Overcoming the world!

(J. C. Ryle, "Victory!")

Everyone who has been born of God
 overcomes the world."
1 John 5:4

Our three great spiritual enemies are . . .
  the world,
  the flesh, and
  the devil,

It is hard to say which does most harm to the soul.
The last day alone will settle that point. But I venture
boldly to say, that at no former period has "the world"
been so dangerous, and so successful in injuring Christ's
Church, as it is just now. Every age is said to have its
own peculiar epidemic disease. I suspect that "worldliness"
is the peculiar plague of Christendom in our own era.

The subtle influence of the world, nowadays, seems to
infect the very air we breathe! It creeps into families and
leads myriads captive, who never know that they are slaves!

The enormous increase of English wealth, and consequent
power of self-indulgence, and the immense growth of a
passionate relish for recreations and amusements of all
kinds--all these strange phenomena of our age give the
world an amazing additional power, and make it doubly
needful for Christ's ministers to cry aloud, "Beware of
the world!"

In the face of this aggravated danger, we must never
forget that the Word of the living God does not change!

"Do not love the world!"

"Do not be conformed to this world!"

"Friendship with the world is enmity with God!"

These mighty sayings of God's statute-book remain still
unrepealed. The true Christian strives daily to obey them,
and proves the vitality of his religion by his obedience.

It is as true now as it was eighteen hundred years ago,
that the man "born of God" will be a man who, more or
less, resists and overcomes the world. Though "in" the
world, he is not "of" the world. He uses it, but does not
abuse it. He is not wholly absorbed either in the business
or the pleasures of life--as if they were the sum total of
existence. Even in innocent things he keeps the rein on
his tastes and inclinations, and does not let them run
away with him. He does not live as if life was made up
of recreation, or money-getting, or politics, or scientific
pursuits--and as if there were no life to come! He can
neither be bribed, nor frightened, nor allured into
neglecting his soul.

To be at peace with the world is to be at enmity with God,
and in the broad way that leads to destruction! We have
no choice or option. We must fight or be lost. We must
conquer or die eternally. "Everyone who has been born
of God overcomes the world."
1 John 5:4

I charge and entreat all who are inclined to make peace with
the world, to awake to a sense of their danger! Awake and
cast aside the chains which indolence, or love of popularity,
are gradually weaving round you! Awake before it is too late
--before repeated worldly acts have formed habits--and habits
have crystallized into character--and you have become a
helpless slave!

The "fetters of the world" are often invisible. We are dragged
downward insensibly, and are like one who sleeps in a boat,
and knows not that he is drifting, gently drifting, towards the
falls. There is no slavery so bad as that which is unfelt. There
are no chains so really heavy as those which are unseen.

If you love your souls, hold the world at arm's length.

"Everyone who has been born of God
 overcomes the world."
1 John 5:4

We have posted Ryle's challenging article, "Victory!"