Lesson Four – The Worldly Man

The Worldly Man

Lesson Aim:  To show how people develop unhealthy personalities  and weak character and how these are revealed by their evil deeds.


And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.  Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.  Eph. 2:1-3 

These scriptures sum up the three previous lessons about conditions in the world realm.  In those lessons we concluded people in the world realm are spiritually dead because of their sins.  The devil is ruling their lives they live in the lust of their minds and hearts; consequently, God’s wrath is upon them.  Paul asked the following question of the Roman Christians who had been transferred out of the world into God’s kingdom by their new birth in Christ.

Therefore what benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed?  For the outcome of those things is death.  Rom. 6:21

In this lesson we will show why the answer to Paul’s question is an emphatic, “no benefit.”  We will learn how the powers, environment and activity of the world realm adversely affect peoples’ character.  They develop unhealthy traits of personality.


The words character and personality are not used in God’s word.  According to Webster’s Dictionary, character, as the word relates to people, means a distinctive quality.  Personality is the quality or state of being a person; also the totality of an individual’s behavioral and emotional tendencies; and, or the organization of the individual’s distinguishing character traits, attitudes or habits.

The Bible writers discuss good and bad qualities of human behavior and emotions.  God’s word does not leave us in the dark as to which traits are acceptable or objectionable to Him.  We must assume those traits listed as objectionable to God are unhealthy for us; that is, they will destroy our well being and happiness.  We will use the words character and personality in this lesson to describe the “self” as this word is used in the following text.

This I say therefore, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart; and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality, for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness.  But you did not learn Christ in this way, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.  Eph. 4:17-24

The term Gentile in the foregoing text represents people in the world realm.  Those of us who are “in Christ” are admonished to walk “no longer” as the Gentiles walk because they live with futile minds.  Their minds are not used to produce useful thoughts; therefore, they do not arrive at productive conclusions.  They use their minds but the results are futile.  Note from the foregoing text they were darkened in their understanding.  They were ignorant about the truth about God, man and life.  The absolute reality of spiritual things was not in their thoughts, only physical things.  How do the mature people of the world arrive at this way of thinking and living?  The Apostle John describes the mentality of the worldly man in the following scripture.

For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.  I John 2:16

A study of Romans 1:18-32 will show the process by which the Gentiles, or worldly people, excluded themselves from the life of God.  To make a very, very long story short, they gave up God and God gave them up.  The result was that their passions and minds were degraded and depraved.  Three things should be noted from this scripture.  First, bad things happened to their “self” when they were separated from God.  Secondly, these bad things happened in connection with their attempt to satisfy their natural drives.  Note the sex drive was involved.  Finally, twenty one other bad traits of character and personality were listed along with their problem of sexual immorality.

In Ephesians 4:18 the Paul said the Gentiles’ ignorance led to their hardness of heart.  The word hardness is from the Greek word porosis and denotes a hardening; a covering with porous, a kind of stone, thus indicating a process.  They were blind to the truth about themselves.  They were hardened to the kindness of God who created them.  They did not have the pleasure of drive satisfaction.  The result was they became callous; that is, their hearts became hard.  This means they were without healthy positive emotional feelings.  They did not enjoy the programs that would satisfy their natural desires because they were separated from the life of God.  This means they did not know the law of life that describes the human growth processes.

When we pursue a course in life that gives us a hope of satisfaction for all of our natural drives, we develop healthy emotions like love, joy and peace.  We are sensitive rather than callous.  When we do not find satisfaction, then fear, anger and hate develop within our “self.”  These people of the world had many unhealthy emotions.  Paul said, “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.”  Eph. 4:31.

Let us carefully note the next step in their path of degradation after they became callous, as stated in Eph. 4:19.  They gave themselves over to sensuality.  Sensuality is translated from the Greek word aselgeia.  It means lasciviousness or wantonness.  This suggests a lack of legal or moral restraint, especially in the area of sex.  The result was they practiced every kind of impurity with greediness.  This means they practiced sexual immorality with a desire to have more.  This led them to sexual deviations as we have seen in Romans, chapter one.

We have traced the degradation route of the “self” of the worldly man.  It started with their being without the enlightenment of God and His plan for their lives.  Their darkened understanding brought about their ignorance about the way to be happy.  The result is a lack of love, or as it is stated in the foregoing text, “because of the hardness of their heart.”  Having become hard hearted or callous, they gave themselves over to sensuality and greedily practiced every kind of impurity.  In some cases, their sensuous life led to men with men and women with women in a futile lustful pursuit of the satisfaction of their sex drive.  In our time some have asked: “What is wrong with that combination?”  The Bible answer is, other than missing heaven as a son of God and being confined to hell eternally, they presently have a problem.   Their inner man, or self, is corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit.  Their personality is spoiled.  These people do not have the character and personality of “self” to inherit the kingdom of God.  Consider the following:

Or do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God?  Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, shall inherit the kingdom of God. I Cor. 6:9, 10

Now let us explore the reason callous people give themselves over to sensuality and greedily practice impurity.  It should be noted that sexual immorality is on every problematic list in the New Testament portion of the Bible.  See I Pet. 4:1-3; Gal. 5:19; I Cor. 6:9, 10; II Cor. 12:21; Col. 3:5; Mark 7:20-23; Rom. 1:18-32.  This is understandable when we remember the way God put within mankind several natural healthy drives.  As we have suggested in previous lessons the sex drive is one of these drives.  Others are hunger, social acceptance, achievement and security.  When people are in the dark in relation to God’s plan to satisfy these last three drives they appear to have serious problems with their sex and hunger drives.

