By Terry Loving
Technically – yes you can live any way you want to. God gave every human free will to choose how you will live your life on earth. Spiritually – well, if you desire to live in heaven some day you have to get there God’s way – by accepting Jesus Christ as Lord. In addition, living a godly life is also required. Being “perfect” is not. We have grace to cover our sins, granting us forgiveness through the blood of Christ. However, this grace is not a license to sin. We may stumble in our spiritual walk with Christ, but we are expected to keep trying and press forward towards holiness.
Many people in and out of the church are under the assumption that one can live for the world and still make it to heaven. Because someone is a “nice” person, possess some special gift, or have made substantial financial contributions to certain organizations benefiting others – they are alright with God. Not necessarily so. Of course we cannot testify as to who shall and who shall not be “saved” in the end – and frankly – it is none of our business. The only soul we should be concerned with in the afterlife is our own. We can help guide souls to Jesus while living, but where they ultimately will spend eternity is between those souls and Christ – the Righteous Judge.
Now let me ask this, if we could live any way we want on earth and still go to heaven, what was the point of God sacrificing His only Son for the redemption our souls? Jesus would then be the middleman that we do not need, for it would be on our own merit that we make it into God’s eternal paradise. And certainly it would have been a waste of God’s time to give the world His Word to guide us while living on earth. Further, we could take a chance on a death bed confession and repent just before closing our eyes in death. Many people live this way, believing they will get that opportunity. But is this acceptable to God?
And think about this, the Apostles and other martyred souls were killed for their faith in Christ. They sacrificed their personal wishes and desires to follow Jesus, preached the Gospel to win souls from the devil and remained faithful unto death. They suffered hardships, humiliation, beatings, verbal abuse, stoning and all kinds of evil because of the name of Christ. Even today around the world, many Christians are being killed because they follow Jesus and refuse to denounce Him. Until the very end of their lives the Apostles preached repentance, healed the sick in His name, and followed in the footsteps of Christ as they were chosen to do so. True believers live in the “narrow way” as did the Apostles.
Matthew 7:13 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.”
Upon the death of Whitney Houston, many are pondering her eternal fate – “Did she go to hell?” There are others who lean towards a definite conclusion – “Whitney Houston is in hell!” Her faithful fans and loved ones of course say that “Whitney is in heaven.” Some would even go as far as saying that she is now “singing in the heavenly choir.” First off, no one knows her spiritual condition upon death. And certainly no one living can confirm her destination come Judgment Day. We should leave that decision totally in God’s hands.
What we do know for sure – those who believe – is what the Word teaches concerning how believers should live in this world. Jesus spoke a lot about the “world” and how we should respond to it.
Love not the world – The term “world” seems to be used in the Scriptures in three senses:
(1) As denoting the physical universe; the world as it appears to the eye; the world considered as the work of God, as a material creation.
(2) the world as applied to the people that reside in it – “the world of mankind.”
(3) as the dwellers on the earth are by nature without religion, and act under a set of maxims, aims, and principles that have reference only to this life, the term comes to be used with reference to that community; that is, to the objects which they especially seek, and the principles by which they are actuated.
“It is only with reference to the word as used in the third sense that the command here can be understood to be applicable, or that the love of the world is forbidden; with reference to the objects sought, the maxims that prevail, the principles that reign in that community that lives for this world as contradistinguished from the world to come. The meaning is, that we are not to fix our affections on worldly objects – on what the world can furnish – as our portion, with the spirit with which they do who live only for this world, regardless of the life to come. We are not to make this world the object of our chief affection; we are not to be influenced by the maxims and feelings which prevail among those who do. Compare the Romans 12:2 note, and James 4:4 note. See also Matthew 16:26; Luke 9:25; 1 Corinthians 1:20; 1 Corinthians 3:19; Galatians 4:3; Colossians 2:8.” Barnes’ Notes on the Bible
“Neither the things that are in the world – Referred to in the next verse as “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.” This explanation shows what John meant by “the things that are in the world.” He does not say that we are in no sense to love “anything” that is in the material world; that we are to feel no interest in flowers, and streams, and forests, and fountains; that we are to have no admiration for what God has done as the Creator of all things; that we are to cherish no love for any of the inhabitants of the world, our friends and kindred; or that we are to pursue none of the objects of this life in making provision for our families; but that we are not to love the things which are sought merely to pamper the appetite, to please the eye, or to promote pride in living. These are the objects sought by the people of the world; these are not the objects to be sought by the Christian.”
