Worldly Things vs Godly Things
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Worldly Things vs Godly Things

We live in a world that is full of temptation and things that can draw our hearts away from God. As Christians, we are called to live in this world but not be of this world (John 17:14-16). It can be challenging to discern between worldly things that we should avoid, and neutral things that we can enjoy in moderation. In this post, we will explore what God’s word says about worldliness and how to live a godly life in an ungodly world.


As Christians, God calls us to be in the world but not of the world (Romans 12:2). We are to live among unbelievers without becoming like them by conforming to their sinful ways (1 John 2:15-17). This requires wisdom and discernment to know what pleases God and what does not. Here are three key takeaways about worldly things vs godly things:

  • 1. Worldly things gratify the desires of the flesh, eyes and pride but godly things glorify God and produce good fruit. Things of the world appeal to our sinful fleshly desires but do not please God. Godly things may involve sacrifice but produce spiritual growth and fruit.
  • 2. Loving the world and loving God are incompatible. A heart that chases after worldly pleasures and priorities cannot truly love God. We cannot serve two masters (Matthew 6:24).
  • 3. We must renew our minds and not be conformed to the world. Rejecting worldliness requires transformation through God’s Word to align our thinking and values with Jesus Christ. This protects us from deception.

In this post, we will define worldliness, explain its dangers, contrast it with godliness and provide practical tips for avoiding worldly influence and living an intentionally godly life for God’s glory.

What is Worldliness?

Worldliness is orienting one’s heart, mind, values, priorities and desires around the temporal things of this world rather than God and His eternal Kingdom. It is loving the pleasures, pursuits and philosophies of this fallen world system more than God. Scripture warns:

“Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” (1 John 2:15 NKJV)

Anything can become a worldly thing if it captures our hearts and displaces our love for God. John specifies worldly things as including:

  • The lust of the flesh
  • The lust of the eyes
  • The pride of life (1 John 2:16)

These reflect Satan’s original temptations to Eve in the garden (Genesis 3:6). Worldliness ultimately indicates spiritual adultery as we chase after created things rather than the Creator.

The Dangers of Worldliness

Pursuing worldly things over God is extremely dangerous for several reasons:

  1. Worldliness distorts our thinking and values. When we conform our thinking to the world, we become blinded to God’s truth and develop ungodly priorities that lead to sinful actions (Romans 12:2, 1 John 2:16).
  2. Worldliness crowds out love for God. The more we chase worldly things, the more our hearts grow cold toward God. We cannot love God and mammon (Matthew 6:24).
  3. Worldliness deceives and destroys. The glamour of sin is short-lived. Worldly pleasures never satisfy and ultimately they impair and ruin lives (Proverbs 5:22-23, James 1:14-15).
  4. Worldliness incurs God’s judgment. God opposes worldliness and those absorbed with this age face His wrath. We cannot serve Him and idols (1 John 2:17, James 4:4).
  5. Worldliness damages our witness. Christians who live as friends of the world lack credibility as disciples of Jesus and stumble unbelievers (1 John 2:15-17).

The path of worldliness leads only to futility, brokenness and separation from God. Scripture exhorts us:

“Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them…The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.” (1 John 2:15,17 NKJV)

Contrasting Worldliness and Godliness

Rather than loving worldly things, God wants us to pursue godliness. Let’s contrast worldliness and godliness:


  • Self-focused
  • Man-centered
  • Created things exalted
  • Temporary priorities
  • Earthly ambitions
  • World’s wisdom relied upon
  • Carnal methods used
  • Disregards God’s word when inconvenient
  • Conforms to culture
  • Offends holy God
  • Produces rotten fruit and regret


  • God-focused
  • Christ-centered
  • Creator glorified
  • Eternal priorities
  • Heavenly ambitions
  • God’s wisdom sought
  • Spirit-led methods
  • Obeys Scripture diligently
  • Transforms culture
  • Pleases a holy God
  • Produces good fruit and reward

It is sobering to ponder this contrast. May it compel us to examine our hearts and realign our lives toward godliness.

God graciously gives us His word to expose worldliness and train us in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Let us heed its warnings about worldly ways:

Bible Warnings Against Worldliness

Here are just a few of the many Bible verses that warn against loving worldly things:

  • “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed.” (Romans 12:2)
  • “Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.” (James 4:4)
  • “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” (Colossians 3:2)
  • “Do not love the world or anything in the world.” (1 John 2:15)
  • “You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God?” (James 4:4)
  • “No one can serve two masters…You cannot serve both God and money.” (Matthew 6:24)
  • “Demas…has deserted me, having loved this present world.” (2 Timothy 4:10 NKJV)
  • “Their mind is set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven.” (Philippians 3:19-20)
  • “The worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word.” (Matthew 13:22)
  • “Others…are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures.” (Luke 8:14)

These verses remind us that worldliness is spiritually adulterous and at enmity with God. Loving earthly things chokes out God’s word and true discipleship. Our mindset should be heavenly, not earthly.

Now let’s explore more specifically what kinds of worldly things we must avoid and put off as followers of Christ.

Forms of Worldliness to Avoid

There are many manifestations of worldliness that can ensnare our hearts. Here are some key areas that Scripture warns against:

1. Sexual Immorality

The world bombards us with sexual images and temptations. But as believers we must flee from sexual sin and pursue purity:

  • “Among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality.” (Ephesians 5:3)
  • “The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 6:13)
  • “Avoid all sexual sin…Run from it!” (1 Corinthians 6:18 NLT)

2. Impurity

Along with sexual sin, we must avoid moral corruption and things that defile our consciences and relationships:

  • “Rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind.” (1 Peter 2:1)
  • “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things like sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed.” (Colossians 3:2-5)

3. Love of Money

Coveting riches and trusting in money rather than God is worldly and dangerous:

  • “Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap.” (1 Timothy 6:9)
  • “The love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.” (1 Timothy 6:10)
  • “No one can serve two masters…You cannot serve both God and money.” (Matthew 6:24)

4. Drunkenness and Substance Abuse

Although the world promotes alcohol consumption and drug use, Scripture forbids intoxication and addiction:

  • “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery.” (Ephesians 5:18)
  • “The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery, idolatry and witchcraft, hatred, discord, fits of rage, drunkenness, orgies and the like.” (Galatians 5:19-21)

5. Glory-Seeking

Seeking glory, prestige and the honors of men is prideful and worldly. We should seek only God’s glory:

  • “Don’t do your good deeds publicly, to be admired, for then you will lose the reward from your Father.” (Matthew 6:1)
  • “Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people?” (Galatians 1:10)

6. Unwholesome Speech

Foul language, gossip, slander and course joking are worldly and sinful:

  • “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths.” (Ephesians 4:29)
  • “Rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind.” (1 Peter 2:1)

7. Bad Company

Spending time with worldly people negatively influences us. We become like who we associate with:

  • “Do not be misled: Bad company corrupts good character.” (1 Corinthians 15:33)
  • “Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take.” (Psalm 1:1)

There are many other worldly pitfalls like hatred, unforgiveness, worry, and pollution of mind through media. We must diligently guard against worldliness to cultivate a heart for God.

Living Godly in an Ungodly World

Now that we understand what worldliness is and some specific things to avoid, here are some practical tips for living a godly life in this ungodly world:

  1. Renew your mind daily (Romans 12:2). Immerse yourself in Scripture, pray for wisdom and discernment, and meditate on Christ’s example. Measure everything against God’s word.
  2. Set your heart and mind on things above, not earthly things (Colossians 3:2). Remind yourself daily that you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. Detach yourself from this world.
  3. Put off the old self corrupted by worldly desires (Ephesians 4:22). Consciously “put to death” the sinful nature with its passions and desires that conform to the world.
  4. Put on the new self created for godliness (Ephesians 4:24). Purposefully clothe yourself in righteous Christlike character. Follow the Spirit, not fleshly desires.
  5. Flee worldly desires that wage war against your soul (1 Peter 2:11). Don’t flirt with temptation – run from it! Ask God for escape strategies.
  6. Do not love the world or anything in it (1 John 2:15). Extricate your heart from affection or attachment to sinful world systems, priorities and pleasures.
  7. Be in the world, not of it (John 17:14-16). Engage nonbelievers with love and share the gospel, without compromising or embracing their values.
  8. Use things of the world for God’s glory (1 Cor 10:31). Be a good steward of resources. Invest generously in eternity. Refuse to serve money or possessions.
  9. Beware close friendships with worldly people (James 4:4). You will become like those you closely associate with. Bad company corrupts character.
  10. Immerse yourself in the Word (Psalm 119:11). God’s word exposes deceptive worldly philosophies. Memorize key verses.

May these tips help us all pursue greater godliness for the glory of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

Conclusion and Call to Action

In closing, worldliness is one of the greatest dangers to our faith as Christians. But God graciously gives us His Word and Spirit to expose worldly philosophies and renew our minds. As we grow in discernment and godliness, we can live as shining lights pointing others to salvation in Christ.

Here are some key applications:

  • Carefully examine your heart for any attachment to worldly things. Repent of worldliness and affirm Christ as preeminent.
  • Ask God to heighten your discernment so you quickly recognize worldly influences. Be vigilant in guarding your heart.
  • Study God’s word daily and pray for wisdom to apply its truths to your life. Be transformed by renewing your mind.
  • Take practical steps to reduce worldly influences like accountability, filtering content, and limiting questionable relationships.
  • Invest generously in the Kingdom of God by giving, serving, and sharing the gospel. Set your mind on eternal rewards.

May we declare along with the Apostle John:

“Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” (1 John 2:15 NKJV)

Let us love and serve God wholeheartedly, not conforming to this present world but being transformed by His Spirit through the power of Christ. All for God’s glory!

Pastor Duke Taber
Pastor Duke Taber

Pastor Duke Taber

All articles have been written or reviewed by Pastor Duke Taber.
Pastor Duke Taber is an alumnus of Life Pacific University and Multnomah Biblical Seminary.
He has been in pastoral ministry since 1988.
Today he is the owner and managing editor of 3 successful Christian websites that support missionaries around the world.
He is currently starting a brand new church in Mesquite NV called Mesquite Worship Center, a Non-Denominational Spirit Filled Christian church in Mesquite Nevada.