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Worldliness

September 19, 2008

I typically stay away from these kinds of titles—Worldliness—judging the book by its title. However, knowing a bit about the author I decided to crack the cover. C. J. Mahaney did not disappoint; in fact, he stirred me to love Christ not “the world.” This book is sure to ruffle some feathers, and you won’t agree with everything in it, but why just read books that reinforce your opinions and worldview? Consider this excerpt from C.J.’s heart-centered view of worldliness:

David Powlison, paraphrasing John Calvin, wrote, “The evil in our desires often lies not in what we want, but in the fact that we want it too much.”10 It’s difficult to improve upon this insight. The “cravings of sinful man” are legitimate desires that have become false gods we worship. It’s wanting too much the things of this fallen world. A sinful craving is when a legitimate desire for financial success becomes a silent demand for financial success; an interest in clothes and fashion becomes a preoccupation; love of music morphs into an obsession with the hottest band; or the desire to enjoy a good movie becomes a need to see the latest blockbuster.

There may be nothing wrong with these desires in and of themselves; but when they dominate the landscape of our lives, when we must have them or else!-we’ve succumbed to idolatry and worldliness. And as Calvin says, our hearts are a perpetual factory of idols. We’re pumping out these thingson a regular basis.

Preface (by John Piper) and first chapter here.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. September 19, 2008 9:00 am

    Curiously, C.S. Lewis makes the exact opposite point: ‘it is not as though God finds our desires too strong, he finds them too weak’ (that’s my paraphrase; I think it is in Mere Christianity).

  2. September 19, 2008 10:52 am

    Actually, the quote is from his essay “Weight of Glory” and it complements what Calvin and Powlison are saying here. In that essay Lewis is referring to desires for God that are too weak; Calvin/Powlison are stating the same truth conversely: our desires for non-God are too strong. It is the object of our desire that is in question, not so much the capacity to desire. Calvin is clear that desire in not an inherently evil thing, rather it is a God-given capacity that can should max out with God, not with his gifts.

  3. September 19, 2008 6:07 pm

    Thanks for the clarification. I agreed with both points (Powlison/Calvin and Lewis) just had trouble getting my sluggish brain around to coordinating them. You did that! Thanks

    Speaking of desires and God, I had the privilege of hearing Sam Storms this past Sunday in OKC. Great sermon. I saw his book listed as one of your recommended books for Colossians.

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