Worldliness is often defined in terms of a list of actions. And certainly every Christian would agree that the activities of adultery, bribery, lying, murder, and the like are not fitting for citizens of heaven who still walk this world. But the definition of worldliness lies deeper than just the actions. Worldliness is defined by desire, not action alone.

In Mark 4:19 it is the cares of the world that kept the worldly from spiritual fruitfulness.

In Titus 2:12 we are exhorted to renounce worldly passions.

In 2 Peter 1:4 it is again sinful desire that is the real problem in this world

In 1 John 2:16 worldliness is spelled out very clearly,

For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world.

These three all-encompassing explanations of worldliness are all defined in terms of internal heart motives. Not one sinful action needs to be added, for worldliness is most precisely defined in terms of desires, not actions.


What is then the solution to worldliness? Stop sinful actions, certainly, but transform also the desires. Godliness is not merely the absences of worldly actions, but the transformation of worldly desires into will-of-God desires. The very next verse in 1 John 2 says this:

And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.

As Christians we renounce all our sinful actions done from sinful desires. But we understand also that abstinence from sinful deeds while still having sinful desires is no good either. A white-washed tomb is still full of dead-man bones (Matthew 23:27). True godliness is the practise of the actions that reflect the desires of God.