“If any man love the world … – If, in this sense, a person loves the world, it shows that he has no true religion; that is, if characteristically he loves the world as his portion, and lives for that; if it is the ruling principle of his life to gain and enjoy that, it shows that his heart has never been renewed, and that he has no part with the children of God. See the James 4:4 note; Matthew 6:24 note.”
“Covetousness is the predominant vice of old age: Ye fathers, love not the world. The things which are in the world, its profits, pleasures, and honors, have the strongest allurements for youth; therefore, ye young men, little children, and babes, love not the things of this world. Let those hearts abide faithful to God who have taken him for their portion.” Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible
“The love of the Father is not in him – The love of God and the love of earthly things are incompatible. If you give place to the love of the world, the love of God cannot dwell in you; and if you have not his love, you can have no peace, no holiness, no heaven.” Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible
“Love not the world…. The habitable earth, the world in which men live; this is not to be loved by saints, as if it was their habitation, where they are always to be, and so loath to remove from it, seeing they are but sojourners, and pilgrims, and strangers here; this is not their rest, nor dwelling place, their continuing city, or proper country, that is heaven. Nor should they love the men of the world, who are as they came into it, are of it, and mind the things of it, and lie in wickedness, and are wicked men; for though these are to be loved, as men, as fellow creatures, and their good, both spiritual and temporal, is to be sought, and good is to be done to them, as much as lies in our power, both with respect to soul and body; yet their company is not to be chosen, and preferred to the saints, but to be shunned and avoided, as disagreeable and dangerous; their evil conversation, and wicked communications, are not to be loved, but abhorred, and their works of darkness are to be reproved; nor are their ways to be imitated, and their customs followed, or their manners to be conformed unto:”
“Neither the things that are in the world; good men that are in the world, though they are not of the world, are to be loved; and the kingdom of Christ, though it is not of the world, yet it is in the world, and is to be regarded and promoted to the uttermost; and there are the natural and civil things of the world, called this world’s goods, which may be loved within due bounds, and used in a proper manner, though they are not to be loved inordinately and abused. This is the character of worldly men; so the Jews call such, “such that love world” (g).
“Near relations and friends in the world, and the blessings of life, may be loved and enjoyed in their way, but not above God and Christ, or so as to take up satisfaction and contentment in them, to make idols of them, and put trust and confidence in them, and prefer them to spiritual and heavenly things, and be so taken with them, as to be unconcerned for, and careless about the other; but the evil things of the world, or at least the evil use of them, and affection for them, are here intended, as appears from the following verse.”
… “when the affections of men are set upon the world, and they are glued to the things of it, their hearts are not warmed with a sense of the love of God, or, that is not sensibly in them, or shed abroad in their hearts: or else by the love of God is meant love to God, which is inconsistent with the love of the world, or with such an inordinate love of mammon, as to serve it; for a man may as soon serve two masters, as serve God and mammon, which he can never do truly, faithfully, and affectionately; and which also is not consistent with friendship with the men of the world, or a conversation and fellowship with them in things that are evil, whether superstition or profaneness;” see Matthew 6:24.
Satan – “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
“15. Love not the world-that lieth in the wicked one (1Jo 5:19), whom ye young men have overcome. Having once for all, through faith, overcome the world (1Jo 4:4; 5:4), carry forward the conquest by not loving it. “The world” here means “man, and man’s world” [Alford], in his and its state as fallen from God. “God loved [with the love of compassion] the world,” and we should feel the same kind of love for the fallen world; but we are not to love the world with congeniality and sympathy in its alienation from God; we cannot have this latter kind of love for the God-estranged world, and yet have also “the love of the Father in” us.”
“neither-Greek, “nor yet.” A man might deny in general that he loved the world, while keenly following some one of THE THINGS IN IT: its riches, honors, or pleasures; this clause prevents him escaping from conviction.”
“any man-therefore the warning, though primarily addressed to the young, applies to all.”
