I thought this graphic was super cool, but it is not what Jesus meant when He talked about 'the world.'
I recently finished Andrew Murray's book 'The Secret of Spiritual Strength' and was surprised at how a little book of 90 pages, written over a hundred years ago could have such an impact. It helped me understand not only what Jesus meant by 'the world' but gave me a better understanding of the true meaning of the Cross.
Andrew Murray says here:
"The Cross, with its foolishness and weakness, its humiliation and shame, is the everlasting sign of the victory that Christ has won by mighty weapons that are spiritual, not carnal.
"But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." 2 Cor. 10:4
It is also the symbol of the victory that the church and every servant of Christ can continually win as we enter more deeply into the character of our crucified Lord, and, in this way, yield more fully to Him."
This verse is key to seeing the natural man as a sinner and one who does not understand the things of God. The natural man (humans in their fallen state) is the world.
Andrew Murray explains here:
"The meaning of the word world, as Christ used it, is simple. He used the expression to describe mankind in its fallen state and its alienation from God. He regarded it as an organized system or kingdom, the very opposite and mortal enemy of His kingdom. A mighty, unseen power, the 'god of this world' rules it.
"...whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them." 2 Cor. 4:4
and a spirit, the ' spirit of the world', pervades it and gives it strength."
"Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God." 1 Cor. 2:12
Our sinful nature is against God. We are the world and we were blinded by the god of this age. All of us.
That's why Jesus came, to set us free from 'the world.' To show us what He freely offers and wants to give us. It is His desire for us to be free from our fallen state and free from the 'spirit of the world.'
"Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, 'If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed.
And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
They answered Him, 'We are Abraham’s descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How can You say, ‘You will be made free?'
Jesus answered them, 'Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin.
And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever.
Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed." John 8:31-36
Do you hear what Jesus is saying? We are all slaves to sin until He makes us free. Then we are free indeed!
Later Andrew Murray talks about Paul and how he felt about the Cross:
"In Galatians 6:14, we see how clearly Paul recognized the enmity between the Cross and the world, and how boldly he proclaimed it:
"God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world." Gal. 6:14
He identified himself so strongly with the Cross that its relationship to the world was also his.
The Cross separated Paul from the world.
The Cross is the sign that the world has condemned Christ.
Paul accepted this; the world was crucified to him, and he was crucified to the world. The Cross is God's condemnation of the world. Paul understood that the world is condemned and under the Curse. The Cross forever separated Paul from the world in its evil nature.
The Cross alone could be their meeting place and reconciliation. It was for this reason that he gloried in the Cross and preached that it was the only power that could draw men out of the world to God."
The world was already condemned under the Curse, but in God's mighty love, He sent His Son to set us free from it. John 3:16-19 explains this:
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.
He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil."
The Cross tells us we must humble ourselves before Christ, who willingly died for us.
If the world is in us we will always fight against our need for God. We will always think highly of ourselves, even view ourselves as gods. And until we surrender to Christ, the world will always be in us.
The Cross is the only way for us to be able to separate ourselves from the world. No spiritual practice will do it, no good deed will do it, and no mantra will do it, only the Cross can crucify us to the world.
Andrew Murray says here:
"It is the Cross, with its victory over sin and the curse and death, with its love and life and triumph, that alone is the power of God."
He goes on to talk about the 'spirit of the world' penetrating the church:
"If anything of the spirit of this world is found in individual believers - or the church - then, to the same extent, they will be incapable of seeing things in the light of God. They will judge spiritual truth with a heart that is prejudiced by the spirit of the world that is in them.
No person, no matter how honest his intentions are, no matter how earnest his thoughts are, no matter how much intellectual power he has, can understand and receive God's truth any farther than the Spirit of Christ and the Cross has expelled - or is truly sought after to expel - the spirit of the world in him. The Holy Spirit, when He is carefully waited on and yielded to, is the only Light that can open the eyes of the heart to see and to know what is of the world and what is of God."
What is happening in our world today is beginning to make sense to me. The world (unrepentant sinners, which we all once were) causes havoc in their fight against God's kingdom. The kingdom Jesus talked about in John 18:36. It starts in the sinful heart of each man and woman, the spirit of the world in every fallen person. We have all rebelled against a Holy God.
We all need the Savior. The Savior of love. The Savior who went to the Cross.
I found this next quote from Andrew Murray sad, but true. Even today, after 100 years, some Christians are still teaching falsehoods about the Cross.
"Some Christians speak as if the Cross of Christ has taken away the Curse and the power of sin in the world in such a way that the believer is now free to enter into the enjoyment of the world without danger. They believe that the church now has the calling and power of appropriating the world - of taking possession of it for God.
This is certainly not what Scripture teaches.
The Cross removes the Curse from the believer, not from the world. Whatever has sin in it, has the curse on it as much as ever. What the believer is to possess of the world and its goods must first be 'sanctified by the word of God and prayer' (1 Tim. 4:5)...
...nothing except the spirit and power of the Cross animating us, separating and freeing us from the spirit of the world - can keep us so that we are in the world but not of it. It cost Christ His agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, where He sweat blood; His awful struggle with death; and the sacrifice of His life, to conquer the world by the Cross.
Nothing less than a full and wholehearted entrance into fellowship with Him in his crucifixion can save us from the spirit of the world."
As I was convicted by much of this book, my heart also welled up with thankfulness.
Who I am that God would care to know my name? That He would chose to light my way? That He would reveal His truth to me?
It's not who I am or what I've done, but who He is and what He has done...
What He did on that Cross two thousand years ago.
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