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Beyond Mere Christianity

Why We Fight

The fields of psychology and sociology attempt to explain the why of how people think and act. As it turns out, the New Testament tells us explicitly.

The World and All That’s In It

First, it would do to explain what the Bible means by the term world. A linguistic definition is inadequate. The Bible originally was spoken or written in many languages over many generations (where meanings within the same language can change). So equating world to a contemporary meaning of the koine Greek term cosmos, from which it is often translated in the New Testament, is not wholly accurate. The meaning must be judged from context.

Consider that men of biblical times did not have cognizance of Earth as a planet orbiting the sun, so the term world does not mean Planet Earth. Earth, as we know it, is closer to the biblical notion of land. Even today, one could call a handful of soil earth, but would never do so for a handful of sea water. To the men of biblical times, land, sea and sky were comprehended as separate domains.

In biblical context, what world does mean is the domain of mankind, or what we would call civilization, culture or society. Depending on specific context, it can mean all mankind living on earth, or the subset of those estranged from God, or the zeitgeist of God-estranged culture. In this topic, I refer to world in the latter sense, particularly, the motivation of people whose thinking is derived from ungodly imperatives. The following scripture from the book of James, lists these imperatives as the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.

For all that is in the world - the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life - is not of the Father, but is of the world. [1Jn 2:15]

The lusts of the flesh is an archaic English idiom for the desires of the body, whether arising from physical need or chemical addiction to biophysical states, whether induced naturally or artificially through substances. Lust suggests abuse - a general excess in or deviance from pragmatically satisfying an urge based in legitimate need. However, read in the biblical context, lust can be giving any desire, legitimate or not, priority over other essential imperatives, such as doing no harm to others or yourself.

The lust of the eyes is the desire to have things that you see others have. It includes covetousness and obsessions. It is any abstractly construed, material desire of the imagination, based upon erroneously placing faith and hope in obtaining things to achieve security or happiness.

The pride of life is nearly equivalent to egotism in the modern idiom, but is more encompassing. Pride is a concern for one’s relative standing in the evaluation of others, but it includes a more sinister aspect – a desire for a dominating supremacy over others. Pride is more subtle than lust. Lust as a motive is obvious if you are paying attention, but pride can be insidious and self-deceiving, masquerading as other seemingly noble motives, such as honor, zeal, patriotism or righteous indignation.

Now that’s it. At the root of all things that most people do is one or a combination of just these three motives. How do we know? Because James tells us that they are all that is in the world.

The Abiding Three

In contrast between the world’s motives and those of the kingdom citizen is this -

And now abides these three - faith, hope, love; but the greatest of these is love. [1Co 13:13]

As explained earlier in this topic and in the Godfaq (About Faith), faith is confidence in God’s integrity. This is a growing confidence as we get to know God better.

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ; for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes - to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith, as it is written, “The just shall live by faith”. [Ro 1:16-17]

The effect of progressing in degrees of faith is a greater revelation of God’s virtue, and that in turn, becomes the basis for our own just conduct.

An Ancient Hope

You can contrast hope from faith, if you think of hope as strategic and faith as operational. Faith is confidence in God’s integrity and reliability, and it helps you deal with problematic events, to wit:

Above all, taking the shield of faith, by means of which you shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. [Ep 6:16]

“Quench the fiery darts” is event handling, fire-fighting, crisis management. Faith helps us get through in the short run and helps us stay the course in following Jesus. Hope, derived from faith, is an expectation for something to be realized in the long run, something worth working for over time, worth waiting for, and worth sacrificing for. Hope motivates us to work a strategic plan.

Hope is a virtue built by a progression of virtue acquisitions, beginning with faith.

My brothers, count it all joy when you encounter various temptations, knowing this - that the trying of your faith works patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be mature and complete, wanting nothing. [Ja 1:2-4]


Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also, knowing that tribulation works patience, and patience, experience, and experience, hope. And hope makes us not ashamed, because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who is given to us. [Ro 5:1-5]

The principle hope of believers is that each of us will, one day, be raised from the dead in a newly designed body, free of pain or weariness, and impervious to temptation or sin.  

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to his abundant mercy has rebirthed us unto a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that doesn’t fades away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. [1Pe 1:3-5]

In fact, this hope was the primary focus of the early church. In the epistles (or letters) to the churches in the New Testament, several begin or end with an emphasis on this hope.

Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Spirit. [Rom 15:13]

We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which you have to all the saints, for the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, of which you heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel…
[Col 1:3-5]

But I would not have you to be ignorant, brothers, concerning them which are asleep, that you sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so they who sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.

For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord - that we who are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them who are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air; and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Therefore, comfort one another with these words.
[1Th 14:13-18]

Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God's elect, and the acknowledging of the truth which is after godliness, in hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised before the world began…
[Ti 1:1-2]

Behold, what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God; therefore the world doesn’t understand us, because it didn’t understand him. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it does not yet appear what we shall be; but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. And everyone who has this hope in him, purifies himself, even as he is pure.
[1Jn 3:1-3]

Note that our primary occupation as believers is not coping with life, although God will help us with that, nor seeking how God can help us with our own agenda, but looking forward to, pressing onward toward, and waiting patiently for, a wholly supernatural existence, which we have in part today.

…you were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, which is the down payment of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory. [Eph 1:13-14]

Defined By Love

We must never forget, that above all other things, God is love.

Whoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwells in him, and he in God. And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love; and he that dwells in love dwells in God, and God in him. Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment, because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear, because fear has torment. He that fears is not made perfect in love. We love him, because he first loved us. [1Jn 4:15-19]


For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor authorities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. [Ro 8:38-39] 

Because God has loved us, we love each other.

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and every one that loves is born of God, and knows God. He that loves not, knows not God, for God is love.

In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the atonement for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.
No man has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwells in us, and his love is perfected in us
. [1Jn 4:7-12]

The love of God in us defines who we are, and governs what we do.

But if any man loves God, the same is known of him. [1Co 8:3]

For this is the love of God - that we keep his commandments; and his commandments are not grievous. [1Jn 5:3 ]

Love works no ill to his neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. [Ro 13:10]

Above all things have fervent love among yourselves - for love covers a multitude of sins. [1Pe 4:8]

Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. [Ju 1:21]