“love of-that is, towards “the Father.” The two, God and the (sinful) world, are so opposed, that both cannot be congenially loved at once.”
“2:15-17 The things of the world may be desired and possessed for the uses and purposes which God intended, and they are to be used by his grace, and to his glory; but believers must not seek or value them for those purposes to which sin abuses them. The world draws the heart from God; and the more the love of the world prevails, the more the love of God decays.”
“Many have tried to show how far we may be carnally-minded, and love the world; but the plain meaning of these verses cannot easily be mistaken. Unless this victory over the world is begun in the heart, a man has no root in himself, but will fall away, or at most remain an unfruitful professor. Yet these vanities are so alluring to the corruption in our hearts, that without constant watching and prayer, we cannot escape the world, or obtain victory over the god and prince of it.”
Psalm 39:4 “Show me, O LORD, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting is my life.”
“Instead of wasting our precious, fleeting days in pursuing fancies, which leave the possessors for ever poor, let us seek the forgiveness of sins, and an inheritance in heaven. Let us pray that the work of the Holy Spirit may appear in converting our hearts, and that the beauty of holiness may be seen in our conduct.” Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary
Psalm 34:14 “Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.”
Hebrews 9:28 “… so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.”
“There are but two ways right and wrong, good and evil; the way to heaven and the way to hell; in the one or other of these all are walking: there is no middle place hereafter, no middle way now. All the children of men are saints or sinners, godly or ungodly. See concerning the way of sin and sinners, that the gate is wide, and stands open. You may go in at this gate with all your lusts about you; it gives no check to appetites or passions. It is a broad way; there are many paths in it; there is choice of sinful ways. There is a large company in this way. But what profit is there in being willing to go to hell with others, because they will not go to heaven with us? The way to eternal life is narrow. We are not in heaven as soon as we are got through the strait gate. Self must be denied, the body kept under, and corruptions mortified. Daily temptations must be resisted; duties must be done. We must watch in all things, and walk with care; and we must go through much tribulation.”
“You may exercise your free will to live any way you so desire. However, … “each of us will give an account of himself to God.” Romans 14:12
The question is not, “Did Whitney Houston repent?” Nor should it be, “Did she go to hell?” The question to each and every one of us should be, “Is thy heart right with God?” Have you taken spiritual inventory lately to see where you stand with God? If you have no heaven or hell to put anyone, then you have no authority to send anyone to either place. Check yourself.
New American Standard Bible (©1995)
“But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”
Luke 1:6 “Both of them were upright in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commandments and regulations blamelessly.”
What about you?
2 Corinthians 10:18 “For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.”
Matthew 7:4 “How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?”
God will determine Whitney Houston’s eternal fate. Our job is to make sure that we who are still living do not miss heaven. There are no second chances. Live as you please – God gives you room to do so. Just know that you will give an account to Almighty God, then you will know where you stand eternally for sure.
James 1:27 “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”
James 4:4 “You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.”
Romans 12:2 “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
New International Version (©1984)
“No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.”
Isaiah 26:10 “Though grace is shown to the wicked, they do not learn righteousness; even in a land of uprightness they go on doing evil and regard not the majesty of the LORD.”
Philippians 3:8 “What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ”
2 Peter 1:10 “Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall,”
2 Peter 2:20 “If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning.”
Ezekiel 18:23 “Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign LORD. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?”
Ezekiel 18:32 “For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign LORD. Repent and live!”
Ezekiel 33:11 “Say to them, ‘As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, O house of Israel?'”
John 3:17 “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”
New American Standard Bible (©1995)
“If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”
“It is my firm opinion that [the West] today represents not the spirit of God or Christianity but the spirit of Satan. And Satan’s successes are the greatest, when he appears with the name of God on his lips. [The West] today is only nominally Christian. In reality, it is worshipping Mammon. ‘It’s easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle that for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Thus really spoke Jesus Christ. His so-called followers measure their moral progress by their material possessions.”
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- Love Not The World – Why? (justificationbygrace.com)
- Living As Christ’s Disciples (trinityspeaks.wordpress.com)
- “The ‘Jesus’ the World Loves.” (kimolsen.wordpress.com)