God or the World?
John Witherspoon warns his congregation about the danger of a fashionable worldliness content with the form of godliness devoid of power:
I would address this reproof to those who are apparently more decent and regular; whom a sense of honor, or a desire of approbation of their fellow-creatures, preserves from grosser crimes, or whom perhaps natural conscience persuades to take up the outward and ordinary part of religion as a form. Many such persons are wedded to the world. Their thoughts are there, their delights are there, their hopes and expectations are only there.
Bear with me, my brethren, in pressing this a little; and do not turn away, and refuse the charge. Worldliness is the reigning sin, and will be the eternal ruin of many persons of better rank, to whose conversation, a more liberal way of thinking, and a sense of decency, may give even an amiable appearance. I would beseech the attention of such persons to what shall now be said; not from any disrespect to their state and situation in civil life, God knows! but from fidelity to their souls. Consider, I pray you, the extreme danger of worldliness of mind. It is itself a great and aggravated sin, and is the parent of many others. It is a sin, where it has dominion, inconsistent with salvation. Here the words of the Lord Jesus: “He that loveth father or mother, son or daughter, more than me, is not worthy of me” (Matt. 10:37).
There are some sorts of sinners on whom you would look with contempt or abhorrence; but you may possibly deceive yourselves. The strict and regular, but covetous Pharisees, little thought that the publicans and sinners were nearer the kingdom of heaven than themselves. I do not say this to extenuate sin of any kind, but to guard you against the power of delusion and self-deceit. I know that non but the Searcher of hearts can make a certain judgment of the degree of depravity in different characters; and therefore I do not so much urge the comparison for your condemnation, as caution you against relying upon it for your justification. The unalterable rule, taken both from the law and the gospel, is this: Which of the two has the supreme commanding interest in your affections, God or the world? (The Works of the Rev. John Witherspoon)