In order to understand God’s plan they need a concept of the spiritual and eternal to go along with their physical world and time.  Of course, they must also trust God.  When people are ignorant of God, they have three strong drives with no workable plan for their satisfaction.  If they were enjoying God’s plan to be His eternal sons, this would satisfy their achievement, social acceptance and security drives.  The satisfaction of these three drives with a hope of eternal glory would help them keep their hunger and sex drives under control.

Consider the following scenario:  If they were enlightened, they would know God is holy; therefore, they would be more concerned about satisfying their sex and hunger drives in a holy way.  Since the people in the world realm do not know about God’s offer of sonship they are not concerned about God’s holiness.  Since they have no motive to be holy, they are enticed by unholy ways they think will give them some sexual satisfaction.  Also, more often than not, when they attempt to satisfy their hunger drive it turns into lustful gluttony (Phil. 3:18, 19; Tit. 1:12).  Lust is a strong drive that cannot be satisfied (Rom. 16:18).  Emotions are learned in our process of trying to satisfy our drives, and this includes our lust.

We develop healthy or unhealthy emotions as we encounter situations we hope will satisfy our natural drives.  If we use God’s commandments and law of life, we will find satisfaction and develop healthy emotions such as faithfulness and love.  If we are lawless in our pursuit we will not find the desired satisfaction; consequently, we will develop unhealthy emotional attitudes such as anger and hate.  Our emotional attitudes are a part of our personality.

When we accept God’s goal for us to develop as His sons in His kingdom, it will properly integrate all of our drives.  If we have a goal to satisfy each drive, and if our goal for one drive does not thwart another drive, we will have the integration of our drives.  This is where our power to live a high quality productive life is developed.  Consequently, a clear vision of God’s goal for us is conducive to strong character.  The hope of sonship with God gives us a power to move in the right way.  There is a correlation between our strength of character and our goal for the satisfaction of our drives.  No vision beyond the physical realm and time will leave us without a perfect goal to satisfy our needs; therefore, we will have weak character and we will surely give “ourselves” over to sensuality.

The devil keeps people in the world blinded to proper goals for the satisfaction of their drives, especially, their goal for eternal glory.  Jesus Christ, Himself, personifies all the glorious attributes which God offers mankind.  The devil keeps this glory hidden from people in the world realm.  He keeps them perishing; therefore, they are in a dissatisfied state (II Cor. 4:4).  They are trapped by the devil and their own sins.  They are unhappy because their “self” is corrupted by the deceitfulness of their lust.  Although, at one time they were nice sweet innocent children; however, if they were reared with their understanding darkened in relation to God they are in trouble as soon as they mature in mind and conscience (Rom. 2:14, 15).  The Apostle Paul used several excerpts from the Psalms of the Old Testament to give the following composite picture of the worldly man.

As it is written, “There is none righteous, not even one; there is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God; all have turned aside, together they have become useless; there is none who does good, there is not even one. Their throat is an open grave, with their tongues they keep deceiving.  The poison of asps is under their lips; whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness; their feet are swift to shed blood, destruction and misery are in their paths, and the path of peace have they not known.  There is no fear of God before their eyes.”    Rom. 3:10-18

Jesus Christ is now king over God’s kingdom.  He is more powerful than the forces in the world (Eph. 1:20-23).  He has power to free the people in the world realm from their bondage if they will accept the gospel of His kingdom.

And it was for this He called you through our gospel, that you may gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.  II Thess. 2:14

Questions for Discussion 

  1. How can God help the people upon whom His wrath now rests?
  2. What is the answer to Paul’s question in Rom. 6:21?
  3. Identify the part of people that is corrupted by the lust of deceit.
  4. How do we know God deals with personality and character, although the terms are not found in the Bible?
  5. What is the problem with Gentile people?
  6. What was the first step taken by the Gentiles in their exclusion from God?  What was the result in relation to their “self?”
  7. How do people become callous?
  8. What happens after people become callous?
  9. List five unhealthy emotions of a person who has a corrupted “self.”
  10. Give a plausible reason for sexual immorality appearing on every problematic list in the New Testament.
  11. How can the hope of eternal glory help us to overcome gluttony and sexual immorality?
  12. Why does the devil want to keep Jesus Christ hidden from people in the world realm?


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