What is the “world” the Bible warns against?

CIL_MARK8_v01There were some statements in my sermon on Sunday that didn’t make “The Review” or “You Version.”    The text in discussion was:

For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? ?  For what can a man give in return for his soul – Mark 8:36-37 (ESV)

I used to incorrectly think the world was anything material, or of the “earth.”    This off-based conclusion caused me to not fully enjoy creation, customs, holidays and joyful experiences in this life.   However, a more careful study of Scripture led me to the more accurate translation of the word “world.”

“World” is the word kosmos in the Greek language.

From my study of commentaries on the word kosmos, I have written the following definition:

The “world (kosmos)” is systems, standards and practices created by a culture that does not consider God’s demands or requirements.

In other words, the earth and humanity is not bad, except that they have been infected by sin.   God is redeeming both the earth and individuals within the earth.  The “world (kosmos)” is the system that opposes God.  We can love the the planet, but we should not love the “world”, for the “world ” opposes God.

This word kosmos is used in I John 2:15-17, and it gives more meaning to that text:

Do not love the world or 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 desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world.  And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. – 1 John 2:15-17 (ESV)

Paul wrote about being crucified to the world (kosmos):

But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. – Galatians 6:14 (ESV)

Another way to paraphrase Galatians 6:14, is:

                            Because of Christ, I am dead to the way in which the people of this world live.

I hope these two important statements bring greater clarity to these Scriptures, and Jesus’ call to not “love the world.”

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