THE FOLLY OF WORLDLINESS

Scripture Reading: Revelation 17:1-18

“Come, I will show you the judgment of the great prostitute who is seated on many waters,with whom the kings of the earth have committed sexual immorality, and with the wine of whose sexual immorality dwellers on earth have become drunk.” (Revelation 17:1,2)

We now come to another section of the book of Revelation that deals with the fall of Babylon (chapters 17-19). Chapter 17 describes the nature of the great harlot, Babylon. Chapter 18 shows the inevitable, complete, and irrevocable character of Babylon’s fall. Chapter 19 introduces us to the rejoicings in heaven because of the fall of Babylon.

In Chapter 17 we find two key characters. We meet a new character — the great harlot. She stands in stark contrast to the radiant woman (symbolizing the church) of chapter 12. She is called Babylon the great and is said to be the mother of harlots and of the abominations on the earth. The second character returns from chapter 13 — the beast of the sea, who is called “the scarlet beast” in this chapter. This beast symbolizes the secular and political forces who stand in opposition to Christ and His people. This disgusting pair team up to make war with the Lamb and with His people.

The great harlot seduces peoples and multitudes, nations and tongues (vs. 1,2). She is intoxicated with the blood of the saints and with the blood of the witnesses of Jesus (v. 6). She is also described as the great city which rules over the kings of the earth (v. 18).

The great harlot symbolizes the evil world in opposition to God, or what is known as worldliness. She represents the concentration of the luxury, vice, and glamor of this world. She is given he name Babylon. Ancient Babylon, Babel, represents man’s first organized act of rebellion against God (Genesis 11). Later the city of Babylon became a heathen center of wickedness and seduction.

The imagery of the great harlot Babylon gives us a picture of what worldliness is like. It is everywhere (peoples and multitudes). It corrupts, allures, tempts, and seduces both the great and small. It is hostile to the people of God. It greatly influences and controls those who are in positions of power. It is one of the Christian’s great enemies, which is why we are given this exhortation:

“Do not love the world, nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 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. And the world is passing away, and also its lusts, but the one who does the will of the Father abides forever” (I John 2:15-17).

Lord Jesus, enable me to keep my eyes on You and prevent me from being overly influenced by this world. I confess that I often fall prey to the allurements this world offers. Forgive me when I love the things of the world more than I love You. I know how foolish it is to give way to worldliness. Give me strength to resist those things that become so attractive to me — the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life. I know that the world is passing away. Grant me grace to do the will of the Father.

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