As we have learned, a worldview is the overall perspective from which one sees and interprets the world. It is from this perspective that one makes decisions about how to live – and lead – in this world.
A worldview also includes the individual’s beliefs about life and the universe. These beliefs impact their understanding of everything, including the Bible. Therefore, anything in one’s worldview that obscures or interferes with the ability to see the truth must be dealt with.
As an example, the apostle Paul recognized in his own life how his love of the Law was an obstacle that blocked his view of seeing clearly the message of grace that Jesus brought (read 2 Corinthians 3:11-18).
SEVEN “VEILS” THAT OBSCURE TRUTH
Our worldview is generally formed by seven major influences. For the purpose of this teaching, I will liken each influence to a veil. If we are not aware of the influence of the “veil” through which we often see, we may not realize why we do not clearly see the truth.
- The “Veil” of our Sin Nature
The influence of our sin nature is subtle yet very strong. All human beings sin. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23). Sin is often defined as missing the mark, a failure to live up to God’s requirements.
But the reasons why we fail to live up to God’s righteous commands – sin – go much deeper. We choose to sin because every human being is born with a sin nature, a corrupt nature inherited from Adam. The result of one trespass (Adam’s) was condemnation for all men: “Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life” (Rom 5:18).
THE BATTLE AGAINST TEMPTATION
We are completely forgiven of our sins when we receive Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. The power that sin once held in our life is also broken at salvation (Rom 6:5-11). We are given a new nature that is empowered by the Holy Spirit of God to resist sin and the devil (Rom 6:12-14; 8:1-8).
However, the effects of sin, or the pain of sinful choices, sometimes remain in our lives. This can influence our choices as a Christian. Further, even after salvation, we continue to experience temptation. There are times when the former desires of our flesh want to pull us back into sin (Romans Chapter 7; Rom 13:14; Gal 5:16-26; Jas 4:1-9).
Because of these factors, it is as if we have two natures within us that are at war with each other. Paul explained that, despite his best intentions, he was still at times influenced by his old sin nature: “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice” (Rom 7:18,19).
The “veil” of our former sin nature and its unholy desires, when not confronted and overcome, can severely hinder our ability to see the truth and obey the Lord’s commands.
Though we all must do battle against our fleshly nature and sinful desires, there is good news: We can have victory over the sin nature through the power of Christ by the Holy Spirit!
- The “Veil” of Family
Some of the strongest influences that shape our thinking come from our family upbringing. The interaction (or lack of interaction) we have with parents, siblings and relatives are our earliest influences. These influences are strong because they form the earliest foundation of how we process information and experiences.
The Bible reveals the shaping power of our early familial influences: “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it” (Prov 22:6).
The “training” that families give may be active or passive, intentional or accidental. Children can learn as much (or more) by what is modeled in the home as they can from what they are told. For instance, if parents pray regularly with their children, they are teaching the children that prayer is a priority, even if they don’t tell them that. Or, if parents are overly fearful of what might happen, they may be “teaching” the children to be fearful and insecure in life.
Many times, because children are young, they misunderstand what they see or hear and make wrong conclusions. These wrong conclusions then influence how they live or see life. The “veil” of a broken or unrighteous childhood upbringing can be deeply rooted and is often hard to recognize. It can even cause one to misperceive God and His ways.
For example, if an earthly father has been cruel or unloving, it might be very hard for that child to later believe that God the Father is kind and loving. Our earthly example often shapes our perceptions, or “worldview”. Oh, how we need the Holy Spirit’s work and the Word of God to deliver and heal us!
Pastor To Pastor: I have a good friend who was raised with an abusive father. The father was untrustworthy, and often abandoned the family, leaving them with many needs unmet. When my friend finally came to salvation through Christ, he was thankful to learn of the forgiveness of sins and the restored possibility of relationship with his heavenly Father.
