Worldliness seeps into a church and begins it's backslide because the PURPOSE of the church is forgotten or ignored. Somehow we have gotten the mistaken idea that the purpose of the church is a place where cravings can be met, deviancies accepted, and boredom can be entertained instead of a place where God is exalted, man humbled, doctrine taught, others served, and the body of Christ strenthened by every saint serving somewhere. The difference, as Al Mohler has put it, is clear that when you ask if you are building a church, or are you building a crowd. Satan can easily build a crowd, and does so with regularity. Only God and His elect build a church.
1. When the church begins to backslide, the first visible sign is usually an increase in worldliness. In everyday lives, in conversation, an even in dress and fashion, the spirit of the world begins to infest church circles. What crept ashamedly into the church before begins to walk freely, often covered or overlooked instead of exposed and admonished. The black and white line separating godliness and worldliness becomes increasingly grayer.
Instead of walking in opposite directions, the world and the church begin to have more in common with each other, much to the church’s detriment. Some of its members begin going to worldly places, taking part in its entertainment, and befriending its people. Some take all kinds of modern media into their homes without even considering what controls they should exercise; consequently, the quickly become addicted to today’s worldly mentality.
Worldly people, worldly entertainment, worldly customs, worldly places – is this not what Hosea warned against when the Spirit directed him to write, “Ephraim hath mixed himself among the people” (Hosea 7:8)? The sin of increasing worldliness is the church’s first downward and tragic step in the spiral of backsliding.
Phil Johnson in the "Weekly Dose of Spurgeon" on the PyroManiacs blog highlighted Spurgeon's thoughts on how The church should be separate from the world. It is worthy of repeating:
Great attempts have been made of late to make the church receive the world, and wherever it has succeeded it has come to this result, the world has swallowed up the church. It must be so. The greater is sure to swamp the less.
They say, "Do not let us draw any hard-and-fast lines. A great many good people attend our services who may not be quite decided, but still their opinion should be consulted, and their vote should be taken upon the choice of a minister, and there should be entertainments and amusements, in which they can assist."
The theory seems to be, that it is well to have a broad gangway from the church to the world: if this be carried out, the result will be that the nominal church will use that gangway to go over to the world, but it will not be used in the other direction.
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