From the time of the early apostles until now, the church of Jesus Christ has always faced the powerful threat of worldliness, of assimilating into the culture around it and compromising on the pristine and inviolable truths it has been entrusted with. One of the most dangerous forms of this compromise comes from the pernicious influence of secularism—a worldview that not only denies the existence of God but elevates human reason and experience as the ultimate authority.
It is a staggering reality that the modern American church, much like ancient Israel before its exile, has allowed secular thought to infiltrate its sanctuaries. Where once the Bible was the sole source of doctrine, now secular philosophies, veiled under the cloak of tolerance and progress, have seeped into the very fiber of the Christian faith in America.
This is not merely about the exclusion of prayer from schools or the refusal to acknowledge the sanctity of life in the political sphere. This is about the incremental, yet undeniable, decay of biblical fidelity within the entire Bride of Christ. When it comes to matters of doctrine, ecclesiology, morality, and even our understanding of God Himself, secularism has intimated itself into our thinking, taking root and bearing poisonous, rotten fruit.
Considering first the issue of morality, once a bulwark of ethical standards rooted in God’s Law—a reflection of his eternal and unchangeable nature and character—many congregations have adopted a diluted interpretation of the doctrines of sin and righteousness. No longer is sin a violation of God’s holy character, rather, it is reframed as a “mistake,” a mere social faux pas. A sin such as homosexuality, clearly condemned in both Old and New Testaments, is now justified through a secular understanding of love and personal freedom. The church, bowing to social pressure, trades the eternal truth of Scripture for the volatile waves of collective human opinion.
Second, consider ecclesiology, the doctrine of the church itself. Once a united body, a sanctuary from worldly influences, the church has undergone a troubling transformation. No longer the stronghold of divine truth it was designed to be, many modern churches have morphed into social clubs or community centers. These social gatherings may foster a sense of belonging, but they more often than not do so at the expense of preaching the hard, unyielding truths of Scripture.
And the pastors of these churches, rather than standing firm as guardians of God’s Word, have succumbed to the pressure to be “relevant.” Rather than delivering expository sermons that unpack the richness of Scripture, they offer motivational talks that serve to boost self-esteem and cater to the emotional whims of unregenerate pew-sitters. Thus, in our ill-conceived attempt to make the church more appealing to the world, we make it less appealing to God, whom we claim to serve.
But perhaps the most pernicious effect of secularism is its impact on our understanding of God. In our quest for relevancy, many have reduced the Almighty God, the Creator of heaven and earth, to a cosmic genie. He exists to serve our needs, to make our lives more comfortable, more prosperous. This is far from the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—the God who led Israel through the wilderness and met Elijah in the still, small voice. This is a god of human making, crafted in man’s own image.
The Apostle Paul warned the early church about conforming to the world, and his words echo through the corridors of history to us today. In Romans 12:2, he urged believers not to be “conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind.” When we embrace these secular philosophies, we essentially engage in a dangerous exchange—we trade the incorruptible for the corruptible, the eternal for the temporal, the sacred for the profane.
In this regard, secularism is nothing but spiritual adultery, much like the Israelites turning away from Yahweh to serve Baal and Asherah. By adopting secular views—even when they’re baptized in Christian language—the church commits a grievous act of unfaithfulness to her Bridegroom, Jesus Christ. We become like the seed sown among thorns, choked by the deceitfulness of worldly wisdom, unable to bear fruit to the glory of God.
And make no mistake, God will not be mocked. A church that trades her Bridegroom’s truth for secular lies will find herself bereft of His blessing and presence. Just as the Lord disciplined Israel through the harsh realities of exile, He will discipline the unfaithful bride, purifying her through trials and persecution. And in the end, the remnant that holds fast to the faith once delivered to the saints will be the one to inherit the promises of God. The prostitute will be cast aside.
In these perilous times, it is essential for faithful believers to fortify themselves in the Word of God, immersing themselves in the truth of Scripture, lest they too be carried away by the deceptive philosophies of the age. We must heed the caution of the Apostle John, who warned us not to love the world or the things in it, for all that is in the world is not of the Father (1 John 2:15-17). Instead, set your hearts and minds on Christ, who is the author and perfecter of our faith, ensuring that we remain steadfast in a time of rampant compromise.
For those who believe they can walk the line between faithfulness and worldliness, remember: the fence you are sitting on belongs to the Enemy. It is time to choose this day whom you will serve. If it is the Lord, then serve Him with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. But if it is the world, then go and receive the fruit of your choices—but know that such a path leads to destruction.