What is the “world” that John warned us about? (1 Jn. 2:15). Some have identified it as a list of questionable activities that religious people ought to shun. But it’s not as easy as that. John wasn’t talking about mere outward behavior; he was referring to our deepest motives.

In the Bible, the “world” is a system controlled by Satan, who operates through cultures that have little regard for God. Christians must live in their culture, but they dare not take their lead from it. You may make your living today in the world of business, or go to school in the world of education, or enjoy entertainment in the world of music or media. But the world-system in which we live is enemy territory. It is not neutral. Worldliness is anything that makes sin look attractive and righteousness look silly.

We are worldly whenever we live and love and choose on the same basis as people who don’t love God. A Christian striving for power in a church or exploding at his wife at home can be as worldly as a person guzzling drinks at a bar.

Two questions reveal the motives of our hearts: Are we living with a deep love for the Father? Are we eager wherever we go in the world to carry out His will? He wants us to be in the world, but not to be of it.