those who still live in the flesh will infect you; in fact, it’s much more likely that they will influence you to sin than you will influence them to Christ!]
You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. – James 4:4
Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.
But immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints; and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.
Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them; for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret. But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light. For this reason it says,
And arise from the dead,
And Christ will shine on you.”
Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father; and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ. – Ephesians 5:1-21
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins so that He might rescue us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forevermore. Amen. – Galatians 1:3-5
Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever. – 1 John 2:15-17
“If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you.” – John 15:18-19
I heard another voice from heaven, saying, “Come out of her [Babylon], my people, so that you will not participate in her sins and receive of her plagues.” – Revelation 18:4
Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and will then repay every man according to his deeds.” – Matthew 16:24-27
“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” – Galatians 2:20
Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy, and that is what you are. – 1 Corinthians 3:16-17
So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart; and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness. But you did not learn Christ in this way, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth. – Ephesians 4:17-24
Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. – Ephesians 4:29-31
Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. – 2 Corinthians 7:1
But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. – 1 Timothy 6:9-10
You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier. Also if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not win the prize unless he competes according to the rules. The hard-working farmer ought to be the first to receive his share of the crops. Consider what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything. – 2 Timothy 2:1-7 [Note: You are a soldier for Christ now!]
By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child; and they were not afraid of the king’s edict. By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, considering the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt. – Hebrews 11:23-26
For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and are overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment handed on to them. It has happened to them according to the true proverb, “A dog returns to its own vomit,” and, “A sow, after washing, returns to wallowing in the mire.” – 2 Peter 2:20-22
The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will. – 2 Timothy 2:24-26
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. – Galatians 5:16-17, 22-24
Therefore, since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose, because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God. For the time already past is sufficient for you to have carried out the desire of the Gentiles, having pursued a course of sensuality, lusts, drunkenness, carousing, drinking parties and abominable idolatries. In all this, they are surprised that you do not run with them into the same excesses of dissipation, and they malign you; but they will give account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. For the gospel has for this purpose been preached even to those who are dead, that though they are judged in the flesh as men, they may live in the spirit according to the will of God. – 1 Peter 4:1-6
And He spoke many things to them in parables, saying, “Behold, the sower went out to sow; and as he sowed, some seeds fell beside the road, and the birds came and ate them up. Others fell on the rocky places, where they did not have much soil; and immediately they sprang up, because they had no depth of soil. But when the sun had risen, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. Others fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked them out. And others fell on the good soil and yielded a crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty.
“Hear then the parable of the sower. When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is the one on whom seed was sown beside the road. The one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away. And the one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the world and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. And the one on whom seed was sown on the good soil, this is the man who hears the word and understands it; who indeed bears fruit and brings forth, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty.” – Matthew 13:3-8, 18-23
For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. – 2 Corinthians 10:3-5
Leave the presence of a fool,
Or you will not discern words of knowledge. – Proverbs 14:7
A wise man is cautious and turns away from evil,
But a fool is arrogant and careless. – Proverbs 14:16
A wise man’s heart directs him toward the right, but the foolish man’s heart directs him toward the left. Even when the fool walks along the road, his sense is lacking and he demonstrates to everyone that he is a fool. – Ecclesiastes 10:2-3
The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts. – Romans 13:12-14