“We have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God.”
— 1 Corinthians 2:12
It is either a devil, or the disposition of the soul when it is lost, and without any sense of the Holy Spirit–this is what I will call “the spirit of the world.” I remember my experience of this spirit from about the ages of seven to fourteen before I was saved and regenerated, and gave my heart to Jesus. The spirit of the world is only really experienced in the age of accountability. Little children can’t come under its influence, as far as I can see.
What are its characteristics? I will name a few, based on my own experience of it in childhood, and my current observation of it in non-Christians today.
1. As a general rule, there is no thought of God, the Bible, or how to live as a Christian in either the mind or the interests of the heart.
2. Greed, money, and pleasure-seeking take priority over the thoughts and feelings. TV for the eyes; music for the ears; fornication for the hands and heart and genitals; entertainment for the mind and will; treats and fine foods for the tongue and stomach; and friends to share these pleasures with–this increases happiness in the feelings, particularly in the area of telling jokes (which is again, a form of entertainment). Not that good entertainment is bad for a Christian–but when under the spirit of the world, it is a dominant force.
3. Idols, or interests that consume the places in the mind and heart, where only God’s Spirit should take occupation–is basically the essence of this spirit. Worldly philosophies of happiness, political interests (economy, business, education, energy, foreign policy, government, taxation, health care), scientific inventions, toys (houses, cars, boats, TVs, stereos, vacations, etc), and the like. For this reason, you might also call it a spirit of idolatry or perhaps a spirit of pleasure-seeking.
4. Consciousness of all things worldly, hence the phrase “spirit of the world”–an all-consuming obsession with THINGS which are particular to the individual person–but most definitely not a consciousness of God or the things of sanctification, or of any angel, saint, Heaven, Hell, the spirit world, or the Christian life. And whenever a person with this spirit is presented with these thoughts, he feels a kind of resistance within himself to them–and perhaps a desire to even mock them.
UPDATE: 9/13/12 – I didn’t know it at the time I wrote the above article; but that spirit which I was trying to describe was PRACTICAL ATHEISM–that is, living your life as if there is no God. This may very well be found with people who “go to church” on Sunday morning because of tradition. But in real life, they live as atheists: “without God in the world” (Eph. 2:12). The Latin word for “world” is saeculum, from where we get the modern word “secular”. So, in essence, atheism with all of its variants, such as skepticism, rationalism, scientism, naturalism, Darwinism, “deism” (weak faith in God’s existence), materialism, physicalism, agnosticism, etc.–is WORLDLY, of this world, of secular interest. Not spiritual, unspiritual, natural. This all eventually becomes encapsulated in SECULAR HUMANISM–which is “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” without God, without the Bible’s ethics ruling your life, and instead, creating your own system of ethics. This is the “spirit of the world” (1 Cor. 2:12).