We have entered an age in which secular thinking is affecting what seems like every aspect of human life
Ro. 12:2 warns us about this, saying; “Do not conform to the pattern of this world…”
Secular influences work through what we see, what we hear, and what rules over our every day lives. In fact, the word secular refers to a life that relates to the worldly or temporal, which excludes God. We would be foolish to think that secularism hasn’t found its way into our churches as well. And as we will see, secularism makes life harder and burdensome. And as I will show you Pharaoh, who ruled over ancient Egypt did not believe in God, causing him live a secular life.
But let me ask a couple of questions before I go any further.
- Do you know how hard it is to unsee something?
Some bothersome image doesn’t leave your mind just because it isn’t in front of you any longer. Unlearning something is much the same thing.
- And secondly, have you noticed how much the world is telling us what we need to believe and submit to?
It’s as if the government, companies, and ruling powers have decided people need to be limited in some way. Well, welcome to a course study I like to call Unlearning the World of Secular Thinking 101. This imaginary course won’t be a drawn out lecture series, but it does reveal a lifelong challenge to stand against worldly influences by guarding your heart. So let’s open our hearts and take out pen and paper or if you’re fast enough, type away on your iPad and get ready.
Unlearning something is a lot like turning off a lightbulb. Once you turn the switch to off what was dominating your vision goes away. That’s what God’s word does for those who believe in its truth and power — it removes a wrong way of seeing with a divine way of viewing life God’s way. (it opens blind eyes)
Ps. 119:105 “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”
2 Pe. 1:19 “We also have the word of the prophets as confirmed beyond doubt. And you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.”
Let me show you the biblical example I alluded to earlier. In ancient Egypt God’s people were put in slavery for some 400 years. During that time it would have been a real challenge to not pick up a few worldly habits from the Egyptians. But still the Jewish people cried out to the Lord for deliverance from their task masters.
Ex. 3:9 “Now the cry of the Israelites has reached Me, and I have seen how severely the Egyptians are oppressing them.”
Why would God have to reassure Moses that He was aware of what was happening to the Israelites? For the same reason the Lord wants us to understand He is aware of the oppressive people and circumstances working against us today. The Jewish slaves were told when to work, how to work, and how they were supposed to live according to Pharaoh’s secular rulership. Let me show you further evidence of how the world’s influence buries itself deep in a person even when God proves Himself to us.
Ex. 16:1-3 “On the fifteenth day of the second month after they had left the land of Egypt, the whole congregation of Israel set out from Elim and came to the Desert of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai. (2) And there in the desert they all grumbled against Moses and Aaron. (3) ‘If only we had died by the LORD’s hand in the land of Egypt!’ they said. ‘There we sat by pots of meat and ate our fill of bread, but you have brought us into this desert to starve this whole assembly to death!”
After watching the Lord bring down the gods of Egypt and humbling that nation 10 times, the Jewish people were free to leave Egypt. But buried in their hearts was the influence of Egypt that still separated them from God. The word grumbled means to permanently stand against something or someone. The Israelites had so much of Egypt in their way of thinking, they took a permanent stand against Moses and by consequence — God. That’s why it is necessary to unlearn the worldly influences that have become burdens to you, and habits and traits that darkness offers. If we don’t take this warning to heart, we might find ourselves permanently standing against what the Spirit is saying.
1 Cor. 3:19 “For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God's sight. As it is written: ‘He catches the wise in their craftiness.”
The world we are living in today is much like the world the Israelites in ancient Egypt were living in. We are being told when to work, how to work, where we can go, all the while as we are burdened by unjust laws and oppressive rules against faith.
Ex. 5:6-9 “Pharaoh commanded the taskmasters (those that drive Egypt’s economy) of the people and their foremen, (7) ‘You shall no longer give the people straw to make bricks, as in the past; let them go and gather straw for themselves. (8) But the number of bricks that they made in the past you shall impose on them, you shall by no means reduce it, for they are idle. Therefore they cry, ‘Let us go and offer sacrifice to our God.’ (9) Let heavier work be laid on the men that they may labor at it and pay no regard to lying words.”
Today laws are being passed that are creating more government control, especially over our ability to work and prosper. In fact the supply chain in the U.S. prompts companies and their outsourced suppliers to burden workers with low wages and abusive conditions. The taskmasters of ancient Egypt haven’t disappeared — they has simply been replaced by governments, corporations and powerful people who have no fear of God.
I’m sure you have experienced how people who don’t fear God promote abuse. Pharaoh refused to fear the Lord and the Israelites suffered for it. Well, our government and many corporations refuse to fear the Lord and we are feeling the effects of that. We really need to erase from our minds those lightbulb images, those effects, and worldly influences that separate us from this God’s truth, His peace, and power.
1 Jn. 2:15-17 “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world — the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life — comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.”
The words, “If anyone loves the world…” refers to the environment in which the lust of the flesh and eyes and the pride of life in the environment that is apart from God is a worldly snare to God’s people.
You and I have to unlearn every worldly burden we have brought with us into the new year. If we don’t we may find ourselves reliving the previous year’s troubles. We have to unlearn how to see as the world sees, to hear as the world hears, to think as the world thinks. Otherwise we will find ourselves burdened with unhappiness, fear, anxiety, and even hatred.
The world will tell you the sky is falling, gas driven cars are bad, meat is harmful, and faith is a form of weakness. Jesus said in Matthew 6:33 “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
Do you know what “These things” are that Jesus is referring to? They are the things in this world that pagans run after and strive to posses. The Israelites told Moses they wanted to run back to Egypt to have what the Egyptians had.
The world is very enticing, and controlling and defiling, and the great manipulator of souls. Jesus said while praying in John 17:16, “They are not of the world, even as I am not of it.” The they of course are us, and living and interacting with people and influences in an ungodly world requires that God’s standard of living not become mixed with the worlds. To truly be separated from worldliness means we must change the way we speak and hear and act. Doing that will change what we desire.