But as soon as my friend faced a serious trial, he became afraid to trust God. He thought that, like his earthly father, God had abandoned him and did not truly love him. My friend chose to not believe what the Bible revealed about God, but instead saw God through the “veil” of his childhood. He believed that God did not care about his needs and decided that God couldn’t be trusted.
Consequently, his “worldview” influenced him away from a trusting and submitted relationship with God. He fell back into his worldly ways. It was many years before he came to realize how a childhood “veil” had robbed him of the relationship he could have enjoyed with God, and the blessings of believing and obeying God’s Word.
- The “Veil” of Education
Children are naïve and very easily influenced. As students, they often accept everything that they are taught as truth.
As a result, educational institutions have a strong influence on how individuals think and perceive things, especially how they view life and truth. “Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience” (Eph 5:6).
Most of us were taught things in school that do not align with the truth of the Word of God. These things shaped our worldview, and can distort our ability to see the truth and live by it.
As an example, many children are taught in school that the world was not created, but that it just “evolved”. However, the Bible clearly states that God created the heavens and the earth (Genesis Chapters 1 & 2; John 1:3). Unfortunately, the worldview of accepting that there is no Creator can later hinder one from believing in God or accepting that He created them for a purpose.
- The “Veil” of Peers
Our friends and associates are another source of influence for how we think about and view life. The enjoyment of a friendship often causes us to overlook the worldly attitudes, speech and behavior of our “friends”. We start by tolerating, then accepting, and finally agreeing with them. As a result, we can become very much like them (Prov 12:26; 1Cor 5:11; 15:33).
We need to learn how to choose our friends and not allow our friends to choose us. Friends and associates have great power and influence over our lives. They have the potential to influence our view of life.
The Bible is very clear about associating with people who scoff at God or do not take God seriously: “Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them” (Rom 16:17; see also Proverbs 12:26; 1 Corinthians 15:33; 1 Timothy 6:3-5).
- The “Veil” of Culture
The cultural environment in which we grow up influences us in very subtle ways. There are cultures that believe in forgiveness and others that believe in vengeance; cultures that believe in marriage to one spouse (monogamy) and others that believe in multiple wives (polygamy); cultures that separate people and determine their worth by tribe, caste, gender or skin color, and others that believe in the equality of all people.
The list is long for the differences in cultures. Yet, as Christians, we are no longer subject to worldly cultural norms. The Bible is now our standard for behavior. The Scriptures teach that our citizenship is now in Heaven and our culture is a heavenly one of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit: “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Phil 3:20); “For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Rom 14:17).
If the practices of the culture we live in do not agree with the Word of God, we must be willing to cease from those cultural practices. All that we are and all that we do as Christians must agree with the whole counsel of the Word of God. This mindset takes priority over the beliefs or practices of our culture.
For instance, in some cultures it is considered a good thing to lie or cheat to gain something for yourself. But the Bible is very clear that a Christian is to neither lie nor take advantage of others (Eph 4:25; Col 3:9). So, in this case, the cultural worldview must change, and the behavior must change to conform to the standard of God’s Word.
- The “Veil” of Tradition
Traditions are those activities and behaviors that are shared with others in our circle of relationship or community. They represent a way of routinely doing things within families, schools, friendships, cultures and churches. It is not uncommon to find that traditions are sometimes based in false religion or other forms of deception, worldliness or human invention. Even if they are common practices to us, they may be in contrast to biblical doctrines and teachings and must be addressed in our lives.
Some examples of these types of unbiblical traditions include: praying to the dead or praying to religious saints; participating in superstitions or unholy rituals; observing pagan celebrations.
Jesus clearly addressed those who chose their traditions over obeying the clear truths of the Word of God: “‘For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men – the washing of pitchers and cups, and many other such things you do.’ He said to them, ‘All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition’” (Mark 7:8, 9; see also Colossians 2:16-23).
- The “Veil” of Experience
Almost every person experiences seasons of opportunity and good fortune, as well as heart-wrenching tragedy and pain. It is at these times that we may draw conclusions about God and life, which may or may not be based on truth.
Each of us is shaped by these experiences and there is no predicting what our conclusion will be. Two individuals could both experience receiving great wealth; the wealth destroys one while that same wealth produces a generous spirit in the other. Two individuals could experience a terrible tragedy; in one it leads to despair and hopelessness, and in the other individual it produces a determination to overcome and to not give up.
It is important to understand that these types of life experiences heavily influence our worldview. Our own misunderstandings about God’s role in the midst of hurtful situations may have negatively influenced our view of God. The worldview we embraced in such times must be evaluated freshly in the light of the truth of the Word of God.
PASTOR TO PASTOR:
If we, or the people in our churches, have embraced thoughts or practices that are contrary to the Bible’s revelation of God or His purposes in this life, we must prayerfully examine those ideas. We may need the Lord’s healing touch regarding:
- healing from a traumatic loss or other experience;
- deliverance from fear;
- a new-found assurance that God is trustworthy;
- a readjustment in our thinking about God’s provision for our needs; or,
- other possible effects from challenges or trials.
During your times of daily prayer, ask the Lord to show you if you have a “veil” from your past experiences that is blocking you from seeing Him as He truly is.
FREEDOM FROM WORLDVIEW BONDAGE
These “veils” and other influences shape our perspective. They contribute to our “worldview”, which affects the choices we make in life.
If we have adopted a worldview based upon the world’s systems or ungodly principles, how can we accurately represent the Kingdom of God? How can God bless that which He does not approve of? Thank God that He has given us His Word and His Holy Spirit to illuminate the truth to us, and to truly set us free!
AM I BLIND OR CAN I SEE?
So, then, we must ask ourselves: Is what I believe about life based upon truth as revealed by God through His Word, or upon a false worldview? Am I blinded to the truth by my worldview, or do I clearly see? Is the worldview that I have biblically based?
The Bible reveals to us that the power of the Gospel is able to open our eyes, and move us from the darkness of Satan’s power to the light of God and His glorious inheritance (Acts 26:17,18). But we must also be continually transformed (2Cor 3:18), and allow ourselves to be purified and cleansed of anything that we practice or believe that is distorted, unholy or not based on God’s truth.
PASTOR TO PASTOR:
As pastors and leaders, we will be held to a higher level of accountability before God for our words, actions and decisions. “My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment” (Jas 3:1). We must continually strive to accurately represent Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, and the whole counsel of the Word of God, to those we lead. We must teach the truth; we must live the truth.
This is achieved by opening our heart to examination by the Word of God and the conviction of the Holy Spirit every day. We must yield to the ongoing, transforming work of God that is vital for every believer (Rom 12:1,2). We must respond to the truth, believe it and act upon it (Jas 1:22).
IGNORANCE IS NOT AN EXCUSE
There will be no acceptable excuse for teaching error (Jas 3:1). Therefore, we must be very certain that what we preach and teach is truth.
Jesus says, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31, 32).
If the truth will set us free, then conversely a lie will put us into bondage. Bondage is not of God, for Jesus came so that the chains of bondage would be broken and we would be set free (Luke 4:18,19).
Ignorance of the truth will not be accepted as an excuse for not representing the truth to God’s people and the world (1Cor 10:1; 12:1). Whether a lie was intentional or unintentional, the result is the same. This is because any lie, even when spoken in ignorance, still has the same effect: death (John 8:42-47; 10:10).
The Word of God (the Bible) and the Holy Spirit (the Spirit of Truth) were given so that we would know the truth and that the truth would set us free. They are able to continuously transform us, freeing us from ungodly worldviews that want to hinder our clear understanding of truth. We must study the Word of God daily and be responsive to the conviction of the Holy Spirit in order to know and live out the truth. That freedom and knowledge of the truth will then enable us to preach, teach and minister with confidence, boldness and courage.