In the epic Spiritual Warfare we are all swept up into, our adversary the devil is aligned with an axis of evil by which he intends to conquer every human soul. One of his chief allies in this regard is this present world in which we all dwell in, albeit temporarily. It is easy to identify different battle plans he successfully employees in different geographies. In the Middle East and parts of Africa and Asia we can see violent suppression of the gospel. In the West there is the apathy of great prosperity (Deuteronomy 18:12-14). Satan uses a multi-pronged attack through the cares of this world (Mark 4:19, 2 Timothy 4:10) to separate men from God and to bring them under his sway. Our English word worldliness, or “world-like-ness” is a translation of the Greek noun kosmos.1
Those who are perishing are currently walking according to the course of this world (Ephesians 2:1-2). These souls live under his authority, or domain, and are his children of disobedience. We pass these spiritual zombies day by day as they follow a broad path that leads ultimately to their destruction (Matthew 7:13). The god of this world (John 12:31, 14:30, 16:11) has been able to deceive them and blind their minds (2 Corinthians 4:4) so that are pressed into the mold of “world likeness (Romans 12:2)” he desires for his subjects.
Scripture affirms that Satan was allowed to exercise power on earth. He utilized foreign armies, implicitly under his control (Job 1:15, 17), as well as elements of the natural world (Job 1:16, 19), and diseases (Job 2:7, Luke 13:11, 16). He has led many to destruction through a love of the world (Acts 5:3, 26:18) and had the limited power to hinder the gospel (1 Thessalonians 2:18), to hinder the work of God’s angels in ministering to the saved (Daniel 10:13), and to buffet God’s servants in this world (2 Corinthians 12:7). He is able to deceive all who do not have a love of the truth (2 Thessalonians 2:10, Revelation 12:9). He’s behind all the worldly wisdom of our day. “There are many paths to God. Once saved always saved. As long as you are sincere in your beliefs God will accept any faith. You should be able to marry anyone you love, regardless of gender. Truth is relative and not absolute.” He is the author of all of those slogans and so many more that resonate with those of this world.
Through the course of this world the devil is able to direct men to reject the truth and follow him (John 8:37-44). Joe Beam explains that there is a progressive strategy he employees to direct men on this course. According to Ephesians 4:17-19, those walking his path have had their understanding darkened which in turn leads to a hardening of the heart to the truth, followed by a loss of sensitivity to God’s truth, followed by complete immersion into sensuous worldly living, and the jaws of his trap snap shut ending in their spiritual destruction.2
A right understanding is darkened by questioning the shining truthfulness of God’s word (Genesis 3:1, Romans 1:21). Once darkened their hearts are hardened from allowing further admittance of the truth (John 12:40, Romans 11:7). Heart hardening progresses to the point that they have lost all sensitivity to the power of God’s word to affect them (1 Timothy 4:1-2). Now past the point of being reached by a loving God, who doesn’t wish for them to perish (1 Timothy 2:4, Isaiah 28:15), He respects their election and gives them over to their vile passions (Romans 1:24, 26, 28). They are now free to immerse themselves in worldly lusts (Ephesians 4:17-19). Following this course of the world set by the devil, they are taken captive to do his will (2 Timothy 2:26) and their destruction is certain.
It is for this reason that James wrote that desiring to be a friend of the world is to become an enemy of God (James 4:4). The beloved apostle wrote that loving the things of this world is the result of a void of the love the Father (1 John 2:15). Therefore, “Set your affections on things above, not on thing on the earth (Colossians 3:2 KJV).”
“And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever (1 John 2:17).”
Dean, R., Jr., & Ice, T. (2000). What the Bible Teaches about Spiritual Warfare p.64. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel
Joe Beam, Seeing the Unseen, pp.13-17, Howard Books, New York, NY